History of Tihany
Beside geological features, the peninsula is famous for its exceptional wildlife: the area became the first nature reserve of Hungary in 1952. The archaeological findings of the area show that the peninsula has been inhabited since prehistoric times. People of the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and the Roman Age liked this place. The Romans called Balaton Lacus Pelso and had a ford at Tihany. The ancient Tihany village was founded in the Middle Ages when King Andrew I founded here in 1055 a burial-place for the royal family and built a monastery, where Benedictine monks were settled. The Abbey of Tihany was authorised in the 13 th centur y to issue official deeds (locus authenticus).
During the Turkish times, in the 16-17 th centur y, the monasetry, wich had been transformed into a fortress, was demolished. It was rebuilt in baroque style in the 18 th century and became a symbol of Tihany. A few years ago, the Benedictine monks were again put in charge of the monasetry and the Abbey Museum. Tihany is a jewel of not only the Balaton but also Hungary. Since the nineteen sixties masses of tourists, both Hungarians and foreigners, have been visiting the place. Its main assets are the historical and cultural relics related to the monasetry, the unique landscape and the recreational possibilities of Balaton.
In the eastern slope of Óvár, Greek Orthodox hermits hollowed out their cells, a chapel and a dining room from the rocks in the 11 th -14 th century. This is the only hermits’ place which is a relatively well-preserved in the Carpathian Basin and even in Central Europe. Its local name is Barátlakások (Friar habitations). Not far from here, you can find the Ciprián spring, previously called Russian fountain, which is the only spring of Tihany.
Church ruins at Apáti
Two of the three settlements of Tihany peninsula, Ujlak and Apáti, were demolished in the Turkish times and only the church ruins remained. The church ruins at Apáti are located at the northern part of the peninsula. The rebuilt church dates back to the 12 nd -13 th century.
In 1714, King Sigismund granted jus gladii, power of life and death, to the Abbey to arrest, convict and execute malefactors. This was the spot where the gallows pole was erected. Akasztó-domb was also a place of special fishing method, practised only in Tihany. One of the fishermen called ‘hill walker’ climbed up to the top of the hill, followed the movements of the pelecus (‘watched fish’) shoal and gave instructions to the fishermen waiting in the boat to lay the net.
The name Nyársas-hegy, which is located next to the place where a fortress stood in the Middle Ages, goes back to the times when the soldiers of the fortress impaled the turks who abducted Hungarian women and screwed the peasantry.
The church building and its neighbourhood
King Andrew I. founded a monasetry and a royal burial-place in Tihany in 1055, in accordance with the tradition of Christian monarchs. Monastery life ceased in the middle of the fifteen hundreds when the building was transformed into a fortress against the Turks, who never occupied it. The fortress, of which no detailed plans have remained, was demolished in the Kuruts times in the 17 th century. The walking way between the Echo hill and the church is named after Castellan István Pisky. The Pannonhalma Arch-Abbacy got hold of the monastery and the property of the Tihany Abbey in 1716. The present buildings were completed in 1754. From Piski walking way, there is nice view on the most beautiful harbour of Balaton and the mole built according to the design of Dezsõ Nagy Káli between 1909 and 1911.
Records from the early 19 th century say that words shouted from the Echo hill return from the northern wall of the church building. The earliest Balaton guide-book, issued in 1848, says that guests in Füred take excursions to Tihany to listen to the echo because the church wall cleary returns voices up to 15 syllables. The Echo of Tihany, a topic covered by famous poets, has been gradually fading since the sixties but it can be still enjoyed especially in windless, quiet evenings.
The most beautiful 20 th century calvary of the countr y was built within a few years time, beginning in 1926, from public contributions. The stones with inscription and bronze relief symbolising the suffering of Christ and the Way of the Cross were raised on behalf of the historic counties and royal boroughs of Hungary. The stone cross of Christ, in the background, there are three knolls built of limestone blocks and the bronze memorial of Hungarian King Charles IV. The structures of the Calvary were demolished in 1960. Foundation-stone for the Calvary (Stations of the Cross) to be rebuilt was laid in a ceremony March 28, 1992. Work started in the year 1998, then on October 15, 2000 the by then finished three Station pillars and the temporarily erected three wooden crosses were inaugurated. The Károly IV Calvary Foundation still gladly accepts donations.
Church ruins at Ujlak
The ruins of the church – the sanctuary wall still stands – are located at the southern part of the peninsula. They keep the memory of an ancient ferry village.
A several meter high knoll was built of limestonc and carth over the graves of the princes of the carthwork in the southern hillside next to the present graveyard. A part of the knollgraves were dug up in the early seventies: potsherds, bronze jewellery and charred grains of wheat were found in the cremation graves.
The oval entrenchment system of the hill called Óvár, the largest and relatively well-preserved earthwork of the Balaton region, was built around the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. It was a princely residence and provided shelter for the people in times of war.