Gyula Tourist Attractions
Gyula (pop. 35,000), a nostalgically pretty and popular spa town, lies near the Hungaro-Romanian border 16km (10mi.) southeast of Békéscsaba on an arm of the White Körös river. The town was first officially recorded in 1214 as a monastery; its castle was captured by the Turks in 1566 and until they were driven out in 1695 it was the capital of a sandchak, or administrative district. The new lord of the manor, the Austrian Baron Harruckern, built a palace near the castle in 1720 and imported German workers who established themselves with their own town administration in what is now known as "German Gyula", to the left of the present-day avenue Béke sugárút. To its right lies Hungarian Gyula. Later on Harruckern invited Romanians into the country, and today Gyula is still the center of the Romanian minority. There are several Romanian organisations in Gyula - the Center for the National Self-governance of Romanians living in Hungary and the Romanian-Hungarian Cultural Union.From the meat factory in Gyula comes "Gyulai kolbász", a richly-spiced sausage.Popular tourist attractions in Gyula include a 13th century fortress, thermal spas, Romanian architecture and "Nicolae Balcescu" High School.
The massive square castle at Gyula (near the thermal baths), the only medieval brick-built castle on the lowland plain, was built in phases between the 14th C and 1480, and was restored in the 1950s. It was 1802 before a proper bridge was built across the ditch. The red stone of the castle provides a perfect backdrop for the boats sailing on the pond. Inside the walls the Gyula Castle Theatre puts on performances every summer. Objects and documents illustrating the castle's history are on display in the castle museum.
Ferenc Erkel Birthplace
The neo-classical house, built in 1795, is where Ferenc Erkel (1810-93) was born; he was the founder of the Hungarian National Opera and composer of the National Anthem. An exhibition portrays his life and work. On the wall of the house facing Dürer Albert utca there is a plaque pointing out that Albert Dürer was Hungarian by birth. The Ajtóssy family from the nearby village of Ajtós-falva ("Doormaker Village") lived here. Antal Ajtóssy later became a goldsmith, emigrated to the Netherlands and in 1455 went to Nuremberg in Germany where he took the name of "Türer". His son was the brilliant painter and engraver Albrecht Dürer. In Kossuth utca 17, near the castle, is the Dürer Room (Dürer terem), in which temporary exhibitions are held of work by contemporary artists.
The large Várfürdo baths in a 30ha (75 acre) park on Kossuth Lajos utca, provide everything the visitor to the spa can wish for. The waters, with a temperature of 70°C (158°F) at source, contain sodium and hydrated sodium carbonate and have proved beneficial especially in the treatment of joint problems and gynecological complaints. The old baths were built in 1833 by converting a former riding school. The complex also includes a sanatorium and a spa hotel with 800 beds.
Late Baroque Church
The Late Baroque church (Belvárosi plébánia templom) was built in 1777. In the choir can be seen the tomb of its founder, Baron Harruckern; it dates from 1777 and was the work of the Viennese artist Martin Schmidt. The main altarpiece by Hubert Maurer shows the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The Café is housed in a house built in 1801 in the classical 18th C. plait style. Here the Százéves cukrászda, famous throughout Hungary, sells tempting coffee and cakes, a pleasant experience made all the more enjoyable by the 1840 Biedermeier furnishings. The old cooking utensils are also of interest.