He picked us up promptly in the morning and we headed out into a countryside that was bursting with fields of spring flowers and trees that were laden with colorful blossoms. It was stunning.
The Basilica's pillars and the early Gothic vault were built in the early 13th century, using the walls of the former church. In 1486 the abbey was reconstructed under King Matthias in the Gothic style.
In 1541 the monastery became an Archabbey and was fortified with walls against the Ottoman incursions. For the next 150 years, the monks had to occasionally abandon the abbey to the Turks. Later when they finally returned, the monks saw the buildings had suffered terrible damage. Archabbot Benedek Sajghó started a major repair and construction phase in Baroque style. In 1832 the Library and Tower were added in the Classical style.
We toured the Library which houses the oldest surviving document using the Hungarian language, the Charter of the Tihany Benedictine Abbey, dating back to 1055. Priceless antique books lined the room to the brightly painted baroque ceiling and statues of scholars stared down at us with stony gazes.
Before we left the abbey, we visited the gift shop which is filled with locally grown lavender products, Wine and Balsamic Vinegars, and other locally made products. This is where we found Bence’s Meggylikor, the yummy Benedictine sour cherry liqueur.
The taste is perfectly balanced between tart cherry and sweet liquor. The sour cherry liqueur is made at the Agardi distillery according to ancient descriptions found at Pannonhalma. They also make a bitter liqueur and an herb liqueur, but to my pallet, the sour cherry is the best!
Illes left us safe and sound at our hotel in Vienna with a promise to return in a few days for our trip back to Budapest!