Friday, June 15, 2018

The Wachau Valley, Durnstein and Melk Abbey

Today we sailed through the "Golden Wachau" Valley.  Terraced grape vines along its 25 mile stretch attest to the famous wine growing industry of the valley.  The picturesque villages hug the hills with ancient fortifications soaring above them.

One such village is that of Durnstein.  It became famous in 1192 when it's castle held the English king Richard I, the Lionhearted, who was captured on his way home from the Crusades and held for ransom.  The ransom was paid after a few months and Richard was released.

Today it is a popular tourist city.

It is rumored that Diana, Princess of Wales, would stay in the town's luxurious hotel and enjoy the fabulous scenery as she tried to avoid the paparazzi.

Further down the Danube is Melk Abbey, perched high above the town of Melk on the rocky hillside.

Leopold II gave the Benedictine monks one of his castles in 1089 to be used for a monastery.  One hundred years later a monastic school began.

With time, the monastary's library of manuscripts gained renown, as did the Abbey' production of hand inscribed copies of manuscripts.

Today's Abbey was constructed in the early 1700's in Baroque style.  The decoration lavish and awe inspiring.

Its library contains a large collection of Medieval manuscripts, including musical manuscripts.

Its school is still functioning, having a student body of almost 900 young men and women.

It is a piece of still living history.

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