Szent Mihály Hill (136 m), a former island, rises between Vonyarcvashegy and Balatongyörök with a legendary chapel visible from far. A clearing at the fishermen's chapel on the hill with shady benches offer a great view over Balaton.
Szent Mihály Hill gained importance in tourism in the 1990s when the chapel was renovated, a new road was constructed up to the hill and the fishermen's monument was set up. The history of the hill, which used to be an island of the lake, goes back to Ancient Roman times, when a watchtower was built on the top.
In the 16th century the hill was probably a part of the castle of Györök and according to historic documents the chapel was already there in 1622. A date on a fresco restored in the 2000s also support the origin of the chapel in the 17th century, however, it is believed that it was built only in the 18th century as a token of fishermen's gratitude who survived while fishing on the ice-covered Balaton.
The legend has it that in winter of 1739 46 fishermen were ice fishing when an ice pad broke off with them. Six of them fell in the icy water and died but 40 of them managed to stay on the pad. They could avoid their fatal end due to a sudden turn of the wind, which finally drifted them to the shore. In return for their miraculous survival they pledged to build a chapel on the top of the hill.
The legend is more likely related to a remodelling or renovation as the chapel had already been there at that time for long. Two crypts near the altar with dates of 1722 and 1729 (which have already been worn off) also support this scenario.
In the second half of the 18th century some Franciscan monks from Keszthely left their order and chose to live the life of mendicant friars and reside in the caves of the hill. The hermit caves were probably on the eastern slope of the hill but by now no traces are left of them.
The road to the chapel passes an old cemetery with graves and tombstones making your climb a little mysterious. Before being remodelled the monument for the 40 fishermen near the road used to function as a mortuary of the graveyard. Featuring a ceramic relief by renowned ceramist János Németh the monument commemorates the survival of the fishermen and also serves as a memorial for fishermen of Balaton.
The chapel is open from mid-June until Saint Michael's Day (29 September) offering various programmes, even as a wedding venue.
A clearing at the chapel on the hill with shady benches offer a great view over Balaton. At the end of the clearing wooden crucifixes were erected.