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History of The Theatrical Hall + Largest Synagogue of Debrecen

Going North from the main square, towards the Main Railway Station, we cannot pass by Batthány Street without talking about some hidden gems and those lost to history. 

Batthány Street is named after Count Lajos Batthyány (1807-1849) who was the first Prime Minister of Hungary, he was born in Bratislava, Slovakia and was later executed by firing squad in Pest on 6 October 1849, the same day as the 13 Martyrs of Arad.

Until the middle of the 19th century,  the street was called Kis-Varga Street, and then  “Harmincados köz” (“thirtieth” in English). The name used to refer to the fact that the royal tax office was located there. 

During Hungarian Revolution of 1848, Sándor Petőfi, the Hungarian poet, lived here. The memorial plaque under the house at 16 Batthány Street preserves the memory of the fact that in 1848 tailor Ormos housed the poet and his family here. The poet’s son, Zoltán Petőfi, was also born here.

Another famous building translates from Hungarian as “the barn”, was a theatrical hall located at today’s Batthyány-Szent Anna street. It was the home of theatrical performances back in the 1800s. There were frequent theatrical performances starring János Arany and Sándor Petőfi.

Photo credit: debrecenikepeslapok.blogpost.hu

In addition, the building at today’s Batthyány-Kossuth street was famous for its former actor’s club, while the famous gingerbread bakery was operating at No. 4.

The former Great Synagogue

Heading North from the Batthyány, to the Main Railway Station, let’s remember the largest synagogue in Debrecen. The former Great Synagogue on Deák Street was built in September 1897 based on the plans of Jacob Gärtner.

Photo credit: Fortepan

The church with 600 seats on the ground floor and 250-250 seats on the gallery above was the only three-tower church in the city. The Islamic appearance of the exterior façade was further enhanced by the interchanging four rows of yellow brick and 10 rows of red brick cladding.

There was a bulb dome of two meters radiated on the top and the star was mounted above it, making the church 44 meters high. During World War II, the building was damaged and the unsafe structural parts were demolished in October 1948. The church was later permanently demolished.