Visitors to Pannonhalma can now learn about a variety of herbs in the newly inaugurated Fragrance Museum. The exhibition provides insight into the herbal culture, and healing traditions of the Benedictine order.
The museum was opened by Gergely Gulyás, the Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, who emphasized that the Abbey has not only been central to Hungary’s religious life, but it was also indispensable in ensuring the continuation of parochial education during and after the Communist era. Gulyás also noted that Pannonhalma plays a pivotal role in regional tourism.
As the website of the Abbey highlights, healing has been a traditional activity of Benedictine monks at Pannonhalma for hundreds of years. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that an exhibition devoted to exploring herbal healing would open at this particular location.
The curator of the new museum, Zsolt Virág, highlighted that this is the first such museum in Hungary, hoping that it will preserve its uniqueness in the whole of Central Europe, too. One of the curiosities that the exhibition draws attention to, he added, is the fact that the world’s first recorded perfume was a Hungarian one, gifted by Charles I to his wife, Elizabeth, in the first half of the 14th century.
Abbot Cirill Hortobágyi T. also welcomed the exhibition, noting that it fits well into the Abbey’s objective, which is to make the order’s knowledge about herbs and healing accessible. In addition to learning about liturgical ways of blessing the herbs, the public can explore processing techniques and healing traditions in an interactive way.
Antique desk for perfume-making in the Fragrance Museum at Pannonhalma, Photo: Krizsán Csaba/MTI
The exhibition revolves around experience, therefore visitors also have the chance to touch and smell the exhibits. Accompanied by wonderful aromas during the whole exhibition, people can smell herbs such as peppermint, sage, thyme, lemon-balm, and lavender, and can test their knowledge at the end of the experience.
Featured photo by Csaba Krizsán/MTI