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Welcome to Kecskemét!

You will find a wide range of programmes, art and cultural events, and traditional programmes all the year round in Kecskemét. This variety is our heritage from the past, since the ‘Town of the Golden Sand’ has been the meeting point of merchants, different religions and cultures for centuries. Kecskemét lies in the middle of Hungary, in the region of the sand dunes between the Danube and the Tisza Rivers, 86 kilometres south of Budapest.The settlement was established at the cross-roads of ancient trading routes, and its location and favourable geographical characteristics brought the town into the limelight from among the neighbouring villages. The charter of 1368 by King Louis the Great mentions it as a market-town. It preserved its market-town character for centuries, and the extensive farming, the trade of cattle, and later on the special vine- and fruit-growing culture resulted in the growth of the town. The results of the plant breeders’ work are the famous apricot of Kecskemét, as well as the ‘whistling’ apricot brandy of unique taste.In the second half of the 19th century the immense development of the town made it possible for the market-place of the former market-town to be transformed into a splendid main square with buildings constructed in the style of Art Nouveau. Kecskemét is still the ‘capital’ of the Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture: the central area boasts of the most splendid masterpieces of this style (The Town Hall, the Ornamented Palace, and the Youth Centre). The characteristic feature of the Main Square is the presence of churches of different denominations.Kecskemét has been the seat of Bács-Kiskun County since 1950. It has got more than 110 thousand inhabitants, and it is a dynamically developing industrial, commercial and cultural centre. The town hosts workshops and unique collections of music, fine arts and animations of international fame, and recognised scientific institutions. In addition to these events, Kecskemét welcomes visitors with a whole range of recurring programmes year by year, of which the most outstanding events are the Kecskemét Spring Festival, the Kodály Music Festival, the Kecskemét Wine and Palinka Festival, the Future of Europe International Children Meeting Festival, and the ‘Famous Week’ Festival.

 

 Walk in the main square

Let's start our walk in the main square of the ‘Famous Town’ that used to be the market-place for centuries. Here you can find the Big Catholic Church which is the largest cathedral in the Great Hungarian Plain built in the style of the age of Louis XVI of France. Looking down from the 73 meter tall tower you can see the panorama of the town.The neighbouring building is the Town Hall built by the plans of Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos. The 150-year-old building of the City Hall was demolished in 1892. József Katona, the writer of our national drama worked there for 10 years. He collapsed and died at the entrance. The cracked stone monument set up at the scene of his heart attack in front of the building reminds us of this tragic event. The notice on this monument says: ‘The heart of the son of Kecskemét broke here.’ In 1895 the offices moved into the building of which area is 5534 m2 and has 174 rooms. On the 8th July, 1911 there was a huge earthquake in the city which did not spare the City Hall either. Its collapsed chimneys and cracked walls were soon reconstructed under the direction of Ödön Lechner. The style of the building with its nearly rectangle-shaped ground-plan mixes the forms of the French Renaissance architecture and the elements of our popular art. The Ceremonial Hall is the venue of the General Assembly meetings of the city, national and international conferences, wedding ceremonies and ceremonial receptions. 

 

 

The name of the city originates from the word “kecske’ (meaning ‘goat’), and ‘mét’ means district. The goat can be seen in our coat of arms as well above the platform with the motto of our city beneath it: ‘Neither height, nor depth frightens us.’ You can see the coat of arms in several important places inside and outside the building.  

 

Opposite the Town Hall you can find the oldest architectural relic of Kecskemét, the Franciscan Church built in the 14th century. The locals call it the Church of Friars. Originally it was built in Romanesque style and after several reconstructions it has gained its current Baroque character. From the point of view of religious history it is important to note that it was used both by Catholics and Protestants until 1564. 


 

 

Going on along the ring road we arrive at Kéttemplomköz Street. On the left side of the street you can find the Zoltán Kodály Institute of Music Pedagogy in the building of a one-time Franciscan monastery. Here you can see an exhibition showing the life story of the famous composer and music educator, Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967). The institute was established in 1975, and it aims at teaching the theory and the practice of Kodály's conception of music education. 


Near here we can find the Calvinist Church built in early Baroque style in the 1680s, the only stone church in the region during the Turkish occupation. 

  

Opposite the Calvinist Church is the New College erected in 1912. The palace was built in the style of Art Nouveau, decorated with Transylvanian motives. It is used as the Primary and Secondary Grammar School of the Calvinist College. 

 

On the right of the New College there is the famous Cifrapalota (Ornamented Palace), a unique piece of architecture, known as the masterpiece of Art Nouveau with its wonderful ’waving’ walls, shining roof tiles and ceramic ornaments of plants and animals. It hosts the Kecskemét Art Gallery today. 


If you are in Kecskemét, you should not miss the opportunity to visit the following places.

 

 

  Leskowsky Musical Instrument Collection

This private collection traces the development of music-making over the centuries. Of the 150 instruments on display from five continents most are stringed, but there are also flutes and accordions. All instruments can be played.  




House of Science & Technology

A Moorish-looking structure dating from 1871, this was once a synagogue and is now used for conferences and both temporary and permanent exhibitions, including one of plaster copies of 15 statues by Michelangelo.  

 

 

 

 Otthon Cinema

The restored Otthon Cinema is a beautiful example of art nouveau and Secessionist architecture mixed with folkloric elements.  

 

 

Toy Museum & Workshop

This museum has a large collection of rather spooky 19th- and early-20th-century dolls. Also in the rows of glass cases are wooden trains and board games.

 

Zwack Fruit Brandy Distillery and Exhibition

In the factory of the Zwack Unicum company in Kecskemét an exhibition of the distillery and the family history can be seen. For groups it can be visited by previous registration.

  

Market

 One of the liveliest on the Great Plain, Kecskemét's market to the north of the centre is worth a trip, but get there as early as you can to see it at its animated best.