PANNONHALMA ARCABBEY IN HUNGARY
Pannonhalma Archabbey is a Benedictine archabbey situated in south-west of Dier city. This is one of the oldest Hungarian monasteries, and it so is also the second largest abbey in the world. In the year 996 first monks came to Pannonhalma under the order of prince Geza. In 1001 the monks performed the consecration service of a small church on the hill of Saint Morton. That is why the second name of Pannonhalma is the Monastery of Saint Morton. Centuries-longhistory of the abbey tells about numerous rebuilding and reconstructions. Its eclectical appearance proves it and unites gothic, roman, renaissance, baroque and Turkish styles.
The year1541 was remarkable for Pannonhalma Archabbey as it is whenthe abbey received the status of archabbey. High walls were constructed around it as the threat of the Ottoman Empire was advancing. After such reconstruction the monastery turned into a fortress. However, even despite such strengthening of the walls, the abbey had to leave monastery several times during the period of the XVI – XVII centuries to the Turkish mercy. As a result, some part of buildings was plundered and destroyed. At the beginning of the XVIII, century when the Ottoman oppression had been liquidated, Pannonhalma Archabbey was completely rebuilt and reconstructed. As a result, buildings acquired baroque appearance, though the library and the bell-tower, newly built constructions are made in the style of classicism.
The most prominent building of Saint Morton Monastery is a monumental basilica with its underground chapel constructed in the XIII century. Due to numerous historical perturbations, unfortunately, the basilica wasn’t saved in its original appearance but some segments give a chance to judge about its image. Found during archeological excavations, walls parts of northern side altar or gates in the sacristy tell us about it. True significance of Pannonhalma is realized due to interior decoration and adornments of the holy place. Bright colorful fresco paintings with star-like domes, lace stone carvings, decorations made of red marble and “golden” altar – harmonious combination of internal luxury and the highest spiritual status. Those will be the luckiest who have a chance to attend a concert of organ music.
Pannonhalma is one of the main Hungarian centers of education and culture which is proven by the image of an old folio that is present on the abbey’s coat of arms. There is a wonderful library in Pannonhalma that has 360 thousand tomes of various books and is the biggest monastery collection in the world. The abbey archive keeps the first monument of Hungarian writing - Benedictine rules of Tikhan abbey. Holding of the library was continuously enriched and growing, and as a result the area of building was also spreading. The last reconstruction was carried out in the first third of the 19th century. Without any hesitations the library can be called a true sanctuary of sciences. Massive wooden bookcases are installed along the walls of its two stories. They gleam with backs of folios. Arched ceilings are adorned with bright fresco paintings, and among them – allegorical images being the symbols of four departments of medieval universities, which are theology, law, medicine and the department of seven free arts. Another symbol of science is situated here – old huge globe. A sculpture of student is installed in front of the library entrance. He is bending over the desk and diligently making his notes. There are a lot of such students nowadays, who study in the church gymnasium of the monastery and they live here in the dorms on the territory of Pannonhalma.
Monastery canteen is another building really worth attention. It is very richly decorated and is characterized with baroque style gained in the XVIII century. Monastery abbot named Benedek Saigo ordered adornments of canteen interior from a monk of Carmelite monastery Atanas Marton Vitver. Frescos painted on the ceiling and walls were created during the period of 1728 – 1730 by a painter from Switzerland named Davide Antonio Fossatti. St. Istvan is painted on the central ceiling painting, and wall paintings represent plots of the Holy Scriptures - the Temporal of Christ in the Wilderness, Daniel in the cave with a lion and many others, as well as scenes from life of St. Benedict.
Pannonhalma can rightfully boast about its wonderful botanic garden called Forest nursery. Structure of the park is really unique as spirituality and rationality are skillfully mixed here. A part of the park is used for scientific purpose, at the same time a wonderful park bosket is at your disposal for walking.
A number of famous Christian leaders visited Pannonhalma including Ioan-Pavel II the Pope, ecumenical patriarch, Dalai-lama, Varfolomey I. In the year 2000, a film director Asztrik Várszegi shot a documentary about the abbey called “The Mediator”.
And naturally, you can’t even imagine a European monastery without winemaking. Here, the tradition of wine-growing took the beginning in old times (the X century), in other words – the time of abbey foundation. Rows of grape-vines lined to the horizon line, and their opaque velvet bunches hang with juicy grapes – it makes a bright, unforgettable impression. Traditional sorts of this area include Sauvignon Blanc, Ray Risling, Gewurztraminer, Ezere, Sarfeker, Welshrisling. From the beginning of the XX century, monks started to grow more international sorts as well, such as Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.