The fascinating building complex of the Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma attracts the eye from afar. It’s worth approaching on foot as the upward path offers a singular experience. Hungary’s largest and oldest religious centre has deservedly earned a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. One of the interesting facts about the church is that it has three storeys: the ground floor is for the congregation, the middle is for prayer and the top floor is where the sanctuary is located. Admire the St Martin Basilica, the medieval main portal – or ‘porta speciosa’ as it is called in Latin – or the cloister connecting the gate with the church. Over the years, Baroque and Classicist features were added to the originally late Romanesque and early Gothic church, creating a cavalcade of styles to make it even more exciting. Visitors are undoubtedly most fascinated by the 400,000 volume library: everyone feels the urge to immerse themselves in the pages of the ancient tomes. Taking a few steps never hurts, and the church’s 55-metre tower offers a splendid view.
Gastronomy and arboretum
The Benedictine Abbey is home to a community of about 40 monks who, besides having an active religious life, operate a boarding school and make sure that visitors don’t leave without sampling some gastronomic specialities. The abbey also houses a winery and a herb garden, where the famous abbey wines and lavender syrup as well as wine vinegars with herbs are made. The enormous trees in the arboretum that belongs to the abbey offer a great opportunity for a stroll, so be sure not to miss it.