This week, I took a day-trip to the Hungarian city of Székesfehérvár. While it’s ranked as the 10th most populous city in the country, it was once the most important city in Hungary. A thousand years ago, when Saint Stephen of Hungary united the Hungarian people and founded their nation, he granted Székesfehérvár town rights and proceeded to build a large basilica which would become the most important site in the Kingdom of Hungary during the middle ages.
It was at this Basilica that Hungary’s crown jewels were held and it was here that the King of Hungary kept his throne. The name Székesfehérvár (seat of the white castle) reflects the importance of the city. A total of 13 Kings, including Saint Stephen, were buried in the Basilica. Unfortunately, in the 1600s Székesfehérvár was overrun and occupied by the Ottoman Empire. The invading Turks ransacked the tombs and destroyed the basilica. Today only the foundational ruins remain.
The small city offers visitors a picturesque central district, with a lengthy pedestrian zone featuring many churches, restaurants, terraces and squares. The city is rich in colour with apartment buildings being painted in a variety of pastel colours. Located about 65 kilometers away from Budapest, the city is easily accessible by train with hourly departures startingfromt 3am and ending at around 11pm.
While it was Székesfehérvár’s rich history that originally drew me to the city, I was pleasantly surprised by its charming centre. It would make for an excellent weekend getaway for when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Budapest.