Abbey HistoryPrint this page
“The beautiful thing about Melk abbey is that the monastery is not only a museum, not only a school, not only an art-historically interesting building, but that life is stirring here in every hallway, in every room and there is constant motion. Motion is a prerequisite for life.” Father Martin Rotheneder
More or less in the middle between Vienna and Linz, a fascinating Baroque building sits on a granite rock overlooking the Danube, visible from afar like a fortress: Melk Abbey. From a distance one can already see the dome of the abbey church and the two towers, with golden ornaments, which look like hands raised towards the sky: the magnificent structure is clearly a sacral building and not a secular palace.
Melk abbey is one of the most impressive Baroque ensembles north of the Alps and plays an important role in the history of early Austria.
From the beginning liturgy, worship service and prayer have been the most important tasks of Melk abbey’s monks. “Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God”, as Saint Benedict says in his rules. These words could also be conceived as a construction plan for Melk abbey church. All rooms are beautiful, but the most beautiful, the most magnificent room – for which only the best was good enough – is the church. Until our day the wonderful decoration strikingly highlights the significance of the house of God and the worship service.
In addition to worship service, the monks have always had the tasks of pastoral care and teaching. Starting with five parishes in 1089, Melk’s Benedictine monks are now responsible for 23 parishes.
The abbey school, which was first mentioned in 1160, is now Austria’s biggest Catholic private school with about 900 students (girls and boys). The secondary school has five different high school branches which focus on either old languages, modern languages, natural sciences, art or music.
The abbey church, the monastic community, the abbey museum, the school, the abbey park, the interesting building and the tourists make Melk abbey an animated place – full of life and constant motion. Motion is a prerequisite for life. In his rule Saint Benedicts puts it that way:
“Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus” - That God may be glorified in all things.