Let’s go to Debrecen!

Today Debrecen is experiencing dynamic development and a renewing townscape. In the city centre spreading Mediterranean atmosphere and in the pleasant Nagyerdő, cozy cafés, tee-rooms, confectioneries and restaurants offering traditional local dishes and specialties await visitors.

The bustling cultural life in Debrecen attracts the inhabitants of the neighboring locations and ten thousands of tourists from other parts of our country and abroad. That is natural because Debrecen often hosts international sports events. In addition, it is the destination preferred by people longing for recovering and it is also the important spot of conference tourism, as well as the spot of numerous cultural events of international interest.

Debrecen as regional centre

Debrecen has had a regional part for centuries and it is the centre of North-Tiszántúl. Resulting from its geographical position it had connecting part between Transylvania and Upper Hungary.

Merchants and craftsmen of Debrecen took advantage of the transit trade benefits.
With over 200.000 inhabitants, Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary. 40 % of the inhabitants of our county also live in our town. The city with county rank is the economic, educational, scientific and cultural centre with essential macro regional part not only in Hajdú-Bihar County, but in North-Alföld and in the eastern part of Hungary as well. It is one of the actual regional centers with complete competence.
The present tourist cooperation is based on the century-old connection and close historic ties between Debrecen and Hortobágy.

Debrecen is a tourist destination

Debrecen and Hortobágy are two outstanding tourist destinations in the area. Debrecen has extremely favorable conditions in the field of health tourism. Apart from the medicinal bath, the various kinds of accommodation have more and more developed wellness, fitness and beauty care services. The natural values, the living shepherd’s traditions and shepherd’s folk art of Hortobágy is considered as something unrivalled in Europe.

Debrecen and its surroundings are rich in traditional programmes. The ethnographical and local historical rarities, the rich folklore, numerous annual official festivals connected with the most important days of the year, the religion and peasant farming are more and more popular and more and more tourists are keenly interested in these special occasions. It offers a wide range of programmes. It is a spot for numerous cultural and gastronomic festivals (such as Debrecen Flower Festival, Hajdúság Carnival, Debrecen Spring Festival, Debrecen Jazz Days, Debrecen National Summer Exhibition, and International Military Band Festival to be held every two years, Béla Bartók International Choir Contest, Debrecen Turkey Days, Debrecen Wine Carnival and Cívis Promenade). The Zoo that had been the first zoo after that one situated in Budapest and celebrates its 50 year anniversary in 2008 provides pleasant relaxation and amusement for every member of the family. Nagyerdő Park provides a great number of experiences with its establishments providing recreation (adventure spa, open-air bath, medicinal bath, rowing pond, play-grounds, ice-rink, zoo, amusement park, swimming-pool, sports hall, hotels and restaurants). That is why it is a preferred destination for not only citizens of Debrecen but visitors as well. Cultural programmes provide recreation rich in experiences nearly in every season (spring and autumn festival, summer theatre, wine carnival, flower carnival, light and classical music festivals).

Apart from the most famous event in Hortobágy namely the Bridge Fair, the National Herdsmen’s Contest and Shepherds’ Meeting, the National Shepherd’s Dance Competition, as well as the Hortobágy Equestrian Days with Shepherds’ Festival attract a great number of tourists.

The wide range of conference tourist facilities in the region has been completed with the modern conference centre of Debrecen called Kölcsey Centre and with the modern technical facilities the conditions of conference, incentive and business tourism are provided. The town has an active sports life and it includes spectacular competitions. The cívis town hosted the best athletes of various kinds of sport at European Championships or international tournaments (athletics, swimming, footsal, handball, ice-hockey, water polo and hot-air balloon). The indoor ice-rink and the competition swimming-pool serve for the tourists’ demand and requirements. In the surroundings of Debrecen facilities for riding, fishing, hunting, hiking and cycle tourism are provided and the inner network of cycle paths has been expending.

The church life in Debrecen and in its surroundings

Debrecen was first mentioned in the reports of the chapter in Várad in 1235. Obviously the location had been part of the Roman-Catholic Bishopric in Várad from the very beginnings. The Gothic Saint Andrew Church built in the thirteenth century used to be one of the biggest church buildings in Tiszántúl. The building completely burnt down twice, first in 1564 then in 1802. In its place the present Great Church was built in Neoclassic Style that had become the emblem of the town.

In the religious life of Debrecen the first turn was in the 1530s. The then landlord Bálint Enyingi Török brought here the priest called Bálint who had a discussion with a Catholic priest called Ambrosius. In the heat of the debate the Catholic priest broke down a branch of box-thorn (box-thorn bush: Lycium sp. lat.,) and he stuck the branch into the ground and said laughing: „It will be a real religion as soon as this branch grows into a tree!” And it really grew into a tree and the Reformed creed became the most flourishing religion in Debrecen. This is the box-thorn tree that can be seen on the corner of Múzeum street and Kálvin square even today. However, the tree itself is only about 250 years and religious dispute took place 450 years ago.

The town became the centre of the Reformed community not only in the surroundings but also in Hungary very soon. In the heat of a debate a reformer Ferenc Dávid who lived in the sixteenth century first called the town “Calvinist Rome”.

The school of the town has been working reflecting the spirit of the Reformed creed in its present place behind the Great Church since 1538 and that is unique in the Protestant public education. This establishment that met innumerable vicissitudes is the Debrecen Reformed College where there was education at primary, secondary and tertiary level, similarly to other educational establishments of the Reformed Church. The library of the College is the biggest church collection. Numerous visitors both from Hungary and abroad come to see the exhibitions of its museum.

In Debrecen only people of Reformed religion were allowed to live until 1715. Then a Habsburg patent obliged the town to allow Catholics to settle. In that era efforts made for forming locations with population of homogenous religion could be experienced quite often. Even at the end of the eighteenth century inhabitants of other denominations were represented in only a few percents. This situation changed from the second half of the nineteenth century when in the town grown in number of population not only Reformed people but also Catholics settled in great number. In addition, Evangelical people, Israelites, Greek Catholics and various free churches also appeared in Debrecen.

Today Debrecen is traditionally the seat of the bishop of the biggest Reformed diocese. In addition, it has been the seat of the Catholic bishop of the diocese Debrecen-Níregyháza since 1993.
The Bishopric of the Greek Catholic Church situated in Hajdúdorog has an important part in the region. This denomination has been established from Greek Orthodox people in the seventeenth century who agreed the authority of the Roman Catholic Pope.

Based on the census returns in 2001, from 211.034 inhabitants 135.835 people declared they are part of a denomination. Among them, there are 60% Reformed people, 24% Roman Catholics, 13% Greek Catholics. The remaining three percent is divided among the other denominations.

The structure of denomination in Hajdúság (Balmazújváros, Hajdúböszörmény, Hajdúhadház, Hajdúnánás, Hajdúszoboszló, Hajdúszovát, Vámospércs) follows the ratios in Debrecen except for Hajdúdorog. The historic church buildings of various denominations are a crucial part in the architecture of the region. They can be visited permanently or subject to a previous notice.

Connection between the ”Hajdú” people and Debrecen
Hajdúság is nothing else but a historic-geographic area in the middle part of Tiszántúl (the eastern part of Hungary). Originally six patented ”hajdú“ towns the so called “old hajdú towns”– Hajdúszoboszló, Hajdúböszörmény, Hajdúnánás, Hajdúhadház, Hajdúdorog and Vámospércs – are situated on its outskirts. In a wider sense it includes the area of Hajdú County existing between 1876 and 1950, the “hajdú” towns and the surroundings of Debrecen – this latter area includes the region of Hortobágy and the village of Hortobágy.

First experiences in Debrecen

If you have never been to Debrecen and its surroundings, give a chance! Come and see this area! You can attend one of the sightseeing tours as individuals or with groups (link to guiding), or an adventure puszta programme by carriage!