Tihanyi barátlakások

Useful Information

A tihanyi Barátlakások vízfestményen by Joseph Fischer (*1769-✝1822), Tihany Peninsula, Hungary. Public Domain.
Location: Tihanyi-félsziget (Tihany peninsula), Lake Balaton.
(46.922866, 17.879085)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave House
Light: bring torch
Dimension: A=165 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Márton Veress, P. Gadányi, Gábor Tóth (2015): Thermal Spring Cones of the Tihany Peninsula Landscapes and Landforms of Hungary (pp.71-78). researchgate DOI
David Bozsaky (2015): Historical Development and Special Building Structures of In-earth Embedded Houses, April 2015Acta Technica Jaurinensis 8(2):113. researchgate DOI
Address: Tourinform Iroda, 8237 Tihany, Kossuth Lajos utca 20, Tel: +36-87-448-804, Tel: +36-87-538-104. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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10th and 11th centuri first caves built.
14th century inhabited by Byzantine rite monks (erroneously Basilites).
1913 path to the caves built.
1737 described by Mátyás Bél.
1942 excavated by Béla Dornyai.
1952 numerous caves destroyed by a collapse.
1984 human skeletons found in the cells.


Tihanyi barátlakások (Tihany Monk Houses) were hermitages of Greek Orthodox monks, in use until the 14th century. King András I (*1015-✝1060) relocated the monks from the Grand Duchy of Kiev, where he had adopted the Greek Orthodox Christian faith. He founded Tihanyi Apátság (Tihany Abbey), and after his death the Tihany church became his final resting place. It seems the first caves were dug in the 10th or 11th century, later enlarged. The monks hollowed out their cells, a chapel and a dining room from the rock. A reason for this location wasd probably the nearby Ciprian Spring, which was formerlky called Orosz kút (Russian well), the only spring on Tihany. In the 14th century they were abandoned and fell in disrepair. Around 1737 Mátyás Bél describes ten hermitages. Béla Dornyai excavated the site in 1942 and found nine cells and eight smaller cabins. It seems the 20th century was a desaster for the caves, today only three remain intact. It seems they were destroyed by the collapse of the cliff face in 1952. Nevertheless, this is said to be the best preserved cave monastery in the Carpathian Basin.

Andrew was King of Hungary from 1046 to 1060, descending from a branch of the Árpád dynasty. His father, Vazul, had strong claim to the throne, and in an attempt to ensure a peaceful succession to his own sister's son, Peter Orseolo, King Stephen I, the first Christian monarch of Hungary (*997–✝1038) ordered to blind Vazul and expelled his three sons from Hungary. The three brothers first lived in Bohemia, where they met and befriended fellow exiled Mieszko, then went to Poland in 1032 with Mieszko II when he regained his crown and returned. After the youngest among them, Béla, married a daughter of Mieszko II, Andrew and Levente decided to depart from Poland. There are numerous Hungarian chronicles about their adventures. Finally, they came to the court of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev (1019–1054) in the late 1030s. Andrew married Yaroslav's daughter Anastasia and was baptized on this occasion.
The succession of King Peter Orseolo went well, but he alienated many lords and prelates when he solemnly recognized the suzerainty of the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry III in 1045. As a result the Hungarians, which were still pagans, revolted against the King. King Peter Orseolo fled to Austria, but he was capture before he reached safety and was blinded. Unlike the people, most Hungarian lords and the prelates opposed the restoration of paganism, and they preferred the devout Christian Andrew to his pagan brother Levente. He was crowned by the three bishops who had survived the pagan uprising. He broke with his pagan supporters, restored Christianity and declared pagan rites illegal.

Tihany peninsula which protrudes from the northern shore into Lake Balaton is of volcanic origin. The dormant volcanism is the reason for springs of thermal water which deposited more than a hundred cones of calcareous and siliceous rocks. The underlying magma chamber heated up the surrounding karst water, which spouted to the surface and precipitated and deposited the dissolved silica and carbonates. Those deposits form cone like tubes. The rocks of the island are mostly volcanic rocks, basaltic tuff, which forms a steep cliff at the northern coast. The rock is stable, but softer than massive basalt, and so it was possible to carve caves out of the rock, which were quite stable. While they are definitely artificial, the knowledge got lost and the locals started to call them caves.

The name Barátlakások is wrongly translated "friendly apartment" by google, which is rather weird, actually it means Monk Houses. The caves are known under numerous names and variations of names. The most common are: Barlangkolostor (Cave Monastery), Barát-barlang (Monk Cave), Barátcellák (Monk Cells), Barát-lak (Monk Cottage), Innela, Remete-barlang (Hermitage Cave), Remetelakás (Hermitage Caves, Jankó 1902), Uruzkó-Üreskő, Üreskő-barlang (Hollow Stone Cave). And there are numerous variations of "Tihany Hermitage Caves" like Tihanyi-remetebarlangok, Tihanyi-remetelakások, Tihanyi-remetelakok, and Remeték barlangja Tihanyban. But it seems Tihanyi barátlakások is the name which is used for websites and tourist leaflets.

The caves are located in the forest at the northern slope of the Óvár hill. They can be reached by foot from the parking lot at the end of the Kecskeköröm utca in Gödrös. Another trail leads from the Lepke sor, the road on the northern coast steep uphill, along Orosz kútnak spring. A longer but very nice walk starts at the Károly király kálvária along the southern rim of the hill. The obvious access from the Felsöóvary utca, which crosses the hill, is not possible, because there are private vineyards along the road which are fenced, so it's not possible to access the trail. The caves are signposted Barátlakások.