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Sights of Gyula (Gyula)

Gyula is an outstanding tourist centre. Its most famous heritage is Hungary's best-preserved Gothic residential castle and chapel with the Castle Thermal Baths famous for its medicinal waters.

In 1332 the settlement was already recorded as Gyula. One of the explanations for the name is that it was named after its landowner while others believe that Gyula was a military leader from the time when the Magyars settled in the Carpathian Basin.

The town became the centre of the region over the course of the 14th century. In 1403 the powerful ruler John Maróti, Ban of Mácsó, became the owner of the land and the castle was built in his times.

The property was returned to the king in 1476 and King Matthias gifted it to his son John Corvin in 1482. The lords lieutenant, deputy lieutenants and district administrators were all connected to the Gyula Castle, and, thus in that time the city served as the county seat. The period from the time of Matthias until the first half of the 16th century was the heyday of medieval Gyula.

The city experienced an uninterrupted period of development until the construction of the railways and the redrawing of the borders according to the Trianon Treaty. Its decline was sealed with the signing of the treaty as the new border was drawn immediately next to Gyula and of the 30 settlements that had provided its economic background only four remained part of Hungary. It maintained its role as a centre of administration until 1950 when the county seat was moved to Békéscsaba.

New opportunities opened up in 1958 when medicinal waters were found springing up from a well at a depth of 2005 metres. Gyula became a bathing resort and the Castle Baths were developed in the environmentally protected park of the former count's residence.

Theatrical performances were first held in the closed castle courtyard which has excellent acoustics in 1964. Since that time the Gyula Castle Theatre (Várszínház) has held a prestigious spot among the summer cultural events.

The Romanian Orthodox church of the Miklósváros district is one the town's significant heritage buildings. Its four-level, seven-column iconostasis is a splendid early Classical work. Other sites worthy of mention are the Franciscan garden of ruins, the round bastion (rondella) of the castle and the former county hall.

Another famous item tied to the name of Gyula is the gastronomic speciality, the now famous Gyula sausage that was developed by the butchers here in the early 20th century. The local masters won the first gold medal with their sausage in 1910 and the second in the Brussels World Exhibition in 1935.

Among the famous personalities born in the city is the composer Ferenc Erkel who wrote the music for the Hungarian national anthem. However the name of Albrecht Dürer is also associated with the city. A museum preserves the memory of their life work.

Gyulavári was annexed to Gyula in 1974 and since then the two settlements have completely grown together.

 

SIGHTS

Gyula CastleGyula Castle

This towered, Gothic castle built between 1403 and 1445 has the best-preserved Gothic keep and chapel in Hungary. The building complex includes the Castle Baths. Theatrical productions are staged here in summer.

The surviving round bastion (rondella) is part of the defensive mid section built around the inner castle. Next to this central section the more spacious hussar castle was built to accommodate the cavalry. It stretched all the way to the outside wall of the current Harruckern-Wenckheim-Almásy Mansion. Today, the hussar tower is attached to the mansion's north wing.

A stream of healing water surfaced near the mansion and the first swimming pools were opened on the former equestrian grounds. As a result the castle baths were built within the complex.

Built of fired bricks the inner castle is a gloomy structure measuring 60 by 27 metres with walls 14 metres high. Two gates afford access to the castle; on the southwest side the arched Kerecsény Gate opens onto the castle courtyard and a path leads steeply up to the other entrance at the 20 metre high gatetower on the long, southeastern side.

The reconstructed drawbridge in front of the tower leads across a deep moat to a smaller, arched entrance, that of the ground floor of the tower. A spiral staircase winds up to the roof from where a splendid view over the surroundings is afforded. In clear weather even the mountains near Arad and Oradea/Nagyvárad can be seen from here.

The courtyard is surrounded by two-storey buildings. On the ground floor there were workshops and storage units with residential space above. Next to the tower and behind deeply set Gothic windows is the chapel dedicated in 1445 across from which is the knights' hall. The rooms of the palace are enhanced by cross vaulted stone door frames, stone windows and corner fireplaces. The imposing facade on the northwest remains to be restored.

Museum exhibitions invite visitors on an authentic time journey to the history of the castle in the Middle Ages and to the everyday life of those living in the Renaissance period.

The castle courtyard is the venue for one of the best known theatrical summer series in the country.

 

Miklósváros Romanian Orthodox church

This is the only listed Romanian Orthodox church in modern Hungary. It was built between 1802 and 1812 in a late Rococo style. Arranged in seven columns and four rows, its large, richly ornamented iconostasis is an early neo-Classical work.

The steeple of the church was finished in 1854 and in 1996 it received a new copper roof using 2.2 tons of copper plate. A row of archivault pillars runs the length of the side facade.

The artistic quality of the icons painted in 1824 by Arsa Theodorovits (1768?-1826) of Serbia does not quite match that of the beautifully crafted iconostasis itself. The four icons of the first row of the iconostasis protray Mary the Mother of God, Christ, St John and St Nicholas. Biblical scenes form the middle line, while the twelve apostles are depicted in the upper row. The frescoes on the ceiling were completed in 1928.

 

Ferenc Erkel Memorial House

Erkel Ferenc Memorial HouseThe Ferenc Erkel Memorial House (1810-93) was furnished in his birth house built in 1795. Everyday objects, documents and photographs of the Erkel family can be seen here, amongst them the composer's harmonium and manuscript scores.

The carefully guarded treasure of the museum is the memorial wreath, created for the 50-year conducting jubilee of this genius composer. It is made of 14-carat gold, weighs 525 grams, and contains 39 brilliant cut diamonds.

Visitors to the memorial house can glimpse the Erkel family's lifestyle. The kitchen is reconstructed as it had been, the life of the composer and even the musical activities of his sons can be followed.

The Erkel family arrived in Gyula in 1806 from Bratislava/Pozsony (now capital of Slovakia, then seat of the Hungarian Parliament). The father, József Erkel, lived and taught in the school until 1841. His son was born here on 7th November 1810. Ferenc Erkel founded the Hungarian National Opera and wrote the music to the Hungarian National Anthem (Himnusz). He was elected honorary citizen of Gyula in 1888.

 

"Százéves" Confectionery

The 'Százéves' Confectionery was furnished by its first owner, Andrew Salis, in 1840. Its original furniture has been restored recently, other rooms furnished and an open chimney confectioners museum was added.

Its name, Százéves cukrászda, literally means the Hundred Year Old Confectionery. Although it is getting older each year, its name has remained since its centenary. From the middle of the 19th century it was named the Reinhardt Confectionery after the owner.

Having stayed unchanged for one and a half centuries, the furnishings of the corner room of the confectionery are now listed heritage. The two adjoining rooms are furnished with Biedermeier furniture according to the original design. There is a small exhibition of confection and pastry-making equipment in the corridor while the cake-shop itself evokes the world of the mid 19th century.

 

Collection of Devotional Articles and Objects of Piety of the Virgin Mary

Devotional articles and objects of piety and the veneration of the Virgin Mary, such as rosaries, paintings and sculptures, are collected in the museum. The garbs of religious orders in Hungary prior to 1950 are also displayed here.

The exhibition is based on the approximately 3000 item private collection of István Paulik. The memorial room of Blessed Vilmos Apor is also here and showcases material regarding the life of the martyr bishop.

 

Former County HallFormer County Hall

Once the county hall, the Baroque-style structure was refurbished in a neo-Renaissance style in 1876-1877 and now serves as the town hall. The galleried assembly hall boasts a coffered ceiling.

The tympanum of the building's main facade features the county crest of Békés. The rooms on the ground floor are still vaulted and a very attractive staircase leads up to the assembly hall.

 

Franciscan garden of ruins

The Gothic buildings of the Franciscan church and monastery served the order between 1420 and 1566. The tombs of Elisabeth Corvin and Beatrix Frangepan are located here.

Only a small part of the monastery excavated in 1931 and restored in 1960 can be seen today. The sanctuary of the 35 metre long and 10 metre wide Gothic church and the first section of a row of adjacent cells are just two of the remains.

The Franciscan monks were settled in the Gyula estate by the pope in 1410. On several occasions the provincial convention of the Franciscan Order was held here. In 1508 the daughter of John Corvin, Elisabeth Corvin, the last member of the Hunyadi family, was buried here as well as Beatrix Frangepán wife of John Corvin, the son of King Matthias. The Franciscans fled at the time of the Turkish attack in 1566 and the monastery was destroyed.

 

Gunpowder tower, round bastion

Gunpowder tower GyulaA round cannon bastion was built of bricks at the end of the 15th century on the site of the western bastion of the central castle built around the inner castle. The so-called 'rondella' was later used to store gunpowder.

The brick wall surrounding the inner castle structure was built as a protective wall in the 15th century. With the exception of the round bastion, the remains of the bastion and the ramparts have been dismantled. The round bastion that had been used as gunpowder storage was repaired during the renovations in 1905.

The round bastion is now a café.

 

György Kohán GalleryGyörgy Kohán Gallery Gyula

A selection from the legacy of Kossuth Award winner painter, György Kohán (1910-1966), is displayed in the picture-gallery. The artist born in neighbouring Gyulavári left his 691 paintings and 2215 graphics to the town of Gyula.

Expressive, dramatic paintings are on view in the main room, while mainly lyric wax-tempera pictures in Cubist style are presented in the small room. Known as the Hungarian Guernica, a large graphic work titled In Memoriam of the War is displayed on the landing. The permanent exhibition is updated every 4 to 5 years.

 

János Corvin Museum

János Corvin Museum manages the following local collections and museums: Dürer Memorial Room, Town Gallery (Városi Képtár), Kohán Gallery, Ladics House, Ferenc Erkel Memorial House, German Ethnographic Collection, and Gyula Castle, the only intact Gothic brick castle on Central Europe's plains, including the exhibitions therein. The János Corvin Museum building, next to the management offices, houses the Ferenc Lajos Graphical Collection.

 

Ladics-house - Exhibition of town dwellers' lifestyles

The most valuable pieces of the Ladics family's 3,500 item collection are the Biedermeier and other historicizing furniture along with the porcelain from Meissen and other famous makers.

The pieces left by the family to the city of Gyula are exhibited in their original home. The eight furnished rooms reflect a true picture of the lifestyle of an intellectual Bourgeois family living in the county seat in the 19th century. Guided tours require prior appointment.

 

Peace Avenue

Almost one and a half kilometres-long, Peace Avenue is lined by huge chestnut trees and wonderful buildings and memorials.

Peace Avenue connects Kossuth Square with the railway station. Leaving the square, an iron bridge arches across the Élővíz Channel, the former River Fehér-Körös. On the right (No 4) a memorial plaque marks the birthplace of the painter and friend of Mihály Munkácsy, László Gyulai (Kratochvill) (1833-1911).

Opposite (No 1), the now demolished building once housed the studio of the renowned photo artist Aladár Székely (Bleyer) (1870-1940), who was born in Gyula but lived in Orosháza from 1897, later working in Budapest. He took photographs of nearly all the outstanding figures of the 20th century; the best known is his series on the poet Endre Ady. The writer Zsigmond Móricz dubbed him the "artist of the lens".

The town's first hotel, Hotel Komló, operated in this multi-storey building (No 8). Next door (No 10) stands another Art Nouveau, or Secession building - the erstwhile Royal, now Petőfi Moving Pictures built in 1912, the town's first permanent cinema. The tenement house of András Stéberl (No 14), a butcher and master of the famous Gyula Sausage (kolbász), still has the butcher's shop operating on the ground floor. On the left hand side of the Avenue (No 29) is the Lutheran church and vicarage, built between 1927-1931 and the church tower from 1940, designed by Gedeon Gerlóczy.

At the point where one of the branches of the Fehér-Körös turned westward, spreading over the flatlands, there is the People's Garden (Népkert). The area was filled-in during the 1880's, trees were planted, and three cultural institutions were established there: the Pavilion, a museum and a 1000-seat wooden theatre (the latter was demolished in 1961). The People's Garden, or as the people of Gyula refer to it after its maker, Göndöcs Garden, soon became the town's cultural centre and a popular promenade. Four buildings stand here today: the Educational Centre, the Kohán Museum, the Youth House operating in the former museum, and the Solar Physics Observatory. The latter is located on top of a cone-shaped water tower and is not open to the general public.

In the old days and until the two towns were united in 1857, the so-called 'St John's Ditch' (Szent János árka) ran on the site of the current avenue from the square to the People's Garden. On the right banks stood Hungarian Gyula (Magyar-Gyula) while the left bank was home to German Gyula (Német-Gyula). Between 1734 and 1857 the German inhabitants of German Gyula had their own town council. Turning left off the avenue after the row of single-storey shops, we enter Jókai Street, the main street of German Town or, after its patron saint, Joseph Town. The geometric grid of these streets indicates that this is an organised and structured district of Gyula.

Opposite the People's Garden on the other side of Peace Avenue stands the imposing building of the Palace of Justice (Törvényszéki Palota), built in 1899 to the plans of Gyula Wagner. The fresco in the vestibule of the main entrance, the Judgement of Solomon the Wise was painted by Gusztáv Veres. On the far side of the avenue, there stands the primary and middle school (No 49) built in 1927-30 for boy pupils from the gentry, and the old block of the Central City Police Station (No 51), both designed by Gedeon Gerlóczy.

The dry-food works of the Meat Factory of Gyula (Gyulai Húskombinát), where the famous Gyula Sausage is prepared, has remained on its site on Peace Avenue (No 50). However, built between 1973 and 1978 the current site of the Gyula Meat Factory built on Kétegyházi Road was a highlighted investment. It could process 580,000 pigs and 25,000 cattle annually. Following that factory there is another beautiful Secession villa (No 67), before Peace Avenue meets the railway station.

 

Roman Catholic church of the Assumption of Our Lady

The town centre parish church is of a Baroque and late Rococo style. The altarpieces depicting the Immaculate Virgin, St Anne and St Joseph are of great value.

Mihály Patay painted the 470 square metres ceiling secco in 1986-7, depicting personalities of Hungary's past and significant events from the city's history.

The 18th-century church ends in an apse. During a restoration, some Classical details were added. A work of Italian painter Ferrocetti is amongst the 18th-century altarpieces, St Joseph.

The tombstone of Francis Harruckern next to the sanctuary on the right side of the nave is by Viennese sculptor, Martin Schmidt. The wooden frame of Veronika M. Simon's altarpiece carved from walnut is a work of Tibor Lakatos.

This is one of the few pilgrimage churches in the area beyond the River Tisza.

 

Snail Forest

Close to 5 hectares in area and declared a reserve in 1998, the Snail Forest of Dénesmajor is part of the gallery forests along the Black Körös River. The outstanding asset of the grove is the 12 types of snails living here.

Of all the rivers Körös, the Black (Fekete-)Körös is the cleanest and most atmospheric. It is in its floodplain that the Snail Forest is found. Among the 12 types of snails that may be found here, the protected Chilostoma banatica is possibly the most interesting. It is found in relatively few places nowadays and in Hungary only a few isolated populations are known of.

The area may only be visited with a nature conservation specialist.

 

Accommodation in Gyula:

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

Map of Gyula:

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

 

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