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Székesfehérvár (Székesfehérvár)

One of Hungary's oldest and most historical cities, in medieval times Székesfehérvár was a coronation and burial place of the Hungarian kings. It is the cultural and economic centre of Fejér County.

Székesfehérvár is one of the largest settlements in Transdanubia. It is the county seat and the cultural and economic centre of Fejér County. Approximately 40% of the county's inhabitants live here.

Reaching back to the Hungarian Settlement, the history of the city is preserved in the town centre heritage buildings. Székesfehérvár was the encampment of the tribe of the ruling Chief Árpád and Prince Géza subsequently made the settlement his reigning seat.

Built in 1018 during the reign of King St Stephen I, the Basilica dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady housed the regalia and the country's archives. A national memorial site in the present day, the remains of the basilica tell of those times gone by. Although Buda, Esztergom and Visegrád also competed for the status of capital city from the 14th century onward, coronations and royal burials were held here until the mid 16th century. 32 Hungarian kings were crowned within the city walls.

The expanding Ottoman Empire occupied the ancient city of Alba from 1543 and shaped it to its own image, translating its name to Istolni Belgrade. During the 150 years of Turkish occupation life became oriental inside the city walls. The 500 year old cultural heritage almost completely disintegrated in the Turkish times leaving only a medieval lapidarium and some Latin chronicles to tell its history.

At the end of the 18th century the city became an episcopal seat on the orders of Queen Maria Theresa, thus converting it into one of the centres of Roman Catholicism. The Jesuit order founded a school and a pharmacy here. The present aspect of the historic town centre was achieved during those times.

Built on medieval foundations, the houses of the Baroque centre were preserved as heritage sites, but new housing estates have also been built. The city and its surroundings were the most dynamically growing regions of Hungary in the 1990's.



Archaeological Park, national memorial

The remains of the cathedral of state-founding king, St Stephen I, are anarchaeological park now. Stone tablets mark the tombs of several royal couples, while the place of the royal throne is marked by ashlars.

The final resting place of St Stephen was in the axis of the main nave and is today marked by a simple slab of stone with a cross. Several chapels enlarged the cathedral which were the burial chapels of royal and noble families. Their remains are also on display. The archaeological park contains fragments of the pillars of the cathedral, along with the foundation stones of the apse that once closed off the sanctuary.

The cathedral was destroyed around 1800 when the episcopal palace was being built. The sarcophagus of St Stephen was found in 1803 when the ruins were cleared away. In the autumn of 1848 the methods of modern-day archaeology were enlisted to discover the remaining traces. It was at that time that the tomb of King Béla III and his wife was discovered. More large-scale excavations were undertaken in the 1930's when the Archaeological Park was established. It was inaugurated in 1938 on the 900th anniversary of the death of the state-founding king, St Stephen.


Garden of Medieval Ruins

The Basilica commissioned by the first Hungarian King St Stephen served as the coronation church and royal burial site. What remains of it, including the memorial displaying St Stephen's sarcophagus, has become a national shrine.

The garden ruins where the remnants of the basilica, its masonry, and St Stephen's sarcophagus are on display, were prepared in 1938 for the 900th anniversary of St Stephen's death.

A mausoleum and masonry museum designed by Géza Lux were erected for the sarcophagus. Its external walls are decorated with fine relief work by Walter Madarassy, the stained glass windows were painted by Mrs Árkay née Lili Sztehlo, and the walls bear a historical secco by Vilmos Aba Novák.

Extremely dense yet with a striking and expressive structure, Novák's composition begins with the baptism of Vajk (Stephen's pagan name) and with the story of the Holy Crown. Also featured on the walls: St Stephen's coronation, the legend of the holy right hand of St Stephen, the kings and outstanding figures of Hungarian history, together with public personalities representing the various eras, among them the governor Miklós Horthy, and in the figure of Anonymous (the medieval anonymous notary who recorded the history of the Hungarians) wearing his hooded cloak, the then Minister of Education was displayed.

The secco created in 1942 was limewashed in the early 1950's to conceal the figure of Miklós Horthy whom the Communists despised. This, however, protected the artwork from the rigours of the weather. In the early 1990's, it was restored and placed under protection.


St. Stephen’s sarcophagusSt. Stephen's sarcophagus

It is very likely that the body of St Stephen I is safeguarded in the 11th-century stone coffin in the mausoleum set in a garden among ancient ruins.

Carved from white limestone from Buda, this large coffin was originally a Roman sarcophagus. It is decorated on three sides with an angel symbolizing the soul of the deceased on the shorter side. Six-winged cherubs are depicted among trees of life and rosettes on the longer sides.

The sarcophagus was uncovered in 1803 during excavation of the ruins. In 1814 it was transported to the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest from where it was returned to Székesfehérvár in 1936.

Large-scale murals by Vilmos Aba Novák can be seen in the background.


Black Eagle Pharmacy Museum

The 18th-century building has retained its original Baroque furnishings. The furniture of the pharmacy established by Jesuit monks was made in their carpentry under the supervision of Bernát Baumgartner.

The permanent exhibition of the pharmacy museum displays the original Baroque carved furnishings of unparalleled beauty which were created in 1758. It also presents the history of the pharmacy which operated until 1971.

Thought to have been made by the Jesuits, the medicine press, together with its copper mortar and several painted wooden jars, are especially noteworthy among items on display here. Outstandingly beautiful are the over 200 year old storage cabinets with their numerous drawers and also the cream jars decorated with the two-headed eagle.

The back room acts as a venue for temporary exhibitions.

The pharmacy was established by Jesuit monks in 1746. The establishment was moved from the monastery into the building across the street. The exhibition displays the original 18th-century Baroque furnishings, vessels and equipment.


Golden Bull Memorial

Golden Bull MemorialTradition has it that it was here that King Andrew II proclaimed his renowned Golden Bull, a body of laws that recorded the privileges of the nobility in 1222.

This memorial unveiled in 1972 is the work of Sándor Rétfalvi. The statue only found its way to its current location in 1990 when it replaced the Soviet tank that had previously occupied the summit of Csúcsos Hill, commemorating the battles for Székesfehérvár in 1945.



King St. Stephen Museum

The museum's permanent exhibitions hosted by the former Cistercian convent are: Treasures of Millennia; Fragments of the History of Fejér County; Székesfehérvár in medieval times and during the Turkish occupation; Roman Lapidarium.

Outstanding items of the archaeological collection include the Bronze Age treasures discovered at Nadap and the finds from the Igar grave of an Avar chief which was rich in golden jewellery. Stone carvings represent the medieval times while the unique collection of a several-hundred-piece dinner set and jewellery of the Hadik family dating from the 18th and 20th century, also known as the Seregélyesi treasure, evoke more modern times.

The Fejér County and Székesfehérvár Archaeological and Historical Association was founded in 1873. With permanent exhibitions initially hosted by the Town Hall, the King St Stephen Museum became the successor of the organisation from 1910 onwards. The museum took possession of its new home in 1929, staying there until it was transferred to the former Jesuit (Cistercian) monastery in 1992.

Centre of the county museum association, numbering 1,250,000 pieces the largest of the collections is the archaeological. The historical collection consists of 64,437 items, the numismatic 23,675, the ethnographic collection 11,530 and the fine art collection 5,785. There are 2,185 works in the applied arts collection and 5,310 in the natural history section.

Temporary exhibitions are held in the ceremonial hall. Guided tours are available upon prior arrangement.


Palotaváros Open-air MuseumPalotaváros Open-air Museum

Formerly inhabited by Serbians, the area now is a museum street. The distinctive buildings of the street are all part of the museum.

Wooden plank fences, whitewashed houses with thatched roofs and a church built in 1774 preserve the memory of the large number of Serbian craftsmen who once lived in this area.

At 11 Rác Street the original furnishings of the last owners, the Serbian Csikós family, are displayed  together with documents related to the crafts practiced in Palotaváros and the life of the guilds. The last room hosts a hatter's workshop.

This interesting museum street turned out to be a popular tourist attraction and in 1989 it was awarded a Europa Nostra prize.

Guided tours are available upon prior arrangement.


Roman Catholic Episcopal Cathedral of Kink St. Stephen

This originally Gothic, now Baroque church was built between 1758 and 1768 according to the plans of Martin Grabner. The sarcophagi of Béla III and his wife are in the crypt.

The main facade is divided with pilasters. Above the three-centred arched frame of the porch is the city coat of arms ornamented with puttos and stone vases. One beautifully proportioned huge window fills the wall between the two pilasters. A generous cornice runs around the building. Above it the terrace between the steeples is enclosed by a stone tracery balustrade on which the statues of King St Stephen I, King St Ladislaus, and Prince St Imre sit on three pedestals.

The interior is decorated with the frescos by Johann Cymbal depicting events from the life of St Stephen. The high altarpiece painted by Vincenz Fischer depicts the last station of a lasting life work, mingled with a tragic personal life: The old and ill king, living only for devotion after losing his son Prince Emeric, offered the symbol of the state founded by him, the Holy Crown, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Hungary.

The extended usage of red marble creates a ceremonial atmosphere in the spacious interior. Proportioned with columns with Corinthian heads the high altar designed by royal architect Franz Anton Hillebrandt is particularly attractive. The tracery red marble altar balustrade is also exceptionally valuable. The most precious treasure of the church is the skull relic of St Stephen, which can be seen during the ceremonies held on 20th of August.

Amongst the medieval walls of the vaulted undercroft lie the red marble coffins of Béla III and his wife which were brought here after they had been lifted from the ground during the excavation of the St Stephen Basilica. On the walls huge boards list the names of those soldiers who died in the distant battlefields of World War I and during the Romanian occupation. The undercroft can be visited only once a year on Good Friday.

Can be visited during Holy Mass and upon prior arrangement.


Bory Castle

Bory Castle SzékesfehérvárThe Romantic knight's castle exhibition hall is home for the statues of Jenő Bory and the paintings of his wife Ilona Komócsin.

The Romantic knight's castle of Jenő Bory (1879-1959) stands on Old Hill (Öreghegy) on the northeastern outskirts of the city. Construction began in the 1930's according to the plans of the artist himself, Jenő Bory.

The castle is a symbol of eternal love and an exemplary marriage. The marble statues of Jenő Bory preserve his timeless love for his lovely wife. There is a collection of over 500 creations found throughout the rooms, courtyard and garden that visitors will enjoy.



Budenz House, Ybl Collection

The collection held in this late Rococo-style building presents the furniture, family pictures, personal belongings, and ornamental objects of the Székesfehérvár Ybl family, as well as the private fine and applied art collection of Ervin Ybl.

Artworks from almost all the well-known artists of the first decades of the 20th century can be seen among the fine art material. Among others, works by Bertalan Székely, István Csók, János Vaszary, Noémi Ferenczy, István Szőnyi, sculptures and numismatics of Márk Vedres, Vilmos Fémes Beck, Ferenc Medgyessy, Pál Pátzay, Béni Ferenczy and Miklós Borsos are on display. The Scottish Art Nouveau-style study on the ground floor is a remarkable section of the applied art collection.

Art historian Ervin Ybl (1890-1965) donated his fine art collection, along with the family furniture and personal belongings to the King St Stephen Museum in memory of his family who came from Székesfehérvár.

Some personal belongings and furniture of the Székesfehérvár-born architect Miklós Ybl can also be seen in the exhibition.


Csitáry Water

While looking for thermal water to feed the spa, a bitter mineral water spring was found at a depth of 170 metres.

The well called 'Csitáry Water' is located in a former Rose Garden, the park area between the Mill and the Cobbler Channels.

Open to the public.


Episcopal Library

One of the most extensive provincial collection of rare books and incunabula is maintained in the library of the episcopal palace.

The valuable volumes include an illustrated Latin manuscript of Aristotle's Metaphysics and works of Plato, Erasmus, Machiavelli and Luther.


Episcopal PalaceEpiscopal Palace

This late Rococo-style palace was built between 1780 and 1803, probably by Jakab Riedel. The Classical paintings on the wall of the dining room were painted in the first half of the 19th century.

The palace was built from the stones of the former basilica. Construction took more then 20 years, and thus late Rococo-style ornamentation can also be detected in the basically Baroque construction.

The ornamentation on the main facade are the six pairs of pilasters with Corinthian capitals, enhanced with rosettes and garlands. Parapets sit above the two corners of the palace each displaying a group of puttos between vases. The tympanum closing the central projection is adorned with the Baroque coat of arms of the second bishop of Székesfehérvár József Milassin, next to stone vases and allegorical figures. The decorative mansard roof windows round off the building.

Can be visited upon prior arrangement.


Fehérvár Doll House

This exhibition presents the games of days gone by, dolls and their world of small objects. Most dolls rooms are miniature copies of period residential rooms between 1800 and 1930. 

Also valuable in terms of cultural history, this collection is located on the ground floor of the remodelled City History Museum (Várostörténeti Múzeum). The items exhibited are the result of 60 years of collection work by Dr Éva Moskovszky, a retired librarian of the Hungarian National Museum, and her mother, Mrs Lajos Moskovszky Erzsébet Auer.


István Csók Gallery

The grand salon of the building was designed in 1944 to match the dimensions of Vilmos Aba Novák's painting entitled 'Hungarian-French Historic Connections'. The work itself has been exhibited here since 2001 only.

Vilmos Aba Novák was commissioned by the government to create the mural of the 'Hungarian French Historical Connections'. Completed in 1937, the work was shown at the Paris World Fair where it won great acclaim and the jury awarded the artist a Grand Prix. The picture has been displayed in the place where it was originally intended since 2001.

The mosaics and statues of the facade are the work of Ödön Metky. The gallery was named after István Csók (1865-1961), a well-known artist born in the county.

The institute provides a home for several temporary exhibitions of national importance.


Kégl Mansion

Kégl Mansion SzékesfehérvárGyörgy Kégl, the founder of the St George's Hospital in Székesfehérvár, purchased Csalapusztá in 1873. He had his family mansion designed by Alajos Hauszmann built in 1878.

The park around the mansion blends beautifully into the picturesque backdrop of the western Velence Hills.

There is an agricultural history collection in the buildings around the mansion. The mansion can be visited as part of the museum tour.


Open town gates can be seen in the medieval coat of arms of Székesfehérvár. This openness is characteristic of the town even now: visitors are welcome to the open gates and the traditional Hungarian hospitality of the town.


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