Melk, Austria

Melk Abbey, Austria

On a forested cliff above the town of Melk stands Melk Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in 1089, and eventually rebuilt in the Baroque style between 1702 and 1736. It has a gorgeous and famous library holding centuries old manuscripts and books in Latin on religion, philosophy, science, and mathematics, and a collection of books published in later centuries in English and German. Candles were not allowed in the library for fear of fire so if a monk wanted extra light for reading, he could open a wall among the shelves behind which was a small chamber containing a desk and a chair and fronted by a window providing illumination as well as a comfortable, private alcove. The abbey runs a monastic school and also a school for children.

View of Melk from the abbey’s balcony and a ceiling detail.