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Frontpage News 2012 15th century monastery restored in Hungary

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15th century monastery restored in Hungary

  • A Carmelite monastery in Sopronbánfalva has been renovated and made into an educational retreat and meditation centre with support from the EEA Grants. The new retreat centre will open in March 2011.  

    The 15th century monastery and the surrounding area were for many years considered an important place of worship for pilgrims in Hungary. However, the building has been deteriorating rapidly, and has in recent years been vacant and in a very bad condition.

    In 2005, the nearly decayed monastery was taken over by the investment company Nistema Kft. With almost €1.85 million in support from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the company has now reconstructed the historical building and the surrounding park so that they again appear in their original beauty. The building is now open to visitors, and the new retreat centre located in the monastery will open in March 2011.

    Connecting artistic and meditative activities
    When the new retreat centre opens, visiting guests can enjoy 23 ensuite rooms, a high level restaurant, two communal mediation areas, one conference/concert hall, an art room, an exhibition centre and a library specialised on books about religion and spirituality. The newly renovated monastery will connect artistic and meditative activities under one roof. In the retreat centre, people will be able to refresh and recharge both mentally and physically, and the monastery will also become a cultural scene offering both experienced and more unknown contemporary artists the opportunity to give concerts and exhibit and present their works. In addition, the building will host a permanent Pauline historical exhibition.

    “This innovative use of the monastery not only gives added value to Sopron and the region, but to Hungary as a whole. The project is not only preserving a historical monument, but also creating new and valuable possibilities for the future”, said Norway’s Ambassador to Hungary, Siri Ellen Sletner, in a speech at the commemoration ceremony for the renovated monastery in November 2010.   

    History in the walls
    The monastery was built in the outskirts of the city of Sopron, close to the Austrian border, in the latter half of the 15th century. It first served as home to the Pauline Order, but the monks fled several times, and eventually completely left the building. It lay deserted and abandoned for years before it again was repopulated by the Carmelite nuns at the end of the 19th century. After the dissolution of the Carmelite Order in 1950, the monastery wing was taken into use as a nursery home. The nursery home moved out in 2002, and the monastery has since then been vacant.

    Photo: Guri Merete Smenes / NMFA.

  • Country:


    Project title:

    The Renovation Programme of the Carmelite Monastery in Sopronbánfalva

    Case number:


    Priority sector:

    Conservation of European cultural heritage



    Type & project assistance:

    Individual Project

    Project duration:

    24 months

    Project cost:

    € 4,109,315

    Grant rate:


    Grant agreement date:

    05 January 2009

    The purpose of the Project is the renovation of the Carmelite monastery in Sopronbánfalva and creation of a meditation and arts centre, with the overall objective to preserve European and national cultural heritage in the interest of supporting culture and developing tourism. Reference is made to the application dated 30 March 2006 and any subsequent correspondence with the Focal Point.

    The completed Project shall include the following activities and results:

    - renovation of the building, including: demolition works, renovation of supporting structure, architectural renovation, interior decoration, internal building engineering, internal and external electric works, public utilities;

    - purchase of furniture and equipment for the offices and the storage room;

    - publicity activities and Project management.

    The Project Promoter is the Nistema Kft.

    The Project shall be implemented in partnership with Gábor Kovács Art Foundation.

    The Focal Point shall ensure that the Project Promoter provides at least 55 percent of the estimated eligible Project cost.