Road trip around Austria
Melk Benedictine Abbey
Melk Abbey is one of the world’s most famous monastic sites, and its spectacular buildings are laid out around seven courtyards. The most prominent part of this massive 325-meter-long complex is the west end and its twin-towered church rising above a semicircular terrace range. Perched on a rocky outcrop high above the town of Melk and overlooking the Danube, the abbey contains numerous other great reasons to spend a few hours touring it: the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau; the remains of Austria’s first ruling family, the House of Babenberg; the superb 196-meter-long Imperial Corridor with its portraits of Austria’s rulers, including one of the Empress Maria Theresa; and the Imperial Rooms with their displays relating to the abbey’s history, along with statues and paintings.
Medieval Burg Hochosterwitz
To the east of St. Veit, on a crag rising some 160-meters above the valley, sprawls the imposing Burg Hochosterwitz, Austria’s most important medieval castle. After a turbulent history, the castle – first mentioned in 860 AD – was captured by the Khevenhüllers, and was enlarged in 1570 in the face of Turkish invaders. Never captured by a foe, the castle has remained in the Khevenhüller family since. The steep access road to the castle, the Burgweg, winds its way up through the 14 defensive gates to the beautiful arcaded courtyard where you’ll find the little chapel with its wall and ceiling paintings from 1570 and the church at the southwestern end of the castle with its high altar dating from 1729.
Krimmler Ache: Austria’s Tallest Waterfalls
The Krimmler Ache plunges 380 meters in three tremendous cascades and makes for an excellent excursion from the nearby village of Krimml. At an altitude of 1,076 meters, Krimml – perched high above the Salzachtal in a wooded valley – is a wonderful place to stop for a few days if you’re into hiking. In addition to various excellent walks to the waterfalls, there’s a rewarding climb to the Schettbrücke and continuing to the spectacular Krimmler Tauernhaus. From here, expert climbers can tackle the 2,911-meter-high Glockenkarkopf on the Italian frontier.