The railway station of Melk is a very important destination, for the tourists that come, to Melk by train.
The building is placed, on the street, with which same name: Bahnhofstrasse (The Railway Station Street).
It is 300 south of Rathausplatz, the centre of the town.
The way from the railway station to the Abbey, one can reaches easily, in five minutes of foot walk.
Seven trains travel daily direct to Melk from Vienna.
The trip of Vienna to Melk, or turned back, doesn't last long, approximately 1 1/4 hours, and cost 13.90 Euro.
After several hours in the monastery it was a relief to go down the cobbled hill and find oneself right in the heart of Melk. This is a pictureque little town, probably quite typical of the region, but as it was the first town I'd visited in Austria, I was absolutely enchanted with it. Some of this was due to the christmas-card atmosphere from the crisp frosty weather and seasonal decorations but I think it's a town that would look good in all seasons. There was a tree in the Rathaus Platz,another on the Haupt Strasse and one also on the Haupt Platz. The photographs show this last tree with the Statkirche of Melk behind it. I've read good comments on this church on other VTers pages but somehow iIdid not feel like exploring any more churches that day. I liked it a lot from the outside though aand the simple white colour and tall spire were a refreshing change from all the yellow splendour at the monastery
Technically I think the Wachau Valley extends for about 30 kms between Krems and Melk. Driving through this area was a big thrill for me as it was the first proper glimpse I'd had of the Austrian countryside. Initially I had been disappointed when we left Vienna as the countryside for the first 15 kms or so was terribly flat and unexciting. Then gradually the terrain began to change with hillsides covered with vine terraces and wooden houses and villages springing up on the left.On the right hand side the Danube had now acquired cliffs and bluffs with monasteries and castles perched on ridiculously high hilltops. After a while I didn't know which side of the road to look at and the only thing I know for sure is that I must re-visit this area and cruise through the countryside on the Danube. Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to take a photo and the only one I have is this travesty taken through a bus window.
The Stein Haus, the square but tower-shaped house built on the rock was the other building I wanted to see in downtown Melk. This proved even more problematic than the Altar Brodlaten until at last....I came upon it behind the local church. I was duly thrilled, admired it, photographed it and told my friend all about it. She was impressed - one of the oldest buildings in Melk, a former tower fortification, built directly on top of a rock, overlooking the Danube and the house where the painter Walter Prinzel had a studio. Yes, we were both very impressed but I was a little bit puzzled about the Danube. Finally I convinced myself that the Danube was probably visible from the top windows and retired, pleased that I had foundwhat I was looking for. THis was fine until I got home a week later and discovered that this was not in fact the Haus am Stein at all. Still, I think it's a very fine example of a tower now used as a house and quite impressive in its own right.
I had seen pictures of this building on several VT pages and thought it was very quaint. Also, the name 'Altar Brotladen' seemed quirky and interesting to me and I really wanted to see it. It's on a junction where two streets diverge and faces the Rathausplatz with two little turretsand a wooden tiled roof. I learned from Globetrott's page that this used to be an outlet for three bakeries - hence the name - and that it was originally part of the medieval fortifications of the town. To me it looked like something out of a Grimms Fairy Tale and I was really looking forward to seeing it. Only problem, I couldn't seem to find it until eventually I discovered it almost hidden behind yet another Christmas tree. You have to lookvery closely to see the two turrets.
I took photo's of the Maria Taferl Basilica frescoes, at the time thinking they were "different!"
It wasn't until I returned home, that I learnt there is a story being told in the frescoes, so now I will tell you....
The story goes that where the Basilica is located, there used to be lots of Fir trees, and one old oak which is where the church now stands.
One day an old frail man went up the hill to collect brush-wood. He was tired, so rested under this Oak tree. Later he happened to look up to the tree top, and saw a board with a crucifix painted on it that hadn’t been there before. He immediately knelt down and prayed to God, begging him to make him as strong as he used to be when he was young, so that he could earn his living like before and not be forced to live off charity. He then fell asleep. When he woke up he felt very refreshed and full of energy.
He told his village people, and soon many made their way from the village to the Oak tree to pray.
One day, the old oak was struck by lightning and a lot of it was burnt, leaving only the board with the crucifix undamaged.
A young man named Thomas Pachmann, passed by and saw that most of the tree was burnt and dead. He decided to cut the oak down. At his first attempt, the axe hit his leg instead of the tree, but he took no notice of it. He tried again and the axe hit his other leg so badly that blood gushed out of the wound immediately. Full of pain he looked up to heaven and all of a sudden noticed the board with the crucifix undamaged in the tree top. He immediately knelt down and asked God for forgiveness for what he tried to do.
When he got up, he noticed to his astonishment that both his wounds had healed and he was free of pain. He immediately went down to Marbach and told the people what miracle had happened to him. Later the old oak even grew leaves again.
One night, a sick man was woken by a heavenly light, and a voice said: “Alexander, take the statue of the Virgin Mary to the oak on the Tafelan and you will be well again!”
Next morning he took the statue and climbed up the hill to the Tafelan. He removed the old board with the crucifix and put the Virgin Mary statue in the hole of the tree. From that time on he was well and healthy again.
After many more miracles were reported from the old oak with the Virgin Mary statue, it was finally decided to build a church in the place of the oak
Since that time many pilgrims visit Maria Taferl every year.
Now when you look at the frescoes you will understand the story behind them.
We crossed over the river at Melk, and drove alongside the Danube passing by many little villages. on our way towards Vienna.
We had to make a stop at St. Michaels, a fortified Gothic Church, which has a legend to it! It is a Wehrkirche, the German word for a church that was also used as a castle during times of war.
It dates back to the 10th century and was fortified in the 15th century by adding a defence tower and battlements making this the oldest parish church of the whole Danube valley. The Renaissance bell tower pinnacle was built in 1544 after a fire.
So, now I will tell you the legend of this Church........
During a storm in Winter, it snowed so much that the gap between the hill and the church was quickly completely filled with it. One could literally step from the hill onto the church’s roof.
In the evening, seven young freezing rabbits hopped down and sat on the roof of the church for a rest. They were so tired, they fell asleep, awakening to find all the snow had melted overnight, and they were trapped on the Church roof.
So now, when you look at the Church roof, you will see the 7 Rabbit's still sitting there, only now they are grey weathered stone figures.
I went into the Tower and had a look, then to the Church and to the carefully, tended Cemetery, full of flowers. It really was lovely!
BY CAR... A1 Vienna to St. Pölten, on S33 to Krems, continue on the B3 through Dürnstein to
Weißenkirchen and Sankt Michael.
The B3 also called Romantikstraße goes along the Danube from Krems to Grein.
Maria Taferl is only 16kms from Melk. I you have the time, do make the trip here as the views and the Basilica are wonderful.
Maria Taferl is the most important pilgrimage site in Lower Austria, and Austria's second-largest.
We drove the car up the hill and parked in the Carpark at the Basilica.
There was a Church service on, so we wandered across to the wall where the telescopes were located. It was wow, what a view, one not to be missed! We were overlooking the Danube river and patchwork farms of the Danube valley. It was one of the most beautiful rural sights we had seen.
The Basilica in Maria Taferl, is the second most important place of pilgrimage in Austria.
It is believed that the church stands on a site formerly used as a place of worship by the Celts, and in the courtyard is a 2000 year old sacrificing stone.
The Basilica of Maria Taferl was built between 1660 and 1710 after the diocese in Passau was convinced about the miracles that happened here.
Inside are beautiful frescoes dating from 1714 - 1718, a gilt pulpit and a monumental high altar enclosing the miraculous icon of the pieta by Josef Gotz.
From across the other side of the Danube river, we could see a couple of large yellow building's. Wondering what they were, we found one was once a monastery with an adjacent hospital, and other were cavalry barracks. The Barracks were built by the Emperor Karl VI in 1723.
Along with its primary purpose, the barrack's were also used as a sick bay and a ration storeroom for the army. In the 19th century, a branch of the mining labour union used the former monastery building, and then in 1860, the monastery was pulled down and replaced by a bigger building complex.
Today it is a nursing home for old and mentally ill patients.
It is situated between the hydro-electric power station and the historic town centre of Ybbs an der Donau.
This magnificent Castle sits upon a cliff overlooking the Danube River. What a view!
The first historical mention of the castle can be found in 907.
Over the centuries, the castle changed hands many times till 1593, when the Austrian imperial family took it over.
17 August 1887 at Castle Melk, the last Austrian Emperor died in this Castle.
I don't think it is open to the public.
20kms from Melk
We saw any number of interesting churches along the banks of the Danube. Invariably they sported the onion domes favored in the eastern pasrts of Europe.
Update: I have been given further information from my VT friend globetrott:
"The church on the hill is :
- a well known church for pigrimage & a great terrace with a view of the valley and of course lots of restaurants for hungry pilgrims..."
Thanks Michael--it is these types of emails from friends that makes VT such a great place to spend some time.
Located 25kms from Melk and on the same side of the Danube River, is the town of Ybbs an der Donau.
It has an old town, so some interesting buildings to see.
One of them, was the WINE TOLL, one of the oldest buildings in town. It no longer has its Gothic roof so it has lost some of its medieval appearance, although the Gothic walls are still preserved.
In the middle ages it was where the imperial tolls were paid. The ships had to stop at Ybbs and declare their goods, which helped the city at that time to great wealth and prestige.
Today the building is used as a Police school.
There are a few more things to do at the Basilica and surrounds.
One is to visit the Treasury if open when you are there.
The treasury is painted in the style of Folk Baroque, including frescoes on the ceilings which depict the creation story, and others on the walls portraying accounts of miraculous healings and rescues.
Opening times: April - October, Tuesday - Saturday, 10.30 - 4pm
April - October, Sundays and public holidays, 9.30 am - 4.30pm
ADMISSION.....Adults € 3, - ...Children € 1.50
There are also plenty of stalls that sell religious items. We didn't want any of these, but did want a coffee which was available at one of these.
there is a memorial at the site of the former Nazi-concentration camp. Its address is:
Gedenkstätte Melk, Schießstadtweg, opening hours Thu-Sun 10am-2pm, or call Mrs Blak, +43 (2752) 51888.
There are 2 pictures of the memorial at http://www.mkoe.at/
unfortunately the website seems to be available only in german
Melk is a small city by the river Danube in Lower Austria, about 70 kms west of Vienna. The city is famous for its historic Benedictine Abbey.See more details at the City of Melk website, at