The newly renovated heritage building of the former Benedictine Convent & School has reopened in Kőszeg as a hotel on Monday, September 7. The building is owned by the Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey and will now serve as an accommodation for visitors.
The renovation was supported by the Hungarian government with HUF 1,435 billion (just under EUR 4 million) under the iASK Creative City – Sustainable Region (KRAFT) program.
Miklós Soltész, Secretary of State for Ecclesiastical and Ethnic Relations of the Prime Minister’s Office, inaugurated the building, built-in 1677-1680. It is now fully restored inside and out. The Secretary of State said that the Jesuits, who built the original friary while Hungary was still under Turkish occupation, demonstrated tremendous trust in the future. This spirit was carried on by Piarist and Benedictine monks over the centuries.
The renovation and new function of the Convent and School fit into a program of urban renewal in Kőszeg, a town rich in history and tourist attractions, with a definite vision of becoming a school city, said Soltész.
Ferenc Miszlivetz, the originator of the KRAFT program and director-general of the Institute of Advanced Studies, Kőszeg, said that extensive co-operation and understanding support from the government from the very beginning was required for the reconstruction and modernization work. Under the Creative Cities – Sustainable Regions Program a number of historic buildings have been restored to their original splendor with modern functions. The program, and the Benedictine project, in particular, was the result of a two-decade effort with the church, private enterprise, representatives of the sciences and art historians working hand in hand to save the built heritage, the deep and multilayered historical and cultural traditions of the town. The turning point came when the government lined up behind the effort and provided funding for the projects that serve not only historical values but sustainability.
The 35-room Benedict Hotel Kőszeg will provide accommodation for iASK and Pannonia University researchers, visiting professors, foreign students and tourists. Its meeting facilities will also accommodate lectures and smaller conferences.
Speaking about the history of the Convent and School, the Archbishop of Pannonhalma, Cirill T. Hortobágyi said that the Jesuits build the friary to serve as a center for knowledge and education. Construction of the three-story building took three years. In later centuries it was in the ownership of the Piarist order. Between1815 and 1948, when it was closed down by the communist government, it was operated by the Benedictines of Pannonhalma.
The Archbishop added that the building was returned to ecclesiastical ownership in 1990. It was first used by the Society of the Divine Word as a home for spiritual practice and later by the local Roman Catholic parish as a community house and a residence for pilgrims.