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Get to know the history of Szombathely and the most beautiful sights, because Szombathely is a typical city that you come, see and fall in love with.
The name in the title is not coincidental, Szombathely is truly one of the most exciting ornaments of the region. It is one of the oldest towns in the country, which hilly area is full of sights and surprises.
History of Savaria
It is not a mistake, Szombathely was once a Roman colony, which spas, paths were worn by many Roman emperors, and it was called Savaria. The city is so proud of its ancient past that it still preserves this memory in many ways, such as the Savaria Historical Carnival, which is a real journey back to historical time.
The city was so popular with the Romans that it became a religious center of Upper-Pannonia, so many amphitheaters, palaces, and spas were built in this area. In fact, there is a not-so-happy incident involving the city, St. Quirinus Bishop form Sisci was executed here in order to intimidate Christians. After the Romans fiasco, the city was finally occupied only by Attila the King of Huns.
Despite the wars and trials (Szombathely was the fifth most damaged settlement in the country during WWII), the city has always been inhabited, rebuilt, and renewed.
Sights in Szombathely, which you shouldn’t miss out
One of the most characteristic parts of every city is probably the main square: it is the center of everything, it is where life begins. This is especially true for Szombathely’s main square. The particular, triangular-shaped square has been playing this role since the 13th century and its shape hasn’t changed much since then.
Walking around the square, we can observe the Baroque and Eclectic houses and see many remarkable works, such as the Holy-Trinity statue erected in memory of the plague victims or the city’s fountain with Faunok statue group. The city has a lot of attractions, including the Szegedy-house which is the oldest building in town, located in the main square at number 13. By the way, the building was built in the late 1700s.
Anyone who loves antiques shouldn’t miss the Holy Spirit pharmacy at number 8. Its old furnishings are under protection, and apart from the aforementioned pharmacy, we have to mention the Snake pharmacy’s building too, which has beautiful Art Nouveau style furniture.
However, if we don’t want to spend most of our trip in pharmacies, then we should check out the Main square Bank branch. It sounds strange, but believe me, it is worth it because under the glass floor of the customer area one of the intersections of the Roman city, Savaria opens up for us.
But not only such institutions are worth a visit in Szombathely but also the Cathedral, which is located between the Episcopal Palace and the Diocesan College, a beautiful Baroque building, which would be a mistake to miss. In terms of size, it has no reason to be ashamed of, it is the third-largest cathedral in the country, accommodating nearly 5000 people.
If you want to get to know the history from a close-up perspective, the Historical Theme Park is a must-see where you can meet the structures, combat equipment and other exciting and often monumental objects of past ages on almost one hectare.
The exhibition is interactive, so we can not only see, but also try different types of arrows, weapons, and other objects. We are not only able to meet the fighting tools, but we also get to see some of the other crafting works, such as pottery.
One of the most interesting sights is the Roman limes watchtower and kitchen, which portrays the state of the times in contemporary time. This is one of the most visited venues of the aforementioned Savaria Carnival, where guests can even see “real” gladiators and legionnaire fights.
Those who love the great, romantic walks outdoors and they don’t disregard the proximity of the water should definitely visit the Csónakázó tó (Boating Lake), also known as the green heart of the city.
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The lake with its beautiful and diverse flora, with its sports grounds, is one of the locals’ favorite resting places. The lake is also suitable for boating and water cycling, with a small island in the middle of the lake, which is also worth a walk, which we can reach through a pedestrian bridge.
Tips for trips around Szombathely
County of Vas and the area of Szombathely have many exciting sightseeing and hiking destinations, but Őrség with its unique natural and historical treasures stands out.
It is worth visiting not only for its unusual flora, but also for its ancient post-conquest village forms. In these villages, mini time capsules are available for the visitors to give them a little insight into the past. The area is easily accessible on foot, by bike, and by car.
If you are curious about the highest point of Szombathely, we have to visit the Oladi Lookout Tower. The building, unlike most lookouts, is closed, so we cannot enjoy the fresh air, but its windows still offer us a wonderful view, in clear weather even the Kőszegi Mountains can be beautifully seen. That’s why there should be a visit to a more functional lookout. Those who are afraid of heights may feel more secure because of the enclosed space, so terrestrials are preferred.
For the lovers of cycling and hiking, we recommend the Park Forest, 3 km from the town, which is located on 500 hectares on the border of Szombathely and Sé. The wooded area also has barbecue areas, a playground, a football field, and catering facilities, so it is suitable for a great family getaway. If you are looking for a bit more active time, try the 20-station forest track, which is suitable for cycling.
Those who would hike in the countryside on wheels, bikes can choose between different lengths and difficulty levels: the basic circle is 2.3 km, followed by a 3.7 km, slightly heavier course, then another 2.6 km- circle, which already has gentle slopes and inclines. If we feel very athletic, all these can, at the same time.
The healing Szombathely
In Hungary, the number of medicinal waters per square meter is notoriously high, so it is almost impossible to find a settlement where at least one small amount of beneficial hot water does not bubble.
Szombathely is no exception, so the thermal water enthusiasts are in the best place, there are several thermal baths and beaches waiting for those who want to relax. Unfortunately, if you want to dip in the medicinal water, you can only do so in the hospital, but “dragon” water can be taken by anyone.
I recommend thermal baths, which provide solutions for many diseases.
At the entrance of the swimming pool, from the dragon-patterned fountain, anyone can take a little alkalizing healing water, which is also good for intestinal complaints and acid overflow.
Historical Time Travel: The Savaria Historical Carnival
The historical festival, as mentioned earlier, is the largest art festival in Central Europe and one, if not the most popular event in Szombathely.
The highlight of the festival is the parade itself, where marches dressed in ancient and other costumes taking the streets, casting spectacular elements of all kinds, such as battle scenes, fire-spitting or dance moves. One thing is sure, the crowd moving for several kilometers is spectacular.
However, life does not stop here: concerts, gastronomic, beer and wine specialties, theater and other programs are waiting for the visitors.
From young to old, everyone will find an exciting program here: children can play obviously in Adventure Castle, the East Court awaits the admirers of the fabulous East, who are attracted to art in the Streets of the Arts, and the artists’ works can be admired in the open workshops of the creators.
Szombathely is a typical city that you come, see and fall in love with. From every corner, you can feel the ancestral and ancient culture. This is what the town is trying to preserve, giving it a special charm that makes it stand out from other surrounding cities.
Whether it is for active or passive relaxation, Szombathely is a good choice as well, where we find something exciting almost all periods of the year.