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Miskolc, Northern Hungary

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Miskolc  is the regional centre of Northern Hungary and was the centre of heavy industry. With a population close to 170,000 Miskolc is the fourth largest city of Hungary.  It is also the county capital of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county. The city lies in the beautiful Bukk mountains and National Park with waterfalls and caves around it.

Miskolc is now a cultural centre instead of an industrial city. Among the various cultural events, one of the most important festivities is the International Opera Festival, held every summer.

This region has been inhabited since ancient times – archaeological findings date back to the Paleolithic, proving human presence for over 70,000 years. Its first known dwellers were the Cotini, one of the Celt tribes. The area has been occupied by Hungarians since the "Conquest" in the late 9th century. It was named after the Miskóc clan and was first mentioned by this name around 1210 AD. The Miskóc clan lost their power when King Charles I centralised his power by curbing the power of the oligarchs.

Miskolc was elevated to the rank of market town in 1365 by King Louis I. He also had the castle of the nearby town Diósgyor (now a district of Miskolc) transformed into a Gothic fortress. The city developed in a dynamic way, but during the Ottoman occupation of most of Hungary the development of Miskolc was brought to a standstill. The Turks burnt Miskolc in 1544 and the city had to pay heavy taxes until 1687. It was also ruled by Ottomans after Battle of Mezőkeresztes in 1596 until 1687. It was during these years that Miskolc became an important centre of wine-growing.

During the war of independence against Habsburg rule in the early 18th century, Prince Francis II Rákóczi, the leader of the Hungarians put his headquarters in Miskolc. The imperial forces sacked and burnt the city in 1707. Four years later half of the population fell victim of a cholera epidemic. Miskolc recovered quickly, and another age of prosperity began again. In 1724, Miskolc was chosen to be the city where the county hall of Borsod county would be built.

Many other significant buildings were built in the 18th and 19th centuries, including the city hall, schools, churches, the synagogue, and the theatre. The theatre is commonly regarded as the first stone-built theatre of Hungary, although the first one was actually built in Kolozsvár (then a part of Hungary, now Romania). These years brought prosperity, but the cholera epidemic of 1873 and the flood of 1878 took many lives. Several buildings were destroyed by the flood, but bigger and more beautiful buildings were built in their places. World War I did not affect the city directly, but many people died, either from warfare or from the cholera epidemic. She was occupied by Czechoslovak troops between 1918 and 1919 after the First World War.

After the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary lost Kassa (today Košice, Slovakia) and Miskolc became the sole regional centre of northern Hungary. This was one of the reasons for the enormous growth of the city during the 1930s and 1940s. The preparation for World War II established Miskolc as the national centre of heavy industry, a position the city maintained until the 1990s. Although Miskolc suffered a lot during the last year of the war, it recovered quickly, and by absorbing the surrounding villages, it became the second-largest city of Hungary with more than 200,000 inhabitants. In 1949 the University of Miskolc was founded.

During its long history Miskolc survived fires, floods, plagues and foreign invasions, but maintained its position as the centre of northern Hungary. The 1990s brought a crisis in the iron industry with a decline in the population.

Probably among all the beautiful sights in the city the Miskolctapolca cave bath is the most unique formation in the region where we organise tours from Budapest. See it under "Tours" to sign up.

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