Veszprém County lying in the embrace of Lake Balaton and the Bakony Hills is a uniquely wonderful part of Hungary. The chief town of the county is Veszprém, probably the oldest centre of Hungarian history. The city was the first Hungarian Episcopal seat, and for centuries the region’s cultural and administrative centre. The wildly romantic tract of the forests of Bakony with its streams and caves, the cool waves of Balaton, the 1178 memorial places of this county all promise numerous unforgettable experiences.
Veszprém, the city of Queens, lies where the Bakony Hills meet the Balaton Uplands, 110 km southwest of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and 15 km north of Lake Balaton. The good location, easy access, diverse geographical features, and the values due to its rich history and vibrant intellectual and cultural character make Veszprém a popular tourist destination. Built on seven hills, it is also called ’the Rome of Transdanubia’, which in 2023 – together with the Balaton region – wears the title of European Capital of Culture.
The city, with a population of nearly 60 000, has been part of the Balaton special tourism development area since 2017. Both residents and visitors enjoy the proximity of the largest freshwater lake of Central Europe and the countless leisure activities offered by the lake and the settlements along the shore. The hiking and educational trails of the forests of the Bakony Hills and the sites of the Balaton Uplands National Park can also be easily linked with a sightseeing in Veszprém. Veszprém primarily concentrates on cultural tourism within the urban area, and during everydays – thanks to its developed economy – business tourism is significant.
Short history and location
The dearest oral tradition to our heart, that the city was the favourite residence of The Grand Prince Géza, of King Stephen I and his wife Gisela. Veszprém reached the height of its popularity around the first millennium during the reign of the first royal couple. They established a bishopric, and with their support the St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Nuns’ Monastery of Veszprémvölgy, where, according to the legend, that vestment was made that became the coronation mantle of the Hungarian kings. Gisela donated the embroidered garment to the church of Veszprém, which, according to the interpretation of the posterity, made the settlement to the “city of the queens,” which was confirmed by law in 1216 as the bishop’s coronation right. The town was originally called Bezprem, as a compound word of Slavic origin. Meaning, according to our linguists: uneven.
The following centuries brought destruction and reconstruction, fires, earthquakes, and epidemics ravaged the city, destroying the Hungarian lords who fought for power, not sparing the country’s first higher education institution, the 13th centurial Chapter College. In the middle of the 16th century, Veszprém became almost equal to the land due to Ottoman attacks. The reconstruction began in the beginning of the 18th century, in the Baroque sense. Bishop Márton Padányi Bíró eliminated the medieval tiny alley-like character of the Castle, creating a representative Trinity Square lined with canon palaces, creating one of the largest inhabited, historic castles in Hungary.
The hard work of the last years has been accomplished, by the decision of the professional jury and the Government of Hungary, Veszprém and the Lake Balaton region can host the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2023. With this, the city and the Lake Balaton region was given the opportunity to create the future of Europe by the culture and by involving citizens – as it is the essence of the European Capital of Culture initiative: to pass on our heritage and create something new through intercultural dialogue.
According to our ancestors, Veszprém was built on seven hills, and archaeological findings also prove that people lived in this area in prehistoric times. Indeed the city of the Queens is situated on the hills and valleys of the Séd stream, at the confluence of three small landscapes: it is bordered from north the Bakony hills, from south the Balaton-highland, from east the northwest extension of the plain Mezőföld.
Quiet narrow streets and bells that always toll. Modern houses with green lawns at the foot of the old castle walls, covered with ivy. Romantic summer evenings with wind that never stops. Deep arches and towers reaching to the sky. Hills and valleys.
A splendid royal past with an innovative dynamic vision.
Main cultural events – the town of festivals
The Festival of Dance opens the events in Spring with the greatest contemporary dance artists in Hungary. The best dance groups and performers enchant the audiences during the days of the festival, which is regarded as a prestige event for the profession. The Gizella Days Festival, one of the largest cultural events of the city, encourages the generations to appreciate and promote our culture and traditions. The festival provides opportunities to perform with the arts ensembles of Veszprém and its twin towns, as well as the art groups of the minorities living here. Veszprém is the city where world famous stars (like Al Dimeola, Paco de Lucia, Bobby McFerrin, Katie Melua) have walked our cobblestoned streets for almost a decade. Opera, jazz, soul, swing and instrumental guitar music: the most different musical styles and genres form a coherent entity in the frame of VeszprémFest.
There are various other artistic and cultural events, including Folklore Festivities, the Rozé Risling & Jazz Festival, the Auer Festival of Violin which attract many visitors. The Street Music Festival takes place in the middle of the summer, when street performers (representing various styles) fill the squares of the city centre. The youngest ones can enjoy the Kabóciádé Family Festival with puppets ans so much more.
Several further cultural events are organised every year to show the colourful cultural life of Veszprém.
Transport in town
Veszprém is a middle-sized Hungarian town, where the main attractions, places – and also the university are close to each other. That means it is easy and quick to reach every part of the town on foot – but there are many means of transport available. The V-bus company has several bus lines to provide scheduled services all over Veszprém – and it is also easy to travel by bus to the nearby villages or to the hills, to the Lake Balaton. There are Lime e-rollers to be used, which is very convenient in the hilly roads of Veszprém. A new system of electronic motorcycle renting is also under testing in the town and there is a taxi service available, too.
Veszprém has many restaurants in various styles from the fine-dining places (like Villa Medici Restaurant) to the traditional Hungarian restaurants (like Gourmandia Restaurant) with some special (like Gusto 13 Bistro) or funny examples (like Fricska Home Restaurant). There are international fast food restaurants (McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC) and street food places, too, and many small restaurants offer daily menus, which is also a cheap form of eating. Besides bakeries and shops big shopping malls are also available. There are many bars, pubs and various places for evening entertainment – some of them especially made for students.
Despite the small size of the city it has 4 theatres. The 103-year-old stone Veszprém Petőfi Theatre has a diverse repertoire of plays and musicals without forgetting the classical pieces. The recently refurbished Bujtor-Latinovits Chamber Theatre is a small place for more intimate performances. The Pannon Theatre has been offering high quality performances for ten years now, not only in their theatre building but also in the culture centres of rural areas. In this welcoming and family friendly city even the little ones are not left out of the theatrical programmes as the Kabóca Puppet Theatre is open for them all year round.
There is a Cinema City place in the town centre where new films are showed and another movie with a film club for special films. Close to the university the music club of Expresso can be found where various concerts and parties are held regularly.
Excursions in the surroundings
Some recommended tours and excursions around Veszprém (to be explored individually)
- Tihany and Balatonfüred: two important towns worth visiting at the Lake Balaton. In Tihany the religious heritage and the lavender visitor centre are attracting tourists. Balatonfüred is famous for its lakeside promenade and its wine.
- Alsóörs: another settlement at the lake, where free time activities can be tested
- Balaton Uplands: visit of the natural attractions of the National Park with a special dinner from local food
- Adventures in an activity park with wall climbing and archery
- Budapest: one-day trip in the capital with non-traditional sightseeing
- Zirc and Bakonybél: trip to the Bakony Hills, visiting religious heritage and a special museum on astronomy and space travel
- Pannonhalma: visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Benedictian Abbey of Pannonhalma
- Várpalota: special guided tour in the castle museum
The official tourism website of Veszprém: https://www.veszpreminfo.hu/en
Veszprém-Balaton 2023 image video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwrGDXcjJA4
Virtual tour in Veszprém: https://www.veszpreminfo.hu/virtualtour/index_en.html#p=veszprem_01
Veszprém-Balaton 2023 ECoC
Welcome to Hungary’s new cutural, creative region – Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture
The aim of the Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture project is to make Veszprém, together with the Balaton region, a new cultural hub of Europe.
The European Capital of Culture title is an opportunity for the region to join forces to showcase its centuries-old traditions, cultural diversity, gastronomy and natural assets to Europe and the domestic public.
The ECoC VEB 2023 programme pays particular attention to a number of horizontal principles in it sown and co-producedevents. These are sustainability, volunteering and visitor-friendly programming.
Even before it was awarded the title, Veszprém had already hosted several events and festivals of national and international importance covering a wide range of music and related arts. In addition to popular festivals and events like VeszprémFest, Utcazene (Street Music) Festival, Auer Festival and DANCE Festival, the city of Veszprém is also enriched with new programmes in the ECoC year. Whether it’s music played for joy, acoustic concerts or street performances, the city’s vibrant cultural diversity will captivate all visitors. Newly opened design shops, bars and service providers promoting local gastronomy will help you relax in the city centre.
Event calendar: VEB2023 mobile application: https://veszprembalaton2023.hu/en/page/veb-2023-mobile-application