Benedictine Abbey Melk

Leopold I, who was made Count of the area of present-day southwestern Lower Austria in 976, made the castle in Melk his residence, and his successors provided it with valuable treasures and relics. In 1089, Leopold II gave the castle to Benedictine monks from Lambach. Since then monks have lived and worked here without interruption following the rule of St. Benedict . Since the 12th century a school has been connected with the monastery, and valuable manuscripts have been collected and created in the library. Visual evidence of the monastery’s importance in the Baroque as well as of the outstanding status of the abbot at the time, Berthold Dietmayr, is the magnificent baroque building. This was built between 1702 and 1736 following plans by Jakob Prandtauer and with the cooperation of some of the most renowned artists of the time (J.M. Rottmayr, P. Troger, L. Matielli, A. Beduzzi, J.W. Bergl, P. Widerin, etc.). Although the monastery was spared from the fate of dissolution during the rule of Joseph II (1780-90), numerous state regulations were imposed on monastic life. The period of the two world wars brought great problems to the monastery once again. In addition to economic difficulties in the time of inflation came the threat of imminent dissolution by the National Socialists after the “Anschluss” in 1938. Fathers were threatened with arrest. Since the monastery was, thank God, not dissolved, it was able to survive the end of the war and the period of occupation fairly well.


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