How to get there ?
Road No 82 from M1 leads here from Gyor.
Short history of the archabbey
The city of Pannonhalma is most famous for its benedictine archabbey. In 996 prince Géza settled Czech monks on the “sacred hill” of Pannonia. The purpose of the founder was to create a bridge-head for medieval European culture. The first king of Hungary, Saint Steven (1000-1038), also frequently came about to visit the monastery which was built to honour Saint Martin of Tours. Abbot Uros (1207-1243), the builder of the current gothic church, repelled the mongols from under the walls of the monastery-fortress. Under abbot Máté Tolnai, the monastery raised to an advantaged position among the benedictine monasteries and became archabbey in 1541. During the 150 years of Turkish thraldom monks had to flee for shorter and longer periods of time. After the repulse of the Turkish forces the ruined buildings could be put in repair. Under archabbot Benedek Sajghó significant baroque constructions took place.
The 18th century, the era of enlightenment had its imprint on the life of the monks. The state and rulers judged the functioning of monasteries by its immediate usefulness, and recognized the raison d’étre of only those orders that dealt with healing or teaching. Since the tradition represented by the Regula of Saint Benedict accentuate on the life of the community rather than the work of the community, Joseph II terminated the activity of all houses of the benedictine congregation.
The order was restored in 1802, and was entrusted with secondary school teaching as its main field of action.
After 1945 the lordships of the order and the benedictine schools were secularized. Interestingly from 1950 on the operation of the high school of Győr and Pannonhalma were reauthorized. The monk community performed its work faithfully during the troublesome years, and laboured on the renewal of its liturgy and the preparation of the Hungarian lyrics and tunes of the lauds after the 2nd synod of Vatican (1963-1965).
After the end of communism, the benedictine community of Pannonhalma (alongside of continuing the running of the school) tries to find the wherewithal which would allow to fulfill its role in the church and in the world.
The main parts of the monastery
The archabbey of Pannonhalma was inscribed on the world heritage list due to its outstanding historical, cultural and architectural values.
The complex consists of the basilica, the monk’s chambers, the common lodging house for old priests, the cloister (quadratura), the refectory, the library, the artistic and scientific collections, the cartulary (archives), and the high school with its class-rooms, dormitory, dining-room and gymnasium. In the abbey more than 40 monks live, the number of pupils in the school is around 320.
The monk’s chambers, the common lodging house, the refectory and the high school is restricted from tourists. The archives cannot be visited because it contains exceptionally valuable material.
Visitable places of the monastery
The current building is the third church of the abbey which hides wall portions of the older churches. The consecration of the first church is dated in the sanad of Saint Steven from 1002. This scripture contains the information that the construction work was initiated by prince Géza, the father of Saint Steven.
In 1137 the chancellory of king Béla II issued a certificate that reports on the first rebuilding of the church. The ancient monument exploration discovered many wall portions of significant size of this second church building.
The only sure clue of the absolute chronology of the current third church is a royal charter issued in 1225 commemorating the consecration ceremony. The examination of architectural features reveals that three master groups worked on the construction.
The 10th to13th century Romanesque building was redesigned to Gothic style in 1486, and was expanded in the 16th century. The most beautiful and most valuable architectural details have survived from this period. Following the Turkish ravage and ruination it was substantially rebuilt in the first half of the 18th century with baroque elements. The today’s spectacular exterior of the church is determined by the 19th century neo-classical buildings. The imposing west facade with the 55 m high tower in the middle and the main library was built between 1824 to 1836, according to the plans of János Packh and Ferenc Engel. The basilica-style church has a rectangular shape elongated in east-west direction. The colonnades divide the building to a nave and two side-aisles. The windows of the nave aisle receive direct light because it is so much risen above the side-aisles. The north side chapels were built in the 15th century. Great values are the St. Benedict’s Chapel with dripstone vault and the St. Mary’s Chapel with a beautifully carved Renaissance gate. The shrine is star-shaped with net vault. The church furniture is from the sixties and seventies of the 19th century. The marble altar and pulpit were designed by Ferenc Stornó of Sopron.
The undercroft beneath the sanctuary was almost completely preserved in the original 13th century form. It is an early Gothic masterpiece. The decoration of capitals, keystones, guardian stones is notable. Each one has a different carving on it.
The church incorporates a large organ designed by dr. Kilián Szigeti and Tamás Tóth. The final disposition was reworked by Gábor Trajtler and dr. Lukács Áment. The design of the organ started in 1980 and the construction was finished in 1985. There are many organ concerts in the basilica throughout the year.
The basilica serves as a praying and worship place for the monks. They recite and sing laudes and vespers every day and there is an hour of prayer and a convention mass every day. On Sunday there is a mass for the people and one for families.
Cloister and Porta Speciosa
The cloister (quadrum or quadratura) was originally built in Romanesque style in the 13th century. It was restructured into Gothic style from 1472 to 1486 under king Matthias’ rule. On its corbels there are human, animal and plant figures representing symbolically the sins and virtues. Pannonhalma is the only unviolated example of the architectural arrangement of benedictine tradition. The cloister, the center of the monastery, is a hallway surrounding a quadratical garden. On its north side the basilica stands. To the east side was the chapter-house (or audit-room) where the monks and the abbot prayed and talked over the everyday tasks. The refectory originally connected to the south side. (A new refectory was built under abbot Benedek Sajghó in the 17th century.) Besides the refectory was the calefactory (in the medieval era the rooms were not heated in winter). At the west wing were the workshops and the scriptorium. In the little garden flowers and herbs were grown; it was the pharmacy of the medieval monastery. There is a 11 m deep medieval cistern and a sun-dial in the garden. The renovation of the cloister dredged up the “Volto Santo” Christ image from the 14th century which can be found on the south wall of the basilica. The chamber on the left side of Porta Speciosa served as a storage for a portion of the books of the monastery, since the monks used to read books of the saints while walking around in the cloister as instructed in the Regula of Saint Benedict.
In the Middle Ages one of the main entrances to the church was the Porta Speciosa (ornate entrance). This portal leads to the church from the cloister and it was crafted also in the 13th century. The basilica was mainly built for the monks not for the pilgrims, this is why the ornate entrance gives on to the cloister, not to outdoor space. There are five twin pillars to the left and five to the right made out of red marble with lime-stone capitals and with grey marble feet. The arches are alternately made out of red marble and lime-stone. The painting above the entrance depicts Saint Martin and is a memory of the renovation from 1875.
The library in the northwest corner was built in classical style (likewise the tower) between 1824 and 1827. The huge empire style library room is wrapped around by 36 marbled wood Ionic columns. They keep the carved choir, while 150 carved cherry wood cabinets cover the walls. On the ceiling frescoes (1830) Minerva, the goddess of science is enthroned in the clouds of Mount Olympus. Gray painted images depict the great antiquity philosophers, writers, poets, and worthy people of Hungarian history, literature and science. The 360 thousand-volume library is considered one of the greatest religious library in Europe. It contains many curiosities.
The collections of the abbey are divided into a numizmatic collection, stone collection, gravures and paintings. The area in the library lobby is organized into a permanent exhibition. The exhibition shows relics, vestments, jewelry, paintings, and finds of architecture and religious history.
Relics which have been found in and around the town are displayed in the vitrines. Most of the artifacts come from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age, the Roman period, the time of the migration and from the Turkish occupation period.
There are famous book copies, one of which is a copy of the foundation letter of Pannonhalma dating from 1001 and signed by King Stephen (Stephanus Rex). The other is the photocopy of the foundation letter of Tihany from the year 1055, which is the oldest Hungarian and finno-ugrian linguistic relic.
Among the approx. 30 paintings shown there are Dutch and Flemish, Italian, Spanish, French, German and Austrian artists. The most famous piece in the collection is the “Farewell in Brussels”, a painting by David Teniers of Netherlands.
The exhibition is open for visitors from March to November of 2013.
Centuries earlier the Roman wine culture was flourishing in Transdanubia, which was revived by the settled Benedictine monks. The abbey had its own winery until the secularization in 1945. After the end of communism this tradition was renewed in 2000 and a wine cellar was built and the the winery was re-launched in the fall of 2003. They grow the vines on their own plantations. On one hand they have bought back some of the former vineyards of the abbey, on the other hand, they established new plantations. The Pannonhalma wine region is part of the North-Transdanubian wine region, in which traditionally white grapes were planted. Although the main line of bearing is comely white wines, the winery is also experimenting with red wines which they consider promising.
The visit takes place by professional guidance organized by the Abbey Winery of Pannonhalma, during which guests will have an insight into the Benedictine wine culture, history, learn about the new buildings and the technological processes of wine making and can taste wines.
Please register in advance for a guided visit:
ABBEY WINERY OF PANNONHALMA
H-9090 Pannonhalma, Vár 1.
In fair weather our taster terrace is open from 12h00 to 19h00 between May and the end of August all days while in September only on weekends, with a beautiful view of the monastery lavender plantations and extending east a beautiful landscape unfolds before visitors. The weather permitting in this way guests who do not wish to participate in a cellar tour program, or just want to spend a pleasant afternoon in this unique setting also have the opportunity to taste current wines.
Opening hours of the archabbey and winery for tourists
Guidance in the winery
Cash-desk Opening hours
01/01 to 03/20
Individual visitors can view the sights of the monastery using an audio guide device, within the actual opening hours.
Guidance for individual visitors starts at 11h30 and 14h30 in Hungarian
Registration in advance necessary
10h00 to 17h00
03/21 to 04/30
Registration in advance necessary
09h00 to 16h00
06/01 to 09/30
Registration in advance necessary
09h00 to 17h00
10/01 to 11/11
Registration in advance necessary
09h00 to 16h00
11/12 to 12/31
Registration in advance necessary
10h00 to 15h00
Audio guide can be set to the following languages: Hungarian, German, English, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Dutch, Japan, Slovakian.
The duration of the visit is unconstricted, but visitors should leave the archabbey 1.5 hours after the cash-desk closes.
For organized groups personal guidance can be required by registration in advance and fixing the appointment. The guidance can start within opening hours at any time.
Information for visitors arriving by car. There is no parking possibility on the hill of the archabbey. The closest parking lot is about 200 meters away on Kosaras hill where the Viator Restaurant is located.
TriCollis Reservation Center
Tel.: (+36 96) 570 191
Our Lady (Boldogasszony) chapel
The Boldogasszony chapel can be visited from June to September between 9 and 17 hours. You can reach it by about a 15 minute walk from the archabbey. Its construction started in 1714, the baroque building was renovated in 1865 in romantic style. The chapel originally served as the parish-church for people living in the neighborhood. The main pieces of its furnishment are 3 altars and a little organ from the 18th century. The crypt under the building is the burial-place of the monks up to this day.
In 1896, seven millennial monuments were erected in Hungary, one of which is in Pannonhalma. The Hungarians occupied the Carpathian basin in 896. The monumets were set up to celebrate the 1000th year of this event. The Millennium Monument currently cannot be visited, but it can be viewed from the outside.
Arboretum (botanical garden) and Herb garden
Opposite the entrance of the Archabbey is the Arboretum, a botanical garden with hundreds of tree and shrub species, and a portion of them are special species and varieties rarely occuring in the country. It is also a valuable ornithological area, mainly because of the wide variety of songbirds. The Arboretum is a place for recreation and relaxation, but regular teaching and research work is going on as well.
In ancient times, monks carefully cultivated and collected plants to heal. We have data from the first decades of the 19th century about the scientific investigation of nature, and consciousness about shaping the natural environment of the monastery.
Arboretum of the Archabbey and herb gardens can be visited throughout the year,
– From May to September between 9 and 20 hours
– From October to April between 10 to 17 hours.
The Herb House and Rectificator Building is open
– From 30 March to 31 April: Tuesday to Sunday between 11 and 17 hours
– From 1 May to 30 September: Monday to Sunday between 11 and 17 hours
– From 1 October to 31 October: Tuesday to Sunday between 11 and 17 hours
The Viator Abbey Restaurant and Wine Bar is located in the new visitor’s building of the Archabbey of Pannonhalma, on the Kosaras hill, which is about 200 meters away from the entrance of the Archabbey.
Viator is the gastronomic symbol of the Benedictine community of Pannonhalma, traditional and modern at the same time. 11 km far from the M1 motorway, it is suitable for both tourists and business people during the daily rush for a relaxed lunch or dinner.Viator presents diversity with good price-value ratio, guests can simultaneously savor the Benedictine tradition and modern gastronomy. Viator is in harmony with the wonderful surroundings at the foot of the Archabbey and also provides a beautiful view of the ancient monastery. The staff was selected by the Radványi Roland consultant. This team of young people took a major challenge to show the culinary face of the 1000 year old Benedictine Abbey for those arriving to Pannonhalma. Viator plays a key role in the wines, especially the strategic partner Abbey Winery’s products – also including items that are only available in Pannonhalma – offered to you, but almost every wine-growing region is represented on the wine list. The expert staff seeks food and wine harmony at all times by professional advice, especially in the “wine evenings” this is the team’s endeavor. The building incorporates a technically well-equipped conference room which can be an optimal place for business meeting, professional trainings, team building programs and scientific consultations.
Monday 11h to 22h
Tuesday 11h to 22h
Wednesday 11h to 22h
Thursday 11h to 22h
Friday 11h to 22h
Saturday 10h to 23h
Sunday 10h to 21h
At the bottom of the hill a fishing lake can be found. The area is located in a nice natural surrounding.