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Going Green, Eighty Years On, The Legacy of the Great Forest

The Great Forest is located on the northern border of Debrecen sitting upon an area of 1086.1 hectares. The Great Forest was donated by King Sigismund in 1405 to the towns of Debrecen. This was confirmed by Zsigmond János in 1583, György Rákóczi I. in 1665, and Lipót I in 1669.

Eighty years ago today, on October 10, 1939, 30 hectares of the Great Forest, the northeastern corner, was registered as the first protected area in the Hungarian Nature Conservation Register. Finally, in the spring of 1992, the then Minister of the Environment extended protection to cover the entire Great Forest area. The national protected area is a part of the Natura 2000 network.

Today, the area is owned by the state and managed by Nyírerdő Zrt.

The classic villas of the city are still found along Simony road (part of the Great Forest area) such as the villages of Chanak, Sestina, former Fráter, Sajó, and Borsos.

The “Promenade Medgyessy” is also located here, just a few meters from the promenade on either side you can see statues of historical figures, celebrities like Mihály Fazekas, János Arany or Árpád Tóth.

One of the most popular destinations within the Great Forest Park is Lake Békás which, with its spectacular fountains and sunbeds is a great place to relax or have a nice picnic. Next to the Lake Békás, there is a safe, modern and accessible playground for children from 3 to 14 years of age.  If you want to exercise in the good air, you can exercise outdoors in the park, play on the petanque or the giant chessboard, alternatively take a stroll or cycle on the cozy promenades.

Lake Békás

It is vitally important to teach young people about protecting and preserving the Great Forest and so children can learn about wildlife and forestry here. Birds and insects are everywhere and along the path leading to and around Lake Békés they can be seen, and within the forest, you will find information boards about the various inhabitants.  Bird boxes can be seen everywhere among the trees. 

The forest is also bike-friendly with a cycle route taking cyclists on a fast track right through the heart of the park alongside the lake and on towards the stadium.

See & Do: Enjoy the Great Forest Every Day

The great forest’s central location next to the University and on the tram line makes it easy to incorporate into daily life.  Taking the time to walk through each day somehow makes life’s troubles drop away.  Skirting around Lake Békás off the central path onto the forest tracks is a transformative experience, providing a sense of peace and tranquillity.  For just a few minutes each day take the time to become one with the forest.

The Aquaticum Health & Spa Center lies directly next to the tram line adjacent to Lake Békés, and so the logical progression after a tranquil walk is to stop for a soothing, relaxing thermal bath.  The secret to Debrecen’s thermal water lies in its high mineral content and temperature of 65°C and its beneficial properties are long known.  Since 1826 and the water has been sought out for curative properties.  Consequently, Debrecen’s sites of thermal water are a major tourist attraction.  Not surprisingly the old tired public baths that lie behind the Aquaticum Health & Spa Center are being renewed into a spectacular water wonderworld.

Aquaticum Spa
Aquaticum Spa

The Mist Theater

Next to this bathing area lies the tram line and the Mist Theater beyond alongside the DVSC football stadium all of which sits within the Forest Park area.  The Mist is generated by a powerful water fountain feature, which during the summer alternates from a fine spray fan, – which incidentally the kids love to play around, alternating to a powerful jet of water skyrocketing high above the trees before falling down across the surrounding area. 

Sometimes the water falls upon spectators if the wind catches it just so.  It’s fun to watch as the children below navigate the steppingstone path leading around the water fountain and across the water feature.  It’s worth mentioning here for the kids, that Debrecen Zoo lies just a short 10 minutes walk from here to one side of the Football stadium.

What to do with Kids in Debrecen
Mist Theater daytime

The Football Stadium

The design of the stadium is such that you can walk around the circumference, this involves rising high above the ground on a raised platform among the treetops.  The stadium has become the focal point for major city events like the flower festival, Drive and the Campus festival, all are recurring events held each year during the summer.

The Water Tower

For an even higher vantage point, you can climb the Water Tower, which has become a popular tourist spot due to its location and café at the base, making it the perfect pit stop for refreshments.

From the top of the tower you can look down across the city and across the surrounding tree canopy to the stadium and on the other side look down to the new water park which is still under construction at the time of writing (due for completion in 2020).

Nagyerdei Water Tower
Nagyerdei Water Tower

Whatever your purpose in Debrecen, take the time to relax and enjoy life.  Come prepared for a walk and a soothing thermal water bath.