Hawkins Photo Alchemy

Photography by Joseph B Hawkins, Jr.

"Alchemy" - A Power or Process of Transforming Something Common Into Something Special

Melk has been an important spiritual and cultural center in Austria for over 1000 years. Starting out as the residence of the ruling Babenberg family, it became a Benedictine monastery in 1089, founded by Leopold II. For over 900 years monks have continually lived and worked in Stift Meld following the fules laid down by St Benedict. They are active in the parishes, the school (currently with 904 pupils), the local economy, culture and tourism.

Since 1978 extensive restorations of the splendid Baroque buildings have been carried out and adapted to meet the needs of the school, visitors and cultural events. Stift Melk is one of the finest attractions in Austria and one of Europe’s great cultural heritage sites.

The well known Collegiate church at the entry of the Wachau valley is on of the most important buildings in the Baroque style in Europe. The monastery was destroyed and rebuilt several times.

Today’s architecture dates from the beginning of the 18 century. Jakob Prandtauer, a young Tyrolean master builder created it between 1701 and 1726. It is hard to imagine a more splendid example of baroque. From the terrace in front of the church, you can enjoy a breathtaking sight of the valley of the Danube, as it stretched towards the east.