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Székesfehérvár
City Centre

Coat of arms
Székesfehérvár is located in Hungary
Székesfehérvár
Location of Székesfehérvár
Coordinates: 47°11′20″N 18°24′50″E / 47.18877°N 18.41384°E / 47.18877; 18.41384
Country  Hungary
County Fejér
Area
 - Total 170.89 km2 (66 sq mi)
Population (2005)
 - Total 101,465
 Density 593.74/km2 (1,537.8/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 8000
Area code(s) 22

Székesfehérvár (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈseːkɛʃfɛˈheːrvaːr]  ( listen)) is a city in central Hungary, located around 65 km (40 mi) southwest of Budapest. It is inhabited by 102,035 people (2009), with 136,995 in the Székesfehérvár Subregion. Is the centre of Fejér county and the regional centre of Central Transdanubia. In the Middle Ages the city was a royal residence and one of the most important cities of Hungary. 37 kings and 39 queen consorts were crowned, 15 rulers have been buried here, the diets were held and the crown jewels were kept here.

Contents

Names

The name Székesfehérvár means "white castle with the chair/seat" and the city is known by translations of this in other languages (Latin: Alba Regia, German: Stuhlweißenburg, Slovak: Stoličný Belehrad, Serbian: Стони Београд Stoni Beograd, Croatian: Stolni Biograd, Slovene: Stolni Belograd, Czech: Stoličný Bělehrad, Polish: Białogród Stołeczny or Białogród Królewski, Turkish: İstolni Belgrad). In Hungarian, the city is known colloquially as Fehérvár.

The word szék (meaning "seat" as "throne") is related to its important role in the first centuries of the Kingdom of Hungary: székhely means a (royal) residence, center. In accordance of the obligation from the Doctrine of the Holy Crown, the first kings of Hungary were crowned and buried here.

History

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Pre-Magyar

The place has been inhabited since the 5th century BC. In Roman times the settlements were called Gorsium and Herculia. In about the 5th century AD, Slavic tribes began moving into the region and this place was called Belehrad or Belegrad, being a center during the Great Moravian period. In the Middle Ages its Latin name was Alba Regalis/Alba Regia. The town was an important traffic junction between Lake Balaton and Lake Velencei, several trade routes led from here to the Balkans and Italy, and to Buda and Vienna. (Today, the town is a junction of no less than seven railroad lines.)

Early Magyar

St. Anna Chapel

The Hungarian town was founded in 972 by High Prince Géza on four islands in the moors of the streams Gaja and Sárvíz. He also had a small stone castle built. Székesfehérvár was first mentioned in a document by the Bishopric of Veszprém, 1009, as Alba Civitas.

St. Stephen granted town rights to the settlement, surrounded the town with a plank wall, had a provosty and a school built and under his rule the construction of the basilica began (it was built between 1003 and 1038). The settlement had about 3500 inhabitants at this time and was the royal seat for hundreds of years. 43 kings were crowned in Székesfehérvár (the last one in 1526) and 15 kings were buried here (the last one in 1540).

In the 12th century the town prospered, churches, monasteries and houses were built. It was an important station on the pilgrim road to the Holy Land. Andrew II issued the Golden Bull here in 1222. The Bull included the rights of nobles and the duties of the king, and the Constitution of Hungary was based on it until 1848. It is often compared to England's Magna Charta, which predates it by just seven years.

During the Mongol Invasion of Hungary (1241–1242) the invaders could not get close to the castle: Kadan ruled Mongol warriors could not get through the surrounding marshes because of flooding caused by melting snow. In the 13th–15th centuries the town prospered, several palaces were built. In the 14th century Székesfehérvár was surrounded by city walls.

Ottoman period

The Ottomans occupied the city after a long siege in 1543 and only after a sally ended in most of the defenders including the commander, György Varkoch, being locked out by wealthy citizens fearing they might incur the wrath of the Ottomans by a lengthy siege. They discovered after surrendering, however, that the Ottomans were not without a sense for chivalry and those responsible for shutting the defenders out were put to death.

The city remained under Ottoman occupation for 145 years, until 1688, except for a short period in 1601 when it was re-occupied by an army led by Lawrence of Brindisi.[1] The Ottomans destroyed most of the city, they demolished the cathedral and the royal palace, and they pillaged the graves of kings in the cathedral. They named the city Belgrade ("white castle") and built mosques. In the 16th–17th centuries it looked like a Muslim city. Most of the original population fled. It was a sanjak centre in Budin Province as "İstolni Belgrad" during Ottoman rule.

Habsburg Empire

The city began to prosper again only in the 18th century. It had a mixed population, Hungarians, Serbs, Germans and Moravians.

In 1702 Albert of Austria was ordered to blow up the cathedral of Nagyboldogasszony[2], therefore destroying the largest cathedral in Hungary at that time, and the coronation temple. According to the Doctrine of the Holy Crown, all kings of Hungary are obliged to be crowned in this cathedral, and to take part in coronation ceremony on the surroundings of the cathedral. The coronations after this time were done in Pozsony/Bratislava.

In 1703 Székesfehérvár regained the status of a free royal town. In the middle of the century several new buildings were erected (Franciscan church and monastery, Jesuit churches, public buildings, Baroque palaces). Maria Theresa made the city an episcopal seat in 1777.

By the early 19th century the German population was assimilated. On March 15, 1848 the citizens joined the revolution. After the revolution and war for independence Székesfehérvár lost its importance and became a mainly agricultural city. New prosperity arrived between the two world wars, when several new factories were opened.

After WWII

Episcopal Palace

After World War II the city was subject to the industrialization like many other cities and towns in the country. The most important factories were the Ikarus bus factory, the Videoton radio and TV factory and the Könnyűfémmű (colloquially Köfém) aluminium processing plant, since acquired by Alcoa. By the 1970s Székesfehérvár had swelled to more than 100,000 inhabitants (in 1945 it had only about 35,000.) Several housing estates were built, but the city centre was able to preserve its Baroque atmosphere. The most important Baroque buildings are the cathedral, the episcopal palace and the city hall.

In the past few decades archaeologists excavated medieval ruins (that of the Romanesque basilica and the mausoleum of St. Stephen of Hungary) that can be visited now.

At the end of the Socialist regime, all important factories were on the verge on collapsing (some eventually folded) and thousands of people lost their jobs. However, the city profited from losing the old and inefficient companies as abundance of skilled labour coupled with excellent traffic connections and existing infrastructure attracted numerous foreign firms seeking to invest in Hungary and Székesfehérvár became one of the prime destinations for multinational companies setting up shop in Hungary (Ford and IBM are some of them), turning the city into a success story of Hungary's transition into market economy. Few years later Denso, Alcoa, Philips, and Sanmina-SCI also settled down in the city.

Main sights

Bory Castle
  • Historical centre (Baroque, Classical) buildings
  • St. Stephen Cathedral (burial place of several medieval kings incl. St. Stephen and Béla III)
  • St. Anna Chapel (Gothic, built around 1470)
  • Ruins of medieval church founded by St. Stephen
  • Episcopal Palace (Zopf style)
  • City Hall
  • Zichy Palace (Zopf style manor house, 1781)
  • King Stephen Museum
  • Doll Museum
  • Museum of Fekete Sas Pharmacy
  • City Museum
  • City Gallery
  • Csitáry source (mineral water source)
  • Serbian skanzen (12 thatched peasant houses and a Byzantine-style church, won a Europa Nostra award in 1990)
  • Golden Bull memorial (the Golden Bull was an important charta by King Andrew II, it was released here; the memorial is from 1972.)
  • Bory Castle (20th century)
  • Globus cruciger (a stone image of the royal symbol of power of the same name)
  • Statue of György Varkoch at the supposed site of his death at the gates (see above)
  • Vörösmarty Theater, the oldest theater of the country
  • Flower clock

Population

Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1870 23,279
1880 26,559 14.1%
1890 28,539 7.5%
1900 33,196 16.3%
1910 37,710 13.6%
1920 40,352 7.0%
1930 41,890 3.8%
1941 49,103 17.2%
1945 35,000 −28.7%
1949 42,260 20.7%
1960 56,978 34.8%
1970 79,064 38.8%
1980 103,571 31.0%
1990 108,958 5.2%
2001 106,346 −2.4%
2005 101,465 −4.6%
2009 102,035 0.6%

Ethnic groups (2001 census):

Religions (2001 census):

Famous people

Born in Székesfehérvár

Gallery

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Székesfehérvár is twinned with:

References

Notes
  1. ^ Alban Butler, Paul Burns (2000). Butler's Lives of the Saints. p. 159. ISBN 0860122565. 
  2. ^ Ferenc Glatz: Magyar történeti kronológia
  3. ^ "Bratislava City - Twin Towns". © 2003-2008 Bratislava-City.sk. http://www.bratislava-city.sk/bratislava-twin-towns. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  4. ^ "Opole Official Website - Twin Towns". Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Flag of Poland.svg (in English and Polish) © 2007-2009 Urząd Miasta Opola. http://www.opole.pl/miasto/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=20&Itemid=108. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 

External links

Coordinates: 47°11′44″N 18°24′32″E / 47.19556°N 18.40889°E / 47.19556; 18.40889


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Central Europe : Hungary : Székesfehérvár
Bishop's Palace on Városháza square
Bishop's Palace on Városháza square

Székesfehérvár is the largest city and county seat of Fejér county, Hungary. Located roughly 60km southwest of Budapest, the city is considered Hungary's first, as this was the royal seat of King Szent István (also known as Saint Stephan). Though most of the medieval city was destroyed by the Turks, it was rebuilt to glory under Maria Theresa Habsburg. The city is also located in between Lake Velence and Lake Balaton, making it an ideal stop-off between the two.

Get in

By train

Most trains depart from the Budapest Déli station. A személy train is the slowest and takes roughly an hour and a half to arrive, a gyors or fast train arrives in a little bit more than an hour. There are also a few Inter-city trains each day, which also take roughly an hour to arrive, but are typically air conditioned and more comfortable. An addition seat reservation is also required.

There are also five trains which depart daily from Budapest's Keleti station. Check the most recent timetable at MÁV's website [1].

By bus

Direct connections from Budapest depart from the Népliget bus station. The journey takes roughly an hour and fifteen minutes. Prices are exactly the same for the bus and for the train(except for an Inter City which costs more for the reservation). The only advantage then to taking a bus instead of the train would be that the city bus station is located exactly in the downtown.

By car

The M7 runs just south of Székesfehérvár and is the fastest way to arrive. From the exit merge onto 63 which will eventually take you into Piac sqaure.

By taxi

Since the city is 60km out of Budapest this is by far the most expensive option. If, however, you are arriving at Ferihegy and are going directly to Székesfehérvár, Zona Taxi [2] offers a fixed rate of 20000 Hungarian forint.

Train station in Székesfehérvár
Train station in Székesfehérvár

The train station is roughly 1km south of the town center and can easily be walked. Alba Volán [3] also runs frequent bus connections to the town center. One last option is to use City Taxi, at +36-22-311-111.

If arriving by bus the modern bus station is located just south of Piac square and only a short walk around the corner to the old town center.

If you are going to Bory's Castle you will need to travel either by car or bus. From the bus station take bus #26 or #26A and from the train station #32. Make sure to tell the bus driver you're going to Bory Vár because none of the buses will take you directly there and you won't know otherwise when to get off.

Szent Anna Cathedral
Szent Anna Cathedral
  • Bishops Palace this large pile dominates Városház square and is one of Hungary's most important Zopf style buildings. The palace was constructed in 1800-1801 from ruins of the former cathedral in the Ruin Garden.
  • Szent István Cathedral on Arany János utca was originally built in 1235 by King Béla IV, who was later crowned there. Most of what you see today, however, was from after 1777, when the cathedral became the episcopal seat. The interior is baroque in style and the towers were begun at the beginning of the 19th century.
  • Szent Anna Cathedral directly next to the Szent István Cathedral on Arany János utca, Szent Anna's is one of the few medeival buildings left untouched by the Turks. The church was constructed in 1470 in a Gothic style.

Szent István Király Múzeum

The main city museum if the King St. Stephen Museum, which runs several different branches and exhibitions throughout the city. Prices for each exhibition are fixed at 500 ft for adults and 250 ft for students.

Facsmile of Szent István's tomb
Facsmile of Szent István's tomb
  • Középkori Romkért (Medieval Ruin Garden) [4] is a national memorial located on Koronázó tér, just east of the main square. In the middle ages this was the site of Hungary's most important church and had it not been for the Turks blowing it up, it would be to Hungary what Westminster Abbey is to England. The church was begun in 1016 under Hungary's first Christian king, Szent István. At the time, Székesfehérvár was the capital of the kingdom, and this church was the site of numerous coronations. In addition, from 1038 to 1543 fifteen Hungarian kings were put to eternal rest here (starting with Szent István himself and ending with Szapolyai János). As already mentioned, the church was destroyed by the Turks in 1601 and in 1800 the remains were used to build the Bishops Palace on nearby Városház square. Today all that remains of the once great basilica are stone walls outlining its form. The big draw, however, is to visit the mausoleum containing Szent István's sarchaphogus. This was discovered in 1803 during the building of the Bishop's Palace. The cherubic forms on the outside and royal relics contained within clearly identified this as the tomb of Szent István. The sarchaphogus originally was taken to the National Museum in Budapest, but was brought back to Székesfehérvár in 1936, and since then has remained in the attractive mausoleum at the entrance of the garden. Photography is not allowed in the mausoleum.
  • Régészeti Kiállítás [5]
  • Új Magyar Képtár [6]
  • Csók István Képtár [7]
  • Budenz Ház [8]
  • Fekete Sas Patika Múzeum [9]
  • Schaár Erzsébet Gyújtemény [10]
  • Babaház (Doll Museum) [11] on Megyeház u. 17 has 63 dollhouse displays spread out over seven rooms. The collection contains dolls and dollhouses as old as from the 17th century up to the 20th. The fine details are sure to keep adults just as interested as little girls, and for the boys there's even a large display of old military toys set up defending a castle. Photography is not allowed in the museum.
Rác utca museum village
Rác utca museum village
  • Palotavárosi Skanzen [12] located on Rác utca 11, slight west of the downtown, is nowhere near as large as other museum villages in Hungary (though the whole street is preserved, only number 11 can visited), nevertheless it does an excellent job of preserving day to day life of Sebian immigrants living on Rác street (Rác is the old Hungarian word for Serb). The first section contains the family room and kitchen (make sure to look straight up at the darkened chimney where they used to dry sausage). The next section preserves the family's hat shop, and the final section contains various mementos from the street's former residents. Photography is not allowed in the museum.
Bory's castle in suburban Székesfehérvár
Bory's castle in suburban Székesfehérvár

Bory Castle [13] is the town's most popular attraction. Located in an Eastern residential area the castle (really more of a mansion) is the work of Hungarian sculptor and architect Jenő Bory. The castle was built from 1923 to 1959 by several of Bory's students under his supervision. Today the castle contains a wide range of architectural styles ranging from Scottish, Romanesque, and Gothic. Most of the complex is completely open to visitors, and you can freely climb the towers, or walk through the gardens and among the sculptures--all originals by Bory. Inside are several galleries featuring paintings, also created by Bory. Closed during winter

Get out

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