The House of Babenberg, Austria’s first ruling dynasty, arrived here more than 1,000 years ago. A castle, which was in the possession of a Bavarian count named Sizzo, was first mentioned in 830 in connection with the name Melk. The emperor pledged Leopold I a narrow strip of land along the Danube – located roughly between the tributaries of the Enns and Traisen – in the centre of which the castle was situated. He conquered it and made it his first main castle. From that point onwards, Melk was inseparably linked with the House of Babenberg, which had been in power since 976, as well as the Marca Orientalis of the Holy Roman Empire which the dynasty controlled. This entity was referred to as ‘Ostarrichi’ and formed the beginnings of Austria as we know it today. During the course of the following one hundred years or so, Melk Castle dwindled in significance as the Babenbergs extended their domain to the East – to Tulln, Klosterneuburg, and Vienna. However, some of the first Babenbergs were buried at Melk, and the family wanted to ensure that these important graves of the dynasty were not neglected but rather passed into the hands of the church. This was likely one of the reasons that an abbey was founded here.
Stift Melk, Stiftsführungen
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