Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Eger
Eger, lying in the Eger valley on the southern slopes of the Bükk Mountains, is the gateway to northern Hungary and one of the most beautiful Baroque towns in the whole of the country.
The radioactive springs to the southeast of the Old Town were known and highly valued during the time of the Turkish occupation. As the regional capital and home to a number of schools and a teacher training college, Eger makes an important contribution to the administrative and educational needs of the surrounding area.Eger came to prominence in the 11th C when King Stephen I founded a diocese here. In 1241 the still young diocesan town was almost completely destroyed by the Mongols, but after being rebuilt it developed to become a center of Hungarian Renaissance. Twice the Turks attempted to invade the town; the first time, in 1552, their army numbering some 80,000 men came up against the legendary resistance offered by the fort's commander István Dobó who - with only 2000 soldiers and the support of the courageous women of the town - successfully defended it. However, the Turkish siege of 1596 was successful, and Eger remained under Turkish rule for 100 years and became the chief town of the newly founded Ottoman province of Wilajet. Public baths, mosques and other oriental buildings, of which only a minaret remains, were the dominant features of the town at that time. When the Turks were forced to leave Eger in 1687 the population numbered a mere 3500. In the 18th C Eger again flourished and, now once again the see of a bishop, blossomed into a rich Baroque town. The presence of bishops and monastic orders led to much building taking place, which in turn heralded an influx of well-known artists and craftsmen. The thermal springs brought many visitors to the town. After the Second World War a number of industries set up here, and its schools made Eger the education center of the region.Eger is a popular tourist destination with 17 Baroque churches, thermal baths, and historic sitess such as the Turkish minaret and the Castle of Eger.
From the hill on which the medieval church of St Michael once stood the massive Classical Cathedral (Foszékesegyház) now looks down on the town. It was built in 1831-37 to the design of the Hungarian architect József Hild, who reversed the usual scheme of things whereby the entrance area is on the west side, and transferred the main doorway to the east side, facing the Lyceum and the Old Town. The two towers at the west end are counterbalanced at the east end by a portico with a wide flight of steps leading up to it. The three large statues above the tympanum portray the three heavenly virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity; those on either side of the steps are of the Apostles Peter and Paul and the holy kings Stephen and Ladislaus.They are the work of the Italian sculptor Marco Casagrande (1804-80), who also created the façade reliefs in the columned entrance hall (Pietá, or the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ on her lap, Jesus in the Temple, Expulsion of the Traders). This artist was also responsible for the interior decoration; special note should be taken of the painting of SS Stephen and Ladislaus 1773 on the side-altar by the Baroque artist Johann Lukas Kracker, and of the high altar (1834), the paintings on which are by the Viennese artist Josef Danhauser.
The Baroque Lyceum in Eger was intended to be a Catholic university but by the time it was completed, it was established as a lyceum. A 53m tower (Observatory) contains a revolving dome with fine views.
Dobó István tér
The market place below the castle, named after the legendary leader Dobó István, forms the center of the town of Eger. After walking through the narrow lanes of the Old Town the visitor will be surprised by the scale of the market place, with its harmonious mix of beautifully renovated town houses and the impressive parish church of St Anthony. The group of figures in front of the church, the work of Zsigmond Stróbl, is in memory of the defender of the castles on the south Hungarian border, while the statue of Dobó István by Alajos Stróbl (1906) adorns that side of the market place which faces the castle.
Parish Church of St Anthony (formerly Minorite Church)
The main feature of the market square is the former Minorite Church (Minorita templom), now the Parish Church of St Anthony, one of the most outstanding Baroque edifices in Hungary. The Minorite Order of monks had been resident in Eger since the 13th C and built a monastery here which fell into decay during the period of Turkish occupation and was later rebuilt. The Bohemian architect Johann Ignaz Dientzenhofer, schooled in Viennese Baroque by Lukas von Hildebrandt, drew up the plans for the church, which was commenced in 1758 but not completed until 1773. Baroque dynamism is already evident in the twin-towered front, in the center of which the overall alignment changes to form an elegantly rounded contour. In the center of the gable stands a statue of St Anthony of Padua, and phases in his life are portrayed on the ceiling fresco inside the church - the work of the Bratislavan artist Márton Raindl. The paintings on the side-altars are also valuable Baroque/Late Baroque works. To the right of the church stands the plain, three-story monastery building.
The exhibition of Palóc folk art is housed in a building next to the Friar Minors' Church. Items on display include fabrics, bedspreads, painted furniture and shepherds' carvings.
Kossuth Lajos utca
The medieval Eger Castle was originally built in the 11th C, although it was expanded and sacked over the ages. Perched high above the town, it is today a major tourist attraction.
Southeast of the Old Town, on the far side of the river, lies the Bath Quarter with radioactive springs which have been in use ever since the 14th C. Visitors can still see the ruins of an old Turkish bath (Török fürdo) on Dózsa-tér below the castle. As well as the thermal baths there is also an open-air bath surrounded by old trees. As the water from the Eger river mixes with the medicinal waters the effects of the springs are felt there too.
The Basilica is a neo-classical building created by the same architect as Esztergom. The monumental staircase is edged with statues of St Peter, St Paul, St Stephens and St Ladislas.
Valley of the Beautiful Lady
On the western edge of the town lies Szépasszony völgye.
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