With a population of 119 000, Nyíregyháza is one of the biggest cities of the Northern Great Plain and the seat of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county.
The city was first mentioned in a document from 1219. The „Nyír” part of its name appeared in the 13th century, in 1326 it was referred to as a settlement with a church. It was populated in the 15th century but most of the population left because of the Mongolian Invasion and the later Ottoman taxes. Their place was taken by Hajduks in the 1630-40’s. After Rákóczi’s War of Independence, the migration increased and the town started to develop after 1753.
By the time Nyíregyháza received the status of market town in 1786, it was one of the most populous places in the county with a population of 7500. Half a century after the new settlers arrived, Nyíregyháza was so wealthy that it could buy its freedom from the feudal lords. In 1837 it became a privileged market town, cultural societies were established, a hospital and a new town hall was built, and there was already a restaurant and a bath at Sóstó.
In the second half of the 19th century, the city was becoming more urbanised: the first train arrived in1858, banks were established. The continuously growing Nyíregyháza became seat of Szabolcs county in 1876. Around the turn of the century, telegraph and post offices, a theater was built, and the tram service began in 1911.
The population suffered serious casualties in World War II. More than 6000 Jews were deported, 2000 citizens were sent to forced labor („malenki robot”). Many buildings were destroyed. After the war, hundreds of families left the region as part of the Czechoslovak-Hungarian population exchange. In October 1956, there were riots as news of the revolution reached the city. The economical, cultural and demographic development of the city is continuous from the 1960’s. The city became more industrialised, the population grew, residential districts were built. Nyíregyháza became a college town: the teaching began at the faculties of theology, teacher training, agriculture and medicine of the College of Nyíregyháza.
Sósgyógyfürdő is known for its thermal water and its atmospheric spa only 6 kilometers from the center of Nyíregyháza. It is a popular active tourism destination. Here is the Aquarius Spa and Adventure Bath which offers healthcare services based on thermal water and natural cures. A place for relaxation, it suits the bathing culture of the city, perfect for family holidays and it is accessible for disabled visitors.
The Bath House Pansion is a monument building, it was the first thermal bath of the city. It was operating with four baths already in 1805. In 1911 it was rebuilt with 8 rooms and 6 baths. It was closed for 30 years but it was opened again in 2000 and it is a nice place for those pursuing a healthy lifestyle and relaxation.
The Open Air Museum of Sóstó is the largest regional open air museum of Hungary. It was opened in 1979, now the 7 and half hectares area, with buildings built in the style of the 19th century, is a real gem of the Nyírség region. More than 80 buildings show the distinctive folk style architecture of Northeastern Hungary. The open air museum is not a static exhibition. It is a „living village”, as their slogan says. The visitor can see crafts of the 19th century such as basketworks, folk gastronomy, cartwright and blacksmith presentations. Every year there is Easter egg decoration, maypole celebration, Pentecost and end-of-harvest celebration.
The history and monuments of the city are somewhat hidden but it they easily reveal themselves in their richness if someone looks for them. The András Jósa Museum holds the golden coins found in Újfehértó. The golden forints were made under the reign of Sigismund, Matthias Corvinus and Ferdinand I.
Those looking for beauties of art can find it in the Episcopal Palace which shows 17-18th century icons, iconostasis carvings.
The oldest building of the city is the Baroque Evangelical church built between 1784 and 1786. The church, designed by Giuseppe Aprilis, has chimes on its frontispiece and the sounds remind the people of the passing of time. During the building’s renovation it turned out that the golden sphere on the tower holds secrets: when it was opened, documents from the 19th century, detailing the history of the time were found.
The so called „bokortanyák” are unique sights of Nyíregyháza. They are groups of farmsteads, built by the settling Tirpák people as temporal homes during harvest and when feeding the animals. A group of buildings belonged to one family and after a while they resembled miniature villages.
The Nyíregyháza Zoo, opened in 2010, is a unique place in Central and Eastern Europe. On the 2 hectares large location, a Green Pyramid was built. On the bottom floor there is an Ocenarium where the visitors can go through glass tunnels and see the sharks and other aquatic animals. On the floor above there is a 15 meters tall rainforest house which shows tropical animals on three levels with such species as the komodo dragon or gorilla.
The Nyíregyháza Adventure Park is an experience for all generations. The rope-railway track with more than a 100 stations is located in the Sóstó Park Hotel. The children and the adults can test themselves in natural surroundings, supervised by professionals from start to finish. Trying the adventure park is a unique sports experience which is not only good for getting active but it also brings us closer to nature.
A popular hiking place of the city is the 371 hectares large park forest. With its walking tracks, forest sports ground, playground, cooking sites, the forest attracts the tourists in every season. Next to the sports ground is a forest theater where many events take place. The park is perfect for sports and active tourism. Next to the forest is the Botanical Garden which is part of the College of Nyíregyháza. Besides the local flora there is a rock garden and an artificial lake. In the greenhouse, the visitors can wonder at the tropical, subtropical and cactus houses.
Arriving in any season, the visitor will surely find an interesting event, for example the very popular VIDOR Festival.