The historical past of Eger
Eger is the seat of one of the ten bishoprics established by King Stephen the Saint, thus our city dates back over one thousand years. It is a significant wine-producing area; our first bishops arrived from the west, bringing the builders that later constructed the city. This is how Walloons from the area of Liege, whose settlement is also confirmed by Belgian chronicles, ended up in Eger and its vicinity around the middle of the 11th century. Viticulture was also introduced to Eger through the Walloons.
Mention must be made of the hot-water springs of Eger, which form the basis of the city’s world famous baths and water sports.
In the early centuries, the centre of the city and the bishopric was in the present-day area of the castle; unfortunately, Eger was also destroyed by the Tartars in 1241. Following this, the city had to be rebuilt; however, at this time, the buildings were creeping down from the castle hill into the valley.
The castle was in its prime in the second half of the 15th century. With the Turkish danger approaching, the military significance of the castle grew.
In the summer of 1552, an 80 thousand strong Turkish army attacked the castle, which was heroically defended by the 2000-strong army of the famous captain, Dobó István. The event is commemorated by the famous novel of Gárdonyi Géza: Eclipse of the Crescent Moon.
However, the city fell in the repeated siege of 1596 and was part of the Ottoman Empire for 91 years, as the centre of one of its vilajets (public administrative units). The architectural mementoes of this period can still be seen in the city: the basis of the Turkish Bath is a 16th century ilidza (public bath constituted by one larger, central and several smaller pools), but we can also find the ruins of a hammam (steam bath), the famous Eger minaret, and one of the bastions of the castle built by the Turks as well.
The city was liberated from Turkish occupation on 17 December 1687. The process of resettlement stated slowly.
The Turkish families whose settlement was secured by the conditions of the pact following the surrender of the castle were among the first residents. This meant some 300 individuals. They were followed by the border-castle soldiers, church people, German and Hungarian masters, noblemen, peasants and Serbs. These latter were the Serbian and Greek traders who eventually settled here in the city.
The 18th century was the period of peaceful development. Several churches and monasteries, hospitals and schools were built, not to forget the most significant church buildings, the Lyceum and the Archbishop’s palace.
In 1804, Pope Pius VII elevated the Eger Bishopric to Archbishopric and Metropolitan rank, which means that the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric also extends to other dioceses.
During the 19th century, the archbishops of Eger did a lot for the development of Eger culture, establishing a teacher training institute, schools, museums, a casino, etc.
By then, Eger became an important cultural and public administrative centre, with famous secondary schools, college and teacher training institute. Viticulture, which was hard hit by phylloxera devastating the whole of Europe in the late 19th century, was playing an ever increasing role in business life; later, when the epidemic was over, and new, more resistant types were introduced, Eger wine started its journey conquering the world.
Today, with its two colleges and some 50 schools, Eger is a school-town; many are attracted by the possibilities offered by the education sector. Cultural and sports life are also outstanding.
Eger is a spa city, one of the flagships of medicinal tourism, with is thermal bath – where those wishing to rest can find several experiences – under continuous development.