Once upon a time, DEBRECEN was the site of Hungary's greatest livestock fair, and foreigners tended to be snooty about "this vast town of unsightly buildings" with its thatched cottages and a main street that became "one liquid mass of mud" when it rained, "so that officers quartered on one side were obliged to mount their horses and ride across to have dinner on the other". Even so, no one can deny the significance of Debrecen (pronounced "Deb-retzen"), both economically and as the chief center of Hungarian Calvinism. From the sixteenth century onwards there wasn't a generation of lawyers, doctors or theologians that didn't include graduates from Debrecen's Calvinist College (the city is still renowned for its university and teacher-training colleges); while in the crucial years of 1848-49 and 1944-45 it was here that Hungary's future was debated.
The early Calvinists' hatred of popery was only exceeded by their animus towards pagan beliefs amongst the peasantry of the Plain, who regarded táltos (village wise men) with benevolence, while fearing "boszorkány", their female counterparts. Until the eighteenth century, women accused of witchcraft were able to plead that they were beneficent táltos (for example Frau Bártha, who claimed to have learned táltos skills from her brother), but as the Calvinists' grip tightened this defense became untenable. Midwives were particularly vulnerable as it was popularly believed that the murder of a relative or newborn child was a prerequisite for acquiring their "magical" skills, but women in general suffered from the Calvinists' witch-hunting zeal, which also found scapegoats in herbalists beggars and vagabonds.
Witch trials were finally banned by Maria Theresa in 1768 after the scandalous events in Szeged, when "witches" had confessions tortured out of them; and by the nineteenth century the bloody deeds of Debrecen's forefathers were buried beneath platitudes eulogizing the "Calvinist Rome". The City
SEE DEBRECEN HOTELS ON THE MAP!
4-star hotel in Debrecen, 220 kms from Budapest.Number of rooms: 205
5-star hotel in Debrecen, 220 kms from Budapest.Number of rooms: 171
4-star hotel in Debrecen, 220 kms from Budapest.Number of rooms: 34