Melk Abbey town on the Danube
This is largely due to the Abbey, a former palace which dominates the small but perfectly-formed town from its rocky bluff. Napoleon strutted his stuff here and the Kaisergang or Emperor's Gallery, a corridor in the Abbey is lined with portraits of the Austrian nobility crushed beneath his heel. The highlight of the Abbey however is its baroque church, a controlled chaos of lushly embellished marble and frescoes, simply drenched in gold. But a close second is the Marmorsaal, or Marble banqueting hall, a magnificent baroque riot of marbled pillars – look out for the gold bewigged caryatids! - and frescoed ceiling by Paul Troger which seems to soar upward vertiginously into infinity. A similarly vertiginous effect is experienced on the tightly circular marble convolutions of the Abbey library stairwell, where you can appreciate why Umberto Eco researched his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose here. While the Abbey cannot – shouldn't – be avoided, the town itself is a delightful place to recover from its profusion of historical and architectural wealth.
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