Eger is one of the most beautiful towns of Hungary with lots of historic buildings.
It lies in the valley of the Eger Stream, in the hill-country. The basin of Eger and the hilly region around it have always been very suitable for human settlements, and there are many archaeological findings from the early ages of history, which support this fact. According to these findings the first generation of the conquering Hungarians occupied the area of Eger at the beginning of the 10th century. Actually Eger’s establishment coincides with the church – founding activity of Hungarian first king, Saint Stephen. He established here one of the ten bishoprics that were organized before 1009.
This development was blocked for a short time by the Mongol invasion in 1241, when the town was ransacked and burned down during the episcopacy of Kilit the Second. During the reign of King Matthias (1458-1490) Eger began to develop again. The gothic-styled Bishops Palace which can be seen at the present time was reconstructed by the order of Bishop János Bekensloer. Building operations continued during the bishoprics of Orbán Dóczy and Tamás Bakócz.
After the Mohács Disaster (1526) a sorrowful period began in the history of Eger. During the dual kingship the town changed hands almost every year and the Turkish army came closer as well. This circumstance provided the reason for reinforcing the fortress. In the autumn of 1552, Captain István Dobó and his handful of soldiers were successful in defending the fortress and northern Hungary from the expanding Turkish Empire. Despite the fact that Dobó and his soldiers successfully defended the fortress, it was destroyed during the siege, so it was essential to wholly rebuild it. The reconstruction process of the fortress took place between 1553 and 1596 and Italian artificer officers planned the renovations
While Dobó and his soldiers managed to defend the fortress in 1552, in 1596 the captain at that time and the foreign mercenaries under his rule handed it over. This was the beginning of the 91 year long Turkish rule in Eger. The graceful minaret which was built at the end of the 17th century preserves the memory of this period. Among all the buildings of this type, the minaret of Eger is found in the northern-most point of the former Ottoman Empire. During the Turkish occupation Eger became the seat of a vilayet which is a Turkish domain including several sanjaks.
Eger was relieved from Turkish rule in December, 1687. Although the reoccupation was effected by a siege (which starved out the defenders) and not by a bombardment, the town fell into a very poor state. According to the … records there were only 413 houses in the area within the town walls which were habitable and most of these were occupied by left over Turkish families.
In the history of Eger the 18th century was the period of development and prosperity. The bishops of Eger, out of special respect for Ferenc Barkóczy and Károly Eszterházy, created that baroque towns cape which has been characteristic of Eger since that time. The most spectacular ones among the baroque buildings are the “líceum” (central building of Károly Eszterházy Teachers Training College), the Minority Church, the Small Provost’s palace, the Great Provost’s palace (the County Library), the County Hall with Henrik Fasola’s two wonderful, wrought-iron gates in it and the Serbian Church.
In 1804 a significant change occurred in the organization of Eger’s bishopric. The monarch made this town a center of archbishopric, but the bishoprics of Szatmár and Kassa separated from it.
At the beginning of the century, in 1904, the first independent theatre of stone was opened and the canalization and the provision of public utilities began as well. In 1933 Eger was one of those towns that first got the permission for opening a spa. In the decades after 1945, industrialization of the town commenced because of the change of regime. As a consequence, Eger’s former character of a cultural center began to fade, which diminished the patina of the settlement. It was a great good fortune that in 1968 the baroque inner city was preserved. So it was saved from the deterioration. In 1978 the town was rewarded with a Hild-medal for its excellent work in protecting the local monuments. It was also in appreciation of the town’s protection of its heritage that the Hungarian seat of the ICOMOS (International Council for Monuments and Sites) was located into Eger.