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Baroque Eger

The finest 18th century townscape in Central Europe?

For a town of its size, Eger seems to have a disproportionately large amount of architecturally significant sights.

A closer look at Eger`s history soon explains why.

Eger is predominantly Baroque, an architectural period that ran from around 1600 to 1830. Yet, the Baroque period in Eger was necessarily shorter as the Turks occupied the town up until the end of the seventeenth century.


Baroque Eger at night (© Andyzbisko)


The Turks left Eger in a terrible state; the only permanent structures they left behind were mosques and their adjoining minarets, baths and a few houses.

Once liberated from Ottoman domination, the residents of Eger, and in particular the Bishops of Eger, made up for lost time and embarked on a massive program of building.

The artists and craftsmen invited from all over Europe to help in the building efforts, the money poured in from the church`s coffers and the seemingly bottomless largesse of the aristocratic clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church ensured that Eger rose from the ashes.

Churches, civic buildings, frescoes, gilt work and some of the finest wrought ironwork in Europe all went into making the city one of the finest in Europe.

Much of what the modern visitor sees today is exactly as it was in the eighteenth century.

Beginnings

The first Baroque architecture in Eger can be dated to 1715. A small unassuming chapel built by the wealthy Buttler family, Saint Roch`s  is little visited: partly because it is not easy to find and also due to it being in a poor state of repair.

Yet it is well worth a visit, not least for the infamous character who lies in the adjoining cemetery.... For more read our page dedicated to Saint Roch`s Chapel.

Religious Orders

With the expulsion of the Turks in 1687, the religious orders that had left Eger in 1596 gradually returned.

91 years of foreign occupation had left its mark: all the Christian churches had either been destroyed or converted to Mosques. In order to re-establish the Christian faith, the monastic orders were given land – usually with a mosque attached – on which they could construct their new places of worship; so it was that the Jesuits, Trinitarians, Minorites, Servites and Franciscans came to add to the Baroque cityscape that was rapidly developing in eighteenth century Eger.

The churches and order houses they built remain to this day, in various states of decay.

Of the five orders it is the Minorite church that is the most noteworthy but all are well worth a visit: The Trinitarian `Church` for its fine interior, the Franciscan and Jesuit for their high altars (the latter is arguably the finest example of Rococo work in Hungary) and the Servite for its painted wooden statues set in niches in the clock tower.

Worshiping the Baroque Way   

Tourists in Eger are always surprised at the amount of churches and chapels in the city. There are 33 churches and chapels altogether (in a town of 55 000) the reasons for this multitude of Christian buildings are twofold:

  • Eger was a bishopric until 1801 when it became one of only three archbishoprics in Hungary. An important church center needed big impressive buildings.
  • Those chosen to be the bishops and archbishops of Eger were aristocrats of great means. The two most outstanding were Eszterházy Károly and Barkóczy Ferenc who both put a huge amount of energy and money into ensuring all knew of their power and that of the church.

Perhaps the most beautiful of the extant Baroque churches is the Minorite Church, said by some to be the most beautiful Baroque church in Hungary. It has survived all manner of catastrophes including earthquakes, fires and flooding.

Of particular note are the carved pews, the altar fresco and for those interested in the grisly, the index finger of St.Hedwig. 

The Fazola Gates

"Let`s go and look at some gates."

Unless you`re a farmer, these words are a sign that your companion is delusional. Yet, it needs to be pointed out that there are gates, and then there are gates, and Eger has some serious gates, in fact possibly the finest example of late Baroque wrought ironwork gates in Central Europe.

fazola gates

The Fazola gates, named after their creator Henrik Fazola, were completed in 1761. They are outstanding examples of ornamental ironwork and a visit to Eger is not complete without viewing them.

What makes them particularly fascinating is the cheeky sense of humour evident in their construction, a quality one does not normally associate with the Rococo (late Baroque) style.

The gates are housed in Heves County Hall which is also a fine example of Baroque and well worth a visit in its own right.




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