Békéscsaba

Dear Visitor

Welcome to the website of Békéscsaba.

Let us stroll down memory lane and go on a virtual sightseeing tour in Békéscsaba, a place you’ll want to return to. The name of Békéscsaba is of Turkic origins, the town name deriving from the Hungarian male given name, Csaba. The environs of Békéscsaba have been inhabited since ancient times. A huge number of archaeological finds from the late Bronze Age attest to the Alföld (Lowlands) culture and the people of the Körös Valley in the area, which was later to become today’s Békéscsaba. The first settlers, who arrived at the invitation of Baron János György Harruckern in 1718, were mainly from Nógrád, Gömör and Hont Counties. The diligence of its inhabitants turned Békéscsaba into not just the county’s geographical centre but also its economic centre. In 1950 Békéscsaba received county seat status as a result of the administrative reorganization of counties. In the 2000’s, new investments occurred in Békéscsaba, one of these is the Csaba Center, the county’s shopping mall with its spectacular architectural design and a wide selection of shopping, leisure and entertainment facilities. The completely renovated Árpád Thermal Bath and Spa – with its historical main building, modern pools and health protection services – offers visitors both sports and leisure opportunities, the whole year round. One of the most popular meeting points for both residents and visitors is the bank of the Élővíz Canal, which is lined with statues and along which one can take leisurely strolls. As a native of Békéscsaba, I still cherish childhood memories of cycling, climbing tall willow trees, collecting fragrant horse chestnuts and walking along the idyllic bank. The city also has a rich architectural heritage, a fine example of which is the Lutheran Church the largest of its kind in Central Europe. Other buildings of architectural merit include the Small Lutheran Church right across from it, István Mill, the Slovak Museum (a dwelling house turned into a skanzen-type building) as well as the period piece edifices of the Town Hall, the Fiume Hotel and the Jókai Theatre. As a centre of gastro-tourism, CsabaPark opened in 2014, has been established to preserve the tradition of the csabai sausage.

Gourmets can also enjoy the specialties of Békéscsaba, where late October has become famous with festive days dedicated to sausages combined with fair and musical events. An international tourist attraction, the Csabai Sausage Festival that has been organized since 1997, has become one of Hungary’s major gastronomic events attracting over a hundred thousand visitors each year. Békéscsaba also hosts Hungary’s most popular beer festival, where mouth-watering delicacies can be found which also includes barbecued pig’s trotters. Culture buffs will not feel disappointed either. As it is well known, Mihály Munkácsy lived and worked in the city for a long time. The painter’s home is a memorial house now alongside with the city museum both commemorate the world famous painter-genius. A stroll in the Munkácsy district takes you to the Csabagyöngye Cultural Centre, which -with its multifunctional rooms- is an ideal venue for lectures and concerts. Békéscsaba’s rich cultural life has something to offer everyone in terms of leisure. I do hope that, after this short virtual tour of the city, you will also visit us in person to experience the hospitality of the local residents, marvel at the unique beauty of the city and its environs, enjoy the unique local food and in general, have a pleasant time in Békéscsaba. Finally, when you are leaving Békéscsaba, remember that it is a place that welcomes you back. With a population of nearly 64,000 habitants, Békéscsaba lies along the southeastern border of Hungary, circa 200 kilometers from Budapest. The city is Békés County’s most important communication hub, accessible by car and train and even by plane due to an airfield in the vicinity. Historic buildings, a new cityscape, the environmental heritage and an abundance of events and programs attract many visitors each year. Among the cities with a county seat status, Békéscsaba has the largest green belt. It is dotted with parks, trees and flowers, pleasant promenades, the country’s nicest areas. A lovely spot in the city is the Élővíz Canal arising from the Fehér Körös, meandering through the city and flowing into the Kettős Körös. The Music Pavilion, erected in 1850 in Széchenyi liget (a city park) along the bank of the canal, is a modern visitors’ centre with a fine layout for eco-tourists and nature lovers. The park is also the ‘lung’ of the city and ideal for having a short rest or taking leisurely strolls in an enchanting environment. The bank of the canal is lined with statues of famous people tied to the city. Superb buildings in Békéscsaba including the Fiume Hotel built in the 19th century, the Jókai Theatre and the Town Hall designed by architect Ybl Miklós. The Great Lutheran Church -the largest of its kind in Central Europe- and the Small Lutheran Church -built in 1745- are landmarks of Békéscsaba. The Slovak Museum (a dwelling house turned into a skanzen-type building) offers a glimpse of the former Slovak lifestyle. The other major contributor to the cityscape is the Roman Catholic Church, a remarkable piece of brick Gothic style in Hungary completed in 1910. The Árpád Baths was built in 1922 and thanks to recent renovations now it has 10 pools and offer medical and wellness services in the heart of the city. Gourmands can also enjoy the delicacies of the table in Békéscsaba. One of the best-known foods is the smoked sausage that has the name of the city and Slovakian dishes, like strapachka. These are dumplings made with potatoes that are browned in butter, and then topped with breadcrumbs, bacon, cooked cabbage, chives or green onions or cheese. They are served as a separate course, as a side dish with meat, or can be the main dish as well. There are also various kinds of cabbage soups and the famous plum pálinka (a traditional type of brandy), which are a must for those who love to wine and dine.  Visitors in Békéscsaba can choose from a wide selection of quality gastronomic and cultural events all the year round. The Csaba Sausage Festival (in October) has become one of Hungary’s most prestigious gastronomic events. It is a series of cultural events and entertainment during ‘disznóvágás’ (killing a pig by the help of neighbours in a backyard and making sausages, ham and black pudding). The true highlight of the festival is the sausage-making contest, where Hungarian celebrities also try to give their best every year. We have open-air events in Békéscsaba including the Csaba Beer Festival, the Csülökparádé (a cooking competition where different varieties of ‘csülökpörkölt’ (pig’s trotters stew) are prepared) and Lecsó Festival (cooking thick vegetable stew which includes peppers and tomato, onion, lard, salt, sugar and ground paprika as the basic ingredients).  Every summer, the courtyard of the Mayor’s Office is the scene of ‘Városházi Esték’ (Town Hall Evenings), which provides a series of programs featuring well-known artists. In every third year the city hosts an international puppet festival. August is the time of ZENIT Young Musicians’ meeting. Further attractions are the Spring Festival with heralding spring as its main theme, the Csaba Expo International Exhibition and Fair, Scherzo (the National Festival of Musicals) and the National Festival of Solo Dancers with renowned solo folklore dancers. Békéscsaba was also the birthplace or hometown of a number of people who earned international recognition. Without a doubt, the most famous of them all was painter Munkácsy Mihály, the city’s pride. The Museum of the Year and Hungary’s Most Visitor-friendly Museum in 2008, the Munkácsy Museum has the largest collection of his paintings in the world.

The former Steiner-Omaszta Manor, now the Munkácsy Memorial House, pays honour to the great painter (whose roots link him so closely to the city), and also houses a number of highly enjoyable permanent or temporary exhibitions. After these cultural programs, you might like to go for a local cross-country walk. Walking and cycling are both ideal if you wish to visit tourist attractions around Békéscsaba and discover the beauty of the rural landscape. The Körös Rivers are Hungary’s cleanest rivers suitable for swimming and fishing along their banks. There are also several equestrian farms in the vicinity of Békéscsaba.