Wachau Valley, Austria

August 2016: Our day began with a bicycle ride along the Danube River from Durnstein towards the town of Wibenkirchen where we visited a winery. The ride was picturesque with stone walls and terraced vineyards.   On returning to the boat, we spent a few hours motoring towards Melk. The banks of the Danube was scenic with townscapes flanking the river.  The hill sides were spotted with churches, medieval fortresses, vineyards, colourful houses, and the ever present clay tiled roofs.

On arrival to Melk, we visited an abbey originally believed to be built as a castle in the 10th century.  The castle was handed over to the Benedictines in the 11th century and the fortified abbey experienced history of turbulent times including raids, and eventual fires.  In the 18th century the buildings were rebuilt as an example of Baroque architecture.   There are said to be 497 rooms and 1365 windows.  A large-scale 26-year restoration beginning in 1975. The complex houses numerous art treasures, and has an extensive library.  The monks at the Benedictine abbey in Melk, Austria, are said to have owned a copy of a Gutenberg Bible that in 1926 was sold and eventually given to Yale University.    Today the 30 monks who still live in and maintain the Abbey, which also houses a school of 900+ students, survive thanks to the admission paid by the ½ million tourists who wander through it every year.

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