The city of 62 000 people is located in West Hungary, it is the seat of Zala County. It lies near the Autrian, Slovenian, Croatian borders on the banks of River Zala. The city won an award in 2008 for the amount of flowers and green areas it has.
AquaCity Waterslide and Adventure Park
To the east of Lake Gébárti AquaCity Waterslide and Adventure Park was built, where 13 giant and 5 smaller waterslides and 12 special pools can be found offering varied entertainment facilities to water-lovers, such as a lazy river, a children’s pool, a wave pool, a jump-pool and a Jacuzzi pool. From the look-out tower built at the top of the slide hill visitors can enjoy the extraordinary view of the town and the Zala region rolling nearby.
Tó Street, Phone.: 92/599-107, www.aquacity.hu
Indoor Thermal Spa of Zalaegerszeg
In the neighbourhood of AquaCity the Indoor Thermal Spa of Zalaegerszeg, opened in the spring of 2007, offers entertainment to the lovers of thermal water with its thermal pools providing sound and light therapy. More than ten thousand lamps have been installed in the spa to pamper visitors with nearly one hundred multi-colour light therapeutic and harmonizing sound effects. The spa is characterised by arches and glass domes. Families are awaited by three pleasure-pools, two thermal sitting-pools and three children’s pools all over the year.
Tó Street., Phone.: 92/511-093, www.aquapalace.hu
The building of the Göcseji Museum stands on the other side of Deák Square, which was built as the Savings Bank in 1890. Zsigmond Kisfaludi-Strobl, the sculptor born in Zala County, bequeathed his works-of-art to the town and they are on display in this building. The museum’s standing exhibition on the history of the county entitled ”Centres along the River Zala” guides its visitors through the history of Salla (Zalalövô) of the Roman Times, Mosaburg (Zalavár) of the Middle Ages and Zalaegerszeg. In the separate exhibition hall of the Museum temporary exhibitions are held several times a year.
Batthyány Lajos Street 2., Phone.: 92/314-537, www.zmmi.hu
Göcseji Village Museum, Finno-Ugric Ethnographical Park
The Göcseji Village Museum lies In a special milieu, it was opened in 1968. The country’s first outdoor folkmuseum was arranged around a historic water mill and along the backwaters of Zala, the river crossing the town.
The collection of buildings was moved to the site from 22 settlements in the Zala region and a typical Göcseji settlement from the 19th century was reconstructed in the area of the village museum, where visitors can also get to know the everyday articles for personal use that are typical of the region. On the upper floor of the reception building of the museum, which building resembles historic halls typically owned by members of the lower nobility, you can see the standing exhibition entitled ‘The national costumes of the Carpathian Basin on dolls’.
The outdoor museum adjoins the Finno-Ugric Ethnographical Park, which displays the architecture, interior decoration and life of people belonging to the Finn-Ugric language family with the help of their typical houses, original fixtures and articles for personal use.
Falumúzeum Street., Phone.: 92/703-295, www.zmmi.hu
Hungarian Oil Industry Museum
We can find the Hungarian Oil Industry Museum next to Göcseji Village Museum. Zala County used to be the cradle of the Hungarian oil industry and for this reason the country’s only thematic museum exhibiting the history of the oil industry was created here.
The relics, machines, equipment and instruments of domestic oil prospecting and production and of the natural gas industry are also part of the exhibition. Besides the temporary exhibitions we can observe a mineral and stone collection, a collection of statues as well as hydro mining instruments in the area of the museum.
Falumúzeum Street, Phone.: 92/311-081, www.olajmuzeum.hu
Town Concert and Exhibition Hall
The Town Concert and Exhibition Hall – a former synagogue –was built in 1904 on the basis of József Stern’s plans.. The eclectic building, the towers of which are decorated by spherical domes and various rosettes, stood empty for years following World War II and lost its religious function.
The light flows into its internal space through colourful windows, which gives a particular atmosphere for the building. Since its modernisation in 1983 the building has been serving the public as a concert and exhibition hall. As one of the major venues of local events, it hosts shows, art-exhibitions, high-standard modern and classical concerts and wedding ceremonies.
Ady Endre Street 14., Phone.: 92/313-766 www.kereszturyamk.hu/hangverseny.php
The building - built in 1765, in Maria Theresa’s time – has been prepared for the commissioned officers of the army. In the summer months an open-air theatre operates in its quadrangle.
Széchenyi Square 5. www.kvartelyhaz.hu
House of Craftsmen at the Lake Gébárt
The House of Craftsmen – on the western shore of the Gébárt lake – reflects the shapes and materials of folk architecture both in its exterior and interior.
The House provides opportunities for folk and fine artists to work together and preserve the traditions of craftsmen. Both groups and individuals are welcome who are interested in the intricacies of making folk costumes and jewellery, pottery, weaving and felting. In the yard a smithy is in operation as well.
Gébárti Street 144., Phone.: 92/312-744 www.kereszturyamk.hu/kezmuves.php
On the top of the Bazita Hill stands the 95m TV-Tower operating both as a look-out tower and a café. The café with a panorama operates at the height of 52m. From the café and the open-air terrace under it there is spectacular view of the town and the Zala mounds in every hour of the day. When the weather is fine, one can see as far as the volcanic remnant hills of Ság and Somló as well as the mountain ranges of the Alps.
Bazita Street. 1. Phone.: 92/311-481, 20/329-78-04
Azalea Valley offers a marvellous sight to hikers in the spring. In the valley, which has a unique microclimate, rose-bays were planted some decades ago. The group of plants consisting of five varieties covers the landscape with blooms from the middle of May when the mostly yellow-flowered azaleas and rose-bays, the name-givers of thev alley, burst into bloom. Next to Azalea Valley, Snake and Fox Valleys, covering an area of 24 hectares, make the region a kind of arboretum with species of tree planted here that have been gathered from various countries.
The first written record that mentions our city’s name is from the year 1247. The name refers to a settlement, located in the corner (szeg) of Zala and Válicka, which was then a swampy territory, abounded with alder (eger) trees. The land, where people have already lived for thousands of years included water sources, which was needed for life, and was also full of protective trees that served as food sources. The land itself conserved fossils next to Lake Gébárti, Celtic weapons in Andráshida, roman candles in various points of the town, and graves from the early-Middle Ages near Zrínyi Miklós Gimnázium and the Ola part of the town.
The town in the 19th-20th centuries melted together 17 villages that were earlier separate ones, so their past also play a great role in making up the town’s history: Gébárt, Andráshida, which was called Lovászi earlier, Ola, Pózva, Bekeháza, Vorhota, Csács, Bozsok, Besenyő, Ságod, Neszele, Ebergény, Bazita, Botfa, Kaszaháza, Apátfa, Erzsébethegy. Gébárt and Andráshida were first mentioned in 1211, while records of Ola remained from 1236. Architectural relics from these early times are churches in Zalabesenyő, Andráshida, and Csács.
The lords of the town changed several times: from the 15th century it was ruled by the bishop of Veszprém, and from 1777 the town was governed by the bishop of Szombathely. It was a middle-sized market town, and the role of the town in history became greater, when the residence of the bishop, located in the surroundings of Deák tér was built into a castle during the attacks of the Turkish army.
After Kanizsa had been conquered by the Turkish armada in 1600, the captain of the whole Dunántúl region moved his residence here in Zalaegerszeg. The surface remainings of the castle were long disappeared, but remainings of the castle’s piles are still dug out nowadays during constructions.
Besides the fact that county meetings had been already held here earlier, the town became an official county residence only after 1732. That is when the County House was built. In the following decades they built the Mária Magdolna Parsonage Church, the Kálvária Chapel, the Chapel and Cemetery of Ola, the Parsonage and the Military Lodging House, which were extended in the 20th century. The latter one served as a residence for the ”comitatus” after 1872, but today it is the home of different offices and the County’s Archives.
In the ”age of the reforms”, the town, as the centre of the county deserved attention nationwide many times, both László Csány and Ferenc Deák started their public lives here, however the town improved slowly. The town was far away from the major trade routes, and because of the geographical location the railroad also kept off it until the end of the 19th century, when the Ukk-Csáktornya track touched the town, and this way Zalaegerszeg became connected to the Sopron-Nagykanizsa railroad line.
In 1885, the town was rewarded with a degree for Towns with Organized Councils, which was followed by spectacular improvements. The Grammar School, the present building of the Museum, the Hotel, the multi-storied houses in the Main Square (Főtér), the Baross grove are all memories of that era.
A Barrack for the Cavalrymen with a stable was also built. The first Electricity Plant generated electricity from 1905 in the place of today’s Petőfi School. Although it has still remained as a town. In 1900 it was the home of altogether ten thousand people, and in 1920 thirteen thousand inhabitants lived here. No mentionable industry could have evolved, together with the fact that the town had not enough power to build a plumb system and sewerage. Until the beginning of World War 2 the population of the town barely increased, but with the new constructions the town became to look like a city. We can owe The Church of the Francis Order, the Monastery, the row of the villas on Kosztolányi street, the Rose grove, and the detached houses built between Arany János street and Dózsa György street to this era.
Soon the town survived the material destructions of World War II, but the number of human casualties was significant. The number of people fallen at war, or as prisoners, the destroying of the Jewish community, which made up one-tenth of the population, and many survivors, who moved to somewhere else meant a huge disaster.
In the middle of the 20th century the building of the Clothing Factory, the Concern of the Milk Factory, the Oil Processing Plant, and later the firms and corporations of furniture industry, metalworking, and food industry increased the weight of Egerszeg in the country. By 1990, the population grew four times bigger. Public utilities were built from the 1960’s: aqueduct and gas-main systems, and sewerage were constructed below the bitumenized surface roads, while after 1970 the expansion of community institutions gratified everyone, with the establishment of modern schools, libraries, community centres, and museums. First in our country, an Outdoor Ethnical Museum was opened here, which was later expanded with Finno-Ugric Ethnical Park, and also the first Museum of Oil Industry.
We have a permanent theatre from 1983, which goes by the name Hevesi Sándor. Higher education has also been established, as The College of Finance and Accountancy welcomed the first students, after that in 1990 students came to The College of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, and nowadays the placement faculty of Budapest University of Technology and Economics also welcomes the new students, and many of the town’s sport teams (football, basketball, chess) managed to participate in the top leagues and championships.
Around 1990 a temporary stop caused some anxiety, as several factories were shut down and closed, the building of the homes and houses slowed down, and the population decreased a bit. After 1995 new industries settled here, and mostly electronics is the industry that gives people from the surrounding settlements jobs and opportunities, and after the year 2000 there was again a spectacular boom in house-building, traffic and infrastructure improved, and also reconstructions in the town took place.
In the past decades the number of housing project does not increase really much, but it is rather the old houses and blocks of flats that are renewed. The historical inner part of the town is starting to positively and beautifully improve, of course with keeping most of the old traditions.
New Commercial Institutions are beginning to show up, and in order to increase demand, new shopping centres and super markets, which are disputed by many people are starting to surround the town, while the conditions for sports are also improved by building a new football stadium, and also by finishing the Ice Stadium in Autumn, 2004.
The beach, the camping, the holiday resort, and also the Thermal Bath and the Aqua City, all located at Gébárti Leisure Centre were created most importantly for the relaxation, health, and happiness of the inhabitants, who live here, but nowadays people from far settlements came here just to live through this experience.