2016. April 12.
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Pannonhalma (UNESCO) and Gyõr

The Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey 

The Territorial Abbey of Pannonhalma is the most notable landmark in Pannonhalma and one of the oldest historical monuments in Hungary, founded in 996. It is located near the town, on top of a hill (282 m). Saint Martin of Tours is believed to have been born at the foot of this hill, hence its former name, Mount of Saint Martin, from which the monastery occasionally took the alternative name of Márton-hegyi Apátság. This is the second largest territorial abbey in the world, after the one in Monte Cassino.

Its notable sights include the Basilica with the Crypt (built in the 13th century), the Cloisters, the monumental Library with 360.000 volumes, the Baroque Refectory and the Archabbey Collection (the second biggest in the country). Today there are about 50 monks living in the monastery. The abbey is supplemented by the Benedictine High School, a boys boarding school. It was founded as the first Hungarian Benedictine monastery in 996 by Prince Géza, who designated this as a place for the monks to settle, and then it soon became the centre of the Benedictine order. The monastery was built in honor of Saint Martin of Tours. Gézas son, King Stephen I donated estates and privileges to the monastery. Astrik (Anastasius) served as its first abbot.

The monastery became an archabbey in 1541, and as a result of Ottoman incursions into Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries it was fortified. During one and a half centuries of the Turkish Occupation, the monks, however, had to abandon the abbey for shorter or longer periods of time. Only later were they able to start the reconstruction of the damaged buildings. During the time of Archabbot Benedek Sajghó, a major baroque construction was in progress in the monastery.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, rich Baroque adornments and extensions were added to the complex and much of its current facade dates from this time. It received its present form in 1832, with the library and the tower, which was built in classicist style. The 18th century, the era of the Enlightenment also influenced the life of the monasteries. The state and the monarchs judged the operation of the communities according to immediate utility, by and large tolerating only those orders which practiced nursing and education. In the 1860s, Ferenc Storno organized major renovations, mostly in the basilica.

After 1945 Hungary became a communist state and in 1950 the properties of the Order and the schools run by the Benedictines were confiscated by the state, not to be returned until after the end of communism in Hungary. In 1995, one year before the millennium, the complex was entirely reconstructed and renovated. In 1996, "the Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its Natural Environment" was elected among the World Heritage sites.

The present church of Pannonhalma, a crowning achievement of the early Gothic style, was built at the beginning of the 13th century during the reign of Abbot Uros, and was consecrated most likely in 1224. Recent archaeological findings under the floor level of the west end of the basilica date from the 11th century. The oldest segment currently seen in the basilica is the wall of the southern aisle. Dating from the 12th century, it is a remnant of the second church to stand on the site, consecrated in 1137 during the reign of Abbot Dávid.

The church was extended during the reign of King Matthias, in which the present-day ceiling of the sanctuary, the eastern ends of the aisles and the Saint Benedict chapel were completed. During the Turkish occupation the furnishings were entirely destroyed. The most significant renovation after the occupation started in the 1720s, under Archabbot Benedek Sajghó. Ferenc Storno was the last to undertake a major renovation of the church in the 1860s. At this time the main altar, the pulpit, the frescoes of the ceiling, and the upper-level stained glass window depicting Saint Martin were added.

The library was finished in the first third of the 19th century. The longitudinal part of the building was planned and built by Ferenc Engel in the 1820s. Later János Packh was commissioned with extending the edifice, and the oval hall is his work. Joseph Klieber, a Vienna master was asked to ornament the interior of the building.

On the four sides of the oval halls ceiling the allegories of the four medieval university faculties can be seen: Law, Theology, Medicine and the Arts. The holdings of the library have been increasing ever since. Manuscripts from the time of Saint László have been catalogued in Pannonhalma. As of today, 360,000 volumes are kept in the collection.

In order to celebrate the millennium of the Magyars settlement in 896, seven monuments were erected in the Carpathian Mountain Basin in 1896. One of them can still be seen today in Pannonhalma. The edifice was originally covered by a 26-metre high, double-shell dome with a colossal brass relief on it representing the Hungarian royal crown. Due to its deterioration, however, the outer shell had to be dismantled in 1937–1938, and the building took its present form. Two windows shed light on the interior, a circular, undivided room covered by a low dome (i.e. the original inner shell). The unfinished fresco decorating the eastern wall is an allegorical vision of the Foundation of the Hungarian state and was painted by Vilmos Aba-Novák in 1938.

The construction of the Our Lady Chapel began in 1714. Originally it was a place of worship for the non-native population living in the vicinity of the abbey. The chapel, with its three baroque altars and small, 18th-century organ, was renovated in 1865, at which time the romantic ornamentation of the walls and the portal took place. The crypt beneath the church has served as the burial place of the monks for centuries. Near the Chapel stands a look-out tower from wood.

Wine making started in the Pannonhalma-Sokoróalja region when Benedictine monks founded the monastery of Pannonhalma in 996. Social and political turmoil following World War II made it impossible to continue the centuries-old traditions, since both the properties and the winery were taken over by the Communist state. In the ensuing decades, monks living in Pannonhalma did not give up hope of resuscitating their wine-making traditions. Since the fall of Communism, the monks have revived the viticultural traditions and the wineries. In 2000, the abbey repurchased vineyards that had been confiscated by the Communists and began replanting grape vines in the same year. The winery is situated on a 2000 m² plot with a capacity of 3000 hls. 

The main grape varieties are Rhine Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Gewürztraminer, Welschriesling, Ezerjó and Sárfehér. In addition, they have planted the more international Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, Pinot noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. They currently have 37 hectares under newly planted vines and the first harvest took place in autumn 2003.

 

Győr is the most important city of northwest Hungary, and—halfway between Budapest and Vienna—situated on one of the important roads of Central Europe. The city is the sixth-largest in Hungary, and one of the seven main regional centres of the country.

The area along the Danube River has been inhabited by varying cultures since ancient times. The first large settlement dates back to the 5th century BCE; the inhabitants were Celts. They called the town Arrabona, a name that was used for eight centuries; its shortened form is still used as the German (Raab) and Slovak (Ráb) names of the city. Roman merchants moved to Arrabona during the 1st century BCE. Around 10 CE, the Roman army occupied the northern part of Western Hungary, which they called Pannonia. Although the Roman Empire abandoned the area in the 4th century due to constant attacks by the tribes living to the east, the town remained inhabited.

Around 500 the territory was settled by Slavs, in 547 by the Lombards, and in 568–c. 800 by the Avars, at that time under Frankish and Slavic influence. Between 880 and 894, it was part of Great Moravia, and then briefly under East Frankish dominance.The Magyars occupied the town around 900 and fortified the abandoned Roman fortress. Stephen I, the first king of Hungary, founded an episcopate there. The town received its Hungarian name Győr. The Hungarians lived in tents, later in cottages, in what is now the southeastern part of the city centre. The town was affected by all the trials and tribulations of the history of Hungary: it was occupied by Mongols during the Mongol invasion of Hungary (1241–1242) and then was destroyed by the Czech army in 1271.

After the disastrous battle of Mohács, Baron Tamás Nádasdy and Count György Cseszneky occupied the town for King Ferdinand I while John Zápolya also was attempting to annex it. During the Ottoman occupation of present-day central and eastern Hungary (1541 - late 17th century), Győrs commander Kristóf Lamberg thought it would be futile to try to defend the town from the Turkish army. He burned down the town and the Turkish forces found nothing but blackened ruins, hence the Turkish name for Győr, Yanık kale ("burnt castle”). 

During rebuilding, the town was surrounded with a castle and a city wall designed by the leading Italian builders of the era. The town changed in character during these years, with many new buildings built in Renaissance style, but the main square and the grid of streets remained. During the following centuries, the town became prosperous. In 1743 Győr was elevated to free royal town status by Maria Theresa. The religious orders of Jesuits and Carmelites settled there, building schools, churches, a hospital, and a monastery. In the mid-19th century, Győrs role in trade grew as steamship traffic on the River Danube began. The town lost its importance in trade when the railway line between Budapest and Kanizsa superseded river traffic after 1861. The town leaders compensated for this loss with industrialization. The town prospered till World War II but, during the war, several buildings were destroyed.

A 100-year-old Raba factory on the River Danube close to the historical centre is to be replaced by a new community called Városrét. The mixed-use community will have residential and commercial space as well as schools, clinics and parks. The citys main theatre is the National Theatre of Győr, finished in 1978. It features large ceramic ornaments made by Victor Vasarely. The city has several historical buildings, for example the castle, and the Lutheran Evangelic church.

 

 

 

 

 

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