Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey 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 founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A monastic school 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.
Today's Baroque abbey was built between 1702 and 1736 to designs by Jakob Prandtauer. Particularly noteworthy are the abbey church with frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr and the library with countless medieval manuscripts, including a famed collection of musical manuscripts and frescos by Paul Troger.
Due to its fame and academic stature, Melk managed to escape dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other Austrian abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790. The abbey managed to survive other threats to its existence during the Napoleonic Wars, and also in the period following the Anschluss in 1938, when the school and a large part of the abbey were confiscated by the state.
The school was returned to the abbey after the Second World War and now caters for nearly 900 pupils of both sexes.References:
Gisselfeld, a former monastery, is Denmark's fifth-largest estate. The three-storeyed Renaissance-style building has stepped gables, loopholes and a projecting tower over the main gate. The grounds include a moat, a well-kept park, lake, waterfall, gardens, greenhouse, and a fountain. The estate measures 3,850 hectares, including Hesede, Edelesminde, Brødebæk and Gødstrupgård, of which 2,400 hectares is forest.
Gisselfeld is first mentioned at the end of the 14th century when the owner was Bo Falk. At that time, there was a small manor situated some 2 km northwest of the site of today's main building. It stood next to an older fort, possibly the now demolished Valgestrup. Today's estate was founded by Peder Oxe til Nielstrup who built the manor from 1547 to 1575. It originally consisted of four interconnected red-brick wings, three storeys high with thick outer walls, a number of loopholes and large stepped gables. A protruding gate tower stands at the centre of the left wing. The fourth wing, now demolished, housed a chapel.
After Peder Oxe's death, his widow Mette Rosenkrantz til Vallø became the owner of the estate. After her death in 1588, her niece Karen Banner inherited Gisselfeld. She married Henrik Lykke til Overgaard whose family ran the estate until Kai Lykke was executed and relieved of all his rights in 1661. After a short period of ownership by the Crown, in 1670 the property was presented to Count Hans Schack as a reward for the part he played in the Swedish wars. In 1688, his son Otto Diderik sold the estate to Adam Levin Knuth whose family maintained ownership until 1699 when Christian V's illegitimate son took it over. As a result of his will, on his death in 1703 the manor should have become a convent but this did not happen until the death of his widow Dorothea Krag in 1754. Since 1755, under the name of Danneskiold-Samsøe his descendants have run the estate as 'Gisselfeld Adelige Jomfrukloster I Sjælland' (Gisselfeld Convent in Zealand for Virgins of Noble Birth). The 11th in line, Hele Danneskiold-Samsøe, has run Gisselfeld since 2010.
Today Gisselfeld houses a hotel, restaurant and provides event services.