Pécsvárad

It is near-impossible to tear away one’s eyes from the beauty of the countryside around Pécsvárad. From here, the dark mass of the Zengő rises like some gigantic sugarloaf. Squat upon the 682m summit are the remains of a 13th- century fortress. At its foot was built Pécsvárad. The ancient walls of its castle testify to its great past. In medieval times the abbey of the Benedictine monks of Pécsvárad was one of Hungary’s spiritual centres. It was founded in 998 by Hungary’s first monarch, King St. Stephen, before he ascended the throne.

The earliest known printed documentation of the town is a letter of indentureship to the Guild of Millers. The layout of the town has remained unchanged. To the east, on the edge of the town, Habsburg troops were once stationed, with a chapel and a two-storey hospital, while opposite stood the homes of the “seven Swabians”. While changes have been made, all this still stands. The town is surrounded by vineyards and orchards and set off by chestnut trees.

The castle museum was opened in 1958. Borsos Miklós’s statue of King St. Stephen was unveiled on August 20,1969, St. Stephen’s Day. The castle and the King Stephen Hotel were opened in 1988, and now operate as a museum and conference centre. On August 20,1993, Pécsvárad was granted a town charter. The ceremony was presided over by Hungary’s Presi- dent, Árpád Göncz.

The Church of Our Lady was built between 1757 and 1767 on the site of the medieval St. Peter’s Church. The interior of the church is contemporary with the baroque building.

The llth-century Church of All Saints, once the chapel of the Monastery of Saint Adalbert, and the town’s church after the 13th century, now functions as the cemetery chapel.

The Calvinist church was built in 1785. The tower was constructed in 1797. Pécsvárad is traditionally a Calvinist settlement. The women’s traditional costume was especially decorative.

The old village plan closely follows the oldest surviving maps. There is still a Street where the old carriages used to travel through the medi¬eval village. The walls of today’s homes are built upon the foundations of yesteryear. The main Street was once the main highway between Buda and Pécs. Part of it was rebuilt in 1973.

The good name of Pécsvárad as a centre of artistic activity is maintained by numerous amateur árts groups. To this day, many artists and writers are associated with the area.

The Friends of Pécsvárad Castle was founded in 1981, and is the town’s largest voluntary or- ganization.