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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Papa

Pápa, once famous for its colleges, lies 45km (28mi.) southwest of Gyor where the Bakony Forest adjoins the Little Plain. This important medieval fort was first documented in 1051; in 1531 the famous Reformed Church was founded. In 1594 the Turks captured the town and it remained in their possession until 1683. At the end of the 17th C, Pápa was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the 18th C. In the first half of the 19th C, a number of watermills were built to utilize the power provided by the little Tapolca river, and towards the end of the century the textile and tobacco industries became established here.
Although the town has retained much of its medieval defensive structure, the buildings in the center are mainly 18th C Baroque. Those now to be described follow the route going from north to south along the main street of Fo utca to Fo tér.

Great Church

Dominating the main square (Fo tér) stands the Great Church, dedicated to St Stephen (the martyr, not St Stephen the King as is so often the case in Hungary). In the Late Baroque/Classical 18th C plait style and very imposing for a parish church, it was built in 1774-86 first by Jakob Fellner (1722-80), the Eszterházy's own architect, and after his death by Josef Grossmann. The designs were drawn up by Franz Anton Pilgram. In the tympanum can be seen the coat-of-arms of the founder, Károly Eszterházy, and above the gable stands a statue of St Stephen by J.A. Messerschmidt of Bratislava, flanked by angels. The fine frescos in the Bohemian vaulted ceiling were painted by Franz Anton Maulbertsch and portray the life of St Stephen; the gray monochrome relief paintings in the spandrels are modeled on those in the church of San Stephano Rotondo in Rome. Maulbertsch was also responsible for the wall-paintings in the Chapel of Our Lady (to the left of the choir) and in the sacristy. The main altar-piece ("The Stoning of St Stephen", by the Viennese artist Hubert Maurer; 1785) is flanked by marble statues of the canonized Kings Stephen and Ladislaus by the Viennese sculptor Philipp Jakob Prokop. The cedarwood pulpit and pews are also very beautiful.

Reformed College

The Reformed College, was built in 1894-95. The college, founded in 1531, then moved to a new home from the Late Baroque house at PetOfi utca 13, where it had been since 1797; prior to 1797 it had been housed in the Arcade House. The college has produced many of the great names in Hungarian history, including the poet laureate Sándor PetOfi (1823-49) and the Romantic novelist Mór Jókai (1825-1904). The college still takes students as well as housing the library of the Reformed Church of Transdanubia (exhibition on the history of the college).
On Március 15 tér stands the new Reformed Church built in 1931-34.

Eszterházy Palace

In a park on the north side of Fo tér stands Eszterházy Palace, built in 1783-84 by Josef Grossmann (1747-85) using materials salvaged from a medieval castle. It was in this horseshoe-shaped building that Otto Nicolai, when a guest of the Eszterházys, composed parts of his opera "The Merry Wives of Windsor". At the end of the east wing lies the chapel, with a fresco by Maulbertsch. Some beautiful Baroque fireplaces and stoves have survived.
Today the palace is home to a cultural center and the municipal museum and art gallery.

Reformed Church Historical Museum

The Református Egyháztörténeti Múzeum is housed in the old Reformed Church (1783-84), a simple building in the 18th C plait style in the courtyard of the Reformed Presbytery. The Edict of Tolerance issued by Emperor Joseph III allowed the building of Protestant churches only if they had no tower and were within an enclosed courtyard. Note the Rococo pulpit in the galleried interior.

Arcade House

Of the many pretty town residences on Fo utca and Fo tér special mention must be made of the Baroque house, built in the second half of the 18th C. The side facing the square has 19th C Neo-Gothic features, while in front of the ground floor on Ruszek utca is an attractive row of arcades and shops.

Benedictine Church

The Baroque Church of Our Lady was built in 1737-42 for the Pauline order and became the property of the Benedictines in 1805. Elliptical in shape, the single-aisled church contains some fine artistic Rococo furnishings (main altar, choir-stalls, pulpit) which the Paulines installed. The ceiling frescos date from 1868.

Museum of Textile Printing

In 1864 C. F. Kluge from Saxony in Germany founded a specialist blue dye-works in Pápa and in 1869 built himself a house at Március 15 tér. The latter is now a museum (Kékfesto múzeum) in which the visitor can see the old factory machinery, still complete and in working order, as well as some examples of blue printed material.

St John of Nepomuk

The Nepomuk Statue (1753) on Gyori út shows the saint in an unusual manner; a soldier in amour is raising his arm to strike down the kneeling form of St John, whereas according to tradition he died by falling from a bridge into the Vltava river. The Eszterházy coat-of-arms can be seen on the base of the statue.


Of the 22 watermills which were once driven by the Tapolca river only a few restored ones remain, as the river has dried up. In their day they provided power for paper-mills and various other factories (e.g. the blue dye-works mentioned above) as well as corn-mills.

Way of the Cross

The Way of the Cross (Kálvária) leading north from Fo tér existed as long ago as the end of the 17th C and was given its present form - five Stations of the Cross with painted wooden figures and a hermitage - between 1740 and 1746.

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