Name: Pécs (pronounced "pairch"!). The German name of the
town is completely different: Fünfkirchen, which means 'five churches'. During the Roman era, the place was
known as Sophianae. Later, it was renamed Cinque Ecclesiae (yes, this means 'five churches' as well!).
The Ottomans called the place Pecavi, so the recent names obviously derives from the Turkish word.
Pécs lies in the heart of Southern Transdanubia, which is a mostly flat and warmer-than-average
region in the south-west corner of Hungary. Pécs is located between the river Danube and its tributary, the
river Dráva. The town is only a few kilometres away from the forested
Mecsek Hill Chain. The border to →Croatia is only 35 kilometres
away; →Lake Balaton in the North is around 80 km away.
Population: around 170,000 - one of the biggest cities of the country.
Pécs offers an almost rectangular and well-preserved old town centre, with parts of the old city well remaining impact in the
northern and western part of the city. The old town is dominated by the large Basilica of St Peter in the
north-west corner in the old town. The absolute centre of town is the wide Széchenyi tér (tér = square),
where almost a dozen of streets end - one of them is the pedestrian zone Király utca. The tourist information can be
found at the south-west corner of the square. The train and bus station are a 15 minutes walk away from the city centre.
To get to the station, walk down Jókai Mór utca southwards from Széchenyi tér.
The historically most interesting part of Pécs stretches between the central square and the above-mentioned basilica.
The centre itself is rather hilly. The biggest part of the new town stretches to the west.
Széchenyi tér, the central square of Pécs
Pécs is an old city. In Roman times, the town was the capital of the province Lower Pannonia.
Later on it became something like a religious centre. Because of that, five churches, giving the town its old name, were built.
After the foundation of the →First Hungarian Empire, Pecs was chosen for the
bishop's residence. In the middle of the 14th century, the
first Hungarian university was found here.
After the devastating Mongolian invasion in 1241, city walls were erected and so the town was fortified. This didn't help when the
Ottoman Empire advanced. They conquered the town in 1543 and stayed for almost 150 years. The Ottomans applied their own
urban planning, and so Pécs today is the one and only Hungarian town with a certain oriental atmosphere. Additonally, Pécs
is an important university town.
Around 10 trains a day connect Pécs with the capital →Budapest.
But there are no direct trains to the east, and so it's better to catch a bus when going to
→Szeged or further. This takes around 3 hrs, the fare is 1,880 ft. There's also one daily direct train to
→Osijek in Eastern Slavonia (→Croatia). However,
it's an incredibly slow train. The fare from Osijek to Pecs is 94 Kuna (around € 13).
The train service between Budapest and →Sarajevo has been resumed in the year 2002.
This train stops in Pecs as well. It leaves 20:42 and arrives in Sarajevo the next day at 05:43. Departure and arrival time are of coure
subject to change.