Zirc Tourist Attractions
Zirc, 56km (35mi.) south of Gyor in the wide Cuha valley, which traverses the Bakony Forest, was first documented in 1139. The Cistercian abbey, which dominates the town and served important economic and cultural functions in the Middle Ages, was founded by King Béla III in 1182 and occupied by monks from Clairvaux (hence the Latin name Nova Claravallis). During the Turkish period it was completely devastated and not reinhabited until the beginning of the 18th C by German settlers.
The Baroque Cistercian church was built by Martin Athanasius Witwer and Matthias Kayr in 1739-53; the two 45m (148ft) high towers of the façade were added later in 1854. The interior is finely decorated in Late Baroque style: paintings by Franz Anton Maulbertsch (high altar "Maria's Ascension", 1754, first side altar on the right Maria Magdalena); frescos by Josef Wagenmeister; richly decorated choir stalls and pulpit.The monastery is built on to the right of the church, the wings having been built in several stages between 1732 and 1854. The oldest, from 1732 making it older than the church, is the one next to the church; the last one to be completed was the Classical west front (by the main entrance).
The library of the Cistercian monks became the basis for the Antal Reguly library in the monastery, which is named after the pioneering Finno-Ugrian researcher of ethnology and linguistics Antal Reguly (1819-58). The five rooms beautifully furnished with inlaid floors and cabinets by the Zirc carpenter Michael Wild (1853-57) contain a protected collection with 60,000 volumes and many valuable incunabula.
Behind the monastery complex there is an attractive park which was a wildlife reserve even in the 15th C; from 1737 it became the monastery's botanical garden.
Statue of St Imre
Remains of an abbey church dating from around 1180 with a Baroque statue of St Imre (1749) are to be found by the wall which surrounds the arboretum.