Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma 
and its Natural Environment (1996)
Hungary

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The first Benedictine monks settled here in 996. They went on to convert the Hungarians, to found the country's first school and, in 1055, to write the first document in Hungarian. From the time of its founding, this monastic community has promoted culture throughout central Europe. Its 1,000-year history can be seen in the succession of architectural styles of the monastic buildings (the oldest dating from 1224), which still today house a school and the monastic community. 

Hungary 1996. Pannonhalma Monastery. Entry Portal. Hungary 1996. Pannonhalma Monastery. North Wing of the Monastery. Hungary 1996. Pannonhalma Monastery. Main Library. Hungary 1996. Pannonhalma Monastery. Dining Room.

The history of the abbey, built on the holy mount of the Roman province of Pannonia (Mons Sacer Pannonia), is as old as the history of Hungary itself. The pagan Hungarian tribes arrived in the Carpathian Basin from the east in c. 896. 

Hungary 2002. Pannonhalma.

Their leader Géza and his son, the State founder Stephen I, recognised that the Hungarian people could only survive if they created a solid, feudal state and adopted Christianity. In order to spread Christian ideas and European culture, Géza invited Italian and Czech Benedictine monks into the country. Their first monastery was built in honour of a native of Pannonia, the Later Saint Martin, Bishop of Tours, in present-day France. The first buildings were destroyed, but on these foundations the church and the monastery were restored several times. 
  • Hungary 2002. Pannonhalma. 
The west apse is probably from the first church; the walls are the walls of the church consecrated in 1137, and the columns and the early Gothic vault were constructed in the first quarter of the 13th century. 

The damage caused during the Turkish period was restored in the baroque style around 1700. A significant part of the monastery was built at this time, including the refectory. In the first decades of the 19th century, the classical tower and library building were built, while the grammar school and the students hostel are 20th century buildings in the Italian style.

  • Hungary 2004. Pannonhalma. 

Hungary 2004. Pannonhalma.

Stepping through the modern main gate, we are greeted on the right by the baroque abbey and on the left by the column entrance to the grammar school and hostel. More than 40 monks live in the abbey, and the number of boys studying in the school is around 320. Walking further on through the courtyard, you reach the inner courtyard, where the neo-classical façade covers the medieval part of the building.

The abbey church, which has the status of basilica, has Romanesque, early Gothic, late Gothic and Renaissance parts, which were brought into harmony with each other during the restoration of the 19th century. The late Gothic cloister running along the south side of the church (1486) is connected to the church by the most valuable architectural sculpture of the monastery, the Porta Speciosa, the Ornamental Gate. The baroque refectory is situated near the cloister, as are the abbey archives. The archives contain valuable documents, such as the earliest written example of the Hungarian and Finno-Ugric languages, the Tihany Abbey deed of foundation and the Pannonhalma census letter, issued around 1090 with the first Hungarian book list. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Hungary (on this website). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Hungary-section, for further information on such properties. 

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Revised 21 nov 2006  
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