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Hystory of Visegrád

Visegrád was always in the centre of attention during history due to its favourable amenities and essential strategical role.
The earliest traces of a human presence lead us to the New Stone Age, and from the Bronze Age the town and its surroundings have been populated continuously. During the historical times Celtics, Germans, Romans, Avars and Hungarians were populating the Danube Bend area.

The Romans under the reign of Constantine I (Constantine the Great) built the Ponts Novatus fortress on the Sibrik Hill, which was the most significant construction of the `limes` system by the Danube. Besides that we can find Roman relics at several places in the town, so for example the watchtower remnants in Szentgyörgypuszta, or the fortress remnants at the Gisela Manor built around 330.

When the Hungarians were settling in this area it was the ancient demesne of Kurszán, the brother of Arpad Prince. The first, Latin document mentioned Visegrád for the first time in history in 1009. The word Visegrád means high fortress.

The first fortress of Visegrád was built on the castrum, by using its stones, but this fortress was demolished during the Mongol invasion.
The current fortress complex was built by Bela IV and his wife Queen Maria in the 1250s. The fortress consists of the Citadel on the top of a 328 m hill, the Lower Castle situated on the hill underneath the Fortress hill, and the Water Bastion located on the Danube embankment.

The town became internationally important in the 15th century during the reign of the Anjou Dynasty. Charles Robert started the construction of the Royal Palace on the main street of the town close to the Danube Bank around 1320. Within couple of years this centre became the royal headquarters and the favourite residing place of the King.
The famous ballad of Klára Zách describes the unsuccessful assassination attempt against the royal family organized by Felicián Zách, and afterwards the bloody revenge.

The famous Royal Summit took place here in 1335, when Charles Robert King of Hungary invited John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia; Casimir III, King of Poland; Charles, the Moravian Marquis; Heinrich Wittelsbach, the Bavarian Prince and Rudolph, the Saxon Prince. They created such a significant agreement, which secured the economical independence of the affected countries from Vienna and from the Western merchants.

The Royal Palace historical walls hosted the signing of the cooperation in 1991, called the Visegrád Four. The Hungarian, Czechoslovakian and Polish Presidents followed the example of their ancestors. (In autumn 2006 again Visegrád hosted the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the`Visegrád countries` celebrating the 15 years of success of their cooperation.)
After the death of Charles Robert, the Polish delegation visited his son, Louis the Great in Visegrád, and offered him the Polish crown.

After the coronation ceremony the Polish crown was put together with the Hungarian Holy crown which was guarded in the treasury of the Visegrád Citadel by the crown-guards.
The next days of glory for the town came under the reign of King Matthias. The King started colossal constructions and renovation activities. He created the Palace complex enriched with late Gothic details, which can be viewed in the museum.

Matthias's renaissance court was often visited by the prominent figures of the era, who were philosophising in science, philosophy and literature and they were supporting the arts and they were leading the innovations. Visitors arriving from faraway countries described Visegrád as the "paradise on Earth".

This prosperous period lasted until the Turkish times, when similarly to other parts of the country immense regression and destruction started. During the fights for the fortress and for the town Visegrád nearly got completely devastated. The survivors went into hiding and left the uninhabitable town.
The remnants of the fortress were exploded under the command of Leopold I, Austrian Emperor in 1702.

The development of the settlement started once more in the 19th century, when the Danube steam boating begun and the Danube Bend and Pilis-Visegrád Mountains became favourite excursion targets of the hikers arriving from the capital.

Around this time took off the excavation activities by the incentives of József Viktorin Parish Priest who had Slovakian origin. The excavation of ruins and restoration of historic monuments were conducted by the most famous archaeologists of the era, e.g. János Schulek.

Today Visegrád is the popular target of national and international tourism, which is located in one of the most visited recreation area, in the Danube Bend. Though the size of the population is less than 1700 people and this is the smallest town in Hungary, the area hosts 300.000 visitors a year.

Most of our visitors are paying a visit to the Citadel, the Royal Palace and the Solomon Tower, but more and more coming to our area due to the hotel and thermal bath located in the Thermal Valley. This famous water with its extraordinary high mineral content is bottled and sold in shops.

The town offers a continuously improving high-standard accommodation and catering facilities for its visitors. Why not to visit us, where the river takes its amazing curve and you can admire all this from the Pilis Mountains, where history left it remnants at all times and in all places.

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