Photo: Facebook/ Eger

Excursion tip: Eger with its castle and minaret

In the Ottomans’ footsteps

The historical city of Eger is characterised not only by its beautiful architecture but its exciting history as well. The northern Hungarian settlement was ruled by the Ottomans for 91 years during the 16th and 17th centuries, and today visitors still like to follow in the path of the invaders.

When you visit Eger, every road leads to the castle, leaning beautifully over the city. It was built in 1248 and is considered one of the most important historical buildings there.

Defying Ottoman superiority

Back in the days when Buda had already fallen to the Ottomans, the Eger castle managed a success in 1552 that went down in Hungarian history. A Turkish army of 40,000 soldiers tried to take the fortress but its captain, István Dobó, beat them back with only 2000 men.

Despite this great success the city still fell to the invaders 44 years later. And even today many memories of the days of Turkish rule can be found in Eger, including the statue of Dobó standing on the square named after him.

Well-preserved minaret

One such relic is the minaret that was part of a mosque. You can find it close to the central Dobó István tér. This is the construction furthest north in all Europe from the Ottoman period. After Eger was reconquered in 1687 the minaret was supposed to be demolished by the power of several hundred oxen. However, there was a change of mind and the tower remained. Of the three remaining minarets in Hungary, this one is the best preserved.

You can climb the 90 steps of the almost 40-metres-high minaret for HUF 400, giving a splendid view of the whole city.

Wedding plans in the steam room

An impressive construction with a red dome – this is what the traditional Valide Sultana (which means “mother of the sultan”) steam bath used to look like. Men and women – strictly separated – met there to release everyday stress and to converse in a relaxed atmosphere.

Furthermore it was customary that the mothers of available young bachelors came to the bath to look for the right bride for their sons. Since everyone was naked at the bath, the older women were able to evaluate better how fit the girls were and if they could deliver healthy offspring.

After the Ottomans had gone, the Valide Sultana was used for grain storage and as a residential building, among other uses. Nothing remains from the once-glorious bathing culture but you can still visit the ruins of the building, which is operated by the Castle Museum that is also named after István Dobó.

If you would still like to relax in a Turkish bath, you should absolutely visit 3 Fürdő utca. Here you will find six pools, out of which the oldest was built in 1610. The architecture is quite impressive: the large mirror pool is covered by a beautiful dome decorated by almost 200,000 golden mosaic plates.

This is an ideal place to close an exciting day in which you will have learned a lot about the Ottoman rule in a Hungarian city.


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  • Photo: Nóra Halász

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