One of the largest abbeys in Europe sits on a hill above the Danube River near Vienna, above the town of Melk. It still has a functioning Benedictine order, and they run a public school there with over 900 students aged 10 to 18. In the old days, the abbey supported itself through various agricultural activities, including wine-making, but now its income primarily comes through tourists.

There’s been an abbey here for over a thousand years, but the present abbey was built in the 17th century. It is built in baroque style, like a cathedral or a palace. We took a guided tour, in English, and it was really interesting.

The two most fabulous rooms are the library and the church. The library has 60,000 volumes – only about 10,000 are visible – dating from many hundreds of years ago. There were handwritten books that dated from the Reformation, reporting on the activities of one Martin Luther. The church was hugely ornate – all gold and baroque. Be sure and click on the photos to see them well.

The only downside to the tour was that cameras of all sorts were forbidden. We weren’t allowed to take any interior shots. So we bought some photos in the gift shop, and posted some copies here. That’s why they look sort of fake. But we were there, and what I’ve posted here is what we saw.

After touring the abbey it was about 4 pm and we were hungry (having missed lunch). So we went to the abbey restaurant. It was very nice – quiet and peaceful. I had a delicious schweinebraten (roast pork with sweet/spicy sauce and really delicious sauerkraut). Karen had wienerschnitzel.

By the time we got back to our hotel it was after 7 pm. My second goal for the day was to visit the Haus der Musik (House of Music) museum. Fortunately they were open until 10 pm, and charged us only half-price for an evening visit. It was fun, and Karen took some interesting videos which we will try to post.