Starting at the end of the 17th century this region of the Danube experienced many decades of growth and stability. Roads, trade and architecture flourished. Many buildings were erected – or rebuilt in the ornate Baroque style and nowhere is this flamboyant style more prevalent than along the Danube River in Austria.
A stellar example is the Melk Abbey (Stift Melk) a famous Benedictine abbey located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River adjoining the lovely Wachau Valley.
This wonderful spiral stairway is actually plaster painted as faux “marble.”.
I couldn’t resist seeing what it would look like had the painters gone wild with color – this really looks more like a painting than a photograph don’t you think?
The abbey was founded in 1089 when a member of the ruling dynasty gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks. A monastic school founded in the 12th century (which now caters to nearly 900 pupils of both sexes) and library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. Today the library still houses countless medieval manuscripts, including a famed collection of musical manuscripts.
The impressive abbey you see today was rebuilt in the Baroque style between 1702 and 1736. Particularly noteworthy are the frescos. The abbey managed to survive wars (it was confiscated by the Nazis during WWII) and other threats through the centuries.
This ceiling is flat but painted with perspective illusion (trompe l’oeil) to appear higher and arched.
Following the Danube River downstream you arrive in Vienna.
Vienna at edge of the Danube
If you are a fan of Baroque-Roccoco style you would not want to miss Schönbrunn Palace the 18th century summer residence of the imperial family, the Hapsbergs.
Empress Maria Theresa chose Schönbrunn in 1740 as her permanent residence; Mozart played for her. Emperor Franz Joseph was born here in 1830. We wandered the huge park gardens (replete with fountains, statuary, monuments and a zoo).
The fabulous Viennese Opera House was the model for the opera in Budapest.
Have you ever seen better examples of the extravagant Baroque style?