Csongrád is located in the southern part of the Great Plain where the rivers Körös and Tisza meet. It is provided by archeological finds that this area has been inhabited since ancient times. The river Tisza has always played a significant role in local people’s life because its plentiful fishes and the products of its canary and marshlands have always provided their food and basic conditions for their life.
The conquering Hungarians occupied here an earth fort of the Danube Bulgarian Empire. St. István, the first Hungarian King, had founded a comitat here from Körös province and Csongrád Castle became the centre and denominator of it.
Being the county centre our town started to develop quickly in the 12th century, but this process was interrupted by the Tatar invasion in 1241-42. Csongrád consequently lost its markets, the more important routes avoided it and its population decreased.
Presumably in 1541-42 the Turkish occupied Csongrád. Under their rule it became a prosperous centre if the district (nahije). But the Turkish garrison marched out with slaughter, plunder and fire-raising in 1686.
After the suppression of Rákóczi’s War of Independence (1703-11), Sándor Károlyi was given earldom and the Csongrád domain by the Emperor. He reorganised the economic life and administration and raised Csongrád to the status of county town (Oppidum).
The local inhabitants took their part in the actions of 1848-49 the War of Independence, so in retaliation the Austrian occupying army burned the town down.
In 1865 Csongrád declared the town status null so it became temporarily a large village.
The regularisation of the riverway affected the settlement by giving job opportunity to the cotters, who did not have any land after the emancipation of the serfs, and by forming the social class of navvy. The navvies of Csongrád were known all over the country.
The main attraction of Csongrád is the sand beach resembling to a seaside, the Körös-torok. The River Tisza carries a large amount of debris, from which the round granular sand is deposited due to the slowing effect of River Körös before the mouth. This generated an about 30 m wide and 700 m long sand beach stretching from the East end of the town to the Körös mouth. The beach is a popular social site of the summer months. At low water levels it is full of swimmers, sunbathing families, young people playing beach volley and football. The life of the beach is transformed by night; the daytime noise is replaced by music seeping out from the clubs.
The old town centre (Belváros) preserves the construction of the late medieval settlement with its zigzag streets and the houses inhabited by former fishermen, peasants and diggers. This ancient quarter received special protection, making it nowadays the only settlement sized monument ensemble of folk architectures in the Great Hungarian Plains. There is a Museum House at 1 Gyökér Street – two buildings on a plot. The „old-house” exhibit popular and common furnishment from the end of the 19th century, painted furniture with an open fire chimney and everyday objects in the kitchen. In the „big-house” a wealthier farmer’s room can be observed from the 1930s.
The monastery of Ellés is a considerable medieval relic at North of Csongrád, on the opposite bank of the river Tisza. The monastery standing on the floodplain of Tisza had been built by an early representative of the family of Bor-Kalán around the turn of the 12nd century. The ruin of the monastery is one of the few remaining medieval relics in the region.
One of the emblematic sites is the Artists’ Colony of Csongrád promoting the tangibility of fine arts, which was created by fresh graduate young artists in 1974. Painter-, sculptor-, graphic designer studios and bronze foundry man workshop were established in its building. Since then, hundreds of domestic and foreign artists worked and rested in the Artists’ Colony. There are regularly returning artists, who continue their creative efforts individually or in groups here, but new guests also arrive annually. Its internationally recognised event is the Plein Air International Artists’ Retreat.
The oldest building of the Kossuth Square is the neoclassic baroque style ”Nagyboldogasszony-templom” (Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary) (1762–1769). Notable its pulpit decorated with the sculpture of the four evangelists and the high altar is made of black marble with the replica of Titian’s Venetian altarpiece titled Assumption of the Virgin.
The János Batsányi Gimnázium built in Hungarian Secession style is an architectural masterpiece from the beginning of 19th century. It was built by the plans of Lajos Ybl, the famous architect of the age in 1913-14. It was meant to be a school for boys originally, but the grammar school education had already begun in the first tutorial year.
The városháza (Town Hall) building was designed by Ferenc Csókási, urban chief architect, based on the vision of Mayor Dr. János Piroska. The construction and installation of the fixtures were carried out by local craftsmen in 1935-37.
West of town, the high sandy soils and plenty of sunshine favour the cultivation of delicate and succulent grapes. It is no coincidence, therefore, that there are traces of wine production since the age of King Stephen I. (10th century) in the Wine-District of Csongrád. Nowadays, red wines are the most characteristic of the region: besides the Kékfrankos and the Cabernet, the Kadarka being produced since the Turkish times (16th century) has its Renaissance. Thanks to the quality wine production and the thousand years of wine culture, Csongrád was awarded the title of „International Town of Grape and Wine” in Rome in 1987.
A fortunate natural resource of the town, in addition to its fresh waters, the thermal spa also attracts guests. The Town Medicinal Bath and Swimming Pool (Városi Gyógy- és Strandfürdő) lies in an almost 7,000 m2 park with swimming pool, children’s pool, coverable teaching pool, grass sunbathing area and sauna. Its therapeutic section provides overall balneo-, physio- and electrotherapeutic services.
Because of the proximity of the rivers and the backwaters, it’s quasi obvious that the angling turned into popular sport. Real four seasonal angler waters can be found along Tisza or on the romantic backwaters, such as the György-víz and the Aranysziget backwater, since fishes worthy to angle can be selected in every season here. Anglers attention! The average catch per angler is more than 50 kg here.
In the neighbourhood of Csongrád, there is an opportunity to nurse the riding traditions in a horse rider pension and clubs. The one who has not sit on a horse yet may get the taste of the experience; skilled riders, though, can also go for a longer tour. A coaching or a carting provides an experience for both small ones and big ones equally in the neighbourhood.
Following the footsteps of József Magyar, the famous African hunter born in Csongrád, there are also some hunting clubs working around the town. In addition to paying homage to their popular hobby, they conduct deliberate management over the wildlife. Their hunting grounds have an agricultural character, typical of the boondocks of the Plains. Their main fair games include the high-quality roe population, pheasant, hare, wildfowl and the ever increasing wild boar population of which can be hunted in the whole year.
Being a town of the Plains, one can see more cyclists than cars on the roads of Csongrád. The EuroVelo bicycle track going through the town connects it with the international tour route. The cyclists arriving here can expect built up tour routes, rally offers and programmes. Don’t be worried if you just got a feel of a refreshing cycling here, a bicycle rental can help you out.
This land is covered largely by slightly wavy loess and sand. The “Bokros puszta” belonging to Csongrád and the diverse saline soil of the “Kónyaszéki ősgyep” also prove, how variegated the landscape of the Hungarian Plain really is! Saline ponds, which provide temporary accommodation for the migratory birds, fill the lesser or greater pits. Those liking the ecotourism may get to know the special biosphere of the Csongrád Nagyrét Nature Coservation Area on designated hiking trails, which enjoys local protection.
The programme series of Csongrád Days (end of July-end of August) looks back at long past. During a month of the events, artistic programmes, exhibitions, pop - and classical music concerts, church concerts, family programmes await for the guests. It is opened by a spectacular Dance and Music Festival.
At the Wine Festival of Csongrád (the third weekend of August), the visitors may primarily get a taste of the local wines, but also the wines of other regions, with oven baked breads. Initiation of the new members of Saint Vincent Wine Order of Knighthood happens in the open-air stage. In addition, various concerts and children performances entertain the audience.
The Körös-torok Days (first weekend of August) is one of the largest crowd gathering music festivals of the South Hungarian Plain that features a broad spectrum of domestic performers from year to year.