Lébény – Szent James Benedictine Abbey - Church

Lébény – Szent James Benedictine Abbey - Church

An excursion to Lébény may be dovetailed with a cycling tour to Tóköz region which lies north-east from Rábaköz and south from Hanság between the rivers Rába and Rábca.    This is an intact industry free area which – beside the peasants’ houses of older times – has conserved its peace and quietness.

We recommend the following itinerary: Rábcakapi, Cakóháza, Markotabödöge, Fehértó, Győrsövényház and Tárnokréti.

The Benedictine abbey-church of Lébény built at the beginning of the XIIIth century is one of the most outstanding and most intact monuments of Hungarian ecclesiastical architecture of the Middle Ages.
From an artistic point of view, the elements of plastic art wall decorations are of exceptional value. The Abbey-Church of Lébény was founded between 1199 and 1203, in honour of Saint James the Apostle. The founders were bailiffs, descendents of the Győr clan who owned huge estates in the region. The clan continued sponsoring the abbey with considerable donations even after the foundation.

The church is a splendid representation of Romanesque architecture. It has three naves with semicircular apses and there are two pyramidal towers on its western façade with a gallery in between. Especially noteworthy are the carved stones decorating the building, like for example the inimitable carved ornaments of the main entrance and the southern side portal. The abbey survived the Middle Ages without any significant alterations, but in 1478 it burnt down. The monks returned after the catastrophe but when flames consumed the monastery for a second time in 1563, it became abandoned definitely.

The uninhabited buildings were given to the Jesuits of Győr, and in 1638 they built the new, vaulted parts of the church. The original medieval vaulting remained unharmed in very few places only, for instance in the lower part of the towers. The interior was transformed into Baroque during the XVIIIth century. The buildings of the abbey disappeared already in the XIXth century, but the church continued to function as a parish church of the village nearby.
In the second half of the XIXth century the Office of Protection of Historical monuments recognised the special architectural importance of the church and several restorations have taken place since and considerable research by art historians focused on the building.

The inhabitants of Lébény are also proud of their local beer, the Pelikán.

It is worth to continue your cycling tour in the direction of Tárnokréti through the Fertő-Hanság Natural Park which boasts a rich avifauna (Fehér- and Babarcsi-lakes).