Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Great Architecture: The Pannonhalma Benedictine Archabbey

For years I have been looking at it from afar. The town of Pannonhalma in Western Hungary is along the way as I often drive in the summer from Germany to our cottage at Lake Balaton. The abbey sits high atop a hill, clearly visible from the road. When one has just driven (or is about to drive, as in the case of the way back) for eight to ten hours, stopping for a bit of sightseeing is generally out of the question. So this year I took advantage of having flown to Budapest directly, and not having to simply drive by the Pannonhalma Archabbey, I planned a day trip to make it our destination.

The abbey is one of the oldest buildings in Hungary, having been founded in the year 996. Yes, it is over a thousand years old. And it looks mighty well for its age. As expected of a compound structure with such history, the archabbey is a beautiful blend of architectural styles throughout these past thousand years. On the picture above, the building on the left is part of the refectory, built in the 1720s in baroque style.

The medieval walls have seen 1000 years of history, both peacetime and wars. 

A small walkway connects the library building to the cathedral.

 The door on the left leads into the library. The surrounding building was 
finished in the beginning of the 19th century.

The present library was built in the early 1800s. The collection which in 1786 had 
four thousand books, has suffered losses in the course of the abbey's history.   

At the end of the 11th century, there were already 80 volumes in the collection. 
Today it houses 400 000 books. Aren't they gorgeous?

The ornate library building is one of the highlights of the abbey tour.

The gothic basilica was built in the beginning of the 13th century, and consecrated in 1224.

Parts of the basilica's wall date back to an even earlier church, consecrated 
almost a hundred years earlier, in 1137.

The monastery was built during King Mathias's reign, the work starting in 1472, finishing in 1486. Herbs grow in the paradisum, the interior garden of the cloisters.

Looking through a window in the cloisters into the paradisum. Lovely 15th century architecture.

An old drawing of the archabbey.

The grounds are home to an arboretum and herb gardens, lavender fields, an herb distillery and a winery. 

The scent of lavender lingers in the air.

The Pannonhalma Archabbey was thoroughly renovated in 1995, with a new visitors center constructed below the walls and the arboretum.  A year later, in 1996 the abbey and its surroundings became a World Heritage site. If you ever are in the neighborhood, do take time in visiting this historical gem of a a place. For more information visit their web page.

No comments:

Post a Comment