History

Foundation of the city

The settlement which was established after the Hungarian Conquest (when the first Hungarians arrived at the Carpathian Basin in 896) was one of the earliest pontifical centers. The first Hungarian king, Saint Stephen, laid the foundations of the Vác episcopate.

The first written record of Vác comes from 1074. The surrounding area has been continuously inhabited for several thousands of years, thanks to its favorable natural conditions.

 

Legend of the name fo the city

There are several theories regarding the origin of the word "Vác", but there is no common agreement in this issue. Today most linguists agree that the name was originally a personal name that later became a geographical one. According to a legend in the Illustrated Chronicle of Vienna, in 1074 princes Géza and László fought a battle to decide the succession of the Hungarian throne. That time in the surrounding forest a hermit, called Wach lived, and Géza named the town after him. A different theory attributes the name to one of the Hungarian clans 'Vath'. Yet another possible explanation is the the Slavic word 'vác', meaning a major settlement or centre.

 

The medieval Vác

The medieval core of the city, the Castle of Vác, was a fortification built on a small hill near the river bank. This is where King Géza built a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and he was buried there in 1077. Its role as a main ecclesiastical center has had a considerable influence on the life of the city throughout its history. Due to its central location and significant role in the life of the country, Vác has often been affected by warfare, which caused considerable damage to the city. First the Mongol, then the Tartar invasion reached Vác.

 

Vác in renaissance

A flourishing, prosperous and peaceful period followed in the 14th and 15th centuries. The famous bishop, Miklós Báthori, who was of royal relation, established and formed his Vác residency in renaissance luxury, using the products of the best manufacturers. At that time Vác was an important city in Hungary preceded only by the Royal Cities. However, Turkish invasion and rule for nearly one and a half centuries put an end to this great and prosperous period.


Vác, the baroque city

Vác was liberated from Turkish occupation in 1686, but by that time it had lost its population. The buildings were in ruins, and the land was uncultivated. Rebuilding started immediately. By the 1770s, a baroque city built on medieval remains was taking shape.

The efforts of excellent dignitaries such as Frigyes Mihály Althann, his cousin Károly Althann, Károly Eszterházi, and Kristóf Migazzi contributed to the shaping of the current towns.

In the second half of the 18th century the so-called "Red House" which served as a farm house of the bishop, the City hall, the Trinity column, the Saint Rókus Chapel, the Piarist Church, the Church of the Whites,’the Cathedral, the baroque bridge over Gombás stream, called "Koszentes híd" were built.

 

The age of industrialization

By the end of the 19 th century, the guild system, which was very advanced in Vác, had gone through many changes, giving way to small factories and firms. In 1846 the first railway line in Hungary, between Vác and Budapest was opened, which was a great help to bring work to the city for thousands of citizens.

In 1848-49, the year of the Hungarian War of Independence, two major battles were fought here. Vác was the first Hungarian city to build a memorial to commemorate that war. It can be found at the south end of town, near the famous shrine called "Hétkápolna" ("Seven Chapels").

 

The age of Compromise

After the Compromise of 1867, a brief period of peace and prosperity dawned. Industrial progress, rich culture and a vivid public life characterized the city at the turn of the 20th century. The picturesque Danube bend and the new part of town, called Deákvár, where land was divided into plots, attracted many to stay for shorter or longer periods, or even to settle down.

 

Vác in the age of wars

The two great cataclysms of the 20th century and their aftermath left a mark on the city. By the 1950's, nationalization, which meant bringing private property under state control, erased the former economy and fundamentally transformed proprietorship. Large-scale industrial works in state owned companies and factories offered an alternative for those deprived of their private property. Consequently, there was a massive influx of people to the cities. Housing estates with blocks of flats were built to satisfy the demands of increased population. These fundamental and inevitable social changes had their impact on the life of Vác, too.

 

Vác and the democratic transformation

With Hungary's democratic transformation in 1989-90, the story of Vác took another turn. Winding up big industrial concerns caused massive unemployment, but on the other hand the city could face new challenges, and rapid progress in the business sphere changed the old structures.

Today Vác is a dynamically growing town, with advanced infrastructure and institutional systems, a teeming culture and public life, and spectacularly renewed historical monuments and buildings. Its picturesque baroque square, its promenade along the Danube River and its historic sights and museums attract many visitors and make Vác an ideal destination for visitors.




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