Melk Abbey or Stift Melk is a Benedictine abbey, and one of the world’‘s most famous monastic sites.
Umberto Eco named one of the protagonists in his well-known novel The Name of the Rose as a tribute to the abbey and its famous library “Adso von Melk”.
The abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A school was founded in the 12th Century, and the monastic library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. The monastery was also a major site for the production of manuscripts. In the 15th Century the abbey became the centre of the Melk Reform movement which reinvigorated the monastic life of Austria and Southern Germany.
The abbey managed to survive other threats to its existence during the Napoleonic Wars, and also in the period following the Nazi Anschluss (takeover) of Austria in 1938, when the school and a large part of the abbey were confiscated by the state.
A pendulum of Foucault experiment was held, which was joined by Umberto Eco (the famous writer and author of “Foucault’‘s Pendulum”) on the 700th birthday of the cathedral.