Heves County Hall is located at No.9 Kossuth Street (Kossuth Utca). A fine example of Baroque, it was designed by Matyas Gerl and built between 1749 and 1756.
Prior to its construction, all county meetings were held in the Bishop`s Palace (the bishop was also Lord Lieutenant of the county) and the records held in various officials houses.
Facade of Heves County Hall
Obviously this was not an ideal state of affairs and Bishop Barkóczy felt it necessary to erect a building solely for the affairs of the county; sounds like a sensible plan, but the bishop had an ulterior motive.
The planned site for the new county hall already had a building on it, the Black Eagle Inn, which had to be purchased and demolished in order for the project to go ahead. The Inn just happened to be owned by…….the Bishop.
And so it was that Heves got its County Hall and Bishop Barkóczy made a tidy sum from the sale of his property.
The fine façade is decorated with three carved and gilded crests.
On the left, as you face the building, is the coat of arms of Heves County, in the middle that of Hungary and on the right that of Eger.
Below these and immediately above the entrance, is a beautiful piece of wrought ironwork, crafted by Henrik Fazola more of whose work you will find within the building.
Fazola, a smith from Germany was brought to Eger by Barkóczy, who had been impressed by the artist's work in Würzburg. Interestingly, the three guilded allegorical figures Faith, Justice and Hope are, as far as we know the only pieces of work by Fazola that were not done in iron.
The Three Allegorical Figures of Faith, Justice and Hope
If you take a closer look at the great doors you will see that Fazola also made the fittings, particularly impressive are the massive, ornate hinges.
On entering the building, there is a plaque which commemorates the fact that the Hungarian Crown was kept here, in the County Hall, between June 18th and September 21st, 1809. The reason being that Napoleon`s armies were besieging Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and it was felt that the crown was in danger of being seized.
In order to prevent this it was transported from danger, stopping in Eger on its journey. In order to understand why so much importance was attached to what is in reality an expensive trinket, you need to appreciate that whoever wears the Holy Hungarian Crown is the legitimate ruler of the Hungarian Nation. For more on this, read the Crown of St. Steven (St. István)
The three coats of arms above the gateway to the County Hall
Take another few steps and you will be confronted by two, one on either side of you, beautiful Rococo wrought iron gates, both the work of Fazola; these are known as the Fazola Gates
Unfortunately you cannot enter the building itself unless on official business as it still functions as the administrative center of Heves.
You can, however, go into the courtyard which, despite the leafy tranquility, hides a rather gruesome secret: it was the place of execution for the county prison, which can be found directly to the right.
Ferenc Kemény, a major player in the Modern Olympic Movement
The Prison, built in 1764, was also designed by Matyas Gerl and is now a museum celebrating the achievements of Heves' sportsmen and women.
In front of the building is a bust of Ferenc Kemény, one of the founders of the modern Olympics movement and behind him a long, long list of athletes from the county who have excelled at the Olympic games of the last 100 years or so.
For those with an interest in sport, the museum is well worth a visit.
The building itself, like that in which it is housed, is another example of Baroque architecture and its front is dominated by Mihaly Singer`s sculpture of Calvary (perhaps intended as a message to the inmates of the prison).
The Prison with its Depiction of Calvary
Of greatest interest is the chapel that was built in the centre of the building, which you can only see if you pay to go into the sports exhibition.
What makes it so fascinating is that it was built in such a way that the prisoners did not have to leave their cells to attend services: the windows in their rooms faced into the chapel.