Towns and Sights


If you visit a new country, a new region or a new town it is useful to familiarize yourself not only with the sights of the location but with the area that surrounds it as well as the history of the area. And then you can understand your hosts’ culture and everyday life most and you can find out how they live which customs and way of life they have.

The environment around people and the environment shaped by people are also part of this knowledge because despite its continuous changing it can be a starting point for visitors who try to find their way around in an unknown area.

The surroundings of Debrecen

Debrecen and its surroundings are situated in the eastern part of Hungary in the area between the River Tisza and the border line towards Romania. The motorways and the electric railway line provide a quick connection with Budapest and other regional centers As a result, Debrecen situated 220 km far from Budapest can be easily reached in two or two and a half hours’ time by car and in three hours’ time by train.

Debrecen is situated in the meeting point of three small geographical regions called South-Nyírség, Hajdúhát and South-Hajdúság.

Though Hortobágy has not administratively belonged to Debrecen since 1946, this huge plain land constitutes the immediate surroundings of Debrecen. Moreover, it had had an important part in the economic life of the town for long centuries. Even today it is connected to the town through strong ties.

In the eastern-southeastern part of Debrecen, the landscape varied with forests, meadows and fields called Wooded Plains was formed several centuries ago. This area developed in the surrounding landscape that became deserted in the stormy periods of the Hungarian history.

Once the lands of Debrecen covered among others Tiszadob along the River Tisza and the Wood in Gút. A 70 km area from this estate served the purposes of animals husbandry. We can state that the cattle of the “Civic” citizens from Debrecen would graze in Hortobágy and they would stay in the Wooded Plains around Debrecen in the winter time.

If you have familiarized yourself with the town and its surroundings, and have explored its sights it is time to relax and to have a wonderful time or go shopping.


If you familiarize yourself with Hortobágy you will never forget it! The immense „puszta” gives an entrancing sight. The horizon opens before the visitor’s eyes. The famous landscape of Hortobágy is considered to be a rarity in central-Europe.

The village and its surroundings invite visitors longing for exploring and knowing the area by offering its natural values, built heritage connected with the natural Hungarian animal husbandry, living shepherd’s traditions, folk art, as well as shepherd’s, equestrian, bird-watching and gastronomic programmes observing the traditions. Hortobágy can be approached by car on public road no.33 from Debrecen in 25-30 minutes

The traces of the human activity can be seen in Hortobágy from the Neolithic Age, among others the barrows of several thousands years made of soil.

Hortobágy is part of the oldest location names in Hungary. The River Hortobágy had been written down as Hortubaguize (water of Hortobágy) in 1009. At that time King Stephen endowed some of his lands situated in the vicinity of the river to the Bishopric in Eger.

The name of village and its lands appeared in about 1067 only; at that time the village may have been on the brink of destruction.

The villages in the vicinity of Hortobágy in the Middle Ages became depopulated in consequence of the Mongol and Tatar ravages, the plague and shortage of food in the thirteenth-fifteenth centuries.
The depopulated area were taken by Debrecen as security. Extensive animal husbandry was made there, so the keeping of the Hungarian grey cattle and sale of live cattle could flourish. The town joined important trade routes such as “salt route” that led from salt-mines to Buda. The country taverns called “csárda” can be found along the former salt route. These were rest areas and were built two days’ journey (the taverns are: Látóképi, Kadarcsi, Kishortobágyi, Nagyhortobágyi, Meggyes, Patkós, Kaparó).

In the rainy period the bridges were the only facilities to cross the backwaters. First a wooden bridge was built to make transport safer for the growing trade relations. In 1833 the Nine-Arch Stone Bridge was built after the wooden bridge was washed away by flood several times, then it burnt down. Near this bridge the Bridge Fair has been hold since 1892 when it was licenced and became well-known faraway.

Hortobágy used to be an area with rank vegetation, woods and vast reed! After river control of Tisza it became dry in 1855 and it was transformed to another kind of natural area. The “puszta” is both work of man and work of the nature.

After the turn of the century the town of Debrecen and citizens of Debrecen lived on the land in a part of the plains of Hortobágy.

After World War II ownership changed and the Hungarian State took over Hortobágy under the name National Stock Farming Establishment. This was the first step towards the transformation into state farms. People looking for work and a living from every part of the country came here and in 1949 the State Farms started to work.

In the Fifties the area around the country tavern became more and more populated and the future village centre started to be built.

 A new village was built in a few years that became an independent administrative unit in 1966.
In 1973 the first national park the Hortobágy National Park was established that became a part of World Heritage in the category “cultural areas” in1999.




Balmazújváros is situated in the northeastern edge of Hortobágy between Debrecen and Hortobágy. It can be approached by car in fifteen or twenty minutes. Its population changed in the stormy periods of the Hungarian history. As a result, German-speaking people and Slovakians were settled here. At the edge of the “puszta” visitors can see natural attractions both in Balmazújváros and Hortobágy. In the town, museums, memorial places and the spa offer good programmes. Hungry and tired visitors can find their preferred tavern or accommodation.

The surroundings Balmazújváros of today had been inhabited from time immemorial. During the period of kings of the House of Arpad several smaller villages were formed in the outskirts. Their names were preserved in the names of several adjoining areas or fields (Bakóc, Cucca, Balmaz, Hímes, Darassa, Hort, stb.). The village that was formed after the conquest of Hungary was completely destroyed in the Tatar invasion. The land Himes that is situated in the inner area of town of today was first mentioned in the Pope’s list of tithes in1332. The name Balmaz was first written down as a puszta land at the beginning of the fifteenth century when King Sigismund (1411-ben) endowed it as part belonging to Debrecen to the Serbian voivod István Lázárevics.

In 1465 the village was called Újváros. King Matthias’s charter issued in 1465 granted the right of holding three national and one one-week markets to Újváros. Apart from the right of holding markets, the charter granted market-town privileges to the location. Under the rule of Hunyadi Family Újváros developed into a flourishing market-town. In consequence of the steady-state of war the town was depopulated between 1591 and 1610 and it had its previous number of inhabitants by the 1720s again.

Maria Theresa endowed the whole adjoining area of Újváros to Andrássy Family. They established seigniorial domestic economy. At that time Újváros that had had town privileges became a village that was obliged to pay villain services again (1773).

Another measure of the House of Habsburg was when German-speaking people were settled down in Újváros in 1766. The village became the land of Semsey Family in 1798. They settled semi-Slovakian Catholics from the region of Kassa to employ them as agricultural workers. In the second half of the nineteenth century the capitalization also started. The stratification of the population that had been differentiated before accelerated. In Újváros the number of villains always exceeded the national average. For this reason it became one of the strongest bases and spots of the agricultural social organizations and movements in Hungary.
In 1877 the administration classification of the village changed. Újváros was placed from Szabolcs County to Hajdú County and it became a district seat.

The most important event of the period after World War II was the land reform in Újváros that was a village exposed to lack of land. The starting of redistribution of land was first announced in this village in Hungary on 20 March 1945. After the forced collectivization in the 50s ten farmers’ agricultural co-operatives were established and finally two of them remained in the village. The co-operatives called Lenin and Red Star worked till the end of the 80s well and they were the biggest employers in the village.
Balmazújváros got a town rank on 15 March 1989 again.