Nyíregyháza (IPA: /ɲireɟhazɒ/; approximate pronunciation: "nyee-rayd'y-haa-zoh") is a city in North-east Hungary and the county capital of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg. With a population of 117,000 it is the seventh-largest city in Hungary and is one of the leading cities of Northern Hungary.
Nyíregyháza was first mentioned in 1209, although it was called only Nyír (meaning "birch"). A source from 1326 mentions that the town has a church, hence the 2nd part of the name, "egyház" (meaning "church", literally 'one house'). In the middle of the 15th century the town had about 400 inhabitants. In the 16th century, during the Turkish occupation of Hungary Nyíregyháza became deserted, and was resettled only in the 1630s – 1640s.
After the War of Independence led by Prince Francis Rákóczi II, the population of the town grew. Most of the new settlers were Slovaks. In 1786 Nyíregyháza was granted the right to hold four market days a year, by this time the town was the biggest town of the county with 7,500 inhabitants. In the early 19th century Nyíregyháza was wealthy enough to become free from her feudal lords, the families Dessewffy and Károlyi. During these prosperous years the town got a new town hall, a hospital, several schools and a restaurant by the nearby lake Sóstó ("salty lake").
The inhabitants of the town took an active part in the revolution and war of independence in 1848-49, and after the suppression of the revolution several citizens were imprisoned, among them the mayor, Márton Hatzel.
In the second half of the 19th century Nyíregyháza got more and more urbanized and in 1876 the town became the county seat of Szabolcs county (which is now part of the larger county Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg). In 1858 the railway line reached Nyíregyháza, several new buildings were built, including a telegraph office, the main post office and the theater. In 1911 the construction of tramways was finished.
After the many trials and tribulations of World War I, Nyíregyháza was under Romanian occupation for ten months. Between the two world wars the city celebrated the 100th anniversary of becoming free from her feudal landowners.
During World War II more than 6,000 of the city's Jewish inhabitants were deported, and another 2,000 citizens were sent to Russian labour camps (malenky robot). Several buildings were destroyed, too, including the Status Quo Synagogue, whose front wall has been preserved and it is in Nyíregyháza's Jewish Cemetery now.(Grand Rabbi Joseph Leifer of Nyíregyháza is buried in the cemetery. He was the son of the world-renowned Rabbi, Rabbi Mordachai of Nadvorna, and he settled in Nyíregyháza after World War I where he attracted a large following. His grave site is visited annually by thousands of Hasidim.)
From the 1960s the city grew and developed fast. Today, Nyíregyháza is one of the most prosperous cities of Hungary, being both an educational center and a popular tourist destination. It attracts numerous visitors during the musical events and festivals especially during the autumn festival "Nyírségi Ősz". Europe's largest free world music festival "Happy Art Festival" also takes place here each year at the beginning of September.
The thermal lake of Sóstógyógyfürdõ has been a tourist attraction for centuries. The lake is very warm, around , and is surrounded by a park of . There is also a large zoo, often called Vadaspark, with animals from all continents of the world. It has constantly been developed to be one of the most attractive zoos in the country. Sóstó is easily accessible from Nyíregyháza by the local bus 8, by taxi or by the narrow gauge railway departing from the main railway station.
Nyíregyháza also has several museums and exhibitions, showing the city's rich cultural heritage.
The city has beautiful churches (Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran churches and a synagogue).
Nyíregyháza is twinned with :