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City of the Reformation Sárvár

Hungary

Sárvár

The town of Sárvár, which belongs to the country’s spa route, lies in western Hungary, not far from the border to Austria. These days, the town is best known for its thermal baths and related health and wellness facilities. The emblem of the town is the castle built by the renowned Nádasdy nobles, which is surrounded by an impressive park. Right alongside the park is the 16-hectare arboretum whose diverse and sometimes quite exotic trees were planted during the Reformation era.

The town played a key role as the Hungarian fulcrum of the Transdanubian Reformation. The influential Hungarian magnate and Palatine Tamás Nádasdy was partly responsible for the Reformation’s foothold in Hungary. Under the advice of Philipp Melanchthon, in 1534 Nádasdy founded a school in Sárvár that would be led by Melanchthon’s former pupil, humanist János Sylvester. It was three years later that the first print works were established in Hungary at his court in Sárvár, where seminal books would be published including the first book ever to be printed in Hungarian, the Grammatica Hungarolatina by János Sylvester (1539) and his own Hungarian translation of the New Testament (1541).

Nádasdy also supported Mátyás Bíró Dévai, the foremost Reformer of Hungary, who completed his studies in Wittenberg before spreading Reformationist thought as an itinerant preacher throughout the country. It was in Sárvár that Dévai composed the first catechism in Hungarian in the year 1538. The outstanding role Sárvár played during the Reformation era earned it the title “Hungarian Wittenberg”.

Many clear signs of the Reformation can still be seen around the town. A stone memorial to Sylvester stands in the park of the castle. The authentic equipment from the print works, which is normally kept in storage in the castle, will be put on display again in celebration of the anniversary of the Reformation.

We, the citizens of Sárvár, can proudly say that our town is not only famous today, but was already well known before the European Reformation. Philipp Melanchthon, an associate of Martin Luther, personally thanked the castle’s famous lord, Tamás Nádasdy, for running a school in the town to educate its people and promote the sciences despite the difficult circumstances. It is no coincidence that the translation of the New Testament in 1541, which was also the first book in Hungarian to be published in Hungary, arose here. Nowadays, nurturing culture and upholding traditions is not the preserve of one nobleman and his court, but something all our townspeople are keen to engage in. Sárvár is celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation not only because of its history, but also in the hope that we can strengthen this interwoven, cross-border tapestry we are proud to call Europe.

Tivadar Máhr

Vice Mayor of Sárvár

Links

City of Sárvár: http://www.sarvar.hu/en/index.html

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Hungary: http://zope.lutheran.hu/portal/bemutatkozas/english

Reformed Church in Hungary: http://www.reformatus.hu/english/