Melk, Austria TO Budapest, Hungary.
SATURDAY 24 DECEMBER - Melk and Durnstein, Austria.
Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk, Lower Austria, Austria, on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube river, adjoining the Wachau valley. The abbey contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria's first ruling dynasty. The Abbey was constructed initially in 1089 and then in 1702 and for the next 34 years was changed into the Baroque style.
The Abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A monastic school, the Stiftsgymnasium Melk, was founded in the 12th century, and the monastic library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. The monastery's scriptorium 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.
We attended mass at 10.00pm in the lovely village church in Durnstein.
SUNDAY 25 DECEMBER - treavelling Durnstein to Vienna.
Happy Christmas everyone.
MONDAY 26 DECEMBER 2016 - A Day in Vienna - City Tour and a Concert at the Palace Liechtenstein tonight.
Vienna, Austria’s capital, lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. Its artistic and intellectual legacy was shaped by residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. The city is also known for its Imperial palaces, including Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ summer residence. In the MuseumsQuartier district, historic and contemporary buildings display works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and other artists.
We walked through the city centre. Here are some photos.
St Stephen's Cathedral was damaged in WW2.
The perfect way to finish a long walk is to enjoy the best coffee in the world.
Liechtenstein Palace was built in the early eighteenth century as a summer palace for the Liechtenstein family. Today it is home to the Liechtenstein Museum, which displays a private collection of paintings and sculptures in a sumptuous Baroque setting.
The Princely House of Liechtenstein was one of the wealthiest aristocratic families in Vienna. In the seventeenth century they built two palaces in the city, one in the Bankgasse in the center of the city (known as the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein) and a gartenpalais in Alsergrund, at the time a rural area just north of the city. The gartenpalais (garden palace) was used by the family during summertime, while the family lived in the stadtpalais (city palace) during the winter.
The summer palace was commissioned at the end of the seventeenth century by Prince Johann Adam Andreas I of Liechtenstein. It was completed in 1709 by the Italian architect Domenico Martinelli, who was also responsible for the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein in the Bankgasse. The exterior of the summer palace is sober, inspired by the classical designs of Roman villas. The interior is more elaborate, with a Baroque design and plenty of lively frescoes and paintings.
TUESDAY 27 DECEMBER - BRATISLAVA, CAPITAL OF SLOVAKIA.
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is set along the Danube River by the border with Austria and Hungary. It’s surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains, crisscrossed with forested hiking and cycling trails. The pedestrian-only, 18th-century old town is known for its lively bars and cafes. Perched atop a hill, the reconstructed Bratislava Castle overlooks old town and the Danube.
It was a day of sunshine and mostly clear skies. However, the wind was vicious and cuttingly cold.
The A4 from Wien to Bratislava is largely 60 kilometres crossing rich farmland with numerous wind farms. There are many crossovers over the highway for wild life.
Here is a photo of the castle at Bratislava. The photo after shows the Holocaust Memorial and the black marble wall depicting the synagogue. The Russians built a new bridge over the Danube and in the process levelled the Jewish Quarter.
The old town has numerous sculptures as public art.
I sought refuge from the cold in a cafe to have coffee and some home made cabbage soup.
This is the Primate's Palace built in the 17 th century. Napoleon signed peace treaties here on four separate occasions and failed to keep any of them.
WEDNESDAY 28 DECEMBER - BUDAPEST.
We had a fabulous guide to show us some of the highlights of Budapest. Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is bisected by the River Danube. Its 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. A funicular runs up Castle Hill to Buda’s Old Town, where the Budapest History Museum traces city life from Roman times onward. Trinity Square is home to 13th-century Matthias Church and the turrets of the Fishermen’s Bastion, which offer sweeping views.
We had a concert featuring some of the music of Franz Liszt in an old hall in a church run school for the blind.
We stopped at the Heroes Square. The central column celebrates the seven tribes that migrated from Western Siberia to the country over 1000 years ago. Laid out in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of Hungary, Heroes' Square is the largest and most impressive square of the city. Located at the end of Andrássy Avenue and next to City Park, Heroes’ Square is one of the most visited sights in Budapest. Surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Kunsthalle (Hall of Art) on the right, Heroes’ Square is also a station of the Millennium Underground.
The Millennium Monument in the middle of the square was erected to commemorate the 1000-year-old history of the Magyars. Archangel Gabriel stands on top of the center pillar, holding the holy crown and the double cross of Christianity. The seven chieftains who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary can be seen on the stand below. Statues of kings and other important historical figures stand on top of the colonnades on either side of the center pillar.
When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. The Habsburg emperors were replaced with Hungarian freedom fighters when the monument was rebuilt after World War II.
In 1989 a crowd of 250,000 gathered at the square for the reburial of Imre Nagy, former Prime Minister of Hungary, who was executed in 1958.
After dinner our ship did an illuminations tour along the Danube be. Budapest would have toe the prettiest city at night.
THURSDAY 29 DECEMBER - an early tart to catch an Air France flight to Paris for the next week.