Exhibition

Kamalduli Remeteség, Majk_9

EXHIBITION
MAJK, CAMALDOLESE HERMITAGE

Lake Majk and its Surroundings

In the formal language of contemporary architecture, the ticket desk-reception facility evokes the one-story dwellings of agricultural serf-tenants that originally stood on the lake shore. Visitors heading towards the church tower from here will cross a dam, and then, at the outflow of the lake, come upon its solitary surviving watermill, which is now a protected monument. Above the lake, on a hill, rises the Celli (Mariazell) Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built outside the walls of the hermitage in 1757 for the spiritual refreshment of the people serving in Majkpuszta and “the pilgrims of both sexes”. 

 

The Foresteria

The Foresteria, which was constructed between 1745 and 1752, comprised guest rooms and communal spaces for hermits, such as a kitchen, a library, and a barber chamber.

On the ground floor of the monastery’s main wing, an exhibition titled “The Power of Silence” presents the Camaldolese order’s general and Hungarian history. The furniture evokes the former splendour of the hermitage by displaying remnants of former equipment that were scattered after the dissolution of the Camaldolese order.

Additionally, the first floor contains four rooms dedicated to Prince Francis II Rákóczi’s time in France and his association with French Camaldolese monks.

The basement and ground floors of the monastery building recreate the former everyday and festive spaces of the hermitage dedicated to Saint John of Nepomuk; over 30 Hungarian museums and collections have provided professional assistance and have loaned artworks.

The furniture in the event venue spaces such as the Refectory, the Ceremonial Hall, the Chapter Hall, the Library Room, and the Chapel is in keeping with the original.

On the ground floor level, in the halls devoted to the hunting lodge, a chamber exhibition pays tribute to Count Móric Esterházy, who was born in Majk and briefly served as Prime Minister of Hungary in 1917.

 

The Cloister

The cell-houses of the hermits were situated in an area separated by walls from the Foresteria. They were constructed with the foundations of aristocratic families, individuals, and high priests. Their coats of arms can be seen on the façade. Cell-houses comprised a reception room, a cell, a chapel, a workshop, and a woodshed, and each hermit had a small garden. The cell-house served as the personal living space of a hermit; he slept, ate, and read here, and spent his leisure time writing, sculpting, and tending to his garden.

The display in cell-house No. 6 depicts the life of a Camaldolese hermit, while cell-house No. 7 depicts the dwelling of the abbot. Visitors can gain a sense of the local material culture from the 18th to the 20th centuries in the same exhibition space.

 

The Church

The single-nave Church of Saint John of Nepomuk, built with a side-tower between c. 1753 and 1770, exemplifies the idiosyncrasies of Italian monastic architecture. It served as the community’s spiritual hub, where hermits congregated and worshipped together. Her nave was destroyed, and the monks’ seats are now shown in stylized stalls in her old sanctuary. Additionally, the visitor can view the recently unearthed larger crypt, which graciously preserves the memory of the monks and lay brothers who died during the operation of the hermitage, through a holographic film titled “The Pilgrimage of the Soul”, which depicts the Baroque image of death with symbols of passing away. Ascending the stairs of the church tower, the deeper “secrets” of monastic spirituality are revealed, while the belfry offers a magnificent panorama over Vértes. Also in the belfry, the big bell of Majk, constructed using the original casting technique, can be viewed.

 

Gardens

The hermitage gardens used to extend to the southeast of the Majk building complex. The magnificent geometric garden has preserved its 18th-century retaining wall system. On its upper terrace, visitors may view the grotto chapel, which features Baroque stucco ornamentation and, at the most important point of the garden, on its vault, a reconstructed mural of the Virgin Mary. Vegetable gardens were located on the garden’s middle and lower terraces, while orchards were established near the lake and along the line of cells. The Esterházy family developed an English garden with landscape features in the location of the latter, during the 19th century.​

Széchenyi 2020