Pecs Tourist Attractions
The visitor will be attracted to Pécs both by the climate and by the charm of this town on the slopes of the Mecsek Mountains in southern Transdanubia.
It also boasts a large number of first-rate historical buildings and works of art, ranging from Early Christian burial chambers to Turkish mosques, secular and religious buildings dating from medieval and later times and contemporary art exhibitions.HistoryThere are signs of human habitation in the Pécs region dating back to the Late Stone Age. On the site of a 5th C BC Celtic village the Romans founded a settlement called Sopianae, and in the 3rd C, this was elevated to the status of administrative capital of the part of the province known as Pannonia Valeria. In the 9th C, the town already boasted five Christian churches, as indicated in its Latin name of Quinque Basilicae (Five Churches). In 1009 St Stephen founded the Pécs diocese. After being attacked by the Mongols in 1242-43 the town was rebuilt and soon blossomed both economically and culturally, and in 1367 it became the seat of the country's first university. The famous humanitarian, academic and writer Janus Pannonius (1434-72) was Bishop of Pécs 1459-72. During the 150 years or so of Turkish rule Pécs never lost its importance; as the headquarters of the military governor it became a lively town steeped in Turkish culture with large numbers of Moslem institutions and no less than ten mosques. After the Turks had been driven out the indigenous Hungarian population of Pécs was largely replaced by German settlers from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. In 1780 the good people of Pécs were released by the bishop from their feudal bonds. In the early 19th C, industrialization and the discovery of coal in the Mecsek Mountains led to an economic boom, as witnessed by the many fine buildings of the period with their richly decorated frontages.Education and culture have always played an important role in Pécs. The Pécs Theatre Ballet Company is internationally acclaimed as the forerunner of modern ballet. The University was re-established in the 20th C, and now offers courses in medicine, law, philology, technical and economic sciences and is one of the most renowned universities in Hungary. Pécs is also the cultural center of the Germans, known as the "Danube Swabians", who have settled here since the 18th C.EconomyImportant industries in Pécs include uranium and coal-mining, tool-making, the leather industry and the manufacture of porcelain (Zsolnay Ceramics). Along the lower stretches of the Mecsek the mild climate aids the cultivation of excellent grapes.
In the northwest corner of the once fortified Old Town of Pécs lie the cathedral precincts with a number of important buildings and historical monuments. Below the cathedral square and in the courtyards of the houses at Apáca utca (formerly Geisler Eta utca) 8 and 14 will be found some graves dating from the 3rd and 4th C AD and numbering among the most important surviving examples of Early Christian culture in Hungary.Dom tér (Cathedral Square) was laid out in the 19th C. It climbs up to the Cathedral in several steps and its beautiful trees, path-ways and park benches make it a popular rendezvous with both locals and tourists. On the highest point of the square towers the massive Neo-Romanesque Cathedral.
Szénchenyi tér lies at the heart of Pécs. This medieval market place is also where tourists will find the impressive Central Parish Church of St Mary, a former mosque.
Mosque of Yakovali Hassan Pasha
It is just a short walk to the southwestern corner of the town center and to this Mosque, with its twelve-sided 23m (75ft) high minaret. Thanks to the excellent way in which it has been preserved it ranks among the major buildings of the Turkish period. The edifice is rectangular in plan with a massive square prayer-hall surmounted by a flat roof with an octagonal drum-dome. The outer walls are pierced by narrow pointed windows which provide some relief to the otherwise plain natural stone exterior. Apart from the restrained ornamentation and stalactite decoration the interior, too, is quite plain. The wall facing Mecca contains the obligatory mihrab, or prayer-niche. The little museum in the mosque is very informative.
The large-scale paintings by Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka (1853-1919) are now on permanent exhibition in a beautiful Neo-Renaissance corner-house built in 1894. Csontváry, a chemist by profession, did not begin to paint until he was 41 years of age. His pictures, full of gay color and fabulous forms, show the influence of modern painting styles yet retain a clear individuality all of their own.
Idris Baba Turban stone
In the garden of a children's hospital in the west of Pécs stands another Turkisk edifice, a small Mohammedan turban-stone chapel with an ogival doorway (Idrisz Baba türbéje), dating from 1591. It is in memory of Idris Baba ("Baba", roughly translated, means "father", and is an honorary title bestowed on older men) who is venerated as a saint because of his wisdom.
Municipal History Museum
In 1869 the Jewish community built their synagogue in the southern part of the town center. It holds up to 1000 people, and is open to visitors except when services are being conducted.
This classical building was designed by the Pécs architect József Piacsek in 1830. It has four Tuscan columns and a tympanum in the center of the façade. The Library (Egyetemi könyvtár) houses large numbers of codices and incunabula.
Rich in tradition, the Hotel Nádor on the west side of the square was rebuilt in the early 20th C.
Map of Pecs Attractions