The foundation of the abbey was made by Béla III, King of Hungary (1182), as the monastic domain was formerly a royal farm. Besides this grant, on which now stands the town of Zirc, many other donations were made to the abbey, which soon became one of the most celebrated in the country. It was rich not only in temporal possessions but also in the spirit of fervor and religious regularity.
By 1526 the ravages of the Ottoman invasion of Hungary had depopulated the monastery, not one religious remaining at the end of the year.
Beginning in 1776, Cistercians in Hungary decided to enter the field of education, assuming responsibility for several secondary schools that had been deprived of religious leadership after the suppression of the Jesuits. This added apostolic project gave significant vitality and a new orientation to Cistercian life in Hungary. The community that began under the administration of German monks in the 18th century quickly attracted native Hungarian vocations who enthusiastically embraced the mission of teaching. When its mother-house in Prussia was suppressed in 1812 by the government of Frederick the Great, the Abbey of Zirc became an independent Hungarian abbey for the first time since the late Middle Ages.
By 1912, just before First World War, the Abbey of Zirc was responsible for five secondary schools and fifteen parishes. A house of formation was built in Budapest in order to allow many of the young monks to study at some of the best universities in the country. Cistercians teaching in secondary schools lived throughout the country in dependent priories or residences under local superiors, but all authority remained centralised in the Abbey of Zirc.
We are organising tours here from Budapest please sign up if interested.
Tour with transport to and from your hotel, a visit to the abbey and the nearby arboretum cost 180 €/car for 1-4 people.