We boarded the boat in the afternoon and spent the first night traveling along the Danube west to Nuremberg (our ultimate destination on the cruise). While in Budapest we met our new friends Ann and Caroline who were from the Isle of Man (off the coast of England).
Cruise Friends...front Susan, Caroline and Ann
Our first stop along the way was Vienna. Unfortunately we only had a few hours to tour the city, but we made the best of it in the rain. After the mandatory city tour we set off on our own by subway to go to Schoenberg Palace to see a concert and tour the incredible gardens…too soon we had to head back to the boat for our overnight trip to our next stop in Melk and a visit to the monastery…
Major tourist attractions include the imperial palaces of the Hofburg and Schönbrunn (also home to the world’s oldest zoo, Tiergarten Schönbrunn) and the Riesenrad in the Prater. Cultural highlights include the Burgtheater, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Lipizzaner horses at the spanische Hofreitschule and the Vienna Boys’ Choir, as well as excursions to Vienna’s Heurigen district Döbling.
There are also more than 100 art museums, which together attract over eight million visitors per year. The most popular ones are Albertina, Belvedere, Leopold Museum in the Museumsquartier, KunstHausWien, BA-CA Kunstforum, the twin Kunsthistorisches Museum and Naturhistorisches Museum, and the Technisches Museum Wien, each of which receives over a quarter of a million visitors per year.
There are many popular sites associated with composers who lived in Vienna including Beethoven’s various residences and grave at Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) which is the largest cemetery in Vienna and the burial site of many famous people. Mozart has a memorial grave at the Habsburg gardens and at St. Marx cemetery (where his grave was lost). Vienna’s many churches also draw large crowds, the most famous of which are St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Deutschordenskirche, the Jesuitenkirche, the Karlskirche, the Peterskirche, Maria am Gestade, the Minoritenkirche, the Ruprechtskirche, the Schottenkirche and the Votivkirche.
If you should ever go, one day is definitely not enough for Vienna!!!!!
Schoenberg Palace, Austria
Melk Abbey or Stift Melk is an Austrian Benedictine abbey, and one of the world’s most famous monastic sites. It is located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Danube in Lower Austria, adjoining the Wachau valley.
The abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A school was founded in the 12th century, and the monastic library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. The monastery’s scriptorium was also a major site for the production of manuscripts. In the 15th century the abbey became the centre of the Melk Reform movement which reinvigorated the monastic life of Austria and Southern Germany.
Today’s impressive Baroque abbey was built between 1702 and 1736 to designs by Jakob Prandtauer. Particularly noteworthy is the abbey church with frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr and the impressive library with countless medieval manuscripts, including a famed collection of musical manuscripts and frescos by Paul Troger.
Due to its fame and academic stature, Melk managed to escape dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other Austrian abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790. The abbey managed to survive other threats to its existence during the Napoleonic Wars, and also in the period following the Nazi Anschluss that took control of Austria in 1938, when the school and a large part of the abbey were confiscated by the state.
The school was returned to the abbey after the Second World War and now caters for nearly 900 pupils of both sexes.
Since 1625 the abbey has been a member of the Austrian Congregation, now within the Benedictine Confederation.
In his well-known novel The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco named one of the protagonists “Adso von Melk” as a tribute to the abbey and its famous library.
Melk Abbey Library