January 19, 2013

0304 & 0478 AUSTRIA (Lower Austria) - Wachau Cultural Landscape - Melk Abbey (UNESCO WHS)

Posted on 10.08.2012 and completed on 19.01.2013
In 976, Leopold I, the first Margrave of the area of present-day southwestern Lower Austria from the House of Babenberg, made the castle in Melk (situated on an isolated rock commanding the Danube, adjoining the Wachau valley) his residence. In 1089, Leopold II gave the castle to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey, who founded Stift Melk (Melk Abbey). Since then, monks have lived and worked there without interruption following the rule of Saint Benedict, managing to survive to the numerous threats arising in the about 1000 years, the main being the reign of Joseph II (who dissolved many Austrian abbeys), the Napoleonic Wars, and the Nazi Anschluss.

In the 12th century was founded a monastic school, the Stiftsgymnasium Melk, the monastery becoming quickly renowned for its manuscripts collection, but also for its scriptorium, a major site for the production of manuscripts. In the 15th century, the abbey, which had close ties with the Humanists at the University of Vienna, was the starting point of one of the most important medieval monastic reforms, the Melk Reform. Also it was a place of pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Coloman and to its great relic of the Holy Cross.

Today's Baroque abbey was built between 1702 and 1736 to designs by Jakob Prandtauer. Are famous the Stiftskirche (Abbey Church), with frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr, the Marmorsaal (Marble Hall), which contains pilasters coated in red marble and an allegorical painted ceiling by Paul Troger, the Kaisergang (Emperors' Gallery), decorated with portraits of Austrian royalty, and the abbey park, with a wonderful pavilion.

As a tribute to the abbey and its magnificent library, Umberto Eco named the narrator from its famous The Name of the Rose "Adson von Melk", and even more than that, the action of the novel begins and ends in this monastery, "a haven of peace and serene meditation". The abbey is part of the site Wachau Cultural Landscape, inscribed in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in December 2000.

About the stamps
On the first postcard
Last year, Austria Post began a series intitled Photographic Art in Austria, the first stamp depicting the work o.T. 014, 2003 by Eva Schlegel. On February 24, 2012, was issued the second stamp (the one from my postcard), showing the work Stöckl, by Elfie Semotan, a portrait of the famous Austrian TV presenter Claudia Stöckl.

On the second postcard
The stamp, depicting Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz (0.70€), is part of a definite series dedicated to the modern austrian architecture, obout which I wrote here.

Melk Abbey - Wikipedia
Melk Abbey - Spiritual Cultural Center - Stift Melk website
Abbey and Congregation of Melk - New Advent
Photo Art stamp from Austria - Rainbow Stamp Club

sender 1: Berta / Baikalsee (postcrossing)
sent from Hagenberg im Mühlkreis (Austria) on 26.06.2012

sender 2: Ana
sent from Salzburg (Austria) on 10.08.2012

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