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Pumpkin has appeared on the menus as the autumn season begins here in Austria. Kathy is enjoying cream of pumpkin soup, and I am having pumpkin goulash. As we traveled to Melk to visit the Abbey, we saw field after field of orange pumpkins ready for the picking.
The Benedictine Abbey in Melk was founded over 900 years ago when Leopold II gave one of his castles to the Benedictine monks. Today, the Abbey is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Awesome is a good word to describe it. The yellow gold colored Abbey sits massively on a rock promontory. The displays are both educational and devotional at the same time. The theme of the Abbey is the Cross of Christ, and it is well integrated into every presentation. Artifacts from throughout the history of the Abbey are beautifully displayed as you wind your way to the Baroque masterpieces held within the grounds.
The first inkling of the beauty to come is in the grand marble dining room, done with both natural and faux marble painting. Massive and with a dramatic ceiling fresco, the dining room played host to many Austro-Hungarian personages. From the dining room, we are led out onto a courtyard balcony that overlooks the Austrian countryside with the Danube River flowing below. From there, the great library, one of the world’s finest, held our rapt attention. The main room holds 10,000 texts with the same ancient binding on each. The bookshelf woodwork with gold etchings is marvelous and intricate; the frescoed ceiling is stunning. The library contains over 750 printed works before 1500 with a total today of 100,000 volumes in all.
The treasure, however, is the Abbey Church. Considered the pinnacle of Baroque design, the room is aglow with gold. The beautiful frescoes and statuary harmonize into the total design, intended to portray heaven on earth. At first sight, we stood transfixed, not moving, such was the sight.
It was a “beautiful” day in Austria! WEG – Thursday, September 24, 2015