Photographer's Note

In the quiet downtown - Synagogue, Zalaegerszeg

Built in 1904 this eclectic synagogue is adorned with Eastern decorative elements. It lost its religious function after the World War II. Today it serves as the city's concert hall and exhibition venue. The light streaming through the stained glass windows gives a characteristic mood to the spacious interior.


As the county seat numerous offices and heritage sites are located here. The Museum Village of Göcsej (Göcseji Falumúzeum) presents the particularities and characteristics of the ethnographic region of Göcsej.
The geographical environment in which the River Zala and Válicka Stream meet attracted human habitation many centuries ago, since water meant life and the marshlands offered both protection and nourishment.
The settling Hungarians conquered the area in around 900, but they only occupied it sparsely. This settlement was established on the right bank of the River Zala where a dry area stood out of the marshes. It is mentioned in a 1247 charter as Egurscug villa regis (Egerszeg royal village). It must have been a noteworthy place, also demonstrated by the fact the bishop retained the rights of supervision for himself. As early as 1446 it was mentioned as a market town.
During the Turkish era the bishop's mansion on the site of the current county courts was transformed into a border fortress with wooden towers and earth bastions. At the time of the Turkish attacks its significance grew after the fall of the nearby town of Kanizsa in 1600 since the ford across the Zala floodplain and marshland ran here. It became the centre of the small border fortresses of the Zala region. It suffered greatly from the Turkish onslaughts and was even taken in 1664. Once, to avoid it falling into Turkish hands, the defenders set it alight before fleeing. Following the recapture of Kanizsa in 1690 the the town lost its importance and the castle fell victim to the lack of maintenance.
In the early 18th century, the general assemblies of the noble county were held here with increasing frequency and subsequently the county hall was built. The darkest days of town history were in 1826 when most of this market town burnt down in a fire. Development took another upswing after 1850 when the number of local institutions grew and the staff became permanent. This brought about immigration and settlement next to building activities and thus even more work opportunities. Zalaegerszeg gradually became a clerks' town. In 1851, it had 4,000 inhabitants and a post office. Viticulture practised on its fertile lands was considerable.
It was connected to the railway network quite late and in consequence in the 1872 administrative re-structuring it became one of the few county seats that retained the status of a large village. It was granted city status only in 1885.
In the post-World War II industrialisation a crude oil refinery, clothing factory, butter factory, resin factory were established among others, calling for thousands of employees from the nearby villages. The Hungarian Urban Studies Association (Magyar Urbanisztikai Társaság) recognised the town's development with the Hild Prize in 1975. The expanding town today encompasses 17 once independent villages. (Source: Vendégváró)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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