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Vác, Hungary


The episcopal city

The episcopal city

This Baroque city is located northward from the capital on the east bank of the River Danube. Its thousand year old history has always been influenced by the Church and the Episcopate of Vác. The buildings of the Catholic city with their eventful past; the promenade at the Danube with numerous art galleries, museums and cultural events can easily charm anyone.

Vác, Hungary

Its location is not only beautiful, but it has great advantages as well, so its territory has been inhabited for thousands of years. There is beautiful scenery surrounding the city. On the opposite bank of the River Danube you can see the Pilis Mountains, and on the Vác side the mountains of Börzsöny link into each other. The base of Naszály, in the Northern Medium Mountains, is northward from the city; and the southern area is occupied by the plain. Before the First World War, when the northern parts of Hungary had not been annexed, Vác was the border of Upper Hungary (‘Felvidék’).

The city was first mentioned in the 11th century in the charter of the Abbey of Garamszentbenedek. The Episcopate of Vác was founded by Stephen I. Géza I built the cathedral, and he was buried here in 1077. From this point on the Church determined the life of the city decisively. Its landowner was the prevailing bishop, who controlled the city both economically and culturally.

Vác, Hungary

In the 14th century Vác was near the capital, albeit it was not Budapest then, but Visegrád. This central location had a good effect on the settlement; but its drawback was that the storms of history could easily reach it. In the Middle Ages the castle of Vác, built next to the Danube, was not able to protect the city from the Tartar invasion. The Mongols set fire to the castle church and the buildings of the episcopacy, where the Hungarian population had hoped to find refuge. After the invasion, Béla IV invited settlers from Southern Germany to the ruined city. They chose the area a bit northward from the centre, around the present Main Square.

Vác, Hungary

During the 14th and 15th centuries the humanist bishop Miklós Báthory called famous architects, sculptors and painters to the city, so Vác started to prosper. This peaceful development was followed by the period of Turkish wars, during which Vác fell into the hands of the Turks after bloody fights. It only regained its freedom in 1686.

The revival of the city was delayed by Rákóczi’s War of Independence, which started in 1703. The great fire of 1731 destroyed much of the city. The present image of the streets is due to the reconstruction of the city in the second half of the 18th century. The most important bishops of the age are Kristóf Migazzi and Mihály Althann, who contributed to the development of the city both with their wealth and good taste.

The birth of the saying ‘rich as the bishop of Vác’ was not by mistake either. Kristóf Migazzi kept the episcopacy of Vác as well as his title of the archbishop and cardinal of Vienna. The interesting fact was that the archiepiscopacy of Vienna yielded less than half of that of the episcopacy of Vác.

Vác, Hungary

The Cathedral of Vác

This thousand year old cathedral should not be missed if you travel to Vác. The frescos of the dome from the 18th century are the work of Maulbertsch; but the other, later paintings are also masterpieces.

The Church of the White Monks

Vác, Hungary

This building is called both a Dominican Church and the Church of the White Monks; this latter name refers to the white clothing of its monks. In the 1990s, during reconstruction works unique findings, even measured by European standards, were unearthed in its crypt. Three hundred coffins, which are 170-270 years old, were found. To the great surprise of the museologists, the coffins did not contain skeletons but intact, naturally mummified bodies. Their mystical origins are still being studied.

The Triumphal Arch

Hungary’s only triumphal arch was built by Bishop Migazzi in honour of the visit of Maria Theresa in 1764. But she was so suspicious that she did not dare go under the triumphal arch and made her coachman drive round it. Nevertheless this building still exists and anyone can walk through it.

Characteristics, features, properties


Smaller town or townlet


Europe (Continent)  >  Hungary (Country)  >  Budapest and surrounding (Central-Hungary) (Tourist region)  >  Pest megye (county) (County or province)  >  Danube Bend (Dunakanyar) (Geographical region / area / zone)

GPS coordinates: Latitude 47°46'31", Longitude 19°8'15" (N47 46.52 - E19 8.25)

Vác - Panoramic images (2 photos)

Episcopal Cathedral of Vác - Vác, Hungary
Episcopal Cathedral of Vác
Episcopal Cathedral of Vác - Vác, Hungary
Episcopal Cathedral of Vác

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Destinations, locations in the travel guide:
Vác (232 photos + 2 panoramic images) Danube Bend (Dunakanyar) (1,769 photos + 6 panoramic images) Pest megye (county) (15,122 photos + 50 panoramic images) Budapest and surrounding (Central-Hungary) (15,989 photos + 52 panoramic images) Hungary (27,287 photos + 163 panoramic images)
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Every panorama photo here:
Vác (2 photos) Danube Bend (Dunakanyar) (6 photos) Pest megye (county) (50 photos) Budapest and surrounding (Central-Hungary) (52 photos) Hungary (163 photos) Europe (165 photos)

Every regular photo here:
Vác (232 photos / 4 galleries) Danube Bend (Dunakanyar) (1,769 photos / 31 galleries) Pest megye (county) (15,122 photos / 221 galleries) Budapest and surrounding (Central-Hungary) (15,989 photos / 234 galleries) Hungary (27,287 photos / 462 galleries) Europe (30,494 photos / 523 galleries)

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