It is a famous historic place and it is also the administrative centre of Heves County, and the centre of the Eger wine region. It lies at the southwestern foothills of the Bükk Mountains in the valley of the Eger-stream. Having more than one thousand years of history, Eger is an archiepiscopal centre with a lot of Baroque buildings, a thermal bath and museums. Much of what visitors can see today is exactly as it was in the eighteenth century.
St. Stephen, first king of Hungary, founded a bishopric in Eger sometime between 1001 and 1009 AD. The ecclesiastical importance of the town led to the construction of a stone fortress for its protection in 1248, built around a Romanesque cathedral. Over the next several hundred years, high- and late-Gothic cathedrals were built to replace this church, which had since fallen into ruins. The episcopal seat enjoyed its golden age during the 15th century Renaissance, when the town was one of the country’s most important cultural centers. By the 16th century, the Ottoman invasion was in full swing, with Buda falling in the 1540’s. In 1552 the Turks turned their attention to one of the biggest obstacles in the region, the fortress of Eger. The Hungarian defenders, only two thousand strong, managed to withstand a five-week siege by a force about forty times larger. This heroic show of defiance is considered to be one of the most outstanding military events in Hungarian history, and was immortalized in Géza Gárdonyi’s world-famous historical novel, Egri Csillagok (lit. “The Stars of Eger” though the English translation used the alternate title “Eclipse of the Crescent Moon”).
The fortress of Eger:
Now a protected historic monument, it is the site of the István Dobó Castle Museum. Permanent exhibitions cover the history of the castle, the underground fortification system (Casemates), while another exhibits the medieval forms of punishment. Carvings from the destroyed cathedral can be seen in the lapidarium, while the marble sarcophagus of István Dobó, the heroic captain of the fortress during the 1552 siege, can be found in the Heroes’ Room.
The only Classicist building in Eger, and the second largest church in Hungary. It was built based on the designs of József Hild, from 1831 to 1836, ordered by archbishop Pyrker. The statues standing outside the cathedral are works of Marco Casagrande. The organ of the Basilica was made by company Moser in Salzburg at the end of 19th century. In the main season (15th May – 15th October) visitors can listen to organ concerts every day at noon. The frescos decorating the domes of the church were painted by István Takács, an artist from Mezőkövesd, so the typical folkart motives of his homeland can be discovered in his paintings.
The Lyceum, the main buiding of EKU with the famous Diocesan Library and Observatory Tower:
The Late Baroque building is impressive already in its dimensions, it is a square shaped construction with a nice inner courtyard. The Main-Hall can be found on the first floor, its huge ceiling fresco was painted by Franz Sigrist depicting the four planned faculties of the university. Walking from here to the left we get to Diocesan Library. Its Baroque style oak furniture was made by Tamás Lotter, a joiner from Eger, and the ceiling fresco depicting Trident Council was painted by János Lukács Kracker and his student Józseg Zach. The original collection of 20000 books was intended to be for the university library. The collection has been increasing, now there are more than 180000 volumes in about 30 different languages. In the library, we can find the manuscript of the letters of Hungarian Kelemen Mikes, Buda Cronicle from 1473, Turoczi Cronicle, the only one letter of Mozart available in Hungary, signed by the composer. The third big hall of the Lyceum is the chapel, its ceiling fresco was painted by Anton Maulbertsch in 1793. If we rise to the Magic Tower we can find the Astronomic Museum and a curiosity, called Camera Obscura, also known as „the eye of Eger”, from here everything can be seen, that is happening in the town.