Nyirbator Tourist Attractions
In the Middle Ages this rural town (pop. 14,000) 35km (22mi.) southeast of Nyíregyháza belonged to the Báthori family, princes from Transylvania who become great feudal lords. Nyírbátor has them to thank for its two magnificent medieval churches, of which St George's Church, now the Reformed Church, is one of the major Late Gothic Hungarian edifices.
Having become rich during the Turkish wars, in 1484-88 István Báthori built on the castle mound a church dedicated to St George in which to house the family tomb. In the 16th C, the town was converted to the Calvinist faith, and members of the Reformed Church took over the now somewhat dilapidated building and restored it. The Báthori coat-of-arms stands above the west door, with a projecting tower at the side; the main Renaissance-style door is on the south side. Remains of the walls of the old sacristy can still be seen on the north side. Inside the church, the visitor's eye will immediately be drawn to the filigree reticular vaulting in the roof of this single-aisled church with its large windows. The Renaissance influence which resulted from contacts made with the royal architects in Visegrád can be seen in the sculptural decoration in the sacramental niche, window and door-frames, the pew-niches in the choir and in various other details. The tomb in the choir is that of the writer István Báthori, who died in 1605; the founder of the church is interred under a marble gravestone in the crypt. The artistically decorated choir-stalls, which were carved in 1503-11 by a Florentine master craftsman, are kept in the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. Near the church stands the shingle-clad bell-tower (1640) constructed of oak and representative of the type of tower found on many Reformed Churches in Hungary and Transylvania.
About 1480, at approximately the same time as he was building the family church, István Báthori donated a priory to the mendicant Minorite order of monks, and was buried in its church. About 1720 Count Károlyi had the priory and church converted to Baroque style, although the original plain front and long, multi-bay choir are still discernible. He gave the church a groin-vaulted roof by adapting the medieval vaulting, as well as a carved pulpit and several Baroque altars lavishly adorned with figures, turned pillars and gable fragments. The figures were carved by the Slovak sculptor Johannes Strecius. The 1731 Passion Altar on the north wall is deserving of special attention; this is also the work of a Slovak craftsman. The Stations of the Cross are depicted in Baroque settings with the use of realistic scenes similar to those found on medieval altars.
István Báthori Museum
The István Báthori Museum in the priory near the church (1733-58) exhibits the ecclesiastical treasures, including the carved choir-stalls and valuable furnishings from the Renaissance Palace of the Báthori family in Transylvania.