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Sights of Eger (Eger)

Eger is one of the most beautiful Baroque cities in Hungary. The centuries-old architectural heritage, the ecclesiastical treasures, the wine culture, the thermal baths and numerous cultural events combine to make Eger the most significant tourist centre in Northern Hungary.

According to some hypothesises the town was named after the alder ('éger') trees along the Eger Stream. This assumption is supported by the German Erlau/ Erlen-au (alder grove) name of the town.

Eger was among the first bishoprics created by St Stephen, the state-founding king.

In the early Middle Ages the town was situated on what is today known as Castle Hill. The stone castle built on the order of Béla IV in 1248 is today a fantastic piece of heritage and a museum.

The minaret is from the Turkish times

Eger gained its glory in its defence against the invading Turkish armies; in 1552 the advance of the conquering Turkish was brought to a halt here. Since then the town and its castle have been the symbol of firm resistance and fame; even though the Turkish managed to occupy the castle in 1596.

During the Turkish occupation the so-called Eger 'vilayet' (district) was formed. This was the official boundary of the Ottoman Empire's sphere of influence. Significant architectural Turkish heritage can be seen even today from this period.

After the withdrawal of the Turkish in 1687, the Jesuits, the Cistercians, the Minorites, the Franciscans, the Servites, and the Trinitarians started large-scale building operations.

The religious orders played a vital role in the town's cultural life. It was at this time that elementary and secondary education was started and ecclesiastical seminars and law and medical schools were founded. The first Teacher Training College in which the language of teaching was Hungarian was opened in Eger in 1828. The student town character of Eger exists to this day.

The Archbishopric Library

The 18th century was the time of flourishing and prosperity. The bishops of the town carried out several building operations which still determine the Baroque style townscape even today.

The emergence of the Eger Wine Region can be placed in the early 1700's. It was then that the borders of the town were planted with grapes; the viticulture and viniculture here are still vitally important. Of the red vines produced in Eger Bull's Blood (bikavér) is the most prestigious and best known; it is made out of four grape types.

Several architectural heritages are connected to the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. The independent theatre opened in 1904 as well as the open-air baths (strandfürdő) built around the thermal waters visited by many who come to relax or looking for a cure.

The Baroque town centre of Eger was declared protected heritage in 1968. The town has won the title 'City in Bloom' several times.

There are numerous outings to be enjoyed in the forests of the Bükk and the Mátra Hills.

 

SIGHTS

Bükk National Park

The largest mountainous forested national park in Hungary, its establishment was determined by the geographical conditions of the Bükk Hills after which it is named.

The different types of sea sediments from the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic era were subsequently breached by volcanic rock material in several phases. Young sediments and acid volcanic rocks are found at the edges of the rising hill range. The various types of soil are naturally linked to the different kinds of rocks. Combined with the diverse topographical forms, the particular microclimatic conditions enable the native Carpathian, Mediterranean and typically high mountainous species, as well as numerous relic species from past geological eras, to find their habitat in the region.

Visiting
- The whole area of the national park can be visited on the signed footpaths, but entering into the habitat of some species may be restricted by the management of the Bükk National Park.

- Special interest groups (ornithologists, lepidopterists, etc.) must provide notice of their visit and request a permit from management.
- The park management would like to encourage cyclists next to walkers by establishing a network of bicycle paths and providing bicycle rental at Szilvásvárad.
- There are information boards at the two caves in Lillafüred (St Stephen dripstone cave and Anna calcereous cave)
- In Szilvásvárad there is an exhibition 'The natural conditions of the Bükk' and in the southern Bükk, more precisely in the Hór Valley there are two study trails, the Millennium Nature Trail and the Forestry Study Trail. In Oszla the regional museum has a local history collection displaying the natural and cultural assets of the national park.

Bükk National Park:
Founded: 1976
Total area: 43,200 hectares
Strictly protected area: 5,730 hectares

 

Eger CastleEger Castle

The Castle of Eger with the István Dobó Caste Museum inside is amongst the most visited and most well-known monuments in Hungary. Its popularity can be attributed to the fact that this former border castle is one of the most complete in Hungary.

Walk along walls with arrow slits and those bastions which have born witness to many a battle to reach the most important and oldest part of the fortress, the inner castle. Almost every bit of the inner castle area has its own story. Parts of the original castle walls are still standing and cannons are positioned on the cannon hill from where there is a fantastic panorama of the city.

Exhibitions are arranged in the cellars, just as in the Dobó Bastion and several other places. The underground corridor system and the arrow headed (or Italian) bastions can be visited, as can the excavated remains of the first cathedral of Eger.

The two-storey Bishop's Palace (püspöki palota) dominates the courtyard. The oldest building of Eger, it was built in the years before 1475 and was later extended and renovated. However, its most beautiful part, the Gothic arcades have remained in their original splendour.

The building of the castle was started after the Mongol invasion and, although it kept a strategic role in more recent centuries, it won its true fame in 1552 when 2,000 heroic people under the lead of captain István Dobó fought off the besieging Turkish army of many tens of thousands. The castle and its valiant soldiers became legendary when Géza Gárdonyi wrote his novel titled 'Eclipse of the Crescent Moon' ('Egri csillagok') in the 20th century. This book was voted the most popular novel in a Hungarian TV show in 2006. The writer was buried in the castle.

 

Fazola Gate

Fazola Gate EgerThe wrought iron gate is the gem of the County Hall, an outstandingly rich, high standard and prestigious example of the Hungarian wrought iron art. The semi-circular top section above the gate itself, decorated with the allegoric figures of Faith, Hope and Love, along with the gate itself were made by Henrik Fazola  between 1758 and 1761.

 

 

 

 

 

 

István Dobó Castle MuseumIstván Dobó Castle Museum Eger

Alongside the castle and its explanatory exhibitions there is a town history collection, a so-called prison museum and a gallery.

The gallery displays works from 16th to 18th century Italian, German and Flemish, 17th-18th century French and 18th-19th century Austrian and Hungarian painters. Italian Dosso Dossi's (approx. 1479-1542) Faun and nymph, and Dutch Terbruggen's (1588-1629) Boy lighting a pipe are outstanding pieces of the collection.

There is an exhibition about the town's history in the restored Gothic palace. The tombstone of the legendary captain of the castle, István Dobó, who beat off the besieging Turkish army can be found on the ground floor. The medieval lapidary displaying Romanesque and Gothic artefacts from the castle district is located in the castle barracks, part of the dungeons (casemate) of the castle.

The other part of the casemates, the Great Cellar (Nagypince), holds the exhibition entitled 'Execution, torture and denunciation in Hungary'. The exhibition is a collection of historical criminal law artefacts and descriptive illustrations of their usage.

The Dobó Bastion also belongs to the Castle Museum and is suitable for accommodating special and unique exhibitions. The atmosphere of the interior is enhanced with 50-60,000 years old limestone formations.

In the exhibition hall long-term temporary exhibitions are held. The first is entitled 'Weapons of the world, the world of weapons'. This collection of Eger born collector István Péterváry's 600 pieces from the five continents will probably be on display until 2007.

The opening hours of the individual exhibitions may differ from the opening hours of the Castle itself.

 

Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Apostle and St. Michael

Roman Catholic Cathedral EgerDesigned by József Hild, this Classical cathedral was erected between 1831 and 1836. It is 93 metres long, its cupola 18 metres wide and the twin towers 54 metres high. The monumental dimensions are particularly impressive from the steps leading up to the main facade.

The steps are framed by statues carved from stone depicting the Hungarian saints, King St Stephen and King Ladislaus, next to saints Peter and Paul. All are works by Marco Casagrande.

Eight 17-metre high Corinthian columns support the portico closed by a tympanum. The reliefs displayed by the external facade convey scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. Three statues on the elevated gable personify the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love.

The cathedral's interior is covered by three domes. Paintings have been created by the most renowned artists of the period. The high altarpiece depicting St John when plunged into oil was painted by József Dannhauser. On the southern side nave's first altar a depiction of St Michael by Michelangelo Grigoletti stands out. All details bear witness to the fact that archbishop László Pyrker who commissioned the cathedral took care to enlist the help of the most excellent artists and professionals of the day.

The cathedral's organ was built in the mid-19th century in Salzburg. Together with its loft the Classical organ case effectively concludes internal space. From 15th May to 15th October visitor may listen to brief organ services: Monday through Saturday from 11.30 am to 12 pm and on Sundays from 12.45 to 1.15 pm.

Access to the cathedral's crypt is from the south. Besides the archbishops of Eger, many outstanding personalities from the city have been laid to rest here. This tradition is continued to this day.

 

Library

The library has a large collection of 14th-18th century university textbooks as well as a number of original manuscripts and incunabula.

The bishop Károly Eszterházy, who founded the lyceum in 1794, also bestowed an exquisite library of some 20,000 volumes. Today, the collection has over 76,000 volumes including 700 manuscripts and 87 incunabula.

Its treasures include the only hand-written letter by Mozart kept in Hungary and the manuscripts of Kelemen Mikes' letters from Turkey. Mikes was the page of Ferenc Rákóczi II and it is largely his letters that provide information about the ruling prince's years in exile.

The library in the lyceum is also of architectural interest. The carved oakwood bookstands in the main hall present the most beautiful volumes of the library under a fresco depicting the Council of Trent by J. L. Kracker (1717-79).

 

Lyceum, Károly Eszterházy CollegeLyceum Eger

The structure of the Lyceum built in the second half of the 1700's follows a Baroque style. Its facades are mostly decorated with Rococo ornamentation except for the main facade facing the Basilica, influenced by upcoming Neo-Classicism.

Stepping through the main facade's large threefold gate, we enter into an oval hall and to a twin staircase. On the first floor the ceremonial hall opens in front of the main staircase. The hall is decorated with frescos by Franz Sigrist allegorising the four faculties of the college. The faculty of law is symbolised by the statue of Justice and the High Court (Excelsa Tabula Septemviralis); the faculty of philosophy with geological surveyors and with the symbols of astronomy, military and political geography; the medical faculty with images of an autopsy and healing; the theology faculty with images of high priests, angels, the heavens and other allegoric images.

The library is located in the great hall of the south wing. From the floor to the ceiling its walls are clad with late Rococo bookshelves. The fresco on the ceiling depicts the Council of Trent. The shelves are decorated with oval medallions ornamented with leaves and with relief portraits of writers and scientists. Alongside the other books, 700 manuscripts and codices and 87 incunabula with several unique volumes amongst them can be found in the library catalogue.

The frescoes on the ceiling of the chapel were painted by Anton Maulbertsch in 1793.

In this building called the Lyceum teaching began in 1793. Over time it has had a law faculty, a lyceum, and a teacher training college. Since 1949 it has been a teacher training college bearing the name of its commissioning bishop Károly Eszterházy.

 

Minaret

The most northern monument in Europe from the time of the Turkish occupation, the minaret is built out of carved sandstone. The djami on its east side was dismantled in 1841 in the course of the city replanning.

With a 14-sided ground plan this tower is 40 metres high. Inside its tall trunk 97 winding steps lead up to the iron balustraded circular terrace. The stone cone on the very top of the minaret is ornamented with a crescent moon and a cross. Since 1997, some 350 years after the legendary battle, the sound of the muezzin calling is once again heard in a summer event series.

Of the three minarets remaining in Hungary (Pécs, Érd, Eger), this is the tallest and the best preserved one.

 

Spekula Observatory

In the 53-metre high tower an observatory was set up for the lyceum in 1776. Modern when installed, today the instruments are primarily of historic value.

The meridian line is in the great hall at the tower's sixth storey and, in good weather, a sunray marks the moment of astronomical midday through the small opening.

A mirror telescope as constructed by Newton is on display next to an equatorial telescope which can be regarded as the forerunner of today's modern telescopes. With the help of sunrays the so-called 'cannon sun dial' through a magnifying glass ignites the gunpowder of a small cannon and thus acoustically marks the midday.

A 'camera obscura' was placed on the tower's ninth storey in 1779. This device functions in a similar way to a modern camera as it projects the panorama of the city onto the white surface of a table.

 

Collections of the Archbishopric

The permanent exhibition's general theme is, '1699-1943, two and a half centuries of the history of the bishops and archbishops of Eger'. The museum's most significant collection displays works of applied arts and crafts.

Visitors browsing the exhibition will better understand the role bishops played in local society, education, culture and politics. Most displayed objects such as monstrances, chalices, reliquaries and vestments are masterpieces of 18th-19th-century goldsmith and textile arts.

Of particular value are the gifts of Austrian Empress Maria Theresa to Gábor Erdődy, bishop of Eger, including the chasuble used in her coronation as Queen of Hungary.

 

Eger Gallery

The Gallery of Eger holds outstanding paintings by 16th to 18th-century Italian, 17th-18th-century German and Austrian, and 19th-century Hungarian masters.

In the room presenting the history of the collection the most valuable item is a bust of Archbishop János Pyrker carved by Marco Casagrande who also prepared the ornamental statues of the basilica. A series of 16th to 18th-century Italian paintings depict sacred and mythological motives; the most outstanding work in this section is 'The fall of man' by Battistello Caracciolo.  Exhibited in a section devoted to paintings from the Netherlands, the gallery's best known painting is the 'Boy lighting a pipe' (1623) by Hendrick Ter Brugghen. The collection of 19th-century Hungarian paintings holds many works of Jakab Marastoni, probably the country's most successful painter in that century.

The collection was established in 1872 by Archbishop Béla Bartalkovics and first belonged to the local lyceum.

Today the gallery's home is the upper floor of a building west of the castle ward, once built as a barracks for the soldiers of the Imperial and Royal Austrian-Hungarian Army. The gallery is also a venue for temporary exhibitions.

 

Roman Catholic Archbischop's Palace

This Baroque-style palace was built in several sections during the 18th century. The walls of the chapel are decorated with Rococo stuccos and the altar carved from Felsőtárkány marble is a real masterpiece.

The ornamentation on the gate of the iron railings separating the courtyard from Széchenyi Street was made in the Fazola family's workshop. The exhibition entitled 'Two and a half centuries from the history of the Eger bishops and archbishops' can be visited in the Archbishop' Collection Centre.

The palace can only be viewed from the outside. However, obviously the exhibition in the former outbuildings is open to the public.

 

Roman Catholic church of the Minorites (St. Anthony)

The church was designed by the famous architect of Baroque, Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. Its towers are 57 metres high and it is articulated by several projecting ledges. The woodwork of the interior is of particular value.

The plan of the single-nave church is of the shape of a Latin cross. The main facade is particularly impressive featuring an arcuated projection between the twin towers. Steps lead up to the main entrance which is framed by two pairs of huge columns sited on the tall pedestal and which stretch up all the way to the main ledge.

The pertinent inscription 'Pro Deo Nunquan Satis' ('For God nothing suffices') above the entrance's capstone is framed by Rococo-type ornamentation. The richly carved frame above the inscription holds the Franciscan crest with its entwined arms. Crosses of wrought iron sit on top of the graceful steeples.

The tripartite main nave's sweeping space is oriented towards the square sanctuary with its monumental high altar. Both sides of the high altar the stucco statues of St Louis and St Bonaventura have been placed. Six side altars join the nave. Frescos decorate the ceiling and a large gilded relief surrounded by marble stucco adorns the pulpit. The skilfully carved wooden benches date from 1792.

The church holds relics of Hungarian saints, St Kinga, Blessed Iolanthe, and St Hedwig daughter of King Louis d'Anjou. The relic of St Hedwig was returned to the saint's home country by the church of Poland.

 

Accommodation in Eger:

http://www.hungaryrooms.com/hotels/Eger/

Map of Eger:

http://www.hungaryrooms.com/map/Eger/

 

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