Siófok (in the Middle Ages: Fuk, formerly: Fok, Old German: Fock)
is a port and resort town in the northeastern part of Somogy county.
The seat of the Siófok district, the most populous and largest area
on the shores of Lake Balaton, is the second most populated
settlement in Somogy county. Until the 1950 county system, the part
of the city west of Sió belonged to Somogy county, and the area to
the east belonged to Veszprém county. It is the 6th most popular
holiday resort in Hungary, based on the total number of guest nights
of commercial accommodation in 2019. The town is famous for its
iconic buildings, great beaches and nightlife. Due to the nearby
settlement of Ságvár, it is one of the oldest inhabited areas around
During the 20th century, the settlements of Balatonkiliti and Balatonújhely were annexed to the town. The city got its first name "Sió" from the river Sió flowing through it.
Siófok is located on the southern shore of the eastern basin of Lake Balaton, where Sió originates from the lake. It is bordered on the north by Lake Balaton, on the east by the undulating plateaus forming the edge of Mezőföld, and on the south and west by the gentle slopes of Külső-Somogy on the southern side of Lake Balaton.
Until the 1950 county settlement, the Sió border line between Veszprém and Somogy counties; Siófok currently belongs to Somogy county, its second largest city and the largest settlement on the shores of Lake Balaton. During the 20th century, its border was extended several times, so today it has 17 kilometers of the 70-kilometer stretch of the south coast.
Around the waterfront
The city's coastline can be divided into two sections. The section west of the Sió Canal is known as the Silver Beach, and to the east is the Golden Beach. Most of the hotels and the city's entertainment center, Petőfi promenade, are located on the Golden Beach. Along the promenade is the tolled Grand Beach, which is currently (since 2016) called Plázs Siófok. A little further east is the free beach, which stretches for kilometers all the way to the Free Bath. The Silver Beach is dominated by one- and two-storey cottages and boarding houses, there is a free beach along the shoreline.
From ancient times to the Turkish occupation
The area around Siófok was already inhabited in Roman times. The Roman conquest reached the area of today's Siófok in the 1st century, where the route from Sopianae (Pécs) to Tricciana (Ságvár) to Arrabona (Győr) led. Sectus Aurelius Victor 3-4. According to his records from the 19th century, Emperor Galerius built a sluice and cleared forests in 292 to drain the swampy parts of the Lacus Pelso (the Latin name of Lake Balaton) in what is now Siófok.
After the conquest, in the founding charter of Tihany from 1055, we can find a mention of this place: “Rivulus namque, qui dicitur Fuk fluens”, i.e. on an older bridge and often also on a ford ”.
Fuk as a village name was first mentioned in writing among the taxing places in 1137, and is listed as Tabula Hungariae Fok, published in 1528. The word composition Siófok has been known since 1790.
After the Tartar invasion, Fok resettled, and then in 1552 the Turks took control of Fok and its surroundings. Siófok became a military port and a fortress was built here, the fortification was on the hill of the “Granarium” near today's hospital. The countryside was liberated from the Turkish occupation in 1688. Fok became the property of the Veszprém chapter, which populated it with settlers, and in 1693 had a wooden church built for the population.
During Rákóczi's war of independence, the famous Sió line of Vak Bottyán stretched here, the final corner point of which was the Siófok fortress. In 1705 II. Prince Ferenc Rákóczi donated the seal on which the present coat of arms is based to the village of Fok, and in 1736 the Baroque-style parish church was built in honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
Significant development began in the 19th century in the settlement. From 1810, the Transylvanian-Adriatic express mail service already affected Siófok, but an independent postal craft only operated here from 1867. Water regulation began in the village in 1810. Then, based on the idea of water engineer József Beszédes, the Sió riverbed was cleaned up, mills were operated again, the water level of Lake Balaton dropped by one meter, so 51,000 acres of land became free of water, and 6,000 acres of free land were created under the regulation of Sió.
The establishment of the Balaton Steamship Company in 1846 brought a significant change in the life of the settlement. Lajos Kossuth, who wrote the memorandum of association of the company with his own hands, and Count István Széchenyi, the heir president of the joint-stock company, played a major role in this. On September 21 of the same year, the Kisfaludy wheel steamer was launched.
In 1861, the railway between Buda and Nagykanizsa was handed over to traffic. The railway station was completed in 1863 (although the train stopped here as early as 1861), and a year later the first marina protected by piers was built. In the same year, a new Sió sluice was opened, the main task of which was to regulate the water level. The wooden sluice was replaced in 1893 by a sluice made of iron structure. In 1865, the settlement received the rank of Mezőváros, ie a national fair permit. At that time, Siófok was a village with 200 houses and 1,500 souls.
In Siófok, or as it was called by several people at the time: in Józokfok (according to sources, this was a descriptive rather than a pejorative term) there was once a large number of Jews. In the early 1860s, they numbered 347, including 70 merchants, who played a major role in making the city one of Europe’s most attractive resorts.
In 1866, the first advertisement entitled Balatontavi Bath Siófok
was published in the Zala-Somogyi Gazette. Tenant Ignác Végh entered
into a 12-year bathing right lease agreement with the Veszprém
chapter, which was extended for another 12 years. In 1878, he built
the bathhouse with the inscription "Hungarian Sea", which was built
according to the plans of the construction company Neuschlass, in
Swiss style, with an ornate facade, a lounge for a hundred people,
large windows opening onto the water, a two-storey lookout room and
The chapter of Veszprém started to parcel out plots in 1885 and the construction of today's spa began. It is characteristic of the touching and inspiring attractiveness of the Lake Balaton landscape that many of the first villa owners were painters - the villas of Mór Than, Pál Vágó, Tivadar Feledi-Flesch (son of Mihály Zichy) and Arthur Tölgyessy were already standing in Siófok at that time.
In 1888, Gábor Baross provided state support for the reorganization of the Balaton Steamship Company. In 1889 the new passenger ship, the Kelen, was launched, then in 1891 the Helka and the new Kelen were completed.
In April 1891, the capital group was formed under the name of Siófok Balatonfürdő Rt., Which redeemed the bathing right from the chapter, bought the 60 acres of bushy, wet, swampy areas needed for construction and landscaping, and filled it with land. The leader of the company from 1884 to 1905 was Henrik Glatz, the founder of Franklin Literary and Printing Co. Construction of the larger hotels began: Sió and Hullám, and later the Central Hotel. The new spa was inaugurated on 18 July 1893, when it was announced that the Minister of the Interior had authorized the use of the name 'spa' for the spa. The theatrical life of Siófok, which started in 1875 and featured great individuals, also belonged to this relaxing environment.
The Balaton Fishing Corporation started operating in 1900. In the same year, the horse race track with a 1,500-seat stand was built, the destinations of the Balaton crossing were here, and every year swimming and tennis competitions enriched the experiences of the Siófok summer. Through its busy bathing life, Siófok has become a popular place for artists and actors in the Budapest bourgeoisie. (Frigyes Karinthy, Gyula Krúdy, Árpád Latabár Jr., Gyula Kabos).
The new railway station building was completed in 1904, and since 1989 we can admire it again in its splendor similar to the original. The old building, which was located between the current building and the overpass, was demolished.
The railway connection with Kaposvár was established on October 23, 1906: the Mocsolád-Tab-Siófok Local Interest Railway started operating. (Today, the railway line is number 35 on MÁV's schedule.)
In August 1919, the settlement became the center of great politics for a while, after Miklós Horthy was preparing to defeat the Soviet Republic, with his troops marching to Transdanubia, and established his headquarters here.
At the end of the Second World War, the settlement was badly damaged. The front line that stretched here for two months has done a lot of damage to coastal structures, cottages, hostels and residential buildings, and the fleet. Later, Siófok became the center of trade union and corporate holidays. Its rebuilt holiday homes, as well as the development of sewerage, sewage treatment and waterworks, as well as coastal protection works, have made Siófok the largest, most significant place in the lake area, which can accommodate large crowds.
During World War II, in 1944, nearly 500 Jews were deported from the large village, 72 of whom returned after World War II.
In 1947, within the framework of the construction works of the Sió canal, the new lock was completed, which already made it possible to transport ships. From 1950 the settlement belongs to Somogy county and in the same year it also became the district seat. From 1958 onwards, tourism developments began again, as a result of which foreign guests reappeared. A row of hotels was built in 1962, and housing construction also revived in the mid-1960s.
December 31, 1968 was the date when Siófok became a city. Shortly before that, the 400-bed hospital was rebuilt, followed by the cultural center and library at South Lake Balaton. In 1971, the left-hand section of the M7 motorway reached the city. From 1975 it was only necessary to drive to Budapest until Balatonaliga, but it took another 27 years to complete the entire motorway.
Since the 1990 local elections following the change of regime, the city has been governed by 18 and since 2010 by 11 members. Taking advantage of the opportunities, a local newspaper and open-air local television began operating in the city.
For the 2006 summer season, several major spatial planning and
development programs have been completed at the same time. During
the development of the Petőfi promenade, the image of the pedestrian
street, which evoked the standards of the seventies until then,
changed significantly: it received elegant paving, shading elements,
street furniture, cozy terraces, fountains and a permanent space
monitoring system. The renewed pedestrian street is also overseen by
an increased police presence during the summer season and outside
security companies, the beneficial effects of which have been felt
ever since. The developments were initiated by and with the
participation of local entrepreneurs. Due to the location and size
of Jókai Park, it has always been a prominent tourist destination in
Siófok. However, after its reconstruction in 2006, it became the
jewel of the city. With its modern playground, attractive lake and
walking paths meandering among old trees, it has become one of the
best places for family recreation. St. Nicholas Park has also been
given a new look.
This dynamically developing, attractive, innovative city was renewed in 2011 from the coast to the city center. More than 6 billion forints of development was implemented in the city center. During the revitalization of the city center, the water tower was renovated, the cover and vegetation of the square were completely replaced, the building of the Regional Historical Research Institute and Library and the Sió Plaza shopping center were built. The result is a picture of a new downtown that matches the resort town atmosphere with its Mediterranean feel.
Today, thanks to quality investments, Siófok has become the number one wellness and conference center in Southern Transdanubia, so that in the months following the summer season it is worth visiting the city even for a long weekend. Developed tourist infrastructure and year-on-year expanding program offer attract domestic and foreign guests to Siófok.