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Sights

Things to see, sightseeing in Győr

The most significant Baroque palaces and monument buildings in the historic downtown of Győr are the following | Late Renaissance buildings | Basilica | Bishop’s Castle | Diocesan Treasury| Széchenyi Square | Carmelite Church | Eastern Orthodox Church | Old Lutheran Church | Synagogue | Column of Mary | Ark of the Covenant | Calvary-hill

 

Győr boasts the most beautiful Baroque downtown in Hungary. Apart from a short period in its history (4 years), the town was free from Turkish occupation and was liberated in 1598. As a result, the new artistic era of Baroque conquered the city earlier than in the Eastern settlements of the country, and the Baroque downtown was already formed by the mid 1600s. Very typical of Baroque architecture in Győr are the beautiful bay windows (square or polygonal) and bow windows (curved) on corner houses. By the end of the 19th century, they became so popular that they even appeared on houses on the outskirts of town.

The most significant Baroque palaces and monument buildings in the historic downtown of Győr are the following (in order of accessibility):

Altabak House: the 16th century house on Bécsi kapu Square possesses a bay window on each corner and is one of the oldest homes in town as well as one of the most beautiful examples of early Baroque architecture. 
Ott House (Bécsi kapu tér): the façade of this beautiful 18th century Rococo building might be misleading as – contrary to one's first impression – it does not have a second floor, as there is only a loft behind the attic. It is a good example of the pageantry of the Baroque era.
Rozália House (Kazinczy u.): the picturesque Baroque building with a mansard roof was named after the stucco pattern on its bay window. 
Napóleon House (Király utca): Emperor Napoleon spent a night in this pre-classicist palace after the battle of Kismegyer.
Former Black Eagle Inn (Egykori Fekete Sas Fogadó) (Király u.): Baroque building with a typical bay window.
Esterházy Palace (Király utca): a Baroque palace with a bay window houses the main building of the City Art Museum.
House of the Iron Stump - Vastuskós-ház (Széchenyi tér): early Baroque building named after the spiked stump attached under the bow window (the trade-sign of a grocer’s that once operated here); the house hosts the Imre Patkó Collection
Apátúr House (Széchenyi tér): the most beautiful example of Baroque architecture in Győr; the palace with a bay window houses the János Xántus Museum, the oldest Hungarian public collection.
Old Town Hall - Régi Városháza (Rákóczi u.): the coat of arms of Győr can be seen above the beautiful bay window of the Baroque building; the city archives are located in this house.
Curia Nobilitaris (Liszt Ferenc u.): Terézia Meszlényi, the wife of Hungarian freedom fighter Lajos Kossuth, was born in this 16th century early Baroque house, which has a courtyard bordered by a loggia.
Zichy Palace (Liszt Ferenc u.): this baroque building also has a beautiful bay window, but the courtyard with arcades and the interior is also worth visiting.
House of the Chapter Musicians - Káptalani zenészek háza (Apáca u.): this pre-classicist palace replaced the first known town hall of Győr.

Late Renaissance buildings:

Kreszta House (Apáca u.): this bastion-like house is very characteristic of Győr's townscape; it now hosts the Margit Kovács Collection.
Torkos Palace (Stelczer Lajos u.): this is a 17th century early Baroque palace with an inner courtyard bordered by Renaissance Tuscan pillars. 
Hungarian Spital - Magyar Ispita (Rákóczi u.): the two inner courtyards of this 17th century building are a lovely example of late Renaissance architecture. The Péter Váczy Collection can be seen here.
Fejérváry House (Apáca u.): the most beautiful late Renaissance house in Győr

The city exuberates in sacred monuments. The Episcopate of Győr was founded by Saint Stephen during the first decade of his reign (1000-1009). It was in this period that the foundations of the Győr Basilica were laid. 11th century sources already mention a three-nave church with a raised sanctuary. The first Romanesque towers of the church were built during the time of Bishop Omodé (1257-1267). During the late 14th century, Bishop János Héderváry built a Gothic chapel at the southern end of the church, where a herm of St Ladislaus was later placed and Blessed Bishop Vilmos Apor was buried. Bishop Orbán Dóczy had the entire church restored in the Gothic style. One tower of the church collapsed in a fire after the Battle of Mohács (1526), and later - around 1580 - an explosion pulled down the other. The Turkish used the building as a depot and stall, after which it was completely destroyed. The restoration of the church is associated with the name of Bishop György Draskovich (1635-1650). He entrusted the famed Italian architect Giovanni Battista Rava with the planning. The tower and the sacristy were built later under Bishop György Széchenyi (1659-1681). The Baroque renovation of the church interior was conducted under Bishop Ferenc Zichy (1743-1783). The plans were prepared by Menyhért Hefele, while the frescoes and parts of the altar were painted by Franz Anton Maulbertsch and his pupils. Some of the altar structures and statues were made in the statuary workshop of J. Gotschall in Wien. The picture of the Blessed Virgin decorating the altar of the northern transept turned the church into one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in Hungary. For the fortification of the tower, Jakab Handler built a neo-Classic facade on the western side in 1823. At the beginning of the 20th century, the church was given a basilica-type roof and was equipped with neo-Romanesque details based on plans by Sándor Aigner and Károly Csányi. The Basilica was restored between 1968 and 1972.

The herm of St Ladislaus kept in the Héderváry chapel is the most significant holy relic in Hungary after the Holy Crown and Holy Right. The bones were taken out of his tomb in Nagyvárad (now Oradea) in 1192 when Ladislaus was canonized. First the king’s skull was placed in a simple reliquary, then later in the herm, and was kept in the Cathedral in Nagyvárad. The cloisonné enamel chest-part of the herm is the first known relic of this type of ornamental enamel technology, which later spread all over Europe. This goldsmith’s masterpiece, which is considered to be the most beautiful herm in Europe, is the only authentic representation of a king of the Árpád dynasty. Bishop Demeter Náprági of Transylvania took the holy relic to Győr when he was named Bishop of Győr in 1607.

The earthquake of 1762 elevated the cult of this relic. People prayed to Ladislaus for salvation, and in the end the town was saved from devastation.  The saintly king’s herm is taken out on a festive procession every year on 27 June.

The tomb of Blessed Vilmos Apor is located in the same chapel. Apor was born on 29 February 1892 to a Transylvanian noble family. He was ordained in 1915, and served first as chaplain, then army chaplain. In 1915 he became a parish priest in Gyula. He was a very socially-sensitive priest who was named Bishop of Győr in 1941. During World War II, he strongly opposed violence and persecution. He was shot dead by Russian soldiers on 2 April 1945 while trying to defend women and girls seeking refuge in the Bishop’s Castle. Pope John Paul II beatified the martyred bishop on 9 November 1997.

Another attraction of the Basilica is the picture of the Weeping Virgin. The picture was taken to Győr from Ireland in 1655 by Irish Bishop Walter Lynch, and is believed to have wept blood on 17 March 1697, on the feast of the patron saint of Ireland, Patrick. Bishop Ferenc Zichy erected a beautiful Baroque altar for the icon in 1767.

Basilica (Bazilika)
9021 Győr, Káptalandomb

The Bishop’s Castle and the Episcopal Palace is the dominant building complex on Káptalan Hill. The remains of Roman construction work have been found in the foundations of the castle, on which St Stephen built a fortification in the 11th century.

The castle was occupied by Mongols during the Mongol invasion of Hungary (1241–1242), then destroyed by the Czech army in 1271, and was finally reconquered by Ladislaus IV. After the Mongol invasion, the castle was rebuilt in stone and fortified, and was declared an estate of the bishop. It was then that the castle was named Püspökvár (Bishop’s Castle). This was followed by a troubled period when the lords of the castle were constantly changing over a period of around 200 years. In 1403, the troops of King Sigismund attacked the castle as part of a conspiracy revenge plan hatched by Bishop Hédervári. In 1440, Győr became a royal seat as Queen Elizabeth seized the crown for her infant child and designated Győr as her seat.

Following the defeat at Mohács (1526), the castle fell into the hands of various castle leaders . The castle was continuously fortified due to the threat of attack by the Turks. The largest renovation took place based on plans by the Italian Pietro Ferrabosco between 1561 and 1575. The Turks managed to occupy the castle on 29 September 1594, but it went back into Hungarian hands four years later, on 28 March 1598. The restoration of the building was conducted by Bishop Ferenc Zichy (1743-1783), who also extended the building to its present form.

The most recent renovation to the castle and palace was completed in 1984. The oldest remaining parts of the building are the lower section of the incomplete tower, the so-called escape corridor dating from the 14th century, and the adjacent cross-vaulted hall. The chapel attached to the eastern corner of the castle tower was built by Bishop Orbán Dóczy between 1481 and 1486 and is a rare example of a multi-level castle chapel. A permanent exhibition was opened in June 2004 featuring martyred Bishop Vilmos Apor, who was shot dead by Russian soldiers in the cellar under the castle in 1945.

The final assault against the castle took place in 1809, when Emperor Napoleon attacked the town. Following this defeat, the remaining walls of the castle were demolished, enabling the city to expand. Only the Castle bastion at the bank of the Rába and the Sforza half-bastion remained as mementos.

Bishop's Castle (Püspökvár)
9021 Győr, Káptalandomb 1.

The Diocesan Treasury features liturgical objects; the donors - bishops and aristocrats - offered valuable goldsmith masterpieces and textile sets to the church. In the 15-16th centuries, primarily Hungarian works formed the collection, while from the 17th century onwards, Viennese items prevailed due to strong ties with Austria. The treasury's collection of Gothic chalices is extremely valuable, with the earliest piece dating from the beginning of the 15th century. The cloisonné enamel-type and filigree-decorated chalices are marvellous relics of art from the Matthias era. One of the most beautiful monstrances of the treasury is more than 400 years old; this piece was donated to the cathedral by Bishop Ágost Keresztély in 1701. The textile relics of the Győr Treasury are from the 15-16th centuries; previously they belonged to the church requisites or were used as liturgical vestments.

The collection in the library's museum is the result of the unification of two ancient and valuable libraries, comprising the old books of the former seminary and cathedral. At present, the Győr Diocesan Treasury and Library boasts some 67,000 volumes, 190 incunabula and 362 manuscripts dating earlier than 1850. The most valuable books are the Corvina (codices), originating from the library of King Matthias Hunyadi, as well as the Zalka-antiphonal, the largest Hungarian codice, which was taken from Nagyvárad (today Oradea) to Győr. Medieval stones and stone remnants from the Bishop’s Castle and the Cathedral of Győr can be seen in the Lapidary (coats of arms, a baptistery, Gothic window fragment, etc.).

Győr Diocesan Treasury and Library
9021 Győr, Káptalandomb 26.

Széchenyi Square is primarily known for its beautiful Baroque buildings. However, the first church of the Jesuits who settled in Győr in 1627, the Saint Ignatius of Loyola Benedictine Church, was also built here between 1634 and 1641. Built according to the plans of Baccio del Bianco, it was modelled on the Il Gesú church in Rome. The monastery and the school were also completed by 1667. The two towers were raised later, during the 18th century. After the dissolution of the Jesuit Order, the Benedictines became the owners of the building complex (1802). The interior of the church was designed in the early Baroque style. The main altarpiece (The glorification of Saint Ignatius), the ceiling paintings of the sanctuary and the nave (The ascension of Saint Ignatius and angelic greeting) were painted by Paul Troger, the most illustrious artist of Viennese Baroque painting. The beautiful Baroque pulpit from 1749 was made by Lajos Gode.

9022 Győr, Széchenyi tér
Phone (+36 96) 315-988

The Carmelites settled in Győr in 1697. The Carmelite Church was built according to the plans of lay brother Athanasius Wittwer between 1721 and 1725. The monastery was completed in 1732. The main facade of the building is characteristically Italian, behind which a domed nave of elliptical shape and a square-shaped sanctuary can be seen. Mario Altomonte painted the main altarpiece. The statue of Black Mary from 1717 stands in the famous Loreto Chapel of the building complex.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola Benedictine Church
Carmelite Church

9021 Győr, Aradi vértanúk u. 2.
Phone (+36 96) 618-863; (+36 96) 618-864

In 1703, a church built during the Turkish era was already standing in the place of the current Eastern Orthodox Church, which was later rebuilt in 1727. A tower, well-formed onion dome, and interior iconostasis of great artistic value were added to the simple church at this time, which was fortified by a surrounding wall and buttresses. The iconostasis and the internal decoration are from the late Baroque era, but the Orthodox mode of expression and the characteristics of Central and Western European styles at the time are combined within them in a unique way.

Eastern Orthodox Church
9025 Győr Bálint Mihály u. 54.

The Old Lutheran Church is characterised by its neat proportions (which can be best appreciated from the banks of the River Rába) and fine facade. It was built between 1783 and 1785, in a closed courtyard without a tower. The most remarkable ornament of the inner-choired, chamber-type church is the late Baroque pulpit-altar, including the painting of Soma Orlai Petrich. Another treasure of the church is the baptistery, standing in front of the altar, which was carved out of red sandstone in 1817. On its bell-shaped cover, there is a small group of cast statues showing the baptism of Jesus.

Old Lutheran Church
9025 Győr, Petőfi tér

The Synagogue of Győr was built by the Neolog Israelite congregation between 1868 and 1870 in the neo-Romanesque style with an octagonal plan. The interior of the church is breathtaking with its circular balconies and dome, even in its present condition. It served as a model for a number of significant European synagogues at the time. The partially-restored building has been the venue of various cultural events since 1990 and is planned to be converted into a cultural and conference centre.

Synagogue
9025 Győr, Kossuth u. 5.
Phone (+36-20) 425-26-60
Web: www.artmuz.hu
Open: Wed-Sun: 10.00-18.00

Finally, there are two outstanding monuments worth mentioning: the Column of Mary on Széchenyi Square and the Ark of the Covenant on Gutenberg Square. The Column of Mary was erected in 1686 by Bishop Lipót Kollonich of Győr to commemorate the reconquest of Buda from the Turks. The four high Baroque statues feature King Saint Stephen, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Leopold, the patron saint of Austria. The Blessed Virgin, Hungary’s Guardian Lady, stands on a high column decorated with wreaths and angel heads, with the Hungarian crown on her head and the infant Jesus on her right arm.

The Ark of the Covenant is one of the most beautiful relics of Győr from the Baroque age. In 1729, a soldier suspected of committing bigamy and desertion fled for refuge to the then-Jesuit monastery. The soldiers surrounded the building. To end the blockade, the bishop offered to take the refugee to the Bishop’s Castle for further asylum. The soldier, dressed as an altar servant in a Corpus Christi procession, was recognised by his compatriots, who attacked the procession. The monstrance fell out of the hands of the priest in the scuffle and broke. The monument is an expiatory offering erected by King Charles III for the offence against the Blessed Sacrament.

Calvary-Hill was once a burial place for Celts and later for Romans. A provost church named after Saint Adalbert was built here in the 12-13th centuries, which was then destroyed in the 16th century during the Turkish occupation. The Calvary was built by the Jesuits during the early 17th century. Baroque chapels designed by Athanasius Wittwer stand at the foot of the Way of the Cross. The seven stations along Kálvária Street, depicting the suffering of Jesus, were completed in 1722.

Calvary Hill
9024 Győr, Kálvária u.

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