Definitions

Eger

Eger

[ey-guhr]
Eger, Czech Republic: see Cheb.
Eger, Ger. Erlau, city (1991 est. pop. 62,474), NE Hungary, on the Eger River. It is the commercial center of a wine-producing region and has food- and tobacco-processing plants. Eger is a center for tourists drawn by the nearby mineral springs and the Mátra Mts. One of the first Magyar settlements in E central Europe, Eger was made (11th cent.) a bishopric by St. Stephen. It was destroyed (13th cent.) by the Tatars, rebuilt and fortified, and captured in 1596 by the Turks, who held it for nearly 150 years. Francis II Rakoczy used the fortress in his fight against the Hapsburgs, who had it razed. In 1814, Eger became an archiepiscopal see; the many churches subsequently built have earned it the name "Rome of Hungary." The city's notable structures include a 16th-century minaret, an 18th-century archiepiscopal palace, a 19th-century cathedral, and the ruins of a medieval fortress.

''Eger is also the German name for the Czech town of Cheb and for the Ohře river.

Eger is a city in northern Hungary, the county seat of Heves, east of the Mátra Mountains. Eger is best known for its castle, thermal baths, historic buildings (including the northernmost Turkish minaret), and red and white wines.

Name

The name Eger derives from the Hungarian word égerfa (alder tree). In German, the town is known as Erlau, in Latin as Agria, in Serbian and Croatian as Jegar / Јегар or Jegra / Јегра, in Czech as Jager, in Slovak as Jáger, in Polish as Jagier, and in Turkish as Eğri.

History

Eger has been inhabited since the Stone Age. During the early Middle Ages the area was inhabited by German, Avar, and Slavonic tribes. The area was taken over by the Hungarians in the 10th century. St. Stephen (997–1038), the first Christian king of Hungary, founded an episcopal see in Eger. The first cathedral of Eger was built on Castle Hill, within the present site of Eger Castle. Eger grew up around its former cathedral and has remained an important religious center in Hungary since its foundation.

The 14th-16th centuries were an age of prosperity for Eger. Winegrowing, for which the town is still famous, began to be important at that time. The bishops of Eger built beautiful buildings in the city during the reign of King Matthias (1458-1490) when Hungary began to be imbued with Renaissance culture.

During the Turkish occupation of Central Hungary, Eger became an important border fortress, successfully defended by Hungarian forces in the 1552 Siege of Eger, in the face of overwhelming odds. The castle's defenders under the command of Captain István Dobó are said to have numbered fewer than 2,000, including women and children, but successfully held off a Turkish army of 80,000 soldiers. Most Hungarians know the version of this story found in the novel "Eclipse of the Crescent Moon" (Hungarian "Egri csillagok", lit. "stars of Eger") by the 19th century Hungarian author Gárdonyi Géza, which is set reading under the Hungarian national curriculum.

However, Eger was attacked in 1596 by a bigger army of Turks, who took over the castle after a short siege. Then followed 91 years of Ottoman rule in which Eger was the seat of a Turkish vilayet (administrative division). Churches were converted into mosques, the castle rebuilt, and other structures erected, including public baths and minarets.

The rule of the Turks in Central Hungary began to collapse after a failed Ottoman attempt to capture Vienna. The Vienna-based Habsburgs, who controlled the rest of Hungary, apart from Transylvania, steadily expelled the Turks out of the country. The castle of Eger was starved into surrender by the Christian army led by Charles of Lorraine in 1687, after the castle of Buda had been retaken in 1686.

Eger soon began to prosper again. The city was reclaimed by its bishops, which caused many local Protestants to leave. Although the city supported the Hungarian leader Prince Francis II Rákóczi in the 1703-1711 war of independence against the Habsburgs, the Hungarians were eventually defeated by the Imperial army. Soon after that, the city was ravaged by plague. However, immigration into Eger was strong, and the population rose from 6000 to 10,000 between 1725 and 1750. Many new buildings were built in Baroque and later in Zopf style, including the cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, the county hall, the Lyceum (now housing the Eszterházy College of Education) and several churches, while others were reclaimed from being mosques.

The 19th century began with disasters: a fire that destroyed half he town in 1800, and a collapse of the south wall of the Castle in 1801, which ruined several houses. Eger became the seat of an archbishopric in 1804, and the church remained in firm control of the city, despite efforts by its citizens to obtain greater freedom. In 1827, much of the city center was damaged by fire again, and four years later over 200 were killed in an epidemic.

The inhabitants of Eger took an active part in the revolution in 1848. Even though the revolution was suppressed, the age of landowners and serfs had gone forever, and the municipality gained freedom from the rule of the archbishop in 1854. However, the main railway line between Miskolc and Pest failed to pass through the city, which was only later by a branch line from Füzesabony.

Economic recovery was slow after World War I, although the 1899 publication of Gárdonyi's "Eclipse of the Crescent Moon" made Eger popular as a tourist attraction and archaeological excavation of the castle began. In World War II, the city suffered under the retreating German army and the arriving Soviet army, but it managed to escape bombardment.

Eger today is a prosperous city and popular tourist destination with a charming Baroque town center.

Ecclesiastical history

Eger is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Eger, an ecclesiastical province of Hungary founded as a bishopric in 1009 and made a Metropolitan archdiocese in 1804, by Pope Pius VII. The current archbishop-elect, Archbishop Csaba Ternyak, was previously Secretary for the Congregation For Clergy. He succeeds Archbishop István Seregely, who retired because of age. The constituent dioceses of the province were Košice (Kassa, Kaschau), Rožňava (Rozsnyó, Rosenau, now part of Slovakia), Szatmár and Szepes (Zipo, Zipsen).

Wine

Beside its historic sights and its thermal baths, Eger is famous for its wines. In fact, it produces both red and white wines of high quality Eger Wine Region. The famous and traditional varieties of the region are Egri Leányka, Egerszóláti Olaszrizling, Debrői Hárslevelű (whites), and Egri Bikavér (a red). More recently, Chardonnay and Pinot noir wines have appeared. The region's wines are said to bear a resemblance to those of Burgundy.

Districts of Eger

(Note: Most of these districts are historical, but they often appear on maps and street signs.)

  • Almagyar - This hill in the Eastern part of the town is one of the smart areas of Eger, near the castle. The southern part contains some of the buildings of Eszterházy College.
  • Almár - The northernmost part of the town, it consists mainly of weekend cottages.
  • Belváros (Downtown) - The center of Eger is often called "the Baroque Pearl of Europe". Here are located Dobó tér, the main square of the historical town, surrounded by Baroque houses and St. Anthony's Church. Other historic buildings nearby include the Cathedral and the Lyceum.
  • Berva is housing estate about 2 km to the NW of Eger
  • Castle of Eger - The oldest and most famous part of Eger.
  • Cifra hóstya - North of downtown, this part of town is full of small houses and narrow streets. You can find the Firefighters' Museum there.
  • Csákó - a suburban area with larger houses, east of the train station.
  • Érsekkert (Bishop's Garden) - The largest park in Eger, with sport facilities, a small lake, and a fountain.
  • Felnémet - This village was annexed to Eger in the second half of the 20th century and still has a rural character.
  • Felsőváros (Upper Town, former Cheboksary Housing Estate) - The largest housing estate of Eger, it is full of four and ten-storied concrete buildings, providing homes for one third of the city's population. There are three high schools there.
  • Hajdúhegy - a suburban area similar to Almagyar.
  • Hatvani hóstya - The district is split by Highway 25. It contains the stadium and the Reformed church.
  • Industrial zone - Several multinational companies have moved into this area east of Lajosváros.
  • Károlyváros (Charles Town) - One of the largest districts of Eger, Károlyváros is west of downtown. It contains the High School for the Health Professions, and the Dobó István Army Garrison.
  • Lajosváros (Louis Town) - This district in the southern part of the town has several high schools and student hostels. It consists mainly of detached houses.
  • Maklári hóstya, Tihamér - This district is one of the fastest developing parts of the town. It contains public swimming pools.
  • Pásztorvölgy - A suburban area.
  • Rác hóstya - Another suburban area west from Upper Town.
  • Szépasszonyvölgy ("Valley of the Beautiful Woman") - An area of Eger famous for its wines and known for its wine cellars.
  • Tetemvár - Another suburban area. The name ("Corpses' Castle") derives from the legend that Turkish war dead were buried here in 1552.
  • Vécseyvölgy - A suburban area with a small airfield for sports purposes.

Main sights

(Eger has 17 churches, but tourists usually visit only three or four)

  • Castle of Eger
  • The Cathedral or basilica, built in 1831-37 to Classicist designs by József Hild, is imposing rather than attractive, but contains some remarkable painting and sculpture. Late morning organ recitals are held in the cathedral many days.
  • Minaret, 17th century. The northernmost Turkish minaret in Europe is 40 meters high and one of only three survivors in Hungary. It can be climbed for a good view of the city center.
  • Város a város alatt (literally "City under the city") a system of cellars near the Cathedral.
  • Szépasszonyvölgy ("The Valley of the Beautiful Woman". A valley on the southern edge of Eger which has numerous wine cellars, each with their own wine bar catering to tourists. A tram shuttles tourists to/from Dobó tér in the summer months.
  • Dobó tér. Especially the Baroque Minorite Church (1758-67) and the Palóc Museum of artifacts by a regional ethnic community. The tér & several of the retail streets around it are pedestrian-only.
  • The Lyceum (Eszterházy College), designed by József Gerl and Jakab Fellner and built in 1765-85, is a splendid example of the restrained Zopf style. There are three remarkable 18th-century frescoed ceilings, of which only the one in the library is open to the public. Painted by the Viennese artist Johann Lukas Kracker in 1778, it depicts the Council of Trent of 1545-63, which launched the Counter-Reformation. Among the figures depicted are the Reformers Luther and Zwingli, whose "heretical" books are being struck by a bolt of lightning. The beautifully furnished library opened in 1793. There is a camera obscura or periscope at the top of the building, projecting images of the city onto a table.
  • Turkish Bath
  • The Provost Minor’s Palace, 1758, also has a fine fresco by Kracker ("The Triumph of Virtue over Sin") and remarkable 18th-century wrought ironwork.
  • Agria Park, a shopping mall which opened in March 2008.
  • Archbishop’s Garden
  • The Fazola gate
  • The Minorite Church
  • The Serbian Orthodox Church (Rác-templom) is in Zopf style (1784-86). The interior was commissioned from the best Viennese artists by the rich local Serbian community of that time. It is dominated by a breath-taking iconostasis.
  • The Cistercian church
  • The Archbishop’s Palace

Sister cities

Trivia

Eger is one of only four Hungarian municipalities which have a Mars crater named after them (in 1976). The other three are Paks, Bak and Igal. Eger was one of the filming locations for the Amazing Race 6.

References

External links

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