The village lies on one of the most scenic parts of Hungary, the Tihany Peninsula.
Amongst the many sights of the peninsula the Benedictine Abbey church and monastery are the most famous. Its foundation (1055) followed a period full of skirmish and struggles when Andrew I had to fight the pagan rebels of the country and the enemy coming from outside (Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor). Out of gratitude for the victory he built a monastery where he invited Benedictine monks. The Byzantine friars coming with the king’s wife – the daughter of the grand duke of Kiev – have carved themselves cave dwellings and cells (Hermit Houses) in the soft sandstone of Óvár. The king ordered his burial place to be in the crypt of the abbey where his tomb can be seen today.
Part of the abbey is a museum where, besides seeing archeological findings, the visitor can also learn about Charles IV of Hungary, the last monarch of the House of Habsburg. In 1921, after an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim the throne, he was taken with his wife to Tihany where he spent 5 days in custody before being taken to Madeira by a British ship. The museum is the property of the Benedictine Order since 1994. Next to the steps leading to the abbey is the statue of the founder-king by Imre Varga.
Near the church, between Batthyány Street and Piski Walk is the Open-Air Ethnography Museum (Skanzen). One of its buildings is a fisherman’s house where items of the fisher guild – for example a ship carved out from a single tree trunk – can be seen. In the Potter’s House, tools and products of pottery are exhibited. In the third bulding, the visitor can see a fully equipped 19th century house of a peasant farmer.
The Doll Museum (4 Visszhang street) shows the clothing habits of the Balaton area through dolls dressed in traditional costumes.
Nearby stands the beutiful Calvary of Charles IV which was demolished in 1960 but restored in 2000.
At the shores of Balaton, near the pier is the Balaton Limnological Institute (Centre for Ecological Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) which was founded in 1926. Its main research concerns the chemistry of the water and fauna of Balaton.
The Observatorium of Loránd Eötvös Geophysical Institute records geomagnetic measurement. The Eötvös Lorand memorial exhibition is also in the institute. Between 1901 and 1903, Eötvös, the world famous physicist, conducted experiments here on the frozen surface of Balaton with a torsion balance which measures the changes in gravitational force.
The Hermit Houses can be reached from the port or the abbey with following sign Z but it is also on the Lajos Lóczy nature trail.
The Lajos Lóczy nature trail, starting from the ship station, leads through the whole peninsula. During the trip the traveller can get to know the interesting geological formations of the area (Weathered Rocks, Golden House), the geohistory of Tihany reveals itself. The trail can also be reached from the ship port with trail Z going south. This trail goes past Akasztó-domb (Gallows hill) which got its name from the 15th century: in 1417, the Tihany Abbey, after receiving the right to blood court (death penalty), set up the gallows pole here.
The Tihany Peninsula together with the Benedictine Abbey is one of the most beautiful parts of Balaton. Today, Tihany means the peninsula which is an administrative unit but in the Middle Ages multiple villages occupied the land.
At the Northern part of the peninsula was Apáti which was destroyed by the Ottomans. Its church was built in the 12th century which was rebuilt from its ruins in the recent years. Though not a ruin anymore it is still referred to as such. Újlak village, which was near the port, has also only a church ruin as a reminder of its past existence. In Óvár a hill fort was built in the Bronze Age, its trenches still visible. Important findings were unearthed here: burial urns, fragments of pots.
The establishing charter of the monastery contains the oldest written words of the Hungarian language, the original is kept in the Pannonhalma Abbey. The church was almost completely destroyed by the Ottomans with only the Romanesque style crypt intact. The founder of the abbey, King Andrew I, who died in 1061, is buried here.
The current richly decorated Baroque church was built between 1719-54. The monastery was also rebuilt and expanded in these times, getting its present rectangular form. The work on the inside of the church was started in 1753 by Sebestény Stuhlhoff who made the spectacular wood carvings. He worked here until his death, he is buried in the crypt under the church. The church was sanctified by the Bishop of Veszprém in September 1778.
Unfortunately, a century later a side of the church – the one not built on the rock – partly collapsed, a more serious restoration was needed. The inside of the abbey was renovated as well, decorated by the murals of Károly Lotz, Bertalan Székely, Lajos Ébner-Deák
The abbey was famous for the Tihany echo, its northern walls could „repeat” up to 10 syllables. Unfortunately, the new buildings in its vicinity destroyed this phenomenon.
After Mongol invasion, a stone castle was built on the Csúcs Mountain which was important in the border castle system used against the Ottomans. In the beginning of the 18th century, similarly to other castles, it was blown up by the emperor.