Nagykanizsa (Kaniža, Надканижа , Großkirchen, Groß-Kanizsa, Kanije, Велика Кањижа, Velika Kanjiža) is a medium-sized city Zala County in southwestern Hungary. It is also known in Hungarian as Kanizsa.
It lies not far from Lake Balaton at the meeting point of five routes. For centuries the town has been a connecting link. Goods from Slovenia were transported to Graz via Nagykanizsa, and the town played an important role in the trade from the Adriatic Sea to the Alpine region, Vienna, and Budapest.
The name Kanizsa was first mentioned in a document in 1245. The Kanizsai family continued building the castle and constructed a rectangular castle with closed back-yard on an islet in the River Kanizsa. The town and the castle had their prime in the first half of the 16th century, when Kanizsa became a centre of trade with Italy and Styria.
Szigetvár and Kanizsa became the most important strongholds in southern Hungary. In 1571 the Turkish army occupied the castle, and the town became deserted. This castle was center of an Ottoman vilayet with Sigetvar, Kopan, Valpuva, Şiklofça, Nadaj and Balatin sanjaks until 1690 (see Ottoman Hungary).
Of the year 1601 during the Ottoman-Habsburg War of 1593-1606. A siege began in September 9 and ended in November 18. Habsburg forces, commanded by Ferdinand the Archduke of Austria. And Tiryaki Hasan Pasha was defending the castle. Hasan pasha won the fight against the 10 times bigger army of crusaders with many cunning military moves, and climbed the rank of Vizier.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the holder of the castle moved German, Croatian and Serbian settlers into the deserted town. A particular mixed ethnic group living in a suburb called Kiskanizsa. After driving out the Turks, the town lost its strategic significance, so the Vienna war council demolished the castle in 1702.
Business became lively, trade became important again, and crafts developed significantly. In 1765 elementary and secondary education was begun by the Piarist order supported by Lajos Batthyány, palatine of Hungary. The first business school of Transdanubia was opened in Nagykanizsa, and in 1895 it was made into a college.
Many people having visited our schools became famous: Benedek Virág, Pál Király, Ferenc Deák, Károly Kaán, Sándor Hevesi and Ferenc Mező all studied in ancient buildings of Nagykanizsa's "alma maters".
Nagykanizsa started a new phase of large-scale development in the 1860s. The railway connecting Nagykanizsa with Vienna, Budapest and Rijeka was constructed at that time. There was a rapid development in industry as well. This industrial and business development resulted in the foundation of banks. Besides the four local banks, an Austro-Hungarian and an English-Hungarian bank also opened branch offices in town. Telephone lines were established and the town was connected with a long-distance system in 1895. At the same time a 70-bed hospital was opened.
During World War I military barracks were built in the town. This necessitated the construction of a municipal water network. Kanizsa became a modern town; drainage system construction and paving of streets began. World War I caused grave consequences. Kanizsa became isolated and lost its markets in the south and west. Oil helped the town to survive. After successful explorations by the American corporation Eurogasco, Hungarian-American Oil Inc. was formed. Nagykanizsa became the centre of Hungarian oil industry.
Beer brewed in Kanizsa Brewery regained its reputation as one of the best Hungarian beers bearing off the palm at more and more international competitions — at the beginning of the century the brewery was closed as demand for beer fell drastically. Kanizsa Trend Ltd. grew out of the company with furniture products gaining a high reputation all over Europe. The predecessor of present-day Tungsram Plc, now belonging to General Electric, was opened in 1965. It is now one of the biggest light source factories in the world.
After 1962 Károlyi Park, City Park, large squares like Kossuth, Eötvös and Erzsébet squares were extended. A boating lake was formed becoming a popular recreation centre.