2016. April 12.

Pécs (UNESCO) and Villány

Pécs is the fifth largest city of Hungary, located on the slopes of the Mecsek mountains in the south-west of the country, close to its border with Croatia. It is the administrative and economical centre of Baranya County. Pécs is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pécs. The city Sopianae was founded by Romans at the beginning of the 2nd century, in an area peopled by Celts and Pannoni tribes. By the 4th century, it became the capital of Valeria province and a significant early Christian center. The early Christian necropolis is from this era which became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2000.

Its episcopate was founded in 1009 by Steven I, and the first university in Hungary was founded in Pécs in 1367 by Louis I the Great. (The largest university still resides in Pécs with about 34,000 students). Pécs was formed into one of the cultural and arts center of the country by bishop Janus Pannonius, great humanist poet. Pécs has a rich heritage from the age of a 150-year-long Ottoman occupation, like the mosque of Pasha Qasim the Victorious on Széchenyi square.

Pécs always was a multicultural city where many cultural layers are encrusted melting different values of the history of two thousand years. Hungarians, Croatians and Swabians still live in peace together in economic and cultural polarity. In 1998 Pécs was given the UNESCO prize Cities for peace for maintaining the cultures of the minorities, and also for its tolerant and helping attitude toward refugees of the Balkan Wars. In 2010, Pécs was selected to be the European Capital of Culture sharing the title together with Essen and Istanbul. The citys motto is: "The Borderless City".


The medieval city was first mentioned in 871 under the name Quinque Basilicae ("five cathedrals".) The name refers to the fact that when constructing the churches of the city, the builders used material from five old Christian chapels. In 1064, when King Solomon made peace with his cousin, the later King Géza I, they celebrated Easter in Pécs. Shortly after the cathedral burnt down. The cathedral that stands today was built after this, in the 11th century. Several religious orders settled down in Pécs. The Benedictine order was the first in 1076. In 1181, there was already a hospital in the city. The first Dominican monastery of the country was built in Pécs in 1238.

King Louis the Great founded a university in Pécs in 1367 following the advice of William, the bishop of Pécs, who was also the kings chancellor. It was the first university in Hungary. The founding document is almost word for word identical with that of the University of Vienna, stating that the university has the right to teach all arts and sciences, with the exception of theology. In 1459, Janus Pannonius, the most important medieval poet of Hungary became the bishop of Pécs. He strengthened the cultural importance of Pécs.

After the Battle of Mohács (1526) in which the invading Ottoman army defeated the armies of King Louis II, the armies of Suleiman occupied Pécs. Not only was a large part of the country occupied by Ottomans, the public opinion of who should be the king of Hungary was divided, too. One party supported Ferdinand of Habsburg, the other party crowned John Zápolya in Székesfehérvár. The citizens of Pécs supported Emperor Ferdinand, but the rest of Baranya county supported King John. In the summer of 1527 Ferdinand defeated the armies of Szapolyai and was crowned king on November 3. Ferdinand favoured the city because of their support, and exempted Pécs from paying taxes. Pécs was rebuilt and fortified.

In 1529, the Ottomans captured Pécs again, and went on a campaign against Vienna. The Ottomans made Pécs to accept King John (who was allied with them) as their ruler. John died in 1540. In 1541, the Ottomans occupied the castle of Buda, and ordered Isabella, the widow of John to give Pécs to them, since the city was of strategic importance. The citizens of Pécs defended the city against the Ottomans, and swore loyalty to Ferdinand. The emperor helped the city and defended it from further Ottoman attacks, but his advisers persuaded him into focusing more on the cities of Székesfehérvár and Esztergom instead of Pécs. Pécs was preparing for the siege, but a day before, Flemish and Walloon mercenaries fled from the city, and raided the nearby lands. The next day in June 1543 the Bishop himself went to the Ottomans with the keys of the city.

After occupying the city, the Ottomans fortified it and turned it into a real Ottoman city. The Christian churches were turned into mosques; Turkish baths and minarets were built, Quran schools were founded, there was a bazaar in place of the market. For a hundred years the city was an island of peace in a land of war. She was a sanjak centre in Budin Eyalet at first and Kanije Eyalet later as “Peuuy".

In 1664, Croat-Hungarian nobleman Nicholas Zrínyi arrived in Pécs, with his army. Since the city was well into the Ottoman territories, they knew that even if the occupy it, they could not keep it for long, so they planned only to pillage it. They ravaged and burned the city but could not occupy the castle. Mediaeval Pécs was destroyed forever, except the wall encircling the historical city, a single bastion (Barbakán), the network of tunnels and catacombs beneath the city, parts of which are closed down, other parts are in possession of the famous Litke champagne factory, and can be visited today. Several Turkish artifacts also survived, namely three mosques, two minarets, remnants of a bath over the ancient Christian tombs near the cathedral, and several houses, one even with a stone cannonball embedded in the wall.

After the castle of Buda was wrested from Ottoman rule in 1686, the armies went to capture the rest of Pécs. The advance guards could break into the city and pillaged it. The Ottomans saw that they could not hold the city, and burnt it, and withdrew into the castle. The army led by Louis of Baden occupied the city on October 14, and destroyed the aqueduct leading to the castle. The Ottomans had no other choice but to surrender, which they did on October 22.

The city was under martial law under the command of Karl von Thüngen. The Viennese court wanted to destroy the city first, but later they decided to keep it to counterbalance the importance of Szigetvár, which was still under Ottoman rule. Slowly the city started to prosper again, but in the 1690s two plague epidemics claimed many lives. In 1688 German settlers arrived. Only about one quarter of the citys population was Hungarian, the others were Germans or Southern Slavs. According to 1698 data, South Slavs comprised more than a half of the population of the town. Because Hungarians were only a minority of the population, Pécs did not support the revolution against Habsburg rule led by Francis II Rákóczi, and his armies pillaged the city in 1704.

A more peaceful era started after 1710. Industry, trade and viticulture prospered, manufactures were founded, a new city hall was built. The feudal lord of the city was the Bishop of Pécs, but the city wanted to free itself from episcopal control. Bishop George Klimó, an enlightened man (who founded the first public library of the country) would have agreed to cede his rights to the city, but the Holy See forbade him to do so. When Klimó died in 1777, Queen Maria Theresa quickly elevated Pécs to free royal town status before the new bishop was elected.

During the revolution in 1848–49, Pécs was occupied by Croatian armies for a short time, but it was freed from them by Habsburg armies in January 1849. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 Pécs developed, like all the other cities and towns of the country. From 1867, Pécs is connected to the nearby town Barcs by railway, and since 1882 it is also connected to Budapest. In 1913, a tram system has been founded, but it was extinguished in 1960.

At the end of World War I, Baranya county was occupied by Serbian troops, and it was not until August 1921 that Pécs could be sure that it remains part of Hungary. The University of Pressburg (modern-day Bratislava, Slovakia) was moved to Pécs after Hungary lost Pressburg according to the Treaty of Trianon. During World War II, Pécs suffered only minor damages, after the war, development became fast again, and the city grew, absorbing several nearby towns. After the end of Socialist era (1989–1990), Pécs and its county, like many other areas, were hit hard by the changes, the unemployment rate was high, the mines and several factories were closed, and the war in neighboring Yugoslavia in the 1990s affected the tourism.

Pécs was also the centre of the Nordic Support Group (NSG) consisting of units from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Poland, as part of the IFOR and later SFOR NATO deployments, after the Dayton Agreement and following peace in former Yugoslavia; the first units were deployed to Pécs in late 1995 and early 1996. The NSG handled the relaying of supply, personnel and other logistical tasks between the participating countries and their deployed forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Located in the midst of an agricultural area, Pécs is the natural hub of local products. Until some years ago, it had a coal mine and even a Uranium mine. Several factories exist, but after the fall of the Iron Curtain many have not managed the transition well. There is a gradual development of modern high-tech industry, with Finnish electronics manufacturing company Elcoteq the largest industrial employer in the city. Pécs has a nationally (and to a limited extent internationally) famous porcelain factory. The Zsolnay Porcelain has a special iridescent finish — called "eozin". One of the walls of a local McDonalds franchise (on the Main Square) is decorated with Zsolnay Porcelain tiles (as well as the walls and roofs of several public buildings). The Pécsi Sörfőzde (Pécs Brewery) is one of the four main Hungarian breweries, and produces a special beer, which is not strained before bottling. Pécs is also known for its leatherworking industry.

The University of Pécs was founded by Louis I of Hungary in 1367. It is the oldest university in Hungary, and is among the first European universities. In the recent past it used to be divided in two universities, one for Medicine and Orthodontics (POTE) and a larger one for other studies: JPTE (Janus Pannonius Tudományegyetem). The POTE (Pécs University Medical School, now known as the Medical School) has a large English program for general medicine and dentistry (with students from America, Asia, Africa, and European countries - including many Scandinavians) and a new German program. On January 1, 2000, these universities were combined under the name University of Pécs (acronym: PTE - Pécsi Tudományegyetem - University of Pécs).

Villány is a town in Baranya county, Hungary that is famous for its wine. Residents are Magyars, with minority of Serbs.The name derives from the Hungarian word for lightning, villám. Formerly (centuries ago), the settlement was recorded under this form of name.

After the Ottoman occupation until 1918, VILLÁNY was part of the Austrian monarchy, province of Hungary, in Transleithania after the compromise of 1867 in the Kingdom of Hungary. The mountains and the hills provide a suitable place for wine producing.


Ask for a quote