Stift Melk - UNESCO-Welterbe

History of the Abbey Park

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“The abbey park is an important witness to garden art and the cultural history of Austria. It significantly complements Melk abbey’s buildings, because the edifices and the gardens constitute a distinctive ensemble and must be considered a unity.” Father Martin Rotheneder

Since most of the old manuscripts were destroyed by a devastating blaze in the abbey library in the 13th century, one can only guess how the abbey complex was structured at that time. According to the Rule of Saint Benedict a monastery should be built in a way that all necessities like water, mill and garden were inside the monastery.

Because of the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Plan of Saint Gall (9th century) which depicts an ideal monastic compound, we can assume that small vineyards and patches for the cultivation of vegetables and fruit were situated in the rough terrain around the monastery complex.

According to the prevalent Baroque ideas of a garden as a paradise and adapted to the topographic conditions of the area, the Baroque abbey park was created in the 18th century, replacing the abbey’s former vineyard and orchard. Melk abbey park developed its current uniqueness and identity in the last centuries due to ever changing attitudes towards garden art. Even financially challenging times, when it was not possible to pay for garden maintenance, and Nature reconquered and overgrew the cultivated park, have made a contribution. During the fifteen-year-long revitalization of Melk abbey park, old structures, some of them from the Baroque age, have been made visible again.