OUR LADY OF HUNGARY PARISH CHURCH

5 Main Square, Keszthely


The Gothic church, which was completed around 1390, is the oldest building in Keszthely. The wall paintings of the sanctuary were discovered in 1974. These are the largest Gothic frescoes of today's Hungary. Palatine István Lackfi had it built. He was buried here following his execution in 1397. His badly worn red marble tombstone can be seen in the wall of the sanctuary today. The tombs of the Festetics Family were placed in the sanctuary and the triumphal arch.  In 1878, a neo-Gothic tower was erected in front of the entrance of the church and the original rose window of the frontispiece from the 14th century was placed in it. The church was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, the Lady of Hungarians. In front of the church, István Lackfi's equestrian statue, erected in 2000, can be seen.

The Lackfis of Kerekegyháza were the wealthiest and most influential aristocrats of the Anjou Era. István Lackfi II, the founder of the church in Keszthely, was the commander of the royal army. He started to get the church and monastery built in 1386 and had the Franciscan monks settle in Keszthely earlier. After less than 11 years, his mortal remains were buried here. His red marble tomb is one of the greatest ornaments of the church. The archaeologists excavated the foundation walls of the former chapel partially under the shrine of the church and partly on the southern side of the sanctuary in 1957. These can be seen in the park next to the church. The construction of the church was shortly interrupted, and its chief architect might have been changed too. The sanctuary and the sacristy were built in the early construction period, while the nave in the later period. After the Mohács Disaster, the fate of this church, like that of many of our other buildings, was sealed. Around 1550, it was transformed into a fortified site to ensure the protection of the countryside from the Turks. The fortified church was later reconstructed and strengthened many times, and then it lost its importance after Kanizsa's re-occupation. Following the expulsion of the Turks, the monks, who had fled before, returned to their monastery in 1723 and began restoration works. The Franciscan monks were soon forced to leave their church permanently: King Josef II suppressed the order in 1788, and the armed forces took the possession of the monastery for a while. In 1799, the church became the property of György Festetics, who designated it as the parish church of the town and let the Premonstratensians have the monastery. Another reconstruction started in 1878. In World War II, the upper levels of the tower were destroyed, and the interior restoration became more and more urgent due to the damaging of the interior painting.

The church facing the equinoctial east is divided into three parts: the Neo-gothic 19th-century tower and porch, the nave, and the sanctuary surrounded by three sides of the octagon. The monastery, the cloisters, and the sacristy join the church from the north while St. Anne Chapel from the south. The unique values of the church are the frescoes, which have been discovered in recent years. Despite the fragmentary appearance of the frescoes today, it is one of the most complete sanctuary decorations in Hungary.
 

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