Monastery of Szer

The Garden of Ruins

The Garden of Ruins

In the oldest extant chronicle of the history of the Hungarians, the Gesta Hungarorum, "The Deeds of the Hungarians", Anonymus, the notary of King Béla III of Hungary summarized the information available at the time about the origin of the Magyars, the occupation of the Carpathian Basin, and the glorious history and ancestry of the nobility of the age. The manuscript dating from about 1200 attributes great importance to Szer as the location where Árpád the conqueror and his chieftains laid down the laws of the land for the first time.

The monastery and church that stood here in the Middle Ages gave high ranking to the region. Around its earliest predecessor, a settlement flourished in the 11th century. As it was situated alongside a royal road – which led from the Balkans to Buda through Szeged – it must have had a strong economy.

By the 15th century Szer became a central market town with the right to hold fairs and levy tolls. The settlement survived the first attack of the Ottoman troops in 1526, but was doomed by the fifteen-year war. The inhabitants fled, and the Turks left a garrison in the ruins of the monastery. From the turn of the 16-17th century, the place was called Puszta Szer (in a geographical sense, ‘puszta’ means steppe in Hungarian, while in an ethno-historical sense, it means uninhabited place).

The dilapidated ruins of the once famous monastery were given a new meaning on October 3, 2008, when a new artifact enriched the garden of ruins: the memorial of sculptor László Mátyássy titled the “Legacy of Szer”. The artefact stands in honor of the monastery, of medieval Latin literacy, historiography, and those buried here.

The Bell Tower and "The Sound of Szer"

The Sound of Szer

In 1993, Katalin Vályi’s archaeological excavations of the monastery courtyards have revealed furnaces and a pit dug in the building grounds, suggesting that a bell was cast on site. The findings dating from the Árpád era included pieces of the clay mold as well, which made it possible to reconstruct the inner part of the coat that was next to the metal, revealing the size and the shape of the original bell.

The mold was restored, and the bell was cast again in 1997, but this first replica remained silent. The successful recasting of the bell occurred ten years later, in 2007, and “The Sound of Szer” was anointed in honor of Magna Domina Hungarorum (Our Lady of Hungary). After centuries of silence, the bell of Szer tolls again, and is calling us to remember and celebrate ever since.

\"After this, in the 907th year of Our Lord’s birth, Árpád left this world and was buried with honour at the head of a small river that flows through a stone culvert to the city of King Attila where, after the conversion of the Hungarians, was built the church that is called Alba (white), to the honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary." (Anonymus)