Szénchenyi tér, Pécs
The medieval market place, the irregular shape and sloping situation of which make it particularly interesting and attractive, is today the bustling center of Pécs. It is named after the Hungarian statesman and reforming politician István Széchenyi (1791-1860).
Szenchenyi ter Map
The Town Hall on the south side of the square will be recognized by its tall, slender tower. Originally built in 1710, it was converted to its present Baroque style in 1907.
Central Parish Church of St Mary
The center of Széchenyi tér is dominated by the Central Parish Church of St Mary (Dschami of Pasha Gasi Kassi); it was at one time the town's chief mosque, having been built by Pasha Kassim on the same site as and using the stones from an old Romanesque church of St Bartholomew. After the Turks withdrew the Jesuits renovated it in the Baroque style and used it as a church; in 1939-42 it was restored to its original condition and a semi-circular northwest porch was added and this is now the main entrance to the church. The Turkish dome construction is particularly impressive - the main structure, square in plan, is surmounted by a stalactite-vaulted roof followed by an octagonal tambour structure which in turn is topped by the 28m (92ft) high green dome. Note also the typical Islamic feature of the prayer-niche (mihrab) facing Mecca, on the south wall near the main entrance. The Islamic crescent can be seen shining below the cross on the green dome.
In the center of the square near the church stands the Trinity Column or Plague Column; it was built by György Kiss in 1908 and is modeled on the original which was donated by the good people of Pécs after being saved from an epidemic of plague in 1710-14, but was later destroyed.
Also on the narrow southern side of the square, in front of the Church of Mercy, stands this art nouveau fountain with its fluorescent eosin glaze. The water spurts out of the mouths of four animals around the sides. Erected in 1912, the fountain is in memory of Vilmos Zsolnay, the founder of the Zsolnay factory.
On the east side of the square, towers the massive building (1720) with twelve rows of windows which was first a Jesuit and then a Cistercian priory. It is now a grammar school.
Equestrian Statue of János Hunyadi
The large equestrian statue of János Hunyadi, conqueror of the Turks, was unveiled in 1956 on the 500th anniversary of his death. It is the work of the Hungarian sculptor Pál Pátzay (1896-1979).
The small-town quarter between Széchenyi tér and Klimó Gyula (previously Landler JenO utca) is charmingly picturesque. Jókai tér is a delightful little street on which will be found the "Moor" chemist's shop, named after the wooden statues of Moors outside. It is the oldest chemist's shop in Pécs, having been established in 1697. Inside can be seen the original fittings and utensils supplied by the Zsolnay factory in 1897. The neo-classical building opposite is the "White Elephant" inn, steeped in tradition and easily recognizable by its original sign hanging outside. The Late Baroque vaulted ceiling in the coffee-house of the restaurant is supported by a 13th C. cluster-column which was introduced at a later date.At the western end of pretty Ferencesek utcája (formerly Sallai utca) lies the Franciscan priory, which was used as a mosque during the Turkish period. When the Turks left the Franciscan again took it over and in 1758 they built the Baroque church which still stands, although altered in the 19th century.
Király utca, formerly Kossuth Lajos utca, enters Széchenyi tér. Now a pedestrian zone and a busy shopping street, Király utca has retained most of its original buildings. At the square end of the street the art nouveau building of the Hotel Palatinus (1916) will immediately catch the visitor's eye. Restored at great expense in 1989, this top-class hotel is magnificent both inside and out. After a few yards the street widens out into Színház tér. Here stands the Pécs National Theatre (theater, opera, ballet). Built in 1893-95 in a mix of historical styles, it has recently been renovated. Its modern and distinctive productions have earned the ballet company an international reputation. At the eastern end of the pedestrian zone stands the Baroque church of St Pauline with its twin-towered front.
Janus Pannonius Museum
The various departments of the Janus Pannonius Municipal Museum are distributed among a number of buildings in the town center. The Archaeological Department is housed in an 18th C plait style building behind the former mosque; it documents in an impressive manner the long history of human settlement in the Baranya region. Among the outstanding exhibits are the remains of a Early Stone Age settlement (c 60,000 bc), relics of a Late Stone Age culture found on Mount Mákar, together with Celtic and Bronze Age finds from Mount Jakab.The Folk Art and Natural History Departments will be found at Rákóczi utca 15 and 64 respectively.
From Széchenyi tér it is a pleasant walk northeast to Tettye tér, a favorite excursion spot at the foot of the Mecsek Mountains with a beautiful view over the town. In a park can be seen the ruins of an early 16th C Renaissance palace, which was inhabited by dervishes during the period of Turkish rule.