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Eger travel guide — Eger tourism and travel information

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about Eger

Eger (Slovak Jáger, Polish Jagier, Turkish Eğri, German Erlau) is a town in northern Hungary, county capital of Heves, west of Mátra mountains. Eger is mostly known for its castle, thermal baths, historical buildings (including the northernmost Turkish minaret) and for the best Hungarian red wines. Population: 57,289 (2000).

Eger history

Eger has been inhabited since the stone age. During the early Middle Ages the area was inhabited by German, Avar and Slavonic tribes. Hungarians occupied the area in the 10th century. Stephen the Saint (997-1038), the first Christian king of Hungary founded an episcopate in Eger. The first cathedral of Eger was built on the Castle Hill, where now the Castle of Eger stands. The town was built around the cathedral which doesn't exist any more, but Eger has been an important religious centre of Hungary ever since then.

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

During the Turkish occupation of Hungary, Eger became an important border fortress. Under the command of Captain István Dobó the defenders of the castle (less than 2100 people, including women and children) successfully fought back the Turkish army of 80,000 soldiers. For most Hungarians the story of the siege is known from the novel "Eclipse of the Crescent Moon" by famous Hungarian writer Géza Gárdonyi.

In 1596 a bigger army of the Turks attacked Eger and after a siege of 6 days Captain Nyáry surrendered the castle. Eger fell under Turkish rule for more than eighty years and became the capital of a Turkish vilayet (administrative division). The Turks had rebuilt the castle, transformed the Christian churches into Moslem ones, and built several other buildings including public baths and minarets.

After the Turks attempted to occupy Vienna, the Habsburgs, who controlled the rest of Hungary which wasn't under Turkish rule, thought the time has come to chase the Turks out of the country. The Christian army led by Charles of Lothringen occupied the castle of Buda in 1686 and starved the castle of Eger into surrender in 1687.

Eger began to prosper again. The bishops claimed the town back, and this caused many of the Protestant inhabitants to leave. During the war of independence against the Habsburgs the town supported the Hungarian leader Prince Rákóczi, but the imperial army defeated the Hungarians and soon after that Eger suffered from a plague. During the 1700s lots of people immigrated to Eger and between 1725 and 1750 the population has risen from 6000 to 10000. New buildings were built in Baroque (and later in Zopf) style, including the cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, the county hall, the college (now called Eszterházy College after its founder) and several churches. Also the mosques were transformed into Catholis churches.

The 19th century began with disasters: a fire destroyed half of the town in 1800, and the southern wall of the castle collapsed in 1801, ruining several houses. Eger became archiepiscopacy in 1804. The town struggled to be free from the archbishop's rule, but the Church was stronger and the archbishop remained the owner of the town. In 1827 a fire burnt most of the town centre again, four years later an epidemic killed more than 200 people.

The inhabitants of Eger took an active part in the revolution in 1848. Even though the revolution was suppressed, the age of landowners and bondsmen was gone forever and Eger became free from the archbishop's rule in 1854. Sadly the building of the railway network was already done when it happened so Eger was left off the main railway line between Miskolc and Budapest, leaving the role of railway junction to the nearby smalltown Füzesabony.

After the World War I the economic life started slowly, but from 1925 the constructing of new buildings has begun. Gárdonyi's "Eclipse of the Crescent Moon" made Eger popular as a tourist attraction and the archeological excavation of the castle began. World War II, the retreating German army and the occupying Soviet troops all had their effects on the town, but at least there were no bombings.

Today's Eger is a prospering town and an internationally popular tourist destination with a charming Baroque town centre.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Eger".

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