Gyor History Facts and Timeline

(Gyor, Gyor-Moson-Sopron, Hungary)

North-western Hungary's most significant city, Gyor, has been a popular place to live in central Europe since the dawn of civilisation. The Celts were the first to set up shop, and over the proceeding millennia nearly every other power of the day took their turn in running the city.

Since Gyor sits at the meeting point of the Danube and Rába Rivers, in the heart of Hungary's Little Plain, it has always been seen as the most strategic site in the region.


The Celts were the first people to stamp their mark on the history of Gyor, settling the site along the Danube River in the 5th century BC. They called their town Arrabona, a name that stuck for the next 800 years - even after the Celts had been replaced by the Avars, who were in turn displaced by the Romans in the 1st century BC. The Germans refer to the city as Raab, while the Slovaks call it Ráb.

The Origins of Hungary

After the Romans moved out in the 4th century AD, the city remained inhabited by other regional groups including the Slavs, the Lombards and the Avars, until Gyor finally fell under the control of the Magyars around 900 AD. The Magyar kings were the forefathers of modern day Hungary, and after their first king Stephen I fortified the old Roman castle, he gave the town its present name Gyor in the 11th century. Stephen established a bishopric, granted the town a royal charter and transformed the place into a gateway of river trade along the Danube.

A Rough Few Centuries

The history of Gyor was not spared the turmoil that enveloped the rest of Hungary between the 13th and 17th centuries. After being occupied by the Mongols in 1242, the Czechs made their appearance at the beginning of the 1270s and razed the city to the ground. Various barons and counts tried to annex Gyor in the 1300s and 1400s, creating a seemingly endless series of battles and political intrigue.

When the Ottoman Turks arrived in central and eastern Hungary in the mid-1500s, Gyor's ruler of the day, Kristof Lamberg, believed it would be impossible to defend the city against the Turkish army. His solution was simply to set fire to the entire city. When the Turks finally arrived here, they found little more than a pile of blackened rubble and named the site Yanik Kale (which translates as 'burnt city').

Rebuilding the City

Perhaps it was a good thing that Lamberg destroyed his own city, because it was then rebuilt from the ground up. From this point in its history, Gyor enjoyed nearly two centuries of prosperity. From the town centre of Szechenyi Square, Renaissance-style buildings sprouted up along the broad grid of streets, with a new castle and city walls designed by the leading Italian architects of the era.

Since the city and its castle were literally surrounded by water, the invading Ottoman Turks had a hard time capturing Gyor. While the Turks held most of Hungary, the Habsburgs controlled their empire from Vienna. The city was seen as the frontier between the two hostile empires, earning it the nickname of 'Dear Guard', due to it keeping watch over Hungary from invaders.

Modern Times in the City

The city walls no longer exist, as when Napoleon briefly occupied the castle in the early part of the 19th century, he blasted several sections of the wall. When he left, the city's leaders realised that they could expand the city and therefore chose to remove the rest of the wall.

Again, the Danube River propelled the city's economy in the 19th century, as steamship trade appeared in Europe. Even after the railway displaced Gyor's usefulness as a trade route, the city turned to industrial ventures - a focus that has continued right into modern times.