The Benedictine Abbey of Tihany
The monastery was founded in 1055 by King Andrew I (who reigned from 1046 to 1060). It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Ányos. Its deed of foundation is the oldest coherent Hungarian written record to survive in its original form.
During the Mongol invasion, no harm came to the monastery or the surrounding demesne. The fortification protecting the abbey was built after the invading forces had left. The Turkish wars brought significant changes to the monastery: the monks left in 1534 and the heavily fortified structure became part of the border castle system of Lake Balaton. During the one-and-a-half-century-long Ottoman occupation, all artifacts of cloister life were destroyed.
The monks reclaimed the abbey in 1674, but many of its buildings were destroyed in the fire that broke out in 1683. The rampart was pulled down when the fighting ended, as it was no longer needed. The Baroque temple with its twin towers was built between 1719 and 1754, based on the plans of the Carmelite architect, Márton Wittwer.
Austrian Emperor Joseph II (who was also king of Hungary between 1780 and 1790) disbanded the Benedictine Order, and the monks were forced to leave the abbey. They were only allowed to return in 1802.
During a major restoration of the building in 1889, three prominent painters of the era (Lajos Deák-Ébner, Károly Lotz, and Bertalan Székely) were commissioned to decorate the church’s interior with murals.
Due to the disbanding of monastic orders by the state in 1950, the Benedictine monks once again had to leave their monastery. The parish remained active, but the monastery was first turned into an old age home, and later it functioned as a museum.
The monks were allowed to return to Tihany in 1990 and regained the monastery complex in 1994.
The most impressive parts of the building complex are the library and the refectory in the southern wing. The refectory’s vaulting is decorated with murals framed with stucco, depicting saints of the Benedictine Order and the House of Árpád as well as other Hungarian monarchs. The library’s furniture was sold after the Order was disbanded the first time, while its books disappeared after the second time.
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