HUNGARY - KISKŐRÖS
MAP OF KISŐRÖS
ABOUT PETŐFI SÁNDOR
Kiskőrös is the sixth largest settlement in the Country of Bács-Kiskun, regarding its population. It is 110 km south of Budapest and 22 km east of the River Duna. It can easily be reached by road and rail. Main Road 53 goes throught it and provides connection whith the nearby border station. It is situated on the western edge of the sand range between the River Danube and the River Tisza. It is the largest sand region in Hungary. In the 1950 when drilling for oil, salty-iodous-brominous medicinal thermal water of 56 °C was found. The town has a continental climate and has a high number of hours of sunchine.
The average temperature is between 21 °C and 22 °C and in June between 1 °C and 2 °C below zero in January. The yearly average mean temperature is between 10 °C and 11 °C. The distribution of precipitation is unbalanced. There is a tendency for draught in summer and there is hardly any snow in winter. 2-3 km north of the town lies the nature reserve area of Szücsi Forest as part of the Kiskunság National Park. The previous bogwood of alder and elm trees has been replaced by oak, ash and elm trees, thus providing a pleasant environment for the town. In the south acacia and pine woods embrace the town as far as the Danube-Valley Main Canal.
The area is teeming with smaller animals. Mostly butterflyes catch the eye, but there are some valuable species of snakes and frog. Most of the birds of the registered 98 species are songbirds that coexist with birds of prey like kestrels, sparrow-hawks and hobbies. The flora includes 300 species, not counting the weeds. A special species of orchid blossoms here in April. But each season has its unique beauty in this wonderful world of plant kingdom. Kiskőrös should deserve more attention than it presently receives.
Relics of the very first human settlement in the area originate from the New Stone Age (6th millenium B.C.). Eleven graves of a cemetery in the Bronze Age were excavated in 1930. Celtic coins from the Late Iron Age (4th century B.C.) have also been found. At the end of the 1th cntury B.C. Romans conquered Pannonia. Jazigs and Sarmatians (Iranian mounted people) were settled here to protect the "limes", i.e. the border region.
In the graves of a Jazig-Sarmatian cemetery a necklace of pearls in gold setting and other rare polished jewellery were found. The furnaces, dishes, household goods, ploughs and animal bones prove that series of Sarmatian settlements existed in the region from the 4th to the 1th century B.C. They also had connections with roman provinces. Less items have been found from the Huns.
Nine Avar cemeteries have been dug so far. Their characteristic metal buckles with a griffin fitting are strikingly similar to those found in the Caucasus and along the River Volga. The most beautiful findings of all, a necklace of 5 oval almandine pendants in gold setting and 6 gold pendants were uncovered in a princes's grave.
There have been no findings so far from the Slavs and Bulgars living in the area: neither have there been any relics excavated from the conquering Hungarians. The name of Kiskőrös was probably first recorded in a charter from 1277 issued by the "Kuman" László IV. Peaceful life ended with the coming of the Turks in 1292 and Kiskőrös became a puszta. In 1702 documents show that the area was not fully uninhabited.
The resettlement of Kiskőrös was due to Wattay Family who were prominent personalities in the history of Hungary. The contact of the settlement is worth analyzing as it details the rights and duties of the 700 Lutheran Slovaks who came to life in Kiskőrös. It also cared about the woods and the natural environment. It was no surprise, therefore, that the number of inhabitants increased so rapidly that in 1785 there were 5000 people living in the village. The mostly Slovak population took the names of their home villages, e.g. Szonohradszki, Rakoncai, Csővári.
As Kiskőrös prospered rapidly, Leopold II granted the rank of market town in 1785. Their life in the 18th century was determined by animal husbandry but gradually peasant commodity production developed. This entirely Slovak settlement loyally supported the cause of the Revolution of 1848-49 and did what any Hungarian would have done. After the surrender at Világos, many soldiers found refuge in Kiskőrös. The town was proud of its native, Sándor Petőfi, who grew up in a Slovak family, although he was to become one of the greathest Hungarian poets.
During the Bach autocracy prosperity ended and many people left to find work in Transdanubia. After the Compromise in 1867 development started. Railway lines were constructed, and trade and handicraft industry boomed. In 1867 it ceased to be a market town but became a district seat with a district court and an increasing number of offices, e.g. banks, cultural associations and other institutions. Kiskőrös had 13000 inhabitants at that time. most of its income came from vine and fruit production. In WWI 320 and in WWII 119 men from Kiskőrös were killed, Moreover, during the years of the Great Depression the economy of the village suffered greatly.
After WWII the traditional methods of viniculture could not easily be replaced by a large-scale farming method. By 1977, however, there was one great cooperative. In 1990 it was dissolved. Local industry was based on a mechanical, a telephone and a canning factory. In 1973 Kiskőrös became a town again. in the 1970s it began to develop rapidly and infrastructure, educational, healthcare and welfare institutions were buildt. After the social and economic changes a new political structure was set up. most of the privatized and production declined.
Communal supply significantly increased in the last twenty years. In the inner area all the homes and on the outskirts most of them use electricity. 99% of the homes are connected to the water supply system. 71% of the roads are paved and 40% of the homes are on the sewage network. Natural gas supply has been provided since 1993-94 and more than 50% of the homes use it for heating and cooking.
Long distance phone service started at the end of the 1980s. Cable TV is also available and the restart of a local radio broadcasting is also in the plans. The medicinal thermal water is utilized in the swimming pools and a recreational area with small sports fields are at the disposal of the public. Lake Vadkerti and Lake Szelidi are 15 minutes away by car. The nearby woods are suitable for jogging and walking. There are notices indicating that from 1859 apprentices were taught in Sunday schools. The regulations of guilds issued in Vienna clearly stated the training obligations of artisans.
From 1885 organized institutional training started. It was rorganized in 1954 and in 1958 it became an independent institution. Students came from a fairly large region. Currently, there are 448 students partizipating in a training form suitable for the changed economic and industrial conditions. The first kindergarten in Kiskőrös was set up in 1877. At present in one of the kindergartens the language of instruction is Slovak.
The first village school was opened in 1903 that became the greatest primary school with about 900 students in 1948 after the nationalization of schools. Now it only has 181 students because the central schools attract many of their potential students. When speaking about primary schools, the special school of handicapped and disabled students on Rákóczi Avenue has to be mentioned. The Kiskőrös State Music School has 605 students.
The library and the cultural house were founded in the 1950s but they underwent a true development in the 1970s. The number of volumes increased from 4700 to 93000 including audio, audiovisual and electronic materials. In 1997 the Internet is also available. The Petőfi Gallery and the Slovak County House and the only museum of public roads in Hungary have to be remembered, too.
There are two secondary schools, the Sándor Petőfi Grammar School and the Horticultural Secondary School and Students Hostel. In 1996 the training of winegrowers was started. There was a dynamic population growth until the 1930s, a slow growth till the end of the 1970s and now it stagnates. The adverse living conditions did not favour the general health conitions of the public. Lavatories were rare even at the end of the 19th century. The area was marshy and the Sahor ran through the town till the 1960s. It is no surprise that infant mortality was high. The first artesian well was drilled in 1929.
The most tagic year in the history of the town was 1831 when the population was literally decimated by epidemics. Typhoid, cholera, scarlet fever, haemorrhagic smallpox, measles, and worst of all, T.B. devastated the region. Trachoma and a disease similar to mosquito fever made agricultural workers ill. It was probably caused by the drinking water. Wine and alcohol consuption also demanded many victims. Prior to the turn of the century, there was no organized sports life in Kiskőrös. Football was introduced in the 1910s. Now a sports hall, a football field, a handball field and athletic fields as well as parks are at the disposal of the public interestedin sport. Since 1989 the town has a sports hall as well.
It is viniculture that has always played a determining role in the economy of the town. Vine is the plant that can thrive in the local soil that is not favourable everywhere in the neighbourhood, although it needs great care and a great deal of manual work. It was also capable of stabilizing the sandy soil. The first grapevines were planted in 1791. Viniculture developed greatly in the early 1800s when the historical vine country was devastated by phylloxera (vinepest) and left vineyards intact only in the sand region.
In the history of Kiskőrös industry was always secondary to animal husbandry and vine and fruit production. Before WWII Kiskőrös only had a mill industry, a factory making must concentrate and alcohol, a brick making factory and vinegar producing factory. An electrical plant was founded in 1924. A a fortunate development after all, a largescale farming system was forcibly started in the 1950s., witch made it possible for farmers to manage their own economy. Thus the Kiskőrös-Soltvadkert-Kecel “golden triangle” could develop.
The workshops set up in the 1950s belonged to factories based elsewhere. It had one benefit, however: more than 3000 people cuold make a living there. After the economic and social changes, private enterprises became dominant, but, unfortunately, they employ less people. The state-subsidised industrial and agricultural plants have disappeared. Having undergone major structural changes, the Kossuth Agricultural Cooperative can now complete with private enterprises. Recently the inhabitants have made attempts to run their own businesses, but only those enterprises will determine the future economy of the town that can rely on the regional characteristics. Right now people and companies alike are seeking new ways.