There was a Roman settlement in the area, but Tihany first appeared on the map in 1055, when King Andrew I (r 1046–60), a son of King Stephen’s great nemesis, Vászoly, founded a Benedictine monastery here. The Deed of Foundation of the Abbey Church of Tihany, now in the archives of the Pannonhalma Abbey, is one of the earliest known documents bearing any Hungarian words – some 50 place names within a mostly Latin text. It’s a linguistic treasure in a country where, until the 19th century, the vernacular in its written form was spurned – particularly in schools – in favour of the more ‘cultured’ Latin and German.
In 1267 a fortress was built around the church, and it was able to keep the Turks at bay when they arrived 300 years later. But the castle was demolished by Habsburg forces in 1702 and all you’ll see today are ruins.