Kaposvár is the center of Somogy County and one of the most important cities in the Transdanubia region. It is not only a city of university and episcopal centrum, but also a citadel of cultural life.
One thing is for sure, there is something always happening here. This dynamically developing city, whose image is constantly being built and beautified, is sure to be one of the best choices if we want to get to know the western region of the country.
History, theater, culture, beautiful landscape, and constantly vibrant life: this is Kaposvár.
History of Kaposvár
Kaposvár and the surrounding areas were once covered by the Pannonian Sea, the wonderful remains of which can still be found in nature.
The area was inhabited quite early, in the 5th millennium BC. From the Celts to the ancient Romans and the Avars, many kinds of ethnic groups turned up here, but because of the marshy countryside, the more important routes avoided it.
After the conquest, the settlement became more significant. In 1009, there were written records of it, under the name of Kapos. Even this year, a Benedictine monastery was founded, which was then visited by several rulers later on.
The castle of Kaposvár, built in the 13th century, along the River Kapos, which later, in the 15th century, became a stone castle, was completed by four more bastions. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as it was then that the Turks began to expand more and more, so the castle became more valuable.
Unfortunately, however, after a siege which lasted for 5 days, it was occupied. Today, only the remains of the two bastions can be seen, as well as a round bastion and a corner tower, which still reminds us that a castle once stood here.
The clear development of the town can be observed from the 18th century, which is largely due to the Eszterházy family. At the beginning of the 20th century, Kaposvár was one of the few Hungarian settlements with water supply, electricity on the streets, and asphalt. And its popularity and boom has continued ever since.
What sights are worth seeing in Kaposvár?
Kaposvár is truly rich in sights: not only the renewed city center, but also the opportunities provided by nature. If you are interested in Hungarian culture and history, you are in the best place.
Such big names can be associated with the city as the painter József Rippl-Rónai, who is one of the greatest figures of modern, style-renewing Hungarian painting. In 1908, he bought the Roman villa, where he lived until his death.
This magnificent six-room, surrounded by park-area villa has provided so much inspiration to the artist. To this day, it is furnished with Rippl-Rónai’s own furniture and of course decorated with his works, so we can get a taste of the painter’s life when he was still creating.
The beautifully furnished rooms of the building, which now operates as a museum, provide an insight into all eras of the artist.
Nagyboldogasszony Székesegyház (The Cathedral of the Assumption)
The Cathedral of the Assumption which is located in the main square, Kossuth Square, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
In its place, as early as the 1700s, stood a tiny wooden church, which was quite used by time and storms. This modern Neo-Romanesque building was built in 1886: the oldest statue of a Madonna from a Baroque era has been left to us, but the work of many famous artists is praised by the many furnishings of the church, from the altar to the stained glass windows.
The church and its surroundings are full of historical relics, such as the second oldest statue in the city: the statue of St. John of Nepomuk from 1742.
The tower of the church gives a home to four bells, the heaviest of which weighs 1434 kilograms and is named after Assumption.
I have already mentioned József Rippl-Rónai, after whom not only a memorial house but also a museum was named. The museum building is the former County Hall, which is a classicist style building.
Here, we can see a really valuable archaeological, ethnographic and fine art exhibition. We can get to know better not only the works of the famous painter, but also the past and culture of Somogy County.
Are you into old ornaments, furniture, and objects? If your answer is yes, then the Steiner Collection was invented for you.
Fortunately, the Steiner couple found themselves in a very exciting hobby, so their collection includes most of the cast iron household objects and ornaments made in the Carpathian Basin from the 19th century.
In the lifelike furnished rooms, we can admire these objects the way they functioned at that time: be it a stove, a wall fountain, or small sculptures.
The most interesting point of the collection is the bust of Lajos Kossuth made by András Schossel in Munkács in 1848, which is one of the first plastic illustrations of Kossuth. The building is beautiful inside and out, well worth a visit.
Virágfürdő (Flower Bath)
One of the biggest prides of the city – out of many – is the Flower Bath, which is the largest continuous thermal bath in Transdanubia, with its 3462 m2.
Here, you can relax and have fun at the same time, while a great emphasis is placed on maintaining health. Since the renovation, the site has also been expanded with nine new pools, underwater physiotherapy, a weight bath, and a therapeutic pool.
So, a total of 18 pools are waiting for visitors, where you cannot only enjoy the beneficial effects of the thermal water, but also play sports and relax.
For the adventurous, there is the Adventure Forest. The Arboretum along Lake Deseda and the Gombás-Desedai Park Forest await visitors with educational trails, a playground, horse riding trails, and a bird-watching trail.
Here, apart from boredom, you can do almost anything, plus in a truly scenic setting. This Adventure Forest is located at the longest artificial lake in the country and it aims to bring visitors closer in a fun way to the wildlife and nature around Deseda.
Desedai Park Forest and Arboretum
And if we’re already here, it’s worth mentioning the Desedai Park Forest and Arboretum with more details. The park forest is located in the northern part of the lake and also includes a 26-hectare arboretum.
This is a really special place as it stretches into the lake like a peninsula. The countryside is very diverse: everything from the marshy part to the dry hills and slopes.
Not to mention the botanical collection, which contains almost all Hungarian tree species: 73 deciduous and 38 coniferous tree species.
Of course, in addition to the national tree species, there are also wonderful fake cypresses or firs and other non-native species here.
The entire arboretum can be explored along the promenades that cross the lakeshore, and the place offers opportunities for learning, relaxation, and sports at the same time.
If you want to cleanse your lungs a bit in such a lavish place, don’t miss it in any way.
When we talk about green space, it is worth mentioning the largest park in the city, the Berzsenyi Park.
It is a resting place established between 1927 and 1929. In addition to the monuments and statues, you can also see real plant rarities, and while exploring the city, it is definitely a good idea to relax here a bit.
Zselic Landscape Protection Area
There are plenty of beautiful landscapes in the area to enjoy, and one of them is the Zselic Landscape Protection Area.
It covers an area of 8337 hectares, of which 140 are highly protected. Perfect location for stargazing, as the city is not polluted by any city light, no wonder it won the title of “International Starry Sky Park”.
This part has been inhabited since the Stone Age, so it is also very valuable ethnographically.
Pannon Horse Riding Academy
I recommend the internationally acclaimed Pannon Horse Riding Academy, which is also the venue for world competitions, to the great riders. It also belongs to the organizational unit of the Agricultural Center of the University of Kaposvár and deals with complex education.
House of Forests Visitor Center
And for those who really want some kind of forest adventure, merging with nature, I definitely recommend the House of Forests Visitor Center.
Here, in addition to plants and animals, we can get to know the hunting profession better in forest accommodation. It is a real forest showcase, where even the youngest can learn up close about the world around them, the function of nature, which even townspeople may have forgotten.
János Vaszary Memorial House
The painters certainly liked Kaposvár for some reason, so it is not surprising that in addition to Rippl-Rónai, the painter János Vaszary also got a memorial house.
The artist was born in the building that now functions as a memorial house. We can follow the whole career and eras of the European-famous classicist painter in his own birthplace, while we can also get to know him better in addition to his works.
It can also be very pleasant to walk in front of the beautiful town hall, see the more and more beautiful and different churches or sit in one of the reputable restaurants and cafes. Let us be captivated by the atmosphere of the city.
Why do I recommend Kaposvár to you?
City buzzing? Immersion in the world of museums, picture exhibitions, artists? Maybe you want to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air in the soft lap of nature?
Kaposvár can satisfy every need, from the youngest to the oldest, from easy city walks and museum visits to sporty hikers.