Győr (German: Raab, Slovak: Ráb, Turkish: Yanık kale, Serbian: Đur / Ђур or Janok / Јанок) is the most important city of Northwest-Hungary, the capital of Győr-Moson-Sopron county and lies on one of the important roads of Central Europe, halfway between Budapest and Vienna. The city is the sixth largest in Hungary and one of the five main regional centres of the country.
The area has been inhabited since the ancient times. The first large settlement dates back to the 5th century BCE, its inhabitants were Celts. They named the town Arrabona, a name that was used for eight centuries and its shortened form is still used as the German (Raab) and Slovak (Ráb) name of the city.
Roman merchants moved to Arrabona during the 1st century BCE, and around 10 CE the Roman army occupied the northern part of Western Hungary which they called Pannonia. Although the Roman Empire abandoned the area in the 4th century due to constant attacks of the tribes living east from the area, the town remained inhabited.
Around 500 the territory was settled by Slavs, in 547 by the Lombards, in 568-c.800 by the Avars, then under Frankish and Slavic influence, then between 880 and 894 it was part of Great Moravia, and then shortly under East Frankish influence.
The Magyars occupied the town around 900 and fortified the abandoned Roman fortress. Stephen I, the first king of Hungary founded an episcopate there. The town received its Hungarian name Győr. The Hungarians lived in tents, later in cottages, in the area, which is now the southeastern part of the city centre. The town was affected by all the trials and tribulations of the history of Hungary; it was occupied by Mongols during the Mongol invasion of Hungary (1241–1242) and was destroyed then by the Czech army in 1271. During the Ottoman occupation of present-day Hungary (1541 – late 17th century), Győr’s commander Kristóf Lambert thought it would be futile to try to defend the town from the Turkish army, and he burnt the whole town instead; the Turkish found nothing but blackened ruins, hence the Turkish name for Győr, Yanık kale (“burnt city”).
The town has been rebuilt and surrounded with a castle and a city wall, designed by the leading Italian builders of the era. The town changed a lot during these years, with lots of new buildings built in Renaissance style but the main square and the grid of streets remained.
In 1594, the Turkish army occupied the castle and the town, but in 1598 the Hungarian and Austrian army managed to occupy it again.
In 1683, Turks returned briefly, only to leave again after being defeated in the Battle of Vienna.
The town became prosperous during the following centuries. In 1743 Győr was elevated to free royal town status by Maria Theresa. Many religious orders (Jesuites, Carmelites) settled in the town and they built schools, churches, a hospital and a monastery.
Napoleon occupied the castle and had some of its walls blown up. The leaders of the town soon realized that the old ramparts aren’t useful any more. Most of the ramparts were destroyed and thus the town could expand.
In mid-1800s, Győr’s role in trade grew as the steamship traffic on the river Danube began, but the town lost its importance in trade when the railway line between Budapest and Kanizsa was built in 1861. The town leaders compensated for this loss with industrialization. The town prospered till World War II, but during the war several buildings were destroyed. The 1950s and 60s brought even more change, only big block houses were built, and the old historical buildings weren’t given care or attention. In the 1970s the reconstruction of the city centre began, old buildings were restored and reconstructed. In 1989 Győr won the European award for monument protection.
Győr has an enchanting centre and beautiful Baroque buildings. The ancient core of the city is Káptalan Hill at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, Rába and Rábca. Püspökvár, the residence of Győr’s bishops (5/A Káptalan Hill), can be easily recognised by its incomplete tower. Győr’s oldest buildings are the 13th-century dwelling tower and the 15th-century Gothic Dóczy Chapel. The Bishop’s Cathedral ranks as a ‘basilica minor’ (Apor Vilmos püspök Square).
The city of Győr is growing dinamically, no better sign that the site of the more than 100 years old Raba factory close to the historical downtown and by the river Danube, is going to be replaced by a new development that creates a completely new master-planned community called Városrét where quality life combines in a bustling quarter alongside the Danube bank, in a splendid, green belt. It is going to be a completely new community with residential areas, commercial and public institutes (kindergarten, school, clinic), as well as more parks and a state-of-the-art road network. Városrét is an integral element in Győr’s urban development plan to become a regional center, and – as a result – to once again provide a counterpoint of opportunities to Vienna and Budapest.
Today Győr is one of the most important administrative and cultural centres of Hungary. The city is also a university town and a popular tourist destination.
over 6 years ago