Located on a strategically important spot, at the meeting of many roads, in the Dunántúl Region between Budapest and Balaton. From Budapest, it can be reached on Road 7 and Highway M7. It is an important traffic and railway junction. A city with county rights, it is the seat of Fejér county.
The patinated, domed ancient monument Árpád bath with mussel decoration, which was being built in 1905 was conveyed to the general public following a careful reconstruction in March 2010. In the Turkish bath, in the most spectacular part of the building complex two sedentary pools put with mosaic, Jacuzzi and a central pool are placed, where pleasant. 36-38 degree water waits for the ones desiring to relax. The real curiosity of the bath is the mosaic tiled tepidarium in an exclusive environment, and the Turkish-style “Seraj” rest. Downstairs you can find a coctail bar and a charming sunny terrace. Two yards belong to the building, from among one of them functions as a cocktail saloon bar, and the other one lures guests to open-air relaxation. An Infra- and a Finnish sauna, a salt room and also a Steam cabin serves the guest’s comfort. Of course, unique opportunities are waiting for those too, who are looking for special wellness services: hydrotherapy- and wellness massages, hairdressing salon – occasions for body and soul refreshments in the bath.
Beautifully ornamented baroque churches, attractive housing estates with corner balconies, imposing classicist buildings and emblematic works of art provide the unique decoration to the walk in Székesfehérvár. The Orb in the middle of City Hall Square tells about the pride of the locals. This work of art symbolises the historic importance of the city, for the inscription reads that it was King Saint Stephen himself who donated to the city the right to be a free royal city.
Besides architectural attractions, a great number of tiny details also contribute to the atmosphere of the city. The visitor is greeted by Mujkó the clown under the doorway that leads to the City Hall Square. The statue of Auntie Kati, the old lady from the upper town who pushes her cart on the promenade to the market, is an integral part of the city life. Her nose is polished by those who hope their luck.
Our promenade in the city centre is marked by two symbolic works of art that tell us about the passing of time. One can admire the Flower Clock with its flowery clock face from spring to autumn and its date that is replanted each day. Strolling away from the Main Street, one can gaze at the Clockwork placed in the magnificent Kossuth Courtyard. This work of art gives a historic perspective to the passing of time by presenting such historic figures of the past millennium as kings, queens, dukes and knights. The glockenspiel plays every second hour from 10 am.
There are other things to see outside the inner city. The Boating Lake is closer to the inner city, while the Mine Lake is situated in the green belt of the city. This latter is called the ’suicidal lake’ and it has got a wild setting. The Golden Bull Memorial erected on the city limits has a nice view of the surrounding area. The memorial stands at the place where the Golden Bull was supposedly proclaimed.
The most peculiar building of the city is the Bory Castle. It was the architect and sculptor Jenő Bory who created this 20 century romantic knight castle. The painter built the castle for 36 years based on his own plans until his death. This fascinating work of art is a memory of the love he felt towards his wife.
There were more than 30 churches and chapels in Székesfehérvár in the Middle Ages. However, only the Gothic Saint Anna Chapel remained intact. The one-time royal basilica, the most splendid architectural work in the history of Hungary, 43 Hungarian kings were crowned here, together with the 14 kings who followed Saint Stephen and Saint Emerich. Today the basilica is in ruins.
Religious buildings are worth visiting because they convey best the experience of decay and revival. The enormous towers of the Episcopal Cathedral were built by King Béla IV. Each Hungarian king swished with his sword from here signalling that the country was under his protection. The ornamented silver herm of Saint Stephen was kept here from 1778 to 2009. The relic of the king can be seen now together with the other treasures of the church in the County Church Museum of Székesfehérvár. The crypt of the cathedral where the tombs of King Béla III and his wife Anna of Antioquia can be found is also of medieval origin. The visitor is astonished by the imprint of the royal couple kept in the Mathias Church on the marble tombstones. Those chief priests who ruled the County Church of Székesfehérvár from the Episcopal Palace built in baroque style are also buried here.
For those who like the varied and spectacular forms of the late baroque age, the visits to the Seminar and Cistercian church are a must. The visitor will also be amazed by the nacreous and lacy celestial vision of Maulbertsch on the ceiling of the Seminar Church and the beautifully carved furniture of the sacristy that is unique in Central Europe.
These church buildings have been redecorated and renewed in the past centuries. However, they would not be worth anything without the congregation of believers who make the religious life of Székesfehérvár flourish.
The colourful exhibition spaces of Székesfehérvár help evoke the historic past of the city.
King Saint Stephen Museum presents the past of the city and county by providing a uniquely rich archaeological collection of exhibited objects from Neolith to the Turkish occupation. The visitor can see here the remains of valuable stone carvings of the basilica built by Saint Stephen. The Roman Age stone collection shows fragments of stone relics, tombstones, sarcophaguses and emperor statues found in our county and dating back to the period ranging from the 1 to the 4 century. One can also see besides the exposed archaeological objects such curiosities as the sealed and monographic brick collection from Fejér County.
The Medieval Ruin Garden- National Memorial Place preserves the ruins of the most important medieval church of Hungary erected to the honour of Virgin Mary. The visitor can see here the decorated sarcophagus carved for the ceremony of making King Stephen saint as well as Vilmos Aba Novák’s mural painting that presents the history of the Holy Right and the Saint Crown.
The Black Eagle Pharmacy Museum, which functioned as a Pharmacy until 1971, preserves the memories of civic life of Fehérvár with its pharmaceutical objects and furniture dating back to Jesuit times. Another exhibition that takes the visitor back to the civic Fehérvár is the private fine and applied art collection of Erwin Ybl in Budenz House. From the exposition one can highlight the study built is Scottish Art Nouveau exhibited on the ground floor and the silver and porcelains displayed in show-cases on the first floor.
The Doll Museum, the greatest doll collection in Hungary, presents the valued toys of past generations. The nicely furnished doll chambers are the perfect copies of the 18 and 19 century civic interiors. Therefore, the visitors get an insight into the homes of the one-time bourgeoisie.
Székesfehérvár is home to the museum exhibitions presenting progressive Hungarian art. These exhibitions have made the city an important artistic centre in the last 50 years.
By visiting the three permanent exhibitions, the visitor gets an ample insight into the most important trends and artists of the 20 century Hungarian art. The Budenz House hosts the Ervin Ybl Collection, the Dénes Deák Collection found its place in the small Esterházy Palace, while the New Hungarian Gallery can be found in the old county hall building. The works of art presented in these exhibitions range from the greatest Hungarian painters such as József Rippl Rónai, István Csók, Aurél Bernáth, Bertalan Székely to the newest contemporary artists.
A great number of well-located open air statues (e.g. the statue of Pál Pátzay: The Monument of the 10. Hussar Regiment) evoke the history of the city that was often ruined. The statues show kings, humanist scholars, hussars, fortress defenders and common people as well.
Three mural works of Vilmos Aba Novák, the famous Hungarian artist of the 1930s and 1940s, are found here. The painting presenting the Hungarian-French historical relations was the peculiarity of the Hungarian Pavilion of the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris. The jury awarded the successful work of art with a Grand Prix. The anecdote has it that when Picasso saw the painting he exclaimed in surprise: ’Who is this barbarian genius?’ The work of art can be seen in István Csók Gallery once a year.
One can visit interesting collections of contemporary works of art all year round in the István Csók Gallery, in the Országzászló Square building of King Saint Stephen Museum, in the Pelican Gallery and in the Deák Gallery.
The last ten days of May are heydays of contemporary arts, because the city is decorated with artistic flags and visitors can see the most recent works of contemporary artists in public places and institutions.
The inhabitants of Székesfehérvár stick to their historic and ethnographic traditions. The knights wearing traditional costumes who appear regularly on the streets are a big attraction of the city. Multilingual guided tours are conducted by guides dressed in medieval costumes in the Ruin Garden and in the crypt of Saint Stephen Cathedral several times a year.
The village museum, situated not far from the inner city, is the place where our folk traditions are kept. The Palotaváros part of the city was rather like a village than a town with its artisans, tradesmen and peasants. The visitor can get acquainted with the way of life, tools and objects relating to the various guilds that one existed here: shoemaker, dressmaker, cobbler, boot maker, furrier, tailor, harness maker etc. The artisans of Székesfehérvár keep regularly interactive shows of arts and crafts.
Serbian orthodox church: This delightful church adorned with frescoes depicting the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary, patriarchs, apostles and saints is a sign of Serb identity in Székesfehérvár, which was built in 1771-1772. Based on previous arrangement for groups. Information: +36 30 507 4359
The building of King Saint Stephen Museum situated in Országzászló Square hosts the permanent ethnographic exhibition called Object Creating Traditions. One can witness here the process of creation and usage of these objects of folk culture.
The visitor can get an insight into the living traditions of our folklore in the Dance House that hosts the Alba Regia Group. Everything can be found here from events to organized dance festivals such as the Royal Days International Folk Dance Festival.
Székesfehérvár has many events for the visitor. The indispensable feature of the Contemporary Art Festival in May is the flag exhibition of local artists that mark the beginning of a series of various events lasting from spring to the end of the year. One can see modern, progressive exhibitions, performances, theatrical and literary productions as well as a good deal of concerts.
June is the month of the Fire and Iron Festival. Have you ever seen a smith iron hammering, cutting the sheep’s fingernail or shoeing a horse? Have you ever prepared an elderberry whistle or cast tin soldier? If not, the opportunity is here! If you would like to see and try something memorable visit the Serbian old village at Rác Street in Székesfehérvár, where you can meet the country’s most outstanding Hungarian craftsmen.
During the Harmonia Albensis in July, the most beautiful pieces of classical music are played in the famous baroque churches of Székesfehérvár. These nicely ornamented churches of the royal city provide an unparalleled acoustic experience. Among the performing artists there are such artists as Erika Miklósa.
August is a real festival month in the city. In the Fehérvár Music Days one can find anything from small local bands and famous Hungarian performers to world stars. Three days dedicated exclusively to music! There are concerts, mumbo-jumbo theatre, karaoke and almost traditional ’Székesfehérvár has talent’ competitions. The programme comprises almost all musical styles. The Royal Days and the International Folk Dance Festival means a full week of tradition! We can meet dancers coming from all parts of the world in one place and at one time. The visitors can see open air performances, classical and street music, folk evenings, gastronomic events, programmes for children and dance film showings.
One can find a bustling market in the city centre during the Cheerfulness of Székesfehérvár in September. The festival provides programmes for the whole family with the long row of artisan stands on the Main Street. The Ratatouille Festival also enhances the atmosphere. Everyone can taste Ratatouille that is made in a few hundred kettles.
Székesfehérvár is one of the most ancient Hungarian cities that was entirely founded by Hungarians around 970 without any significant Roman Age history. The city became the centre of Hungary and royal seat under the rule of King Stephen I. The king built his private church that became later the crowning and royal basilica in the heart of the city. The remains of the basilica can be seen even today in the Medieval Ruin Garden. Tradition has it that the city of Székesfehérvár supposedly received from King Stephen the title of free royal city and the privileges that went with it. Our state founder king was buried in the city, his son Duke Emerich was born here and they were both sainted here. The royal throne was placed here, the coronation jewellery and the treasury and the national archives were also kept here, according to his orders. Besides coronations, royal weddings and burials, Fehérvár also hosted the national assemblies. King Andrew II proclaimed the Golden Bull the first constitution of the state in the National Assembly held in 1222.
Following Saint Stephen, eight Kings descending from the Arpad House and seven kings coming from mixed royal houses have found their place of rest in the basilica. There were also 43 kings crowned here. According to the common law, there were three conditions that made the royal power legitimate: the future king had to be crowned with Saint Stephen’s crown in Székesfehérvár by the Archbishop of Esztergom.
The city developed intensely during the rule of King Mathias in the 15 century. The most ancient monument that can be seen even today is Saint Anna Chapel that was built in this period. This period of prosperity was temporarily interrupted by the Turkish destruction. One tower of the basilica exploded then for ammunition was stored there. The stones were used for defence works, the royal graves were ravaged and the royal bones were left scattered around. After the Turkish occupation, following the Rákóczi War of Independence and plague epidemic, the city was almost completely devastated by the beginning of the 18 century.
The next period when Székesfehérvár flourished was the 18 and 19 century. New houses for city dwellers, palaces for aristocrats, religious houses for friars as well as churches were built here. The inner city has kept its medieval image. The education as well as the intellectual and cultural life of the city was thriving in these houses decorated baroque and rococo styles.
The industry of the city became important in the beginning of the 20 century when enormous defence plants started their operation. Székesfehérvár was one of the cities that suffered the most in World War II, since it was occupied and reoccupied by the two combating sides almost every week. As a result the population of the city halved by the end game. The quick development of city that started after 1956 was crowned by the title of city with county rights in 1990. By now Székesfehérvár has become the most important city of the Middle Transdanubian Region.