The medieval name of Kőkút-Salföld suggests that one of the basic conditions of life, water, was given not only physiological but also symbolic significance by the former founders of the settlement. The fountain, as a structure for ‘taming’ water, was a priority in the Middle Ages, as it provided an opportunity to store soil or spring water of the right quality and, as a reference point in the fabric of the settlement, also functioned as a scene of community life. The symbolism of the wells played a particularly important role in medieval monastic architecture. The spatial composition of the Pauline monastery in Salföld, like that of several other Pauline monasteries, is organized around a well that can still be seen today. The monks could very rarely leave the monastery building, so a water supply had to be provided within the walls as well. However, in addition to practical considerations, various wonderful stories, usually associated with saints, have also highlighted the role of this edifice, as evidenced by the fact that most medieval pilgrimage sites are connected to sacred wells. Some of the stories can be linked to the Turkish wars. Monks fleeing the destructive armies often hid the treasures and relics of the monastery deep in the wells, and their later discovery gave them wings of legends about the wells full of treasures. In line with the typical spatial organization of contemporary European monastery architecture, the well that also serves the refectory is located in the center of the inner, enclosed garden of the Salföld monastery. The structure, which can also be considered a life-threatening source, connects the monks' everyday spaces with the Sky as a vertical axis. As a transitional space between depth and height, the environment of the well provides a place for spiritual renewal.

Gábor Hauchard
January, 2021.