Why visit: Baroque mansions and churches, history, sightseeing, ballet performances
Things to Do and See in Győr
The history of Győr goes well back in time. The Romans settled here and they named the place Arrabona, after a local Celtic tribe. Later, Mongols and Turks occupied the city. In 1743, Queen Maria Theresa gave Győr the status of ‘Free Royal Town'. Many religious orders settled in the city building schools, churches, a hospital, and a monastery – all that in Baroque style. In the mid-1800s, Győr's role grew as steamship traffic on the River Danube began.
Today, Győr is an important cultural center, a famous university town, and a popular tourist destination. Audi has a large factory in Győr, where the Audi TT sports car, the A3 cabriolet and many engines are built. Győr, as it's located halfway between Budapest and Vienna, also makes an excellent base for excursions. The thousand-year-old Pannonhalma Monastery, one of the oldest historical monuments in Hungary, a famous World Heritage Site and one of Hungary's wine growing regions, is not far from the city.
Káptalandomb (Káptalan Hill) is home to the Bishop's Cathedral, which ranks as a ‘basilica minor', and the Bishop's Palace. Győr has been a bishopric since the 11th century, declared by St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary. Initially the cathedral was built in Romanesque style, but its appearance changed during the course of history. Today, the building shows a Baroque character, with Classicist elements. While the church is beautiful from the outside it's what's inside which lures most visitors. This is where the reliquary of Szent László I (St. Ladislaus I), king of Hungary is kept. He reigned between 1077 and 1095 and was highly regarded by the entire nation. Szent László I was canonized in 1192, when his remains were exhumed and his skull was covered in silver and placed into the reliquary. During his visit in 1996 John Paul II gave the Cathedral the ‘basilica minor' rank.
The Bishop's Palace along with the Cathedral is protected by a wall, which actually dates back to Roman times. The wall was fortified extensively during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Turkish army still managed to occupy the city in 16th century, but they only stayed for 4 years, while they ruled in other parts of Hungary, like Pécs and Eger, for 150 years. The last siege that took place was in 1809, when Napoleon was fighting the Habsburgs. The 'Battle of Győr' was Napoleon's only engagement on Hungarian soil. The Napoleon House, the house he stayed at during the battle, serves today as the City Art Museum (Király utca 4).
Bécsi kapu tér
Bécsi kapu tér is one of the oldest squares in the city and it's probably the most beautiful Baroque square in Hungary. The Vienna Gate (Bécsi kapu) that once stood here was demolished in the 19th century, but the name of the square remained unchanged. Every house in the square is an historic building, including the Baroque-style church and the adjacent monastery, built by the white friars in 1725.
Széchenyi tér has been Győr's main square since the 14th century. In Roman times a civil town called Arrabona occupied the site. In the Middle Ages this was the center of life with the market, the pillory and the guillotine. The last execution took place in 1715. Today the square is lined with Baroque buildings built in the 17th and 18th centuries. A notable building in Széchenyi tér is the Benedictine church and monastery, originally built by the Jesuits in 1667.
Király utca is one of the three charming streets that connect Bécsi kapu tér and Széchenyi tér. Lined with beautiful historic buildings this is a good place to admire some of the many Baroque-style bay-windows Győr is so famous for. A good example is the former Esterházy Palace located at Király utca 17. The other two streets connecting Bécsi kapu tér and Széchenyi tér are Kazinczy utca and Szabadsajtó utca.
Liszt Ferenc utca
Liszt Ferenc utca is another great choice to take a stroll. Starting at Széchenyi tér this street is home to the Old County Hall (Liszt Ferenc utca 13) and to the Zichy Palace (Liszt Ferenc utca 20), the former residence of wealthy aristocratic family. (Their former Budapest residence, Hotel Palazzo Zichy, is now a top rated hotel).
Beautiful Baroque buildings make up the city, but as Győr is located at the intersection of three rivers, the Danube, the Rába and the Rábca, it also has a lovely waterfront.
Getting to Győr from Budapest: Győr is about an hour's drive from Budapest. Highway M1 connects the city with the capital
Insider Tip: Győr is well known for its ballet company and if you have time it's well worth attending a performance.