Last November, I took a river cruise down the Danube beginning in Nuremburg, Germany and ending in Vienna, Austria. The baroque architecture of Bavaria is awe inspiring! One of the stops that left a huge impression on me was Melk Abbey in Austria.
Upon arriving at the abbey, one passes through a domed archway with one of the most beautiful ceilings I have seen. Little did I know then that this was just a teaser!
The courtyard featured an unusual juxtaposition of modern with the Baroque with these murals depicting the four Virtues.
After a quick tour of the very modern exhibit on the history of the abbey, we entered the library. In a Benedictine abbey the library is considered the second most important room. The church obviously being first. Now, those who know me know that I am seldom at a loss for words, but I could only stand there speechless as I looked around admiring the thousands of beautifully leather bound books that filled the gilt highlighted bookcases. Then I looked up…. My breath literally caught! The ceiling frescoe was painted by Paul Troger in 1731.
Once they were able to drag me out of the library, we passed through a smaller room with a tromp l’oeil mural that was so realistic that I had to go up and touch it to make sure it wasn’t a carving. And the stairs!
We then entered the Marble Hall. This name is a little misleading as the majority of the marble in the Marble Hall was created with paint. The ceiling contained another fresco by Paul Troger with the architectural painting by Gaetano Fanti. The perspective on both the ceilings was such that when you looked at it from dead center of the room the proportions are perfect. View it from against the wall and the view is skewed. The colors were so vibrant and rich it was hard to believe that these frescoes were 300 years old!
Of course, they saved the best for last….the church itself. Talk about over stimulation! A decorative artist’s dream.