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Miscellaneous photos - Debrecen, Hungria

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Steeple of the Protestant Great Church of Debrecen (in Hungarian: Nagytemplom) - Debrecen, Hungria Steeple of the Protestant Great Church of Debrecen (in Hungarian: Nagytemplom)

The Great Church of Debrecen with its 1,500 square meters of floor space is the largest among all Reformed churches in Hungary, as well as this church has the largest bell, too. The church towers ar 61 meters high.

The Protestant Reformation is a movement which was begun in West Europe in the 16th century, it was started by criticizing the mistakes of the Roman Catholic Church. Several independent religious organizations have begun, in Germany led by pastor Martin Luther, in Switzerland first under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli, then later led by the French-born theologian and humanist John Calvin (or Jean Calvin, originally Jean Caulvin). The name of the movements became Protestantism and the members are called Protestants, because they protest against the papacy. In 1517 Martin Luther presented his 95 theses with the detailed criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, this was the exact beginning of the Protestant Reformation movement.

Later the different trends of the Protestantism was divided to more denominations, the best known churches among them are the Lutheran (Evangelical) and the Calvinist (Reformed).

Due to its relatively unfavorable geographical conditions Debrecen could only survive with skillful diplomacy, the city often had to take sides with different nations and powers. Probably the resulting broadmindedness could help the wide expansion of the Protestant Reformation among the citizens of Debrecen already in the mid-16th century.

Great Reformed Church of Debrecen (Nagytemplom) with a statue of Lajos Kossuth Hungarian politician in front of it - Debrecen, Hungria Great Reformed Church of Debrecen (Nagytemplom) with a statue of Lajos Kossuth Hungarian politician in front of it

The neoclassical style Reformed Great Church of Debrecen was built during almost 20 years, it was completed in 1824. Today it is the main symbol of Debrecen city and the whole Hungarian Protestant Reformation, as well as a historical tribute site. The independence of Hungary was proclaimed here within its walls in 1849, as well as Lajos Kossuth was elected to the Regent-President of the Kingdom of Hungary. His chair from that time is still a treasured relic today.

Kossuth statue in front of the Protestant Great Church of Debrecen (Nagytemplom) - Debrecen, Hungria Kossuth statue in front of the Protestant Great Church of Debrecen (Nagytemplom)

Lajos Kossuth was a Hungarian politician and statesman, he was one of the dominant personalities in the 19th-century Hungary, especially the so-called Hungarian Reform Era (from about 1825 to 1848). He was born in 1802 in Monok village in an Evangelical Protestant landless gentry (belonging to the lower nobility) family of Hungarian and Slovak origin. The first written record of the ancient family is from 1263. Lajos Kossuth is best know as the Minister of Finance in the Batthyány Government of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, as well as later the regent-president of the Kingdom of Hungary.

The Kossuth statue group in the Kálvin Square was created by Ede Margó and Szigfrid Pongrácz, it was unveiled almost exactly 20 years after the death of Lajos Kossuth, in March 1914. Kossuth is just making a speech as the main character of the 10-meter-high monument. On his right it is the President of the Upper House Zsigmond Perényi who holds a sword in his hand, next to him Imre Szacsvay notary, the editor of the Declaration of Independence writes his notes, and also there is Mihály Könyves Tóth pastor of Debrecen. Perényi and Szacsvay were sentenced to death and executed in 1849, while the pastor was imprisoned and he was released from the captivity only in 1863.

On the left of Lajos Kossuth a soldier from the red-capped Honvéd regiment says farewell to his mother. During the Independence War of 1848-1849 two Honvéd ("Hungarian Defense Force") regiments, the No. 9 of Kassa and the No. 11 of Kolozsvár fighted so vailant against the Austrians (Habsburgs) that Major General Artúr Görgey proposed to differentiate them from the others with red caps.

Coat of arms of Debrecen on the floor decoration at the main square - Debrecen, Hungria Coat of arms of Debrecen on the floor decoration at the main square

The first known coat of arms of Debrecen is from 1560, and even this already referred to the Protestant Reformation, with a sheep who holds a flag and looks back. The current coat of arms of Debrecen city and county seat was donated in a royal charter from 1693, and it is based on the earlier one with some new ornaments. On the top of the coat of arms the main symbol of Debrecen, a phoenix bird can be seen.

The circular and slightly more than 3 meter in diameter glass mosaic coat of arms is on the pavement of the square near the Kossuth memorial, created from approximately 120,000 colored glass pieces by the Hungarian painter and industrial designer Tibor Cs. Uhrin in 2000. The so-called "Everybody's Christmas Tree" is set close to here in Christmas every year.

The tower of the Art Nouveau style Bishop's Palace of Debrecen - Debrecen, Hungria The tower of the Art Nouveau style Bishop's Palace of Debrecen

The building on the picture is called the Bishop's Palace (in Hungarian "Püspöki Palota") and located in "Hatvan utca" ("Hatvan Street", literally "Sixty Street") in Debrecen. The name of the street derives from the fact, that when it was developed in the 15th century, there were created exactly 30-30 plots (total of 60) on both sides of the street. The name of the building "Bishop's Palace" comes from the 16th-century episcopal residence of the Reformed bishop Péter Melius Juhász, which stood in the past on the site of the current so-called No. 1 apartment building of the Church. However, the current building was never an episcopal residence, the name is just a tribute to Péter Melius Juhász, one of the leading figures of the Hungarian Protestant Reformation movements.

Generally speaking, the people of Debrecen often refer the early-20th-century multi-storey buildings here as "palace" (examples: the "Post Palace" by Aladár Münnich from 1931 or the "Savings Bank's Palace" by Kálmán Rimanóczy jr. from 1911).

The impressive building of the secessionist Bishop's Palace or Episcopal Palace of Debrecen next to the Great Church - Debrecen, Hungria The impressive building of the secessionist Bishop's Palace or Episcopal Palace of Debrecen next to the Great Church

The eclectic and neo-baroque style so-called "Bishop's Palace" building was built between 1911-1913 by the plans of tho architects from Budapest, Zoltán Bálint and Lajos Jámbor. Despite its name the four-storey building wasn't built to be a palace, but a residental building with originally 60 smaller and larger apartments, and also some business premises and retail spaces. Among the flats the larger ones were split in the age of the socialism in Hungary, so as of today there are a total of 130 apartments within the building.

Among the former inhabitants of the house there were also a number of famous people as well. For example here lived Lajos Ady (the brother of the Hungarian writer Endre Ady), the Munkácsy awarded painter and teacher János Dienes, Géza Juhász literary historian or Elek Szabó, father of Magda Szabó Hungarian writer. Alfréd Hajós, one of the the architects of the Hotel Aranybika also rented a studio apartment here for some years, after he and his partner won the tender of the hotel.

Sculpture of István Bocskai (or Stephen Bocskay) Hungarian noble, prince of Transylvania - Debrecen, Hungria Sculpture of István Bocskai (or Stephen Bocskay) Hungarian noble, prince of Transylvania

The Bocskai monument is standing in the park between the Calvinist Great Church and the Reformed college, created by Barnabás Holló in 1906 and it is a replica of the same statue in Budapest.

István Bocskai (or Stephen Bocskay) was born in Kolozsvár (today Cluj-Napoca, Romania). After he served as an apprentice in Vienna, Austria he went back to his native land in Transylvania, Hungary (in Hungarian "Erdély"), where from 1592 he was a captain and he became the most important figure of the anti-Turkish conspiracy. Under his leadership firstly the the Transylvanian and Wallachian military divisions blew a devastating strike on the Turks, but later the promised military assistance of Rudolf II Holy Roman Emperor was cancelled and Hungarian blood soaked the region again. The Principality of Transylvania (in Hungarian "Erdélyi Fejedelemség") was almost completely destroyed. He disillusioned with the Habsburg domination, and to liberate his country and encouraged by Gábor Bethlen (or Gabriel Bethlen, the later Prince of Transylvania and elected King of Hungary) he organized a revolt against the Austrians, even with the help of the Turks if needed.

The Habsburgs become aware of the plan, but against the imperial armies Bocskai won the Hajdus (irregular or mercenary soldiers) to his cause and they routed the enemy. Although he started the independence war with Hajdus and serfs, the civilians and even the majority of the noblemen also joined, because they were indignant due to the aggression of the foreign mercenaries and the counter-Reformation.

Statue of István Bocskai Prince of Transylvania behind the Great Calvinist Church (Nagytemplom) - Debrecen, Hungria Statue of István Bocskai Prince of Transylvania behind the Great Calvinist Church (Nagytemplom)

By mid-1605 Transylvania and as well most of the Royal Hungary was controlled by the rebels. In Diet of Szerencs István Bocskai (os Stephen Bocskay) was elected to be the ruling prince of Hungary and Transylvania. The Austrian emperor had to be negotiate a peace with Bocskai, and finally the Peace of Vienna in 1606 guaranteed the constitutional rights and privileges, as well as the religious freedom of the Hungarians. Seven counties by the Tisza River (Szabolcs, Szatmár, Bereg, Borsod, Abaúj, Zemplén, Ugocsa) were attached to Transylvania while Bocskai is living. He compromised with the Ottomans as well, the Peace of Zsitvatorok also in 1606 put an end to the fifteen years of wars against the Turks.

Most of the Hajdu people who took the independence war to victory awarded with community privileges, and in return for military commitment they were settled on his own estates, in the so-called Hajdu towns. Bocskai also restored the earlier privileges of the Szekely people as well.

Prince István Bocskay done a lot for the Protestant Reformation, in gratitude a statue of him was erected on the Reformation Wall monument in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as the typical style cap of the Hajdus is also called Bocskai cap today.

Interestingly the pedestal of the statue with the Hajdu soldier figures was created by András Tóth artist from Debrecen, father of the tragic-fated Hungarian poet Árpád Tóth.

Memorial column of Protestant galley slaves in the square behind the Great Reformed Church of Debrecen (Nagytemplom) - Debrecen, Hungria Memorial column of Protestant galley slaves in the square behind the Great Reformed Church of Debrecen (Nagytemplom)

The Galley Slaves' Monument (Memorial column of Protestant galley slaves) in Debrecen was erected at the expense of Mrs. Mihály Hegyi ("özvegy Hegyi Mihályné") local resident in 1895, it commemorates the 41 Protestant pastors of Debrecen who were deported for their faith to galley-slave work in 1675, during the Counter-Reformation persecutions. By 1676 only 30 pastors left still alive among them, from the miserable situation the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter (or Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter) rescued them. His action was warmly and gratefully welcomed by the European Protestant community. The sailor's grave is located in the Nieuwe Kerk ("New Church") in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

By the Protestants the years of the Counter-Reformation (in other words "Catholic Revival") was just called the "mourning decade". In 1542 Pope Paul III called the Church leaders for a council into Trent (or Trento) town in Italy, to discuss about a real reform in the Catholic Church and how to prevent the further expansion of the Protestantism. Due to other factors the Council of Trent (in Latin "Concilium Tridentinum") could be held only in 1545 with the clear aim to exterminate the "false doctrines" and destroy all enemies of Catholicism. By the way, the council was lasted until 1563.

With this event practically the Counter-Reformation was begun, and during that the unwanted doctrines and their followers were often exterminated by both violence and weapons. In contrast, Péter Pázmány, who was one of the prominent Catholic personalities of this era in Hungary reimbursed many landlords back to the Catholicism by just writing and rhetoric.

Nevertheless, the Counter-Reformation had also some positive effects as well. It launched the Baroque art movement, which was created to present the power of the Roman Catholic Church by impressing and fascinating the people.

Phoenix Fountain (in Hungarian "Főnix-kút") musical fountain - Debrecen, Hungria Phoenix Fountain (in Hungarian "Főnix-kút") musical fountain

The musical fountain in front of the Hotel Aranybika in Debrecen is one of the largest in Hungary, it is in the main square since 2004. Created by the Munkácsy Awarded ceramist and sculptor Antal Pázmándi. The fountain is mostly made of several kinds of ceramics.

Quote from the creator Antal Pázmándi:
"I couldn't compete with the pronounced architectural-environmental objects of the square. So I recessed, moved down the fountain below the pavement level of the square and only the phoenix bird, the heraldic animal of Debrecen stands out from the sculpture group."

Musical Fountain with Phoenix statue (Főnix-kút) - Debrecen, Hungria Musical Fountain with Phoenix statue (Főnix-kút)

The phoenix is the heraldic animal of Debrecen. It refers to the troubled fate of the city, which in spite of this could always reborn even from its ashes, similar to the phoenix bird. Behind the column that holds the bird statue there is a graphics on the tiles called "Hun legend", it represents a scene from the time of the Hungarian land-taking (or Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries, in Hungarain "Honfoglalás"). It was created by Zalán Kertai Hungarian painter in 2001.

Musical Fountain with Phoenix statue (Főnix-kút) - Debrecen, Hungria Musical Fountain with Phoenix statue (Főnix-kút)

The phoenix is a mythical bird, initially from the Egyptian legends (they called it Bennu and it looked like a heron). In the faith of the ancient Egyptians at the end of its life it builds a nest, it ignites the nest and the bird burns to ash together with it. Then a young phoenix (or Bennu) is born and arises from the ashes, who embalms and buries its "parent" in Heliopolis, the city of the Sun. The ancient Greeks adopted the myth of the Bennu, the eagle-like representation and the current name (phoenix) is also comes from them. By the way, the Greek "phoinix" word is derived from the name of the Phoenician civilization and also meant magenta or scarlet color. The phoenix was also quite popular in the Early Christianity as the symbolt of the resurrection and the eternal life.

However, based on certain findings some scientists thinks that the people in China believed in the phoenix bird (or something like this) already 7400 years ago. Some other people assume that the legend of the phoenix was inspired by an existing East African bird, which builds her nest on a hill in a dry, hot area. When the sun is scorching hot, the vibrating air seems it is caused by flames of fire.

Entrance of the Golden Bull Hotel (Aranybika Szálló) - Debrecen, Hungria Entrance of the Golden Bull Hotel (Aranybika Szálló)

The Grand Hotel Aranybika ("Hotel Golden Bull") is a prestigious 205-room (capacity for about 500 guests) four-star hotel on the main square of Debrecen city.

The Bika family lived in the Debrecen since 1536. The town purchased their plot in 1690, including a stone house on it. Firstly in 1699 the building was transformed into an inn, then 100 years later it was extended with a new floor.

Entrance of Cívis Hotel Aranybika (Golden Bull Hotel) - Debrecen, Hungria Entrance of Cívis Hotel Aranybika (Golden Bull Hotel)

In 1882 a two-storey hotel was built on this site, which was designed by the Imre Steindl, the architect of the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest. However, that building was demolished in 1913, because it couldn't could not satisfy the growing needs.

The older wing of the current Hotel Aranybika was built in 1915, designed by Alfréd Hajós and Lajos Villányi Hungarian architects in the then trendy Art Nouveau (secessionist) style.

Besides Alfréd Hajós was an architect and journalist, he was also the first olympic champion of Hungary ever. The first modern Summer Olympic Games (or Olympiad) was held in 1896 in Athens, Greece, after the Roman Emperor Theodosius I banned the Ancient Olympic Games in 393 AD. Here Alfréd Hajós won both the 100-meter and the 1200-meter freestyle swimming races in the extreme cold (approx. 11 °C) and rough sea.

Additional interest is that at the Olympic Games of 1896 the winner didn't receive a gold medal, but a silver medal, as well as the bronze medal was the reward of the second place.

Cívis Hotel Aranybika (literally "Hotel Golden Bull", later Grand Hotel Aranybika) - Debrecen, Hungria Cívis Hotel Aranybika (literally "Hotel Golden Bull", later Grand Hotel Aranybika)

The reliefs on the facade of the hotel were made by Italian stonemasons. The ceremonial hall upstairs called Bartók Hall, which often provides venue for concerts and other major events, as well as even the famous Hungarian composer and pianist Béla Bartók (1881-1945) gave concerts here more times. Inside the hotel close to the entrance the bronze bust statue Alfréd Hajós, the architect of the building and also the first Hungarian olympic champion welcomes the guests. In 1976 the hotel was extended with a new wing, but its appearance is quite different from the old building and for most of us it much less aesthetic.

The Hotel Aranybika can be associated with many famous people. For example statesmen and politicians (István Széchenyi, Ferenc Deák, Miklós Wesselényi), as well as artists (Mihály Vörösmarty poet or Zsigmond Móricz, who wrote his last novel here) were frequent both guests of the previous hotel building (that was designed by Imre Steindl). Moreover, among others Béla Miklós de Dálnok prime minister of Hungary, Imre Nagy minister and the prime minister of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Bruno Kreisky chancellor of Austria and Helmut Kohl chancellor of Germany both stayed overnight within the walls of the current building of architect Alfréd Hajós.

Tram stop - Debrecen, Hungria Tram stop

The characteristic blue tram of Debrecen is a real specialty, because there are only these eleven ones in the whole world (although it is not so uncommon in case of trams that they are custom or specific). The KCSV6-1S (the acronym means: 6-axis articulated electric street tram, series No.1) tram models were constructed by the Ganz Hunslet company in Budapest between 1994-1997, today this is the las Hungarian-developed tram model. In Budapest there are modernized and similarly well-equipped KCSV7 yellow trams (for example on tram line 2), however these are much more conservative in appearance.

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