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Szombathely, Hungary

General Information

Founded: 45 AD

Area of Jurisdiction: 97.52 sqm

Population: 79,590

Height: 209 m

Location: It is the administrative centre of Vas county in the west of the country, located near the border with Austria

Twin city agreement signature date: 1995

Official site of Szombathely: http://www.szombathely.hu

Szombathely is the oldest city in Hungary. It was founded in 45 AD by the name of Colonia Claudia Savariensum (Claudius' Colony of Savarians) and it was the capital of Pannonia Superior province of the Roman Empire. It lay close to the important trade route, the "Amber Road". The city also had an imperial residence, a public bath and an amphitheatre. Remains of a mithraeum were discovered in 2008.

Today, Szombathely is the cultural and the economic centre of a region extending across several borders. It has earned an international reputation primarily due to its musical and fine arts institutions and programs. It has a population of 80,000 inhabitants (in 2005).

Bartk Hall, formerly a Synagogue, is the venue of most of the musical events, including numerous concerts of the Bartk Festival and the Spring Festival, and it is also the home of the Savaria Symphonic Orchestra, which has been a professional orchestra for a quarter of a century. In addition to the city's various choirs and dance ensembles, the Capella Savaria chamber orchestra, which plays primarily Baroque music, is of eminent significance.

On the initiative of Szombathely's citizens, an art gallery was built which houses outstanding works of modern Hungarian fine art and frequently hosts musical events as well. Among the regular international events held there year after year the best known is the Textile Biennale.

Tourist Information

Szombathely is one of the most significant centers of Central European culture. Its artistic and scientific events give it an increasingly decisive place along the Amber Road, where nearly two thousand years ago Claudius Caesar laid the cornerstone for the capital of an important Roman province.

Nearly 1,800 years ago Savonia - ancient Szombathely - was the capital of the province of Upper Pannonia. Its history is evident in the Garden of Ruins where you can find a couple of the better mosaics in the country. Nearby, however is the Szombathely Gallery which specializes in modern art and the Bela Bartok concert hall which in bygone days was a synagogue. The plaque commemorating the deportation of the Jews from the town in 1944 is a mute witness to darker days.

In addition, out of the centre of town is the Var Museum Village - an open-air museum where thirty, or so, village houses have been reconstructed to give a glimpse at Hungary's agricultural past.