Keszthely is the center of the Keszthely district, located in Transdanubia, in Zala county, in the western corner of Lake Balaton, with a lively tourism, an important economy, a significant history and culture.


It is located at the western end of Lake Balaton, on the shores of Keszthely Bay, north of the mouth of the river Zala, in a flat area on the south and slightly hilly in the north. The hills and mountains of the Zala Hills and the Keszthely Plateau in the area surround the city. Its climate is more balanced due to the proximity of the Adriatic Sea and Lake Balaton, the summers are less hot and the winters are less frosty.

The city is on the Balatonszentgyörgy – Tapolca – Ukk railway line. It can be reached by direct flights from Budapest, Miskolc, Nyíregyháza and several large Transdanubian cities (such as Kaposvár, Pécs, Siófok, Székesfehérvár, Szombathely). Due to the growing tourist traffic in the summer, the number of flights to Keszthely will increase, and direct flights will depart from several parts of the country and from Vienna. Suburban trains run to Tapolca and via Marcal to Somogyszob (on the Somogyszob – Balatonszentgyörgy railway line, passenger transport will be suspended from 13 December 2009 and from the 2009/2010 schedule change). In the improperly organized railway network of Zala county, the connection between Keszthely and other county settlements is not solved, so no one other than three neighboring villages can be reached by direct train.

Road traffic
Despite the good railway connections, the driving force of Keszthely's transport is not provided by rail, but by road. The city can also be reached by car on the main road 71 from the northern shore of Lake Balaton or through Balatonszentgyörgy from the southern shore. The main road 75 from Rédics – Lenti and the main road 76 from Körmend – Zalaegerszeg end at the border of the city. The city is surrounded by the ring road of road 71. Parking in the city center is subject to a fee.

There are several inferior but national road sections in the territory of Keszthely, some of which were a section of the main road 71 before the handover of the ring road bypassing the city; other routes used to start in the city center, while they now start on the periphery. Major inferior roads include road 7327 to Sümeg and road 7343 to Várvölgy; the roads that relieve the downtown area include, but are not limited to, road 7347 running east-west in the northern part of the city and road 7348 running along the western edge of the city.

Due to the good road conditions (and the poor railway supply of the surrounding settlements), the suburban bus network operated by Volánbusz is far above the Hungarian average. An average of 10–20 flight pairs connect the city with the settlements of the micro-region on a daily basis, but there are also frequent flights to the county seat (Zalaegerszeg) and Tapolca. There are long-distance flights between Keszthely and Budapest, as well as almost all major cities in Transdanubia, as well as Kecskemét, Baja and Szeged. The city also has local transport on six lines. There is a flight to Hévíz from Keszthely every quarter of an hour.

According to the plans published in the 2014-2030 Balaton Regional Development Concept, Hévíz and Keszthely, located next to Keszthely and famous for its medicinal water, would be connected by a tram line. The tram would pass through 2 cities to connect the intercity and local bus stations. Several ideas were made for the trail as well as the stops. According to the study, they would not buy new trams on the line, but e.g. nostalgic, yet "semi-modern", used vehicles (eg SGP E1 trams, which are no longer used in Miskolc).

In summer, boat services connect it with several settlements on Lake Balaton, including Badacsonny and Balatonlelle.

Not far from the city, Sármellék International Airport operates in Sármellék, which mainly receives German planes.



Prehistoric times

Excavations in the city today still provide more and more evidence that the first traces of human life around the city date back to the Neolithic Age. However, it can be assumed that humans may have lived for this before, but the remains of its waterfront settlements are currently covered by Lake Balaton. A BC. In the 6th millennium, the people living there switched from the collecting, fisherman-hunter lifestyle to the productive way of life, farming and animal husbandry. Thus, permanent settlements inhabited for a longer or shorter period of time were established here. Archaeological finds have been made in different parts of the city, but there were three well-separated settlement nodes inhabited and served as burial sites in several eras. These settlements can be observed in the northern part of the city border, in the vicinity of Dobogó Hill, in the present-day area of ​​the city, and in the south, around Fenékpuszta. These sites mark the route of a north-south long-distance trade route leading to the Balaton crossing. More tangible evidence of the trade has been found, such as obsidian blades known from Neolithic deposits or a Triton snail horn from the Mediterranean region found in a Middle Copper Age cult building in the Fenékpuszta. However, farming and animal husbandry did not cover the full needs of the people who lived here, so gathering, hunting and fishing could continue to play an important role. As proof of this, the objects of a late Copper Age, open water fishing hut were found in Fenékpuszta under peat almost 2 m deep.

We do not know the exact names of the tribes that settled in the south in different periods of prehistory, and the science classifies them into cultures named after their characteristic objects, ornaments, first location, and area of ​​distribution. The second phase of the Neolithic line-decorated pottery culture is called the Keszthely group from a settlement along Zsidi út. Findings from the lowest strata of excavations in the city center also confirm this.

The material culture of the Middle Copper Age was named the Balaton-Lasinja culture based on the sites around Keszthely. There were different numbers of settlements in each pre-time period. The densest is the BC. From the 12th century, at the end of the Bronze Age, the so-called during the urn field culture they lived around the city. A BC. In the early Iron Age, which started in the 7th century, the lower part of the Zala Valley became uninhabited, but until the late migration, the area of ​​the town remained inhabited due to the Fenékpuszta crossing, which served as the most important West-Balaton crossing. A BC. In the 4th century, the Celts came to the area, who conquered the northern half of Transdanubia to the line of Lake Balaton. The use of iron was widely disseminated, from which not only weapons and jewelery, but also utensils and tools were made, and the introduction of the foot-driven potter's disc is associated with their name. Vibrant trade relations were maintained with Italy and the Balkans, and silver was minted on the Greek model.

From the Romans to the conquest
BC Between 13 and 8, General Tiberius conquered Transdanubia, where the Romans organized the province of Pannonia. The important trade and war route that crossed this diagonally, connecting the provincial capital Aquincum with Aquileia, crossed Lake Balaton in Fenékpuszta (Valcum). Here he crossed another important road that connected Sopianae (Pécs) with Augusta Treverorum (Trier). Several settlements have been established around the important junction. The finds and tombstones of the cemetery of the settlement in the southern part of the city prove that not only the Celtic natives, but also those with Roman civil rights - mainly merchants - lived here. The advanced Roman industry, agrotechnics and trade brought rapid changes to the life of the area, and a great deal of development began in agriculture. After 160, a series of invasions by barbarians living on the other side of the Danube wreaked havoc, so by the 3rd century there was probably only one settlement left in the area (Fenékpuszta). Elsewhere, smaller or larger villas built in the 1st century may have stood. Some of them had full comfort and a separate bathroom in addition to the central heating. The results of the current excavations in the city center suggest that the ruins of the building (villa), which also extend under the medieval parish church and the adjacent grammar school, may date from two Roman periods.


In the 4th century, with the construction of the Fenékpuszta fortress (presumably Valcum), the area around Keszthely became densely populated again. In the north-south direction of the settlement, many cemetery finds of this age have been found. A cohors (a tenth of a legio) may have been stationed in the fort. In addition to protecting the important road to Italy, the fortress can also serve as a warehouse to supply the fortresses of the Danube limes. In 374, the invading barbarian peoples left traces of severe destruction on the fort. After that, the population of the area became sparse, but the area did not become uninhabited. The fort was later restored, so it continued to protect the people living here, even after the withdrawal of the Roman army in the 5th century. From 433 the area came under Hun rule.

From the two decades of the Huns' presence, we know the graves of two rich burial sites, a cavalry warrior and an upscale little girl from Keszthely. In 455 Emperor Avitus briefly restored Roman rule, but in 456 the Eastern Goths occupied the whole of Southern Transdanubia, including the fortress of Fenékpuszta, which was set on fire, so that most of the population was destroyed. Then, with the remaining locals, the building was put in order, which later served as the seat of one of their kings, Thiudimer (the father of Theodoric the Great). In the early 6th century, the area may have been under the influence of the Italian kingdom of the Eastern Goths, but after the death of Theoderic the Great in 526, it came under the rule of the Longobards. The fort was not occupied, but the crossing was brought under their control.

Keszthely and its surroundings were not inhabited by the Avars, here the indigenous people lived undisturbed, taxing food and handicrafts. After 568 more Christians came here. In the area around the Fenékpuszta fortress, the dead were buried in an area of ​​about 30 km in diameter, decorated with hitherto unknown Byzantine-rooted costumes, and the Fenékpuszta basilica was rebuilt. After 626, a civil war broke out, in which the leadership layer of Fenékpuszta stood on the side of the later losers, so the Avars destroyed the fortress around 630, and the remaining population was relocated to the area of ​​today's downtown Keszthely. The Christian population came under military surveillance. The Christian population, isolated from the outside world, created a unique material culture (the “Keszthely culture”), which is known only from seventeen cemeteries around Keszthely. It was then that Keszthely became the center of the area, after the Hévíz bay of Lake Balaton became so foggy that it was possible to pass through it. Thus, the Fenékpuszta crossing lost its significance, and the significantly narrower crossing at the end of Lake Balaton took over its role.

After the Franks abolished the Avar Empire at the end of the 8th century, Christians living in the vicinity of Keszthely were soon able to adopt Western Christian customs and bury their dead without any tomb attachments. The fortress of Fenékpuszta was re-established in the 9th century and the descendants of the Avars as well as the South Slavs moved here. However, the new center of the area was built around the other crossing point, on the Castle Island of Zalavár, around 840. The fortress created here was called Mosaburg (swamp castle) and was built by the Slavic chief, Pribina, who was expelled from Nitra and took refuge with the Franks. Later, this castle will be a Spanish center and named after Zala County.

From the conquest to the Turkish times
Between the 10th and the 12th century, no information was available on the population of the Keszthely area. In 1247 he first mentions the place in a written source, with a parish church dedicated to St. Martin in front of today's castle. The charter mentions another church, the Church of St. Lawrence, which can be identified with a round church - a rotunda - excavated in the Castle Garden. Its foundation walls can be seen south of the parish church on Fő tér. The royal estate with two churches, Keszthely, may have been a significant place as early as the middle of the 13th century. At the end of the century it was acquired by the Marcali family of the Péc genus, and by that time the southern part of the settlement already existed. Károly Róbert regained Keszthely, but his son, Lajos Nagy, gave it to István Lackfi. In the 14th century, a serious economic boom was observed in Keszthely, the settlement entered the path of urbanization. Its owner around 1385 settled Franciscan monks here. Their church was already standing in 1386, which is the same as today's parish church on Fő tér. His frescoes, discovered and restored in the sanctuary at the end of the 14th century, are the largest Gothic murals in present-day Hungary.


In 1397, István Lackfi, who was in favor of the opposition, was harassed by King Sigismund of Luxembourg. He was buried in the sanctuary of the Franciscan church, his tombstone was moved to the south wall of the sanctuary at the end of the last century. During the 15th century, the owners of Keszthely changed frequently. In 1403 Keszthely was already called oppidum (market town). Its inhabitants were still mainly engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing, the proportion of craftsmen and traders could not exceed 15-20%, but they provided the management. In 1390 the University of Vienna also had a student from Keszthely. After 1430, Keszthely became the property of the Gersei Pethő family from the Nádasd family for a long time. The family also had several stone houses in the town, their walled mansion standing on the site of today’s castle. Later, another building was built in the middle of Main Street.

At the end of the 15th century, Keszthely had a population of about 1,000, making it the most populous settlement in the area. For the prosperous city, however, this century was by no means a peaceful period. From 1359, the castle owners and landowners of the area gradually began to restrict the people of Keszthely in their rights or took away their property. In 1442, the prior of the Carthusians of Lövöld broke into the city, robbed the houses and churches, and set fire to the mansion of Pethők. In 1444 the Marcalis attacked the city and took away everything that could be moved, all the damage kicked in at about two thousand gold. Meanwhile, the people of Keszthely also forcibly occupied the island of Páh and attacked the neighboring villages.

The first raiding Turkish troops appeared in Keszthely in 1532, during the campaign against Vienna. Keszthely was looted in 1548, and the Pethő mansion was again the victim of a fire. The family moved to the abandoned Franciscan monastery, then János Geresi Pethő Jr. transformed its surroundings into a border castle. The number of guards, partly paid by the Pethő family and partly by the king, changed frequently. The castle guard stood next to István Bocskai in 1605, the peace of Vienna was not taken into account either, so the royal army had to siege the castle in 1608. Soldiers raided regularly to meet their livelihood needs, primarily in Turkish-dominated villages. In 1589, the town of Koppányi ravaged the city. After that, in the middle of the 17th century, the city center was surrounded by a plank wall and a ditch, thus dividing Keszthely into parts outside and inside the walls. Those living inside the wall were exempt from all lordly payments, while those stuck outside (residents of Kiskeszthely, Polgárváros) remained landlord serfs. In 1650, the Turks launched another attack on the castle, but he failed to take it, so Keszthely could remain in Hungarian hands throughout.

After the Turkish rule that ended in 1686, military service in the city was no longer needed. They were in danger of rejoining the serfs, so they joined the Rákóczi War of Independence. Between 1705 and 1709, the city was in Kuruc hands. After the peace of Satu Mare, the castle's defensive works, the city's gates were destroyed and the ramparts were filled.

From the Rákóczi War of Independence to the present day
At the beginning of the 18th century, Keszthely was owned by several landlords. Kristóf Festetics bought his parts from the biggest owner, János Pethő, in 1739. Subsequently, by acquiring the shares of the smaller owners, Keszthely became the sole owner. He, and later his son Paul, sought to deprive the townspeople of their privileges acquired in the Turkish age. They even restricted their market town rights, such as free election of judges and jurors. By 1772, the townspeople had only their dwellings in their possession, their vacant lands, without exception, passed to the Festetics family. But the appearance of the Festetics in the city also brought positive changes. Keszthely became the center of a huge estate, providing a livelihood for a growing number of craftsmen with many jobs. By 1772, 215 craftsmen had been enumerated in the city, grouped into 12 guilds. By 1785, its population was close to 3,500, which was more than the population of Zalaegerszeg or Kaposvár at that time, the second most populated settlement in Southwestern Transdanubia after Kanizsa. Kristóf Festetics founded a hospital in 1759 and Pál a grammar school in 1772. Construction of the castle began in 1745, but it did not gain its final form until the 1880s.


Keszthely, also the most significant figure of the Festetics family, György Festetics (1755–1819), who lived in Keszthely from 1791. He put a lot of energy into tidying up the outdated, debt-laden estate. In 1797, he founded Europe's first agricultural college, Georgikon, to meet his professional needs. The Phoenix galley, the largest sailing ship on Lake Balaton, was built in 1797 at the shipyard in the bottom. Between 1799 and 1801, he built a library wing for the castle, supporting the publication of several periodicals and works of fiction. From 1817 he organized the Helikon celebrations twice a year, hosting the most famous poets and writers of Transdanubia. Hence the saying from the mouth of Dániel Berzsenyi, who calls Keszthely “little Hungarian Weimar”.


Description of the settlement at the end of the 18th century:

Ornate field City Island Várm. lord of the earth G. Festetich Lordship, the enriched city of 'who e', and will be famous for it by the newer part of the Castle that is now being built, its inhabitants are Catholics, lies on the Country Road at the Lake Balaton party, close to fertile mountains, 's beautiful forests and fenced groves: fence, and from the south the' Róna free area shows rich fields, 's fat meadows.
Both its cynicism and its population were markedly aged by the construction of the late Castle of Paul G. Festetich, the famous Castle, and by various types of master people, which the current owner ages even more effectively. In addition to the said Castle, this ‘City’ is adorned with the ‘Holy Church’, in which the ‘Apostle of Hhotai bears the inner calling’. Other Szenteghyáz, of strong strength, also belong here, belonging to the ‘Fathers of the Monastery of St. Francis; 'S close to the School, which is in nice growth. The ‘inn’ also adorns the ‘City’, and is quite suitable accommodation for travelers. And if the castle of the Lord is fully built, there will be no other in a piece of land: in which there will be a rich library, and the ‘public will be open to profit. It adorns this ‘castle’, the ‘fruit garden’ made of selected trees; and if the ‘School of Economics’ is also set up, it will gain some attraction to this ‘City’ and the ‘Homeland’ will be of little use. The riches of the ‘our e’ City are both rich and diverse. The so-called Hévíz bath in Hungary, which has various benefits, is quite large (see 'in the work bag that came out of it in printing)' and if the water in the work bag that came out of it in printing) and if the water was separated from the cold water flowing to it. , without a doubt, one could hope for greater effectiveness: The stone mine is also rich, which the 'earthly lord' raises to stone quarries to even greater perfection by propagation, and by which the 'City' can be built more ornately, which in good time can become a famous trading city. A reminder is also the public benefit of the Lord, who “built good sails and a large sailing ship, brought it from Trieste by workers so that‘ even, ’and more, easier,’ and less could be transported to Keszthely. Its border is rich in fruit, its wine has enough fruit, its air is healthy, it has wood, its hunting grounds are beautiful, its fish is plentiful; so the City of Keszthely is nice and provides a good apartment for its residents.


(András Vályi: Description of the Hungarian Country, 1796–1799)

The son of György Festetics, László, built the bridge in 1839, facilitating traffic between Keszthely and Somogy counties. In 1829, Keszthely had about 7,000 inhabitants, including Cserszegtomaj, Gyenesdiás and Vonyarcvashegy, which belonged to the city at that time. The bathing life of Lake Balaton also started in the Reformation, the first bathing house was built, and in 1846 the first steamship of Lake Balaton, Kisfaludy, started its journey in Keszthely.

In the 1848 revolution, the 47th Army Battalion was formed from Georgikon students and high school students, and in September 1848, the 56th Battalion was formed from the citizens of Keszthely. After the defeat of the war of independence, the development of Keszthely slowed down. The liberation of serfdom did not particularly affect the city, as the residents owned barely 800 acres.


The most serious blow to the city’s history was that the Southern Railway, opened in 1861, avoided the city. There was a station called Keszthely on the line of the Southern Railway between Buda and Nagykanizsa, but it was not located in Keszthely, but in Balatonszentgyörgy, about ten km away. Bridging this 10-kilometer distance, the city has cherished various railway construction plans for decades, and even the horse-rail connection has been seriously considered. Railways were a matter of life for the city, because in its absence, industry and commerce were unable to maintain competition with other cities with better infrastructure. Railway construction began in 1888 and was completed in just a few months. Its construction was also significantly supported by the Festetics family, it is no coincidence that the two locomotives of the railway company were named György and Tasziló, and a separate waiting room was built for the family in the building of the Keszthely railway station, which is now really in Keszthely. In 1903, the railway line between Keszthely and Tapolca was built. The line between Balatonszentgyörgy-Keszthely-Tapolca was typically a railway line meeting local traffic needs. It did not play a role in the tourism of Lake Balaton, the more it was used by the shoppers going to Keszthely, the winegrowers around Tapolca.

In the 19th century, industrialization avoided the city, so between 1785 and 1900 the population barely doubled.

The only direction of development could be the strengthening of the character of the school town of Keszthely and its development into a spa town. This was also recognized by the city’s leaders, mainly thanks to Wenceslas Reischl, a brewer from Moravia who had served the city as a city judge for decades. The first holiday home in Keszthely was built in 1862 and the first stone theater in Keszthely was opened on the site of the open-air stage. The city center has been renewed in a romantic and eclectic style. After the city took possession of the shores of Lake Balaton, the island bath was built, and then the two patinated hostels, Hullám and Balaton, still stand today. On the eastern edge of Helikon Park, the Queen Elizabeth Road was built, and a line of villas was built next to it in a few years. In 1865, as a successor to the Georgikon, the State Institute of Agriculture opened its doors. In 1870 the first kindergarten in the city was founded, and in 1871 the construction of the convent and school of the Sisters of Mercy began. In 1872 a civic boys 'school and a higher girls' school were established, in 1884 the industrial school began to operate, and in 1892 the city built the building of the grammar school still in use today. In 1879 the Boating and Skating Association was organized. In order to preserve cultural goods, the Balaton Museum Association, the first museum of Zala County, was established in 1898. By the beginning of the 20th century, Keszthely was once again a thriving city and a popular holiday destination.

In the unfavorable economic situation after the First World War, the development of the city came to a halt. Between the two world wars, Keszthely gained a reputation as a “city of retirees”. In 1925, five hotels, two cafes, ten restaurants and 11 pubs awaited the settlers. The neo-baroque palace of the Balaton Museum, the new building of the Post Office and the Jobs Sanatorium were built at that time.

World War II did not cause serious physical destruction in the city, although the destruction of the famous collection of the Lake Balaton Museum in Zalaegerszeg took place at that time, but the furniture and library of Festetics Castle remained intact. During the ghettoization ordered on May 8, 1944, 900 Jews from Keszthely and 110 Jews from the district were forced into the "lower ghetto" on Unterberger Street and the "upper ghetto" that included the Goldmark block. The ghetto was evacuated on June 20, 1944, during which those deported to the ghetto were transported mainly to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The city's population suffered a loss of approximately 7 percent during World War II as a result of the deportation and deportation of Jewish citizens to the death camp, and the memorial erected in front of the Keszthely Synagogue commemorates the 829 victims of the Holocaust.


The Georgikon Major Museum was opened in 1972. As the fourth largest castle in the country, Festetics Castle awaits visitors with significant exhibitions and prestigious musical events after its complete renovation. After the change of regime, the city began to develop seriously. The House of Lake Balaton Wines has been located in the 500-year-old cellar system of the castle since 2005. In the park of the castle there is the largest surviving carriage collection in Hungary in the former stables; the rich exhibition consists of several cars and carriages, which came from the famous Kölber Fülöp car factory in Budapest.