Walking ways of Veszprém!

Walking ways of Veszprém!

The historic centre of Veszprém is the castle, which - together with the surrounding town - was one of the significant centre of our country until the Turkish occupation: it was the King’s and Queen’s seat and an episcopal seat. The medieval castle and town suffered large-scale destruction in the Turkish period. The present-day historic town evolved during the town development constructions of the 18-19 th and the early 20 th century. WWII and the following period caused relatively little damage to the old centre.

The residential areas of Veszprém were visibly separated based on the social and financial situation of the population. The wealthy bourgeoisie and noblemen populated Óváros tér and the surrounding area, Jókai utca was inhabited by clerks and craftsmen.
Veszprém is a quiet and shy town. One must pay attention to it. In order to absorb its special atmosphere, one must stroll around its streets and squares, listen to the bells and observe its walls and buildings.
This is why we call your attention to the following routes, which, interestingly enough, can be combined. As the castle is always in the centre, it is impossible to lose your way.

  • 1. Walk in the modern downtown
  • 2 Walking tour in the theatre garden
  • 3. Walk to the Viaduct
  • 4. Walk in the Betekints valley
  • 5. Walk in the Castle
  • 6. Walk at the foot of the Castle

1. Walk in the modern downtown

Route: Szabadság tér - Fortuna - Gizella - Sarolta Courtyards - Brusznyai tér - Kossuth utca
Duration: 20 minutes
Difficulty: easy

The walk around the town centre starting from Szabadság tér offers miscellaneous sights. In the second half of the 20 th century Veszprém went through enormous changes and a new town centre was built around the newly established pedestrian street. In the new centre the small-town houses almost entirely disappeared and, based on the then accepted, maybe false and megalomaniac conception, socialist-realist buildings becoming a county seat were erected. Following the change of regime, however, it became evident that the new town centre should be transformed into an atmospheric, intimate and light district.

Leaving from our constant starting point, Szabadság tér let us start our discovery of the town centre by walking under the gateway next to the tavern called Szürkebarát. While relaxing in the cafeterias of the whimsically winding Fortuna, Gizella and Sarolta courtyards we can peep into the everyday life of the locals. From step to step we can admire a row of beautifully renovated buildings and the exhibition of Mestermű (Masterpiece ) Galery awaits visitors all the year round.

Passing the shops of the town centre we arrive at the main square of the town: the real scene of everyday life. The benches of the square are vibrating with life: the young meet here in the afternoon and occasionally street musician entertain those interested. The statue by József Somogyi titled “Three Graceful Women” (Három grácia) is also a fountain, which is frequently full of splashing children. Kossuth Lajos utca, the pedestrian street shows a two-sided picture: on its northern side there are mellow old houses, on the other side the “masterpieces” of modernist architecture can be seen. The twenty-storey building, once the place for nice little burghers’ houses, is a striking sight even among these. The central post office of Veszprém can also be found here, in the square. Numerous shops and offices take up both sides of the sloped Kossuth utca and the shady terraces of the cafeterias offer a pleasant way of spending your time in summer. The recently renovated Lutheran Church can be found in this street.

The Ararat sculpture depicting Noah’s Arc on the opposite side of Brusznyai utca, at the end of the pedestrian street might be an astonishing sight. The Armenian minority of the multi-coloured Veszprém had it erected in memory of their sacred mountain. If we turn right at the end of the street - below the vaults - we arrive at Szabadság tér again and see the Kapuváry House, the former town hall of Veszprém opposite ourselves. Turning left, we can continue our walk towards Laczkó Dezső Museum and Erzsébet liget, if we go straight on, we will get to the theatre and if we turn right, we the old town and the castle invite us for walks.

2. Walking tour in the theatre garden

Route: Szabadság tér-Megyeház tér-Erzsébet tér-Erzsébet liget-Színház kert (Theatre Garden)-Óvári Ferenc utca-Szabadság tér
Duration: 1.5 hours including the visit to the museum
Difficulty: Easy

Leaving from Szabadság tér let us start walking in the direction of the traffic lights. At the corner we can see the most beautiful building of the square, the Kapuváry House. The Rococo style building dominates its surroundings dominates its surroundings with its wrought-iron balcony and the coat-of-arms of the building family. The town later purchased the palace of Canon Kapuváry, which had been built in 1793. Today the former town hall hosts private offices. After having crossed the road, it is worth looking back at Kapuváry House to have a look at the side showing the coat-of-arms of the town, which recalls the border castle days with its depiction of a rider with his drawn sword.

On the other side of the crossroads there is a grey one-storey building: the former Korona Hotel and Restaurant. In the late 19 th and early 20 th century this used to be the best and most elegant restaurant in town. The relief on its wall made by the sculptor Imre Csikász informs us that Sándor Petőfi, one of the most famous poets of our country stayed here in 1848.

Opposite us is one of the most beautiful buildings of Veszprém, the County Hall. Its vastness dominates the square. It is worth paying close attention to this Neo-Renaissance palace. The most ornamental part of the County Hall is in the middle with the Corinthian columns and the female figures representing justice, administration, agriculture, industry, trade and arts. The front is crowned by a tympanum including the date of construction, “1887”and the coat-of-arms of the county. Behind the vaulted main entrance there is both a coach and a pedestrian gate. You must go in to admire the calm inner yard. The assembly hall, named after St. Stephen, decorated with huge glass windows can be seen on the first floor. The building still houses the county assembly and its offices.

The County Hall is divided from the former Lord Lieutenant’s Residence by a small steep street. Until the WWII the Lord Lieutenant was the leader of the county and this Eclectic building was constructed for him. Next to it we can see the town’s Music School in the 19 th century palace erected for the Financial Directorate.

If we stop and look in the direction of Erzsébet liget, among the trees we can catch sight of the County Museum. The collection of the building, erected in 1922 according to the plans of István Medgyasszay, came into being as the result of the work carried out by the Piarist monks, especially Dezső Laczkó, geographer and teacher, who the museum is named after. His statue can be seen next to the museum. By the museum there is a replica of a gentry house from the settlement Öcs (near Pula). The Bakony house - the first open-air ethnographic museum of our country - gives an authentic impression of the village life at the beginning of the last century: the open-chimney kitchen, the carved wooden furniture and the interior with its corner seat. The park is the green oasis of the town centre and the inhabitants like to stop here for a short rest.

Let us turn back to the direction of the road: to the left we can see Kálvária (Calvary) Hill, which used to be the centre of the medieval district, St. Michael’s. On the top of the hill there was a church named after Michael, the patron saint of merchants, which is in ruins today. Following the Turkish occupation, a Calvary was built in its place. Although it used to be a popular place for relaxation, its condition has significantly deteriorated recently.

The palace opposite the hill, on the other side of the road used to be the residence of the management of the bishop’s estates. The Eclectic building with Romantic features designed by Henrik Schmahl now belongs to Eötvös Károly County Library. As soon as we enter its yard we can see that thorough reconstruction has taken place. At the end of the nineties the Romantic inner parts were combined with Postmodern steel-glass structures. The bust of the name-giver can be seen at the entrance. The library offers Internet access.

The Theatre Garden (Színházkert) is the remaining part of the once huge Bishop’s Garden. Its outer part used to be a vegetable garden and orchard, the inner part was the town park. Today we can find Petőfi Theatre here. The Art Nouveau building with its folk motifs was opened in 1908. The work of the painter, Sándor Nagy titled “The Legend of the Magic Stag” can be seen on the back of the theatre. Turning right after passing the statue of Petőfi we get back to our starting point. If we turn left, however, we can walk towards the Valley Bridge.

3. Walk to the Viaduct

Route: Szabadság tér-Óvári Ferenc utca-Dózsa György út-Viadukt
Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 45-50 minutes

As soon as we turn into Óvári Ferenc utca from Szabadság tér we catch sight of a fairy tale-like building: the nunnery and institute of the English Ladies. Bishop János Ranolder had these Neo-Gothic buildings erected in 1860 and donated it to the best order of the period to educate girls. The main building can be accessed through the park opening from the narrow street called Iskola utca. Once there was not only elementary and secondary education but also teacher training among these walls. Today the building also serves as a primary and secondary school. Next to it we can see the tall tower of Regina Mundi Church rising up towards the sky. The Romantic Church was complemented with a chapel in 1924.

From here the steep street called Dózsa György út leads us up to the top of Jeruzsálem Hill. While we are walking upwards we pass the modernist building of the town’s community centre and find a real natural rarity at number 4 Dózsa György utca: by the fence of the burgher house we can see the only yew-tree of the town.

The Reformed people, who were expelled from the town by the bishop, populated this rocky hill in the early 1700s and they named it after “every believer’s refuge, the heavenly Jerusalem”. It is worth turning into the small streets called Bem and Festő, which go down from Kopácsy tér in the direction of Jókai utca: here we can find a unique historical atmosphere and a beautiful view. The atmosphere of the winding, whimsically winding and narrow streets has not in the least changed since the 1800s.
Coming back to Dózsa út we will shortly arrive at the park including the Reformed Bishop’s Residence and Church. After they had been expelled from the town, the Calvinists built their church here. The building, which stands exactly opposite the former churches on Castle Hill as if it was still observing them, is surrounded by huge trees and thus can be hardly seen from the street.

The fire-station and watch-tower, named after dr. Ferenc Óvári (1858-1938), one of the greatest town developers of Veszpré m and the patron of fire-fighters, is on the opposite side not far from the park. One of the biggest enemies the old Veszprém ever had was fire since the constant northern wind set even the smallest brand aflame. This catastrophe most frequently ravaged Jeruzsálem Hill.

From here, among steep dolomite walls, we can get to one of the symbols of our town: St. Stephen’s Valley Bridge built in 1938, which joins Jeruzsálem Hill and Temetőhegy (Cemetery Hill). To the left, in the middle we can find a small resting-place: we should stop here and admire the unrivalled view. To the left we can see the green areas of Fejes Valley and Betekints (Peep-in) Valley with Séd Brook. In the background the Csatár Hill and the Menyekei Hill rise above the horizon with the Bakony behind them. From the direction of Temetőhegy the bridge is “closed down” by Dohnányi Ernő Secondary School, the former Rohonczi Manor. To the right we can see St. Ladislaus’s Church. In the Middle Ages there had been a bigger church here (dedicated to St. Margaret). The castle gives us the most beautiful sight, which cannot even be damaged by the modern housing estate. In the valley we can catch sight of the yellow building of Davidicum.

From here we can go down to the Fejes Valley and walk to the Zoo or the castle or, turning back, we can walk back to Szabadság tér.

4. Walk in the Betekints valley

Route: Szabadság tér-Horgos utca-Jókai utca--Davidikum-Zoo-Betekints Valley
Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 4-5 hours including a visit to the Zoo

Via the steep street called Horgos utca we can get to the square named after Bishop Ranolder. Bishop Ranolder had the Institute for the Education of Girls of the Sister of Charity built, which is now Padányi Biró Márton Grammar School. Although due to the modern buildings the square is not very nice, its gem is the oldest church of the town which is still in its original condition: St. Anna’s Chapel built in 1724.

From here we can walk along Jókai utca to Séd Brook. The one-storey houses and gardens of officials and craftsmen occupied the valley surrounded by Jeruzsálem Hill and Castle Hill until the 1940s. In the Socialist period (1948-1990) the historic districts, especially Jókai utca, were not in the centre of attention. Due to this regrettable town development policy and the lifestyle of the poor families settled down here instead of the original inhabitants, the former Hosszú utca (Long Street) became ruinous and neglected. In the past few years, large-scale restoration has started in this district. It is worth climbing up one of the steep streets opposite the castle and admiring the picturesque view to the Castle Hill.

Above us, to the right we can see the bulky yellow building which was the only castle prison of Hungary. The inhabitants of Veszprém refer to the left side of Jókai utca (opposite the prison) as “speak-house” since the prisoners and their relatives exploited the good acoustics of the valley in order to discuss their problems from the street. The Hungarian Crown and the Holy Right Hand were preserved at number 31 from November 5-8 1944. In the niche of the Neo-classical building opposite - at number 38 - we can see the statue of St. John Nepomucene.

Crossing the bridge across Séd Brook we turn left and walk along the gravel road to Betekints Valley. Today it seems unbelievable that in earlier descriptions this shallow brook is referred to as a stream, which had been used for boating and had occasionally flooded Jókai Street. To the right, opposite the rocks we can see Davidicum hiding in the middle of a park. The poor orphans of the town and the region were brought up in the Neo-Classical building erected from the legacy of Provost Major Dávid Zsolnay (1747-1810). Today it houses the dormitory of Padányi Biró Márton Catholic Grammar School. Opposite the building we can see the symbol of the town: the Valley Bridge inaugurated in 1938. The 50-metre-high bridge linking Jeruzsálem Hill and Temetőhegy offers an impressive sight from below.

At the entrance of Betekints Valley we can turn into three different directions. The Zoo is to the left. If we walk up the stairs leading up the hill, we arrive at Gulya Hill’s safari park and can see sheep, goats, horses, llamas and dromedaries or we can try our luck in the Riding School of the Zoo. If we follow the brook, we can walk around the Betekints Valley, once famous for its mills and inns.

This is one of the nicest and calmest areas of Veszprém. Families wishing to have a rest or wanting to go for a walk come here. Owing to the natural beauties, elegant houses have been built by the brook. After the romantic walk by the Séd Brook, we arrive at a more spacious place, at a pond. The monastery of the Greek Orthodox nuns was built here in the 10 th century. The buildings were destroyed in the course of the Turkish occupation and the Jesuit Order started building in its place. After the dissolution of the order, the Baroque church was left uncompleted. Its ruins serve as the starting point for several routes discovering the neighbouring area.

5. Walk in the Castle

Route: Szabadság tér - Óváros tér - Vár utca
Duration: 2.5 hours including visits to the museums
Difficulty: easy

From Szabadság tér Rákóczi utca leads to the old market of the town, to today’s Óváros tér. The street with its 18-19 th century buildings can be considered the entrance to the old town: there are small streets and alleys to the right and left leading to the district under the castle.

The buildings of Rákóczi utca include the house of Károly Francsics, the diary-keeping barber, the birthplace of Lipót Auer, the world-famous violin teacher - at number 4 Rákóczi utca - with Fekete Sas (Black Eagle) Pharmacy.

The main square of the town shows a unified atmosphere despite the eclectic picture in architectural terms. To the left we can see 18 th century rococo buildings, among them the Pósa House built by the Cistercian order of Zirc. Later it was named after its former owner, Endre Pósa, bookseller and printer. To the right there are houses dating back to the period of Art Nouveau. The gentle line of their facade is in sharp contrast with the sharp and strict architectural traditions of the previous centuries. The old market is slowly regaining its agora-like features: people can meet each other on the terraces of cafeterias and on the benches surrounding the millennial memorial designed by Mária Lugossy.

The Town Hall, which was originally built to house the Foundation Office of the Diocese in 1896, is a dominant building on the north-eastern corner of the square. The renovated Romantic building is one of the town’s treasures.
At the top of the romantic stairs of Ányos utca we can see the work of Lenke R. Kiss, “Girl with a Jug”, called “Zsuzsi” by the local inhabitants.

However, if asked about the symbol of the town, the inhabitants would surely mention the Fire Tower at the entrance to the castle. The Fire Tower was originally built as a watchtower protecting the castle gate and can already be seen on drawings dating back to the 16 th century. The tower survived the Turkish wars, the ravage by the Austrian general, Heister in 1704 and the castle demolition order of Emperor Lipót too. However, during the earthquake of 1810 it was so badly damaged that the local authorities were considering to pull it down. The noblemen of Veszprém intervened in order to save the building and commissioned the famous hydraulic builder of the town, Henrik Tumler to prepare the plans. Besides the reconstruction, Tumler also planned a new fire appliance store called Fire-hose House ( Fecskendőház).

This building, completed in 1817 became the new Town Hall as well (until 1885). This is how the watchtower became a fire tower and this is when it became the symbol of the town. The inhabitants took care of their famous building and renovated it again in 1891. The tower kept its role in fire-protection until the 1950s. Today it is the nicest lookout tower of the town but it is also a clock-tower, which plays the recruiting song composed by Antal Csermák every hour. Within the walls of the adjoining bastion you can find the pantheon of the illustrious citizens of Veszprém. It is also a significant fact that the Fire Tower is the only part of the medieval fortress that is open to visitors.

We can see the coat-of-arms of Veszprém on the gable of the former Town Hall: the relief depicting a rider with his drawn sword. At the side of the Fire-hose House, later used as the Headquarters of the Trade Guild, we can see the statues of St. John Nepomucene and St. Florian.

The Eclectic style house built above the remains of the medieval castle gate hosts the rooms of The Gallery of Modern Arts - the László Vass collection , in the walls of which we can still see the stairs of the old fortress.
Walking towards the castle from Óváros tér, we can see the Heroes’ Gate built in 1936, which commemorates the victims of WWI. Entering the gate we are already in the castle: in Vár utca. The sight really recalls a street and those wishing to find a medieval castle complex in Veszprém will be disappointed.

In the course of the 150-year-long Turkish-Hungarian wars Veszprém had the role of a border castle and thus, changed hands many times. During the 18 th century consolidation period Veszprém gradually gained back its importance as a county seat and, as an episcopal seat, became an important ecclesiastical centre again. (In the 17 th century the county assemblies were usually held in Pápa and the seat of the Bishop of Veszprém was in Sümeg in this period.) The buildings to be found in the castle reflect the ecclesiastical character of the town: there are hardly any citizens’ houses. The huge houses built mainly in the 18 th century take up the inner space of the Castle - transforming it into a narrow street -, and Szentháromság tér opens up in front of us only outside the Archbishop’s Palace. (Although the castle is a monumental complex of buildings with its length of 360 metres and the largest width between the walls is nearly 100 metres, one cannot feel this because of the built-in space.)

Entering the Castle Gate, to the right we can see the Late-Baroque house built by doctor Havranek, which now hosts the Archives of the Town. Opposite the building, entering the gate of the Simoga House we can see Csikász Gallery, which awaits its visitors with high-quality arts exhibitions all the year round. This is also the entrance of the Fire Tower in the inner yard of which we can find the above-mentioned Pantheon of Veszprém.
Walking along the narrow Vár utca, on the right we can see two memorial tablets on the wall of the former Piarist Grammar School: one commemorates János Batsányi, the Hungarian poet of hard fate, who learned in the Piarist Grammar School, the other commemorates the teacher, Árpád Brusznyai, the martyr of the 1956 revolution and war of independence.
The County Court can be found on the other side of the street. Diagonally facing this building, which is decorated with lion heads, we can see the (unfortunately) neglected building of the former Piarist Grammar School, which had been erected in the 18 th century (now it hosts the Secondary School of Economics of Veszprém).
Continuing our walk, passing the Piarist Church and the House of the Episcopal Employees on the right we arrive at the square of the castle. Next to the Dubniczay House, originally the canon’s residence, which breaks the straight line of the street, we can see the copy of the Vetési Stone. This stone dates back to the period of the Renaissance Bishop of Veszprém, Albert Vetési and we can find the coat-of-arms of the bishop among the carved ornaments of the stone.

So far we have not paid attention to the basaltic paving-blocks of the castle. It is necessary to mention it though when we arrive at Szentháromság tér (Holy Trinity Square) since the black basaltic stones are varied with light blocks, which signify the walls of the former inner castle. Similarly to most castles, the castle of Veszprém consisted of an inner and an outer castle. The white stones under our feet show the place of the three-gabled gate of the inner castle (this is where the coat-of-arms of Veszprém county derives from) and the bastions of the barbican protecting the gate.

Entering the square we find ourselves in the heart of the castle. To the left we can see the already-mentioned Dubniczay House, which presently houses the Castle Gallery, next to it we can find the Bíró-Giczey House (canon’s residence) and the Franciscan Monastery and Church. (The canons’ residences bear the names of their builders, who, being members of the church aristocracy, had their houses built in the centre of the episcopal seat.)

The two most outstanding buildings of the square are the Archbishop’s Palace and St. Michael’s Cathedral. The huge white block of the Archbishop’s Palace bears witness to the former richness and power of the church and the builder, Bishop Ignác Koller. The plans of the palace, which was completed in 1776, were drawn by Jakab Fellner. The foiled corners of the E-shaped building, the tympanum above the balcony - with the coat-of-arms of Bishop Koller -, the angels holding the garlands on the huge vase on the pediment and the side-wings projecting like bastions make the building lively. The palace offers a breath-taking sight from behind too: the huge balcony at the back leaning on the castle walls gives the impression that the balcony supports the whole building.

Here in the inner part of the castle there are some remains dating back to the Árpád period. The 13 th century Gizella Chapel is hidden between the Baroque Provost Major’s House and the Archbishop’s Palace. Although local legends associate it with Gizella, in reality it has nothing to do with the first Hungarian Queen. The originally two-storey chapel was almost completely destroyed in the Turkish period. Later it was rebuilt several times and when the new Bishop’s Palace was constructed it was almost completely demolished. However, its medieval frescoes, its cross-vaulted sanctuary and its nice keystones offer a memorable sight even in its fragmentary state. Next to the Provost Major’s House, behind the cathedral, in the place of the former small gate of the castle there are steep stairs leading towards Benedek Hill.

The Holy Trinity Statue rising in the middle of the square was erected by Bishop Márton Padányi Bíró in 1750. Among the saints we can find St. Martin, the patron saint of the building bishop, St. Stephen, St. Emericus, St. George and Mary Magdalene as well as the family coat-of-arms of the builder.

In front of the Provost Major’s House we can peep into the forty-metre deep Castle Well, the architectural excavation and renovation of which took place in 2002..
The Cathedral of Veszprém is a perfect symbol of the fate and history of our town. According to the charters, the cathedral of the episcopacy of Veszprém founded in 996 by King St. Stephen - the first in the country - was already here in the northern part of the castle in 1001. Gizella, the first Hungarian Queen, founded the church and, since she was its patroness, she gave donations to assist in its maintenance. Afterwards the current Hungarian Queen became the patroness of St. Michael’s Cathedral and, owing to this, the Bishop of Veszprém received the prerogative to crown the Hungarian queens. This is why we call Veszprém the Town of Queens.

The church, originally constructed in Romanesque style, was destroyed by the troops of Péter Csák and later, in the 14 th century, it burnt down. In the Turkish period the cathedral shared the fate of the town: in the course of the numerous sieges it was almost completely destroyed, it could not avoid being affected by Rákóczi’s War of Independence and in 1704 the imperial soldiers of General Heister burnt it down. The rebuilding after the stormy life of the cathedral is associated with the name of Bishop Imre Esterházy. The church, rebuilt in 1723 in Baroque style, was reconstructed from ruins and became the number one church of the bishopric again. It got its present Neo-Romanesque style during the rebuilding in the191 0s . The medieval remains of the church can be seen on the southern and northern naves.
The three-naved Romanesque-Gothic undercroft, which became the resting-place of several bishops of Veszpr é m, is open to visitors.

St. George chapel, which is probably the oldest medieval building of Veszprém, can be found next to the northern side of the cathedral. Although the exact date of its construction is unknown, it must have been built in the 10-11 th century. The legend holds that St. Emericus, the son of our first king took his vow of chastity in this originally round chapel. The building, which was later converted into an octagonal one, preserved St. George’s relic for centuries. The statue outside the chapel depicts Prince St. Emericus standing on a dragon, which represents his victory over impurity, holding a sword in one hand and a lily in the other.

Opposite the cathedral we can see the 18 th century Franciscan Church and Monastery, which houses St. Francis’ Home for Elderly Priests. The Tejfalussy House hosting the Queen Gizella Museum was built in 1772. The museum has a collection of ecclesiastical treasures as well as a rich collection of stones. The building of the Veszprém Academic Committee of Sciences, the former Dravecz House, seems to be only one of the many 18 th century buildings from the outside but it has a beautiful inner garden with a fantastic view to Jeruzs á lem Hill. One of our earliest Baroque buildings, the Körmendy House closes down the row of houses. The Seminary on the opposite side preserved only the ornamental gate from its original Rococo style.

At the end of our long walk we have now arrived at the northern end of the castle with its breath-taking view. Standing next to the statues of King St. Stephen and Blessed Gizella, created by József Ispánky in 1938, we can have a look at the houses and winding streets of the old town. To the left we can see the double arch of the Valley Bridge, to the right the white rocks of Benedek Hill and in the far distance the dark range of the Bakony.

Veszprém is the town of winds and bells : t he legend holds that if the wind is not blowing, the church-bells are ringing. At this point of the town, however, the winds coming from the Bakony always blow and howl. We are standing at the end of a one-thousand-year-old castle which survived its stormy history. Behind us is the romantic atmosphere of the castle, in front of us the 11 th century old town: the past intertwined with the present.

6. Walk at the foot of the Castle

Route: Szabadság tér - Buhim utca - Deák Ferenc utca - Szerelem-sziget (Love Island) - Margit tér - Kollégium utca - Patak tér - Benedek Hill
Duration: 45 minutes
Difficulty: medium

Starting from Szabadság tér via the sloped Buhim utca we can get to one of the oldest districts of Veszprém, Buhim Valley. Buhim Valley includes part of the medieval district called Sárszeg. Most of our walk leads along the Séd Brook, which played a dominant role in the life of the town up to the beginning of the last century: it drove several mills and provided the indispensable water for crafts such as tannage. Although the brook itself still looked like a small river in the 1930s, it is difficult to imagine that today’s slowly babbling rivulet was used for boat-trips under the Castle area. Besides the name Séd, medieval documents often refer to it as Sárvíz, which might be the origin for the contemporary name of the district: Sárszeg.

Turning right at the small square at the end of Buhim utca we arrive at Deák Ferenc utca. On the left side of this street we can find the Ostrom l épcső (Siege Stairs) , which date back to the medieval period, and lead to Óváros tér between the row of houses. If we stroll around here the pictures of the past and the present catch our sight. Recently, the district under the Castle has increasingly become the favourite residence of wealthy citizens, and the shabby, dilapidated houses are gradually being rebuilt. In spite of this we can still see the sorry sight of the decaying houses of the poor people settled here during the Socialist period.

The estate, which is being built in Deák Ferenc utca adds a new colour to the picture: its crowded nature recalls the medieval period. Let us cross the Séd at the end of the street and turn left: here we can pass by one of the oldest medieval mills of the town - now functioning as an inn. This mill was already presented on the etching depicting the Turkish siege of 1593. Baroque gates line the nearby small square with separate entrances for coaches and pedestrians.

At the mill of Úrkút a small bridge spanning over the Séd might attract us to cross but let us continue our walk on the left bank, along the Úrkúti sétány, under the shady willow trees on the east side of Castle Hill. Local people call this romantic promenade Love Island (Szerelem-sziget), which had really been an island until the 1970s, when the mill-lead was buried. Those who walk along it once can surely understand why the inhabitants associate this part of the town with love. A marvellous view to the eastern side of the castle unfolds among foliage of the weeping willows lining the gravel-path. The hillside towering above us shows all the parts of the castle which are covered by the vast buildings inside the castle. Besides the back of the former Piarist Grammar School, the large balcony of the Archbishop’s Palace dominates the view and the towers of the churches rise towards the sky like the points of needles.

At the end of the promenade we cross the bridge across the Séd, and walking along Tobak utca, under the white rocks of Benedek Hill, we arrive at the next crossing, where the brook winds by and under the rocks, almost completely undermining the hill. Turning right at the end of Tobak utca, we arrive at Margit tér. Here we can find other remains from the Árpád period. The Margaret ruins date back to the 13 th century, the period of King Béla IV. Margaret, the later canonised daughter of our second state-founding king spent her childhood in this cloister. The foundation of St. Catherine’s Convent can be dated to 1239-40 but it was almost completely destroyed during the Turkish occupation. Only the walls of the convent ’ s church can still be seen; the former building lies under the grass-covered area by the ruins. After visiting the St. Catherine district of the medieval town, we should continue our walk by the western side of Benedek Hill.

Crossing the next Séd Bridge, we reach Kollégium utca. The - recently renovated - late-Baroque building at the beginning of the street used to be a tanner’s workshop. Looking up at the castle, we can enjoy the sight of the statues of Stephen and Gizella, the Körmendy House and the Seminary. At the end of the narrow Kollégium utca we can see Patak tér, the early medieval market and toll-gate. Turning right we reach Jókai utca, from where we can walk either towards to Zoo, to the town centre, or, if we turn left, we can go up the stairs under the castle to Benedek Hill. In the evening the stairs are illuminated by lamp-standards, thus creating a mystic twilight atmosphere around the occasionally frightening rocks of the castle.

Turning left at the top of the stairs, we arrive at the often mentioned Benedek Hill. Standing next to the cross at the end of the hill, we can admire a marvellous view. Interestingly enough, the Turkish troops, stationed here in the 16-17 th centuries, used the hill as a cemetery. From here a bird’s-eye view of the town unfolds in front of us: we can see the castle to the south, the tight arch of the Valley Bridge and St. Ladislaus’s Church to the east, the dark range of the Bakony to the north and the 20 th century housing estates to the east.
Walking back from the hill, let us go up the castle through the old small gate and continue our excursion with visiting the Castle of Veszprém.