We enjoyed a beautiful day on the Danube River exploring the Wachau and Danube Valleys. The scenery was spectacular with the small villages and castle ruins dotting the shoreline as we traveled from Spitz (the famous wine growing town from which 1000 buckets of wine were harvested...1 bucket=56.5 liters) to our final destination the Benedictine Abbey in Melk (winner of the "Best Historic Destination of the World" in 2008).
Danube RiverThe blue Danube against a beautiful blue sky. The Wachau Valley is designated UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architectural and agricultural history. Villages, vineyards, and castle ruins dot the shore.
Danube - sunbathingSomething they don't mention in the travel brochures are the many sun bathers; suits optional (not to worry, these sun bathers have their suits on!)
Danube - DurnsteinThe most beautiful Wachau town is legendary Durnstein, with its striking blue church steeple and the ruins of the castle in which King Richard the Lionheart of England was imprisoned and later freed with the help of his loyal minstrel, Blondel
Danube - Schonbuhel MonasterySituated on a rock ledge with two large rocks (Kuh & Kalb - Cow & Calf) in front that are a danger to all vessels passing by
Benedictine Melk AbbeyThis was once a castle. In 1089, Leopold II of Babenberg (Austrian ruler before the Hapsburgs) gave it to the Benedictine monks. Today, black-robed Benedictine monks still stroll amidst the marble sculptures and frescoed walls.
Abbey - view from the terrace balconyFrom the terrace we had a wonderful view of the Danube, the Wachau valley, and the town of Melk. Napoleon used this as a lookout when he used Melk as his headquarters for his campaign against Austria.
Abbey ChurchThe church has an astonishing number of windows and is richly embellished with marble and frescoes.
Abbey Church - AlterThe meaning of the Melk Abbey Church can be seen in the inscription on the high altar - “Without a legitimate battle there is no victory”. It is most strongly expressed by the monk’s battle for virtue, the theme of the nave fresco, in a depiction of St. Benedict. The victory in this battle is portrayed on the one hand by the large victory crown on the high altar and the dome frescoes, in which the heavens open, and on the other hand by the victor’s laurels over the monk, who has achieved spiritual fulfillment, in the nave fresco.