Pannonhalma, a town with 3800 inhabitants, was built at the foot of the Benedictine Abbey and dates back to Roman times. The Hungarian conquerors found Slavic, Bavarian and Avar settlements alredy in this area. In the 10th century the Hungarian reigning princes built a manor house on the hillside. The future development of the settlement was determined by Benedictine missionaries settling on the crest of the hill in 996. Under the name of Pannonia the town’s first inhabitants were courtiers,... tovább s, wine-growers and craftsmen and later in the 12th century it became a major market center under the name of „Alsok”. The number of inhabitants grew significantly through the Middle Ages and changed the name to „Szentmárton” after the patron saint of the monastery church. The early 1500’s „Váralja”, the district of merchants and craftsmen developed under the walls of the monstery, wich had been reconstructed as a border fortress. During the Turkish conquest citizens yielded or escaped from time to time but eventually the town was destroyed. The 18th century was the time of rebuilding: German and Slavic people moved in next to Hungarian inhabitants and the first signs of farming appeared in the area and some farmsteads can still be seen today. In the 19th century the country town, which had become gradually wealthier, was a transport crossroads with widespread handicrafts, commercial network and small factories. The level of education and culture was advanced in that period. The name of the town was changed from „Győrszentmárton” to Pannonhalma in 1965. In the late 1980’s the Hungarian wine-growing community acknowledged the local produce by establishing the Pannonhalma-Sokoróalja wine-growing region with Pannonhalma as its centre. Besides nationwide changes of the economy, a particular change of profile took place: tourism became pronounced alongside high quality wine-growing. Today Pannonhalma is visited by 100-120.000 tourists a year. The abbey celebrated it’s 1000th anniversary in 1996 which drew attention to Pannonhalma from all over the world. In September even Pope John Paul II. visited the abbey. In the same year UNESCO declared the abbey and its surroundings area a world heritage site. In 2001 Pannonhalma was granted the official rank of a town. In the town many restaurants, a camping, hotels and motels now welcome guests.
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