Monastery Library


Our oldest written examples of Hungarian language with Hungarian words fitted to the Latin text, King Saint Stephen’s letter of decree dated in 1001 and the foundation letter of the Tihany Abbey (1055) are preserved in the archives of the Archabbey.
The Library has been an important part of the monastery since its foundation. According to a certificate from the era of Saint László (around 1090), by the end of the 11th century 80 volumes (approximately 200 works) were registered in Pannonhalma. In 1786 when the order was dismissed, the collection amounted more than 4000 volumes. In 1802 only one part of the books were returned to the monastery’s library. At that time a few rooms were enough to store them. From the beginning of the 19th century the collection began to grow apace with the number of books jumping in leaps. The commitment of the monks to education required the building of a modern central library. The Classicist building is now one of the main sights of Pannonhalma. The foundation stone of the new library was laid down during the reign of Pál Horváth governing abbot, in 1825. The hall, covered by a lengthways stave dome, was designed by Ferenc Engel. From 1832 an oval room was built based on the designs of János Páckh and side rooms were adjusted to it. The lighting of the two- storey high hall is provided by the four windows set into the front wall. A balcony supported by Corinthian pillars runs along the bookshelf adorned walls. The frescos were painted by Josef Klieber of Vienna. On the four sides of the ceiling of the oval room the symbols of the four medieval university faculties can be seen: Law, Theology, Medicine and Arts. The gypsum statues of Saint Stephen and Francis I who re-instated the order are also the work of Klieber. The library’s interior reflects the enlightened intellect of the 19th century as the temple of science. The main figure in the ceiling fresco is Pallas Athene (Minerva), the Greek goddess of Science. On the two closing walls of the hall the portraits of great classic Greco-Roman artists and scientists can be seen. The nine portraits of the main nave show religious and worldly representatives of Hungarian science and literature. The library’s interior, designed with clean structures, rational temperance and generous elegance is a building with one of the most harmonious interiors. The Library has dozens of codices, and holds approximately three hundred ancient printings. It currently numbers somewhere in the region of four hundred thousand books.