The area of the town has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age. The ancient Romans also liked this territory. This fact can be certified by the ruins of the enormous fort built in Fenékpuszta, which can be found in the outskirts of the town. The name of the town can be derived from the Roman “castellum” (border castle). One of the most well-known buildings of the town is the Parish church on the Main Square with its monastery - where we can find the biggest Gothic frescoes in Hungary. The... tovább history of Keszthely is almost inseparable from the Festetics name. The Festetics family was very dominant in the town life in the 18-
19th century - economically and culturally as well. The most famous member of the family was György Festetics who was a pledged sponsor of arts.He created the Helikon festivities in 1817 and from this date the festivities were held every second year, where the most famous poets, writers of Transdanubia were received in the castle. According to a bustling cultural life
Keszthely was named as “a little Hungarian Weimar”. György founded the first agricultural college of Europe, under
the name Georgikon in 1776. The biggest sailing boat of Lake Balaton, the Phoenix galley was made in 1797.
Keszthely owns the proud title of being the “Capital of Balaton”, where history, culture and the charm of the “Summer Country” have met in a fortunate way. Keszthely has an atmosphere, where the visitor will see the remains of the past at every turn. Like the promenade along the shore with hundred-year old hotels and the unique Island-bath of Lake Balaton, which is the only remaining island-bath of the lake radiating the atmosphere of “the happy time of peace.” ... concert or a performance under the old trees of the open-air theatre can be a worthy closing of the day.
The Pedestrian Zone extends from the Festetics Castle to the Main square. It is a good pastime to drink a cup of strong coffee on the terrace of a café in the Pedestrian Zone and to take delight in the sight of the old houses. The Balaton Congress Centre and Theatre organizes several festivals and one of the scenes of the programs is the Pedestrian Zone. The colourful commotion
in the street is complemented by portrait painters, icecream sellers, street musicians and craftsmen offering all kinds of trinkets. Who longs for quieter meditation and withdrawal can take a walk under the platans of the Helikon Park but “the town of museums” can offer sights for the lovers of history and arts as well.
The Balaton Museum shows the flora and fauna of Lake Balaton. The Georgikon Grange Museum revives the agriculture
of the region. The dolls in national costume in the Doll Museum is also worth visiting.
The town lives together with the many-coloured lake. Who has already spent his holiday here must have nice memories; a walk under the platans of the shore, a boat-excursion by the Csobánc, a visit in the most nicely renovated Castles of Hungary at night... or a classical
Suggested walking tours: In the Middle Ages Keszthely had two centres, the present Fő tér/Main Square and the surroundings of the mansion, and the sights are still to be found in these places and the pedestrian street connecting them. Let us start our sightseeing tour in Main Square. Here you can see the Polgármesteri Hivatal/Mayor's Office, the foundations of which are from the 18th century, its present form was built in Louis seize (late Baroque). The square is dominated by the Franciscan Monastery and its church, which was used as a border fortress during the Turkish occupation. Its sanctuary boasts the largest Gothic frescos of Hungary. The tower was added in the 1880s, but the rose-window is original. The equestrian statue of Lackfi István palatine in front of the church was inaugurated in the year of the millennium. At the eastern end of the square stand the Holy Trinity Statue, which was erected in 1770. The northern section of Kossuth Street, which is now a Pedestrian Precinct, starts from Main Square. It offers numerous catering and shopping facilities. The majority of the buildings in the Pedestrian Precinct was built in the second half of the last century. The coat-of-arms on the facade of the building at 28 Kossuth Street shows that this building used to be the former Town Hall. Today it houses the Goldmark Cultural Centre and the TOURINFORM Bureau. The house number 22. is the so called Pethő or Goldmark House, which was built on medieval basements in the 18th century. This is where the famous composer was born in 1830. In the courtyard of the arched Baroque building you can see the Eclectic-style Synagogue, re-built several times. The continuation of the pedestrian street is the Kastély Street, which leads to the main entrance of the Festetics Mansion. This is where the employees of the estate used to live. The street is dominated by the Peasant Baroque style buildings. The Párizsi udvar (Parisian Court) formed in the courtyard of the house number 5. fits in perfectly in this atmosphere. The building of the Festetics Mansion was commenced in 1745 and gained its present form between 1884 and 1887. The 101-room building houses a museum and a conference centre. Its most valuable room is the Library, built from 1799 to 1801, where the furniture is original and the stock of volumes is about 86.000. There are 16 chambers showing the aristocratic life of the 18-19th centuries. We can also visit here the most beautiful ornamental weapons of the Hungarian National Museum, as well as the famous Windischgraetz trophy collection. The Mirror Gallery is the scene of various concerts every day during the tourist season. In front of the main entrance to the mansion you can see the statue of the most famous member of the family, Festetics György (1755-1819). The park which originally measured 42 hectares, is now a nature reserve, there is a French garden and an English garden where we can find numerous tree rarities. Besides the pedestrian street and its surroundings there are other sights worth visiting in the town. The original building of the Georgikon, the first institute of higher agricultural education established by Festetics György in 1797, can be seen at 20 Georgikon Street. Today it is a hotel. The farmstead, which used to serve educational purposes, houses the Georgikon Majormúzeum (Grange Museum), with exhibitions about the history of higher agricultural education in Hungary, about corn production, viniculture. There is also a carriage exhibition with a wheelwright and a blacksmith workshop. The steam-plough is an imposing sight especially if you consider that it is still in working order. Bem Street, which goes down from the north-eastern end of Main Square, takes us to the upper entrance of the Market, which is worth visiting mainly on Wednesdays and Saturdays, that is the weekly market days. Rákóczi Street at the lower entrance of the market has also become a kind of shopping centre during the past couple of years. The Fórum House, which connects Bem Street and Rákóczi Street, is one of the most beautiful modern buildings of the town. In the southern part of Kossuth Street stands the well-proportioned Neo-Baroque building of the Balatoni Museum. On the first floor there are permanent exhibitions telling the visitors about the development of the Balaton, its flora and fauna and the historical relics of its surroundings. On the ground floor you can find the Roman and Medieval Lapidary and the memorial room of the famous painter, János Halápy. Erzsébet királyné Street takes us from Main Square to the Balaton coast; its villas were built at the beginning of the 20th century. It goes along the biggest green area of the town, Helikon Park, where you can see the Helikon Memorial, a landmark of the town, which was erected to commemorate the Helikon Festivals held in the years 1817-1819. The Hullám and the Balaton Hotels built at the beginning of the 19th century uniquely survived the past decades. At the Municipal Beach, the Island-bath still keeps the silhouettes of the original building. The pier, which protrudes deep into the lake provides a harbour for the boats cruising the lake on schedule and a favourite fishing place at the same time. One of the traditional events to take place on the coast at the end of July is the so called Borutca /Wine Boulevard/, which is a presentation of the wines of the Balaton region with cultural performances.
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