Wednesday, 21 March 2012



Debrecen (Alternative spellings used in English include Debreczen and Debrcczinis the second largest city in Hungary after Budapest. Debrecen is the regional centre of the Northern Great Plain region and the seat of Hajdú-Bihar county. The city was first mentioned by the name "Debrezun" in 1235. 

Before Hungarians founded Hungary a number of different tribes lived in the area. The town came into existence after some of the small villages of the area (Boldogasszonyfalva, Szentlászlófalva and Debreczun) merged. It experienced rapid development after the middle of the 13th century. In 1361 Louis I of Hungary granted the citizens of Debrecen the right to choose the town's judge and council. This provided some opportunities for self-government for the town. By the early 16th century Debrecen was an important market town. King Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, as part of a treaty with Serbian ruler Stefan Lazarević, gave him the opportunity to rule Debrecen in September 1411. A year after Lazarević's death in 1426, his role was taken over by his successor, Đurađ Branković. Between 1450 and 1507, it was a domain of the Hunyadi family, a Hungarian noble family from the Middle Ages.

Csonka Templom
During World War II, Debrecen was almost completely destroyed, 70% of the buildings suffered damage, 50% of them were completely destroyed. A major battle involving combined arms, including several hundred tanks (Battle of Debrecen), occurred near the city in October 1944. After 1944 the reconstruction began and Debrecen became the capital of Hungary for a short time.  The citizens began to rebuild their city, trying to restore its pre-war status, but the new, Communist government of Hungary had other plans. The institutions and estates of the city were taken into public ownership, private property was taken away. This forced change of the old system brought new losses to Debrecen; half of its area was annexed to nearby towns, and the city also lost its rights over Hortobágy. In 1952 two new villages – Ebes and Nagyhegyes – were formed from former parts of Debrecen, while in 1981 the nearby village Józsa was annexed to the city. The newly built blocks of flats provided housing for those who lost their homes during the war. In the following decades Debrecen was the third largest city of Hungary (behind Budapest and Miskolc), and became the second largest in the 1990s when the population of Miskolc decreased. 

Csokonai Theatre
Modern day Debrecen is one of the most vivid and undiscovered cities in Hungary: this city is a unique and outstanding whirlpool of a dynamic cultural and intellectual heritage and of an effective and successful economic life. The centuries’ old traditions and the most recent technical and scientific innovations enhancing each other make Debrecen a nationally and internationally renowned city. From a number of excellent art exhibitions, folk programs to many sports and leisure events. The outstanding collections of the local museums, the historical monuments of the city or the various and imposing programs of local folk traditions enchant all visitors who wish to explore the marvels of Debrecen: choir festivals, folk festivals, carnivals, breath-taking exhibitions, fairs offer their programs and goods for the visitors. At the same time Debrecen, which is a university centre, is also a place for conferences and scientific meetings, and this serves the active and organic cooperation of the city’s economic, scientific, educational and cultural life.

                                                        Debrecen’s Top 5:
  1. The Great Reformed Church. The Protestant Great Church or Great Reformed Church  is probably the best known building in the city of Debrecen. It stands in the city centre, between Kossuth square and Calvin square. It is the symbol of the Protestant Church in Hungary, and it is because of this church that Debrecen is sometimes referred to as "the Calvinist Rome". With a ground space of 1500 m² it is the largest Protestant church in Hungary. It also has the largest bell of all Hungarian Protestant churches. The Great Church was built between 1805 and 1824 in neoclassical style.
  2. Csonka Templom (Small White Church). Built in 1600, with some additions in 1727 (a brass globe). The Hungarian name Csonka means truncated since the bastion like top of the tower, was initially meant to be a dome that kept of falling of due to winds.
  3. Saint Anne’s Catholic Cathedral.  was built between 1721 and 1746. In the niches next to the doors on the left we can see the statue of Saint Stephen, while on the right his son Prince Saint Imre. The main altar-piece represents the patron saint of the church Saint Anne teaching Maria, while the oldest altarpiece represents the founder of the Piarist order, Saint Joseph Calasanzi. The carvings and statues of the altars are from the 18th century. The wall paintings on the ceiling and underneath the windows show frescos and stucco ornaments representing saints of the Árpád dynasty.
  4. Csokonai Theatre.   An outstanding piece of Romantic architecture, built in 1865. The building adorned with statues recalls the great figures of universal and Hungarian theatrical life, and is one of the centres of the cultural life of the city to this day. Its façade is decorated by the statues of Melpomene and Terpsichore, the muses of tragedy and dance, alongside statues of six famous Hungarian poets who were connected to the theatre. Above the proscenium arch is a painting by Debrecen artist Károly Telepy (1828-1906) commemorating the prominent actors of the early days of Hungarian theatre who also performed in Debrecen.  By the early 20th century, following the addition of new boxes, it seated 600 people. The theatre has housed an opera company since 1952.
  5. Déri Museum.  One of the richest cultural historical collections in Hungary can be found in the neo-baroque building of the Déri Museum. The greatest attraction of the fine art collection is Mihály Munkácsy's Christ Trilogy. The three grandiose paintings are called Christ before Pilate, Calvary and Ecce Homo. In front of the building of the Déri Museum the four world-famous statues of Ferenc Medgyessy can be seen, which were granted the Grand Prize of the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. Permanent exhibitions include The history of Debrecen from the 13th century until the Reform Era, The art of Mihály Munkácsy, the Déri-collections, Birds of Our Region and the World of Minerals.
    Déri Museum 


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