Tihany Tourist Attractions
The Tihany peninsula is one of the most popular holiday resorts on Lake Balaton. Originally an island, today it covers an area of 12sq.km (4.6sqmi.) and extends 5km (3mi.) into the lake, terminating 1.5km (1mi.) from the opposite shore. Here, where the lake is at its narrowest, the only car ferry operates between Tihany and Szántód on the south bank. As a result of its extraordinarily charming and geologically interesting scenery Tihany has been designated a nature reserve since 1952; the southwestern section of the peninsula has been closed to traffic and can be explored only on foot along well-marked paths. The tourist center is the little township of Tihany, with its 2000 inhabitants, nestling around the famous Benedictine abbey. On the steep east coast lies the "Inner Harbour" for passenger ships, while at the southern tip will be found the car ferry to Szántód mentioned above.TopographyDuring the Late Tertiary and Quaternary periods of geological history the peninsula was the scene of much volcanic activity. At that time geysers at temperatures of about 100°C (212°F) forced their way up through the hard basalt tuff and formed "geyser humps". Subsequently the center of the peninsula sank to leave two hollows surrounded by "geyser cones". In the deeper southern hollow a stretch of water formed, not unlike a crater lake. The Belso-tó, or "Inner Lake", as it is known, lies 26m (85ft) above the level of the Balaton and today is an anglers' paradise; numerous waterfowl nest on the "Outer Lake", which is overgrown with reeds. The landscape is beautiful in spring, when the almond trees are in bloom, and in summer, when the fields are a sea of deep-blue lavender.Tihany was inhabited in prehistoric times. Impressive evidence of a Bronze Age settlement is provided by the massive earth-fort (Óvár) in the northeast of the peninsula, which was later also used by the Slavs. Archaeological finds have also confirmed the presence of Celts, Romans and Avars. Andreas I, one of the first Hungarian kings, founded a Benedictine abbey on Tihany in 1055. Five years later the abbey was sufficiently finished for its founder to be able to find his last resting place there. The foundation charter, written in Latin, in fact contains some one hundred Hungarian words and suffixes and is thus the oldest known document in the Hungarian language. Today it is housed in the parent Benedictine monastery in Pannonhalma, with a copy in Tihany. In Andreas' wake immigrant Russian monks settled on the peninsula in the 11th C. Near the Cyprian Stream (Ciprián-forrás) under the Bronze Age earth-wall they carved out cells in the rock which can still be seen today. The monastery had already been fortified against Mongol attacks as early as the 13th C, and with the advance of the Ottoman armies it was converted into a fort, and the monks moved elsewhere. After the withdrawal of the Turks the Habsburgs razed the building to the ground so that it should not fall into the hands of the insurgents. The present monastery complex was built between 1740 and 1754, and a small fishing village grew up around it. It was only in the early 20th C that Tihany first attracted tourists.
Visible from afar is Tihany's symbol and landmark, the towers on the front of the Baroque abbey which was built by Abbot Ágoston Lécs between 1740 and 1745 on the foundations of the original church dedicated in 1060. Although it may appear somewhat plain from the outside, the Late Baroque interior is quite magnificent. The pulpit, which portrays the personification of the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity between the seated figures of the four Fathers of the Church, is particularly worthy of note. The high altar is decorated with carved figures of St Benedict and St Scholastika, as well as of saintly kings Stephen and Ladislaus. Like those of the pulpit and the side-altars, these are the work of the cabinet-maker Sebastian Stuhlhoff. a lay brother in the monastery. His excellent reputation and the esteem in which he was held are reflected in the fact that he is buried in the crypt next to the abbots. More high quality carvings by him can be seen in the sacristy. The crypt under the raised choir formed part of the original Romanesque church. This gloomy, somber room with its heavy round pillars hewn from blocks of stone contrasts sharply with the jubilant Baroque style of the church above.The patron of the abbey, King Andrew I, lies interred in the central aisle beneath a marble slab adorned with an abbot's cross. In the cellar of this former Benedictine abbey is a lapidarium containing Roman, Early Christian and medieval memorials in stone, and on the upper floors is the Tihany local history museum.
The plateau behind the abbey sees the beginning of Pisky sétány (Pisky Promenade), offering a beautiful view over Lake Balaton. Here, too, is the historical center of the old fishing village (open-air museum) with some lovely old peasants' cottages. Some particularly well-preserved buildings are to be seen in Csokonai, Batthyány and Kossuth utca. Typical of the style of buildings found on Tihany are the bare walls of local volcanic basalt tuff and the thatched roofs. In the "Potter's House" (Fazekasház) some beautiful examples of traditional ceramic art are on display. The guild-houses once occupied by fishermen and the small folk-museum are also worth a visit.
From the village of Tihany two winding roads lead down to the "Inner Harbour", the bustling business center with moorings for passenger ships and a promenade along the bank of the lake, guest-houses and a neighboring bathing beach. The former summer residence of the Grand Duke of Habsburg, now with a modern extension wing, has been made into a first-class hotel. Large numbers of rare plants and many beautiful conifers are grown in the hotel park.Since time immemorial there has been a ferry plying between the southern tip of the peninsula and Szántód harbor on the south bank of the lake. In recent years hotels, a holiday club, a sailing marina, restaurants, a swimming pool, a riding school, a mini-golf course and other leisure facilities have sprung up in the beautiful surrounding countryside.
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