On the eastern chasm of the Tihany Peninsula rich in special natural and architectural values the symbol of the land, the two-steepled abbey of the Saint Benedictine Order, centuries old, towers into the sky, indicating the direction to the stranger from afar. The King of Hungary Andras I had a monastery built on this spot to the honour of St. Anios and marked it to be the place of his burial. The year of the foundation is: 1055. Andras I has the monastery erected in order to express his gratitude, to thank God for his victory over the rebellion threatening the existence of the young Hungarian Christianity, and for the success of his fights against the expansionist designs of the German Emperor. The royal deed of gift written to the monastery of Tihany is our earlier record extant of the Hungarian language.
Only the crypt with the grave of the founding king remained from the church of Andras I up to the present.
The room of cross-vault character is divided into 3 naves by 6 roughly carved columns. The group of buildings that can be seen today, the church and the monastery, were built in Baroque style.
During the 150 years of the Turkish residence in Hungary the Monastery of Tihany served as a border fortress. The reconstruction was started under the supervision of the Monastery of Pannonhalma in 1716 according to the task defined in the royal deed of foundation"- to fulfil the divine service, the praise and the veneration of the saints strenuously and untiringly-" and was finished in 1752. The wood carvings of outstanding beauty in the church, the monastic stalls and the banisters ornamented with angels of the high altar, the 4 side-altars and probably the most beautiful carved Baroque pulpit of Hungary were made by Sebestyen Stuhlhof, an artist with unrivalled talent.
The remains of two churches on the Tihany Peninsula, in Apat and in ujlak, conjure up the spirit of the Middle Ages, the memory of villages ruined a long time ago. The so-called monk-homes are the witnesses of alien cultures. They also originate from the time of Andras I, relating to the king's family connections in Kiev. The hollows in the horizontal layers of the basaltic tuff and the rooms formed inside were homes of hermits, small copies of the Russian cave-monasteries. This kind of lodgement was most supported by St Miklosh, highly esteemed in Russia.
The village of Tihany was the place of residence people who settled there to serve the monastery. Owing to its protected status, the closer neighbourhood of the monastery with its small, dark-grey houses built of basaltic tuff and covered with reeds still keeps the image of the traditional fishing village.
The Tihany Peninsula has been the first national reserve area of Hungary (1952). The volcanic group that turns up from the Balaton is an area of unique value with its various and special configurations of the terrain, two inner lakes and the two steepled churches.
Its diversified surface refers to animated geological past. The peninsula is surrounded by remains of ruined volcanoes, ash, scattered around by eruptions, layers of basaltic tuff, deposited from quarry-rid and characteristic tuff-ledges. In the course of the volcanic activity, nearly 100 geyser cones and hydroquartzit cones - deposited from thermal waters - were created. These can be seen in our time as well in the famous geyser field.
The two lakes of the peninsula are 20 metres above the water level of the Balaton. The area's vegetation conjures up the atmosphere of the Submediterranean with the sumac that turns into red, the rare seed flowers and bluebell, the oak-forests that cover the mountain-tops in several places. The area's invertebrate fauna is extremely rich, many species live here which are extremely rare or are unknown elsewhere in Hungary. Just the number of papilio species for instance exceeds 700. The area is also very interesting ornithologicalaly, especially the Outer lake attracts numerous resident and passing birds.
Tihany is the symbol of the unique harmony of man, nature and history. It forms a special cultural area in which the human work and the nature that surrounds it with its breathtaking beauty are partners that can exist only together.