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Hungary: King's Town Of Szekesfehervar

Published: 18.7.2011
Szekesfehervar: this town with approx. 100 000 inhabitants (on the way to Balaton Lake) has its extraordinary position in Hungarian's history, as a place where the Hungarian Kings were crowned. As fas as its modern contemporaneity is concerned, well known marks, such as Videoton or Ikarus, are connected with this locality.

In past, the translation of Hungarian name of the town was known and also used in another languages, such as: „Stoličny Bělehrad“ or „Stuhlweissenburg“. So, each parts of the name mark letterlly the words´ connection, such as: throne + white + castle. The historians allegedly argue about whether the original name was of Slavonic or German origin. This fact could mean that - in the course of centuries - more cultural influences were changed there, whereas in the 17th century, at the end of  Turkish hegemony, the town was - as region seat of „sendzhak“ - of Moslem character only. It is obvious that only old Latin name of the locality - Alba Regia - had some importance as well. In the neighbourhood of today´s town, the rests of another Roman colonization traces were excavated. This fact is proved by names Gorsium and Herculia. During summer saison, regular „Roman Festivities“ are organized there, including show of antique meals, fighting arts or other attractions.

Anyway, the town´s fame was secured by Prince Gesa, a father of Stephen, the first Hungarian King. He let to built a castle with rotunda, on raised area above swamps, at an important merchant path, between Velencei and Balaton Lakes. Nowadays, the outlines of its groundplan are marked in pavement in front of Virgin Mary Baroque Cathedrale,on Pope John Paul II. Square. The castle also was, for several centuries, a seat of Hungarian Kings. The Kings were crowned there till Turkish attack, after unhappy year 1526. The Coronation Cathedrale – probably one of most boastful buidings of medioeval Europe - did not survived a period of Turkish hegemony.

Somebody says that the Turks threw the church into the air as an intention, as this was a symbol of Christian faith. The other experts are convinced that a reason of its destruction, it was imprudence while manipulating with gunpowder, stocked inside the church. By the way, after Mohacs Battle and Szekesfehervar menacing by Turks, Bratislava became, for time period of three hundred years, as new Hungarian Coronation Town. Close to the church, mentioned above, the guide is showing us small St. Anne Gothic Chapel.

       

This is the oldest building of the town, coming of 14th century. This construction survived, as the only one, 150 years´ Ottoman devastation. So, we change our steps to a square where Bishop´s Palace and Town Hall are situated. Here, a passenger zone, with pleasant relax atmosphere and many opportunities to have a rest, is to be found. Past fame of the town is reminded with powerful granite Globus Cruciger - in a form of Empire Apple.

Thanks to the fact that during rule of Empress Mary Therese, the town was nominated as Bishop´s seat, and so, it was practically newly built, despite the fact that its medioeval fame was not reached at all. Around the square, many interesting palaces, churchrs, as well as secular buildings, monuments, including very well reconstructed Turkish bath, are located. At the edge of historical nucleus, we have a stop at excavations (Kozeplori romkert), where allegedly a tomb of St. Stephen, founder of Hungarian State, is situated. So, this park is taken for as a holy (sacred) place of Hungarian history.

Anyway, the other monuments temptate the attention of tourists, some of them are old a couple of years only. So, we managed to have a look at modern many-coloured timepiece, with its charming bell-ringing. This system was constructed and settled by local wathchmaker on his home, and so, he presented the town with new attraction. Our walk throughout city centre is terminated at historical building of town´s theatre, at not too successfull angular glassed construction. In the neighbouring park, great flower o´clock could be admired. Its hands were stopped at noon (or at midnight), so, the gardeneres are forced to set actual a date, planted from rocky roses. It is true, the time stopped there, and could be calculated not only for hours but is passing slowly day after day…

     

In order to admire another interesting place, we have to transfer outside city centre, into villa-quarter along slopes, recently covered with vineyards. Anyway, in hardly any town, a quarter with so many „Slovak“ geographical names could be found, such as: Poszonyi (Bratislava), Nyitrai, Zobori, Krivanyi, Dobsinai, Igloi, Liptoi, etc. When we turned out Kassai ut. (Košice street), among trees in the hill, we saw remarkable small castle with massif stone walls, small towers and garden terraces. The building was constructed, as his family seast, by Jeno Bory, local paintor, sculptor and visibly versatile artist. Nowadays, the castle is open for public as a characteristic gallery with a museum (Boryvár). Szekesfehervar could be proud on another personalities who were born or worked there. No doubt, Victor Orban, an actual Hungarian Prime Minister, belongs to most known local personalities.

     

As a consequence of expressive industrialization of the town after 2nd World War, Szekesfehervar was increased in numerous (however, not too nice) dwelling houses. The town is seat of Fejer County (Fejer megye). To most known and popular, belong, Ikarus (the buses) and Videoton (electronics) brands. The regional centres of these important international concerns take their profit from this industrial tradition. Szekesfehervar could be reached by highway M 1 and M 7, via Budapest. On the other hand, the shorter but rather frequented and busy road No. 81 leads there directly from the town of Gyor.

     

Text/photo: Jiří Výborný

Translation: ing. Jan Jonáš



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