Located at the Southern feet of the Villány Mountains, the town’s area was already populated during the Ancient Romans and the Migration Period, Hun and Avar graves have also been found.
The Copf style church was completed in 1802. The other Copf style church, located in Terehegy, was also built in the beginning of the 19th century. The spa chapel was built in 1906.
Vilmos Zsigmondy’s name is commemorated by a plaque in the hospital, a statue in the park and the name of a promenade.
It is first mentioned in written form in 1323 as Harkan. From the 14th century, the land was owned first by the Garais then, after many owners, by the Batthyány family from 1728. In contrast with many villages, Harkány did not become completely desolated during the Ottoman Occupation. During the centuries, many ethnicities settled here: besides the Hungarians, South Slavs, Germans and in the 20th century Slovaks came here. After the Ottomans were driven out, the majority of the population turned to Lutheranism.
Harkány is referred to as the Mecca of the rheumatics; it is famous worldwide for its medicinal thermal water. The thermal water of Harkány was known by the Ottomans but later on it was forgotten and the area became a swamp. In 1823, the owner of the land Count Antal Batthyány tried to control the water by draining. The workers stepping on the wet land experienced that their rheumatic, gouty feet’s pain was eased or even cured in a few days.
More and more people started to soak their feet in the water of the newly dug drain. The owner, realising the healing properties of the water, drilled into the land in order to bring the water to the surface, and in 1820, he built a bath building and a little spa hotel. In 1844, a bath was built in the wooden building. At this time, they started to construct the park which is 13 hectares large today.
In 1866-7, Vilmos Zisgmondy, a pioneer in geothermic research, drilled two artesian wells, 33 and 54 meters deep respectively. The former has a temperature of 62 Cº, tha latter erupting at 70 Cº.
The spa was expanded in 1870, and in 1925, the first swimming bath was built. The building of the spa completely reformed the lives of the people living here who made their living from agriculture (grape growing and wine making). Today, the majority makes their living from the spa or related services.
After the privatisation, in 1955, the Medicinal Spa Hospital began its operation and it was expanded in 1960’s and 70’s with a new physicotherapy building completed in 1986. Resorts, hotels were built, and the spa offers many pools and a water slide to the visitors. Between 1960 and 1967, three new wells were drilled. The water coming from 1500 meters deep contains a high amount of sulphur and carbon sulphite. The water and the healing sludge is best used for rheumatism and other musculoskeletal illnesses and also gynecological problems. Used as a drinking cure, it helps with respiratory and digestion problems.
In 1999, Harkány got the rank of city. Events held every summer await the visitors: exorcist days, Hímestojás days, Bath festival and many more. The second half of September sees the coming of the vintage festival.