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In 1955, Kalvero Oberg introduced the concept of culture shock. This expression summarizes those feelings that one has when they have to function in a completely different social and/or cultural environment. These feelings could be a surprise, confusion, uncertainty or worry.
In 1996, this concept appeared in a completely new context in Győr. The cultural gap between the massive punk crowd filling the downtown of the historical city, arriving for the first ever Hungarian Exploited concert and the people of the city made the latter more warier, according to reports, as the crowd had no notion of anything.
The town’s police chief described the situation as a catastrophe, and the mayor, who came out personally to alert the local seniors, stated that the “mistake was made” by allowing the concert.
As a result of the concert, which became a determinative chapter in Hungarian punk-almanac, the band was banned from the city, and after the damage was repaired, the town got back its original image and as a result in 1989 received the conservational Europa-Nostra award.
All the time
Győr is considered one of the most history-rich cities in Hungary. Since its establishment, it has played a central role in its area.
A city was built here even during the Roman times, near the castle protecting the province. Stephen I established a bishopric here during the state foundation and built a basilica.
During the establishment of the counties, he made it the center of the county and made it the main location for his army.
During the Turkish times, Győr was a fortress protecting Vienna. In the 17-18 Century, by the reconstruction of the fortress that was the core of the city, it became one of the country’s most beautiful Baroque towns. In the 19th century, it became an industrial center and it maintains its position to this day.
It is not only the center of County Győr-Moson-Sopron, but a very important economic center, and it is also similarly important in a cultural and touristic aspect.
Things to see and do when you visit Győr
Győr – The city of rivers
This is also due to its location, as the “city of rivers” can be found at the junction of the Mosoni-Duna, Rába, Rábca and Marcal rivers.
People from Győr are so cool, that if they have four rivers, they might as well use them for different things: Aranypart at Mosoni-Duna is the mecca for bathers, lovers of rowing and other water sports can tire themselves on the Rába, Rábca is a big favorite of those who like to hang out at the beach and Marcal is where fishermen hunt for big fish.
Even if we stay dry, we won’t be bored, as the area offers many opportunities besides the water. One of Győr’s largest contiguous green areas is Püspökerdő.
It’s a popular spot, as the 9km long walkway well-kept clears, playgrounds, forest exercise track, and even fire pits await people wandering around here.
The study-trail found here introduces the area’s typical fauna and flora.
The 1,5km long study-trail at Lake Morva at the edge of the city can be a great way to start a day. With the help of the signs in the reeds introducing us to nature, we can make calorie burning informative.
If we aren’t scared of heights we can spend some time in the bird watching tower on the shore.
Cyclists have incredible opportunities near the city. Hungary’s largest island, the 375 sq. km Szigetköz is a loved destination by active tourists.
Its unique fauna and flora and fantasy-like waters make it a location with a special atmosphere.
The main route is EuroVelo6, built as part of the international cyclists’ lanes, which go through the island, but depending on our fitness, we can find 25-100km long routes we can pedal on.
According to their beliefs
Not only nature provides things to marvel at in the city and its area. Győr is the country’s third-richest city in monuments.
The great location quickly made the city into an important commercial hub, which generated commercial and cultural development in all eras. This town which was already a sacred site at the time of the state’s foundation offers numerous memories, some still functioning today, of a thousand years of Christianity.
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady
One of the most important of these is the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady (Nagyboldogasszony-székesegyház), which is the main church of the Diocese of Győr. One of the city’s oldest monuments is at one of Győr’s oldest locations, at the Káptalandomb.
They store Ladislaus I’s herm, which is one of Hungary’s most important historical relics. The king’s skull is kept in this reliquary. The chest part of herm is the first memory of enamel technology, which later spread in Europe.
Püspökvár, located not far from the Cathedral stands at the highest point of the hill, at the junction of Mosoni-Duna and Rába.
The castle is the residence of the current bishop of Győr. Its oldest part is from the 14th century.
The core of the castle is the 4-story-high tower, which is connected to the Baroque building of the bishop’s palace. During the 16th century, they surrounded it with bastions, and from the top of the largest of these, the Várbástya, we can take in an incredible panorama.
On the main square of the city, the Széchenyi-square is the Baroque building of Saint Ignatius of Loyola Church. This is the country’s oldest church built in this style.
In art history it is priceless, as inside it we can find the earliest Hungarian Baroque artifact.
The church of the Jesuits who settled in the city in 1627 was taken over by Benedictines after the order disintegrated, who kept its original functions and traditions.
The memento of religious pluralism in the city is the 19th-century Synagogue built in historic and Art Nouveau style.
Today, it functions as a museum and is the home for cultural events. They handed the church together with the school building over in 1870, where the Academy of Music opened later.
Due to the great acoustics it is the home of larger concerts, and many museum presentations, guided tours, and musical events are held here.
Besides the above listed, many churches, religious museums, and diocesan treasures await visitors with open gates, providing enough attractions for days for architecture, religion, and history lovers.
Those interested in secular themes won’t avoid painful foot while discovering downtown, as every building here is a historic site, and they didn’t only deserve this due to their age.
In 1620, the Altabak-house, one of Győr’s oldest residential buildings was built by Canon János Altabak from many houses. The copf style Napoleon-house was built in the same style, from many houses, and is famous for … staying here after the battle of Győr. Guess who it was! 🙂 Today, the Városi Művészeti Múzeum képtár (City’s Art Museum) can be found there.
In one of the city’s richest-in-monument streets, the Liszt Ferenc Street is one of Győr’s most precious Baroque monuments, and the Zichy-Palace can be found. Ferenc Deák and Lajos Batthyány lived in this building completed in 1720, as students of law in Győr.
One of the most characteristic buildings in the city is the Town Hall built by the plans of Jenő Hübner. The neo-baroque style building is located in the busiest part of the city. Besides its core job, city administration, it has been the venue of concerts and other prestigious events for decades.
Another, but not less entertaining experience is the 9-hectare Xantus János Zoo. This zoo was named after the famous Hungarian scientist who wanted to introduce domestic animals at the beginning, but over time it expanded to a real international animal- and plant-exhibition, with a special focus on African species.
Culture shows in Győr
Besides passive viewing, which can be fully satisfied with the almost impossibly rich downtown core, Győr tries to entertain the public by various programs all-year-round.
The already mentioned Zichy-palace gives home to the yearly Baroque Ball, where the public gets to parade around in authentic baroque customs. You don’t have to be shy even if you leave your dancing shoes at home, as part of the program is a little rehearsal under the guidance of the instructor.
Győr Spring Festival
The Győr Spring Festival opens the festival season with refreshing optimism in March. Theatre performances, concerts, different themed sightseeing walks and book presentations are in charge of quality entertainment.
Szent-László Napok (Ladislaus Days) is in memory of King Ladislaus I who played an important role in the history of the city.
The visitors walking among the on-site-yurts and medieval knight camps take part in a time travel, where through the equestrian and pedestrian demonstrations the Middle Age comes alive, and we get to pick inside the everyday lives of people from this era.
Playhouses, archery, equestrian theatre performances will make the experience of remembrance for both children and adults.
A real specialty is the Baroque Wedding which has been held annually since 1993. The highlight of this multi-day event is the wedding of a lucky couple dressed in authentic baroque outfits.
The whole city evokes this outstanding era of Győr dressed in baroque outfits, but besides that, a handicraft market, concerts, theatre performances, hot air ballooning, and a glamorous parade make the festival an unforgettable experience.
The decision of the 1979 final year class at the Hungarian Dance Academy to stay in Győr and form a company was of great importance, not only in the history of Hungarian dance but also in the international art scene as well.
Since then, the Győr Ballet has produced a number of domestic stars, hosting internationally renowned performances and international icons, becoming the universal center of dancing.
Summary – Why I recommend Győr
One of the country’s unavoidable cities on the western border is Győr. But who would want to avoid a city in such a beautiful location, with such a rich culture and history?
Only if avoiding it means going on a cycle tour around it, then making our way back to the city to admire its vivid past and enjoy its eventful present brick by brick.
Győr is a great destination in any season, with the sweet little twist that it will show us something during each visit that will prompt us to come back again.