Visiting and staying at the Archabbey Pannonhalma in Western Hungary.

Just under two hours’ drive from Vienna, and only a little further south of the city of Györ, you will find a true “gem of human history”: the Archabbey of Pannonhalma (literally: the “Pannonian hill”). Its thousand-year history was recognised early on as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; moreover, Pannonhalma was founded directly by monks of the first Benedictine Order in Montecassino. Above the simple village of the same name, which is trying to shake off the last traces of communism, you will find a mighty building complex that has lived by a lot of change. “We were part fortress, part dissolved; then largely expropriated under communism,” Abbot Cirill tells us during our personal conversation, to which he serves “Laudes” herbal tea harvested in the monastic herb gardens. “The fall of communism has prompted us to rethink many of the archabbey’s traditional economic sectors. Our winery now is a top modern, internationally viable business; recently we have also built a brewery that brews beer according to Trappist rules.” We learn these and many other interesting facts by conversing with the cheerful and cosmopolitan abbot in his office, who also meets us on Instagram: “My students set up Facebook and Instagram for me,” he smiles modestly. With over 2000 followers, he is already an influencer 😀

Begegnung im Kloster: Im Gespräch mit Abt Cyrill von der Erzabtei Pannonhalma ...

Talking to abbot Cirill at the Archabbey of Pannonhalma …

 

... der weltoffene Abt, der uns im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes zu "Gott und die Welt" Rede & Antwort steht, zeigt uns stolz seine ebenso akribisch geführte Kommunikation via Social Media ...

… he talks to us about all matters related to the abbey, and also lets us in on his Social Media accounts  …

 

... wir erfahren: Dieses Kloster ist alles andere als weltfremd ...

… we learn: The mighty monastery is very open to the world indeed …

 

... und ein Besuch der Erzabtei Pannonhalma samt des zu ihren Füßen liegenden, gleichnamigen Dorfes, lohnt sich nicht nur wegen der tollen Aussicht.

… and you should visit Pannonhalma and its village by the same name, not only for its wonderful views but for its fascinating history and culture, too.

 

Did you know that the library of the Archabbey of Pannonhalma, for example, has almost half a million books (over 400,000!)? About half of them can be seen during the visit. This means that the stock far exceeds that of Austria's largest monastic library in Admont (with around 200,000 books in total)! Unbelievable!

Did you know that the library of the Archabbey of Pannonhalma, for example, has almost half a million books (over 400,000!)? About half of them can be seen during the visit. Its volume far exceeds that of Austria’s largest monastic library in Admont (with around 200,000 books in total)! Unbelievable!

 

The collegiate basilica can also be visited, for example as part of a guided tour or, as here, during the monks' choir prayer.

You may visit the abbey church as part of a guided tour, or during the monks’ choir prayer.

 

You may also stay as a guest at the Archabbey of Pannonhalma.

This leaves you with even more time to get to know and enjoy the many areas of the monastery at leisure. There are a number of associated businesses: the abbey’s lavender fields with the associated fragrance museum, Café Pausa down in Pannonhalma’s village square, Bistro & Restaurant Viator (the latter is one of the best restaurants in the country!), the winery and the brewery. The latter is a five-minute’s drive away from Pannonhalma; all other businesses can be visited directly inside and around the abbey.

Accommodation is also available in the abbey’s youth centre with dormitories and, on request, right in the abbey itself. The construction of a hotel is something the abbey still plans for the future. As guests of “Klösterreich”, we could sleep directly in the abbey right next to the monks’ cloister!

Nächtigungsmöglichkeiten gibt es in den Jugendhäusern der Abtei Pannonhalma ...

You may either stay at the youth centre of the Archabbey of Pannonhalma …

 

... sowie direkt im Klostergebäude selbst.

… or, upon request, right inside the mighty abbey and its limited number of guest rooms.

 

During the tour with Abbot Cyrill, we are allowed to take a look at the monks' magnificent dining hall, the so-called refectory.

During the tour with abbot Cirill, we are allowed a look at the monks’ magnificent dining hall, the so-called refectory …

 

... und beim Gespräch mit dem Abt hauseigenen Kräutertee genießen!

… and enjoy locally brewed herbal tea from the abbey’s own gardens!

 

Do take time to visit the aromatic herb and lavender fields of Pannonhalma.

The latter are in bloom during the period of June / July; we could only imagine their scent during our visit at the end of August! The large herbarium, the lavender fields as well as the new, interactive fragrance museum are worth the slight descent into the extensive gardens of the Archabbey of Pannonhalma. I’m particularly taken with the fragrance museum; in the associated shop I enjoy lavender and fruit ice cream, as well as another summery tea from the garden. Check this out.

Spaziergang zu Lavendel und Duftmuseum ...

Walking by the lavender fields, on our way to the fragrance museum …

 

... die fertig verarbeiteten Produkte könnt Ihr direkt im angrenzenden Shop erwerben ...

… we enjoy the many lavender produce marketed here …

 

... dazu zählt beispielsweise auch Lavendel-Seife, die hier in Handarbeit hergestellt wird.

… such as these soaps, all hand-crafted, packaged and sold in Pannonhalma.

 

Das neu eröffnete, sogenannte "Duftmuseum", ist den Besuch ebenfalls wert, ist es doch sehr modern und überaus interaktiv gehalten.

The fragrance museum is especially worth the visit. Thank you, Barbara, for taking the time to show us around!

 

As a foodie, I recommend you head to Viator Bistro, Café Pausa, the Archabbey brewery as well as the winery.

For lunch or light snacks in between, I can recommend Viator Bistro. It is located about halfway between the abbey and the village of Pannonhalma, along the access road. At the bistro we enjoy salad, soup, fresh burgers and also the lavender syrup that the monastery produces. The Café Pausa right down in the village of Pannonhalma offers matching puff pastry lavender cake (tastes heavenly!): Definitely try!

Das Café Pausa mit Blick auf die dahinterliegende Abtei lohnt sich schon alleine wegen seines guten Lavendelkuchens ...

Café Pausa with a perfect view upon the abbey in the background, offering coffee & cakes …

 

... etwas deftigere, herzhafte Kost gibt es im Viator Bistro.

… or Viator Bistro for the more savoury snacks during your visit in Pannonhalma.

 

Our visit to the winery & brewery of the Archabbey of Pannonhalma is helped by two young, dedicated men: brewer Martin, who was a student at the abbey’s grammar school and contacted abbot Cirill about the vacancy via Facebook (obviously the recruitment worked out well!), and wine merchant Tamás, who is responsible for sales and marketing at the abbey’s winery.

Bitte ein Bier: Das "Blonde" aus der Erzabtei Pannonhalma ...

Who wants to try a “Blonde” of the Archabbey of Pannonhalma?

 

... ... ist eines von insgesamt vier Biersorten, die der junge Lebensmittelingenieur Martin hier mit seinem Team braut, vermarktet und verkauft.

It is one among four different types of beer that Martin the brewer and his team produce here.

 

Auch Wein ist - noch viel länger, vermutlich schon seit Beginn der tausendjährigen Geschichte des Klosters ...

Wine, too, forms part of the one thousand years of history at the Archabbey of Pannonhalma …

 

... ein Thema entlang der fruchtbaren Hänge des Klosters und seiner Umgebung. Hier werden wir einen Blick in den Rotweinkeller der Abtei ...

… we get to view the red and white wine cellars, respectively …

 

... und dürfen rund acht Weine der Erzabtei auch verkosten. Diese beiden Sorten hier, genannt "Hemina", erzählen überdies eine besondere Geschichte:

… and learn about a new wine label: “Hemina”!

 

The two varieties you see here are called “Hemina”. They tell the story of the drinking cup Hemina, which was a way to measure alcohol intake among the monks of the Holy Benedict; he advised them, when asked how much beer or wine they should drink as monks, to “drink one Hemina a day”. This was the measure of what one would tolerate well, and “drink so that you come closer to God, not move away from Him”.

A clever statement, I think, and one that we should remember even in modern times. Because even then, the Holy Benedict basically said nothing else than to enjoy alcohol in moderation!

 

Top views from the recently built lookout tower over the Archabbey of Pannonhalma, the village below and Western Hungary.

Finally, to conclude your visit, you can walk past the chapel towards the newly built “Treetop Walk“, and also climb the newly built lookout tower. All these points are well signposted near the visitor centre and the entrance to the abbey itself.

Gemeinsam mit Julia vom Reiseblog Julie en Voyage bin ich "zur goldenen Stunde" auf dem Aussichtsturm ...

The view from the lookout tower in the evening light …

 

... von dort reicht der Blick über die gesamte Landschaft in 360°, sowie den Treetop Walk zu unseren Füßen.

… offers a 360° panorama, including the treetop walk as well as the village of Pannonhalma down below.

 

Vielen Dank auch an Pater Albin ...

Thank you, Father Albin, director of the local boys’ boarding school …

 

... der uns in interessanten Gesprächen durch die Schule der Abtei führt ...

… for taking us around the school building soon welcoming more than 300 students after the summer holidays …

 

... vielen Dank auch an Abt Cyrill für die interessanten Gespräche und die kurze, persönliche Führung hier! Es war uns ein Vergnügen!

… thank you also abbot Cirill, for showing us around and having us as guests at your abbey!

 

Check out even more pictures about our visit to the Archabbey Pannonhalma here:

 

My Hungarian colleague Eva Kisgyorgy, who publishes on “Travellina”, has also written about her impressions of visiting the Archabbey Pannonhalma in Hungarian – and talks especially about the beautiful lavender fields and her experience at Viator Restaurant.

 

Disclaimer: We have been invited by the Austrian Association of Monasteries, Abbeys & Convents “Klösterreich” on this trip to the Pannonhalma. All opinions are my own.

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