One of the best ways to get to know a city and its people is through its culture and history. Sculptures and statues are markers of significant moments and people throughout history.
Debrecen has many statues that can act as your guide through the cities history. The places and statues below are a good place to start.
Debrecen City Center
Csokonai Vitéz Mihály
Mihály Csokonai Vitéz was an innovative Hungarian poet, born and raised in Debrecen. He found fame only after death and in the subsequent years had a high school, and a theatre named after him in Debrecen.
Without a doubt, Mihály Csokonai Vitéz is an important historical figure for Debrecen, and thus his statue is well worth a visit and centrally located next to the Great Reformed Church, making for easy viewing.
There is also a tribute to him both in the sculpture park on Medgyessy Promenade (literary sculpture park) and in the House of Literature & Medgyessy Ferenc Memorial Museum (Déri Museum).
St. Stephen is venerated in Hungary as the founder of the Hungarian state. With his coronation as the first King of Hungary, the country entered into the group of Christian nations within Europe. Today, St.Stephen is the patron saint of Hungary.
Although born a pagan, he was later baptized and grew up as a Christian. He, as the son of a Magyar chieftain and leader known as “Géza”, married well to the daughter of Duke Henry II of Bavaria, who later become the Holy Roman Emperor Henry II.
After the death of his father in 997, he overcame a challenge by his cousin, who, according to the prior Árpad succession rules had a legitimate claim to the throne. As the victor, he executed his cousin for being pagan and was crowned on Christmas day 1000 AD with a gifted Crown from Pope Sylvester II, the iconic crown is a national treasure.
Kossuth, The Statue, The Square
The Kossuth statue is located in a Square which also bears his name and was created by Szigfrid Pongrácz and Ede Margó (1914). It was erected in memory of a key moment in history, during the meeting held in the Great Reformed Church in 1849. The assembly before which Kossuth read the Declaration of Independence.
A pivotal moment in Hungarian history when Debrecen was for a short period, the capital of Hungary.
Besides Kossuth there are several other important statues located in Kossuth Square, celebrating literary heroes, including:-
As the acclaimed author of “The Door”, and “Abigail” Magda Szabo is internationally recognized but she was much more besides just a novelist. She started out as a poet in the 1950’s, only later becoming known for her novels. She is considered by many as one of Hungary’s greatest writers, her works, are published in more than 42 countries. She died in 2007 but her memory lives on, this statue above is the first of her, – no doubt of many to come.
The below statue is of Lőrinc Szabó, another poet and excellent essayist, one of many poets of the age that studied in Debrecen.
The Great Forest
One hundred years ago, on January 27, 1919, Endre Ady, one of the greatest poets of the Hungarian literature, died.
Ady was born into an impoverished noble family, studied law in Debrecen, but he was more attracted to bohemian life, so he became a journalist in 1898. Although he spent only three years in Debrecen, it was a defining moment in his life: because it was here that he became a journalist and poet, switching from being a law student.
Almost 150 of his writings have been published, mainly in ‘The Debrecen’ newspaper, the ‘Debrecen Inspector’ and the ‘Debrecen Morning Newspaper’.
A copy of his first poetry volume, dedicated to Ilona Varga, can still be seen in the Museum of Literature, while his most famous monument is located in the Great Forest Park next to the Medgyessy Promenade. The monument is the Miklós Melocco’s suggestive work (1977) where the poet faces his own death mask.
Take time to appreciate the many sculptures of famous Hungarians, located in the literary sculpture park, located to either side of Medgyessy Promenade.
University of Debrecen
The grounds in front of the University of Debrecen are well worth a visit with several statues of prominent people, individuals whom greatly contributed to the city of Debrecen though their good works. This includes statues of Istvan Tisza and Kunó Klebelsberg, without whom the University would not exist today.
The statue of István Tisza by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Stróbl, was always meant to stand in front of the main building of the University of Debrecen to honor his contribution as founder, however until recently it stood elsewhere and then in 2000 it was restored and then in 2016 finally rededicated in the statues final resting place.
“I would regard it as one of the greatest accomplishments of my life if a university was to be established in Debrecen, the town where I pursued my studies at a young age.” Count István Tisza (1861–1918) (the inscription on the pedestal of the statue). On a side note, István Tisza was also two-times prime minister of Hungary and note that the University of Debrecen was also, originally named after him.