Miskolc | Hungary

Miskolc (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈmiʃkolt͡s] (About this sound listen), Slovak/Czech: Miškovec, German: Mischkolz, Romanian: Mișcolț, Yiddish: מישקאָלץ‎ Mishkoltz) is a city in northeastern Hungary, known for its heavy industry. With a population of 161,265 (1st Jan 2014) Miskolc is the fourth largest city in Hungary (behind Budapest, Debrecen, and Szeged). It is also the county capital of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and the regional centre of Northern Hungary.

Miskolc was elevated to the rank of oppidum (market town) in 1365 by King Louis I. He also had the castle of the nearby town Diósgyőr (now a district of Miskolc) transformed into a Gothic fortress. The city developed in a dynamic way, but during the Ottoman occupation of most of Hungary the development of Miskolc was brought to a standstill. The Turks burnt Miskolc in 1544 and the city had to pay heavy taxes until 1687. It was also ruled by Ottomans after Battle of Mezőkeresztes in 1596 as part of Eyalet of Egir until 1687. It was during these years that Miskolc became an important centre of wine-growing. By the end of the 17th century the population of the city was as large as that of Kassa, and 13 guilds had been founded.

During the war of independence against Habsburg rule in the early 18th century, Prince Francis II Rákóczi, the leader of the Hungarians put his headquarters in Miskolc. The imperial forces sacked and burnt the city in 1707. Four years later half of the population fell victim of a cholera epidemic. Miskolc recovered quickly, and another age of prosperity began again. In 1724, Miskolc was chosen to be the city where the county hall of Borsod county would be built. Many other significant buildings were built in the 18th and 19th centuries, including the city hall, schools, churches, the synagogue, and the theatre. The theatre is commonly regarded as the first stone-built theatre of Hungary, although the first one was actually built in Kolozsvár (then a part of Hungary, now Cluj-Napoca, Romania). According to the first nationally held census (1786) the city had a population of 14,719, and 2,414 houses.

Miskolc is generally thought of as an industrial city, and the largest boost to its economy was indeed provided by the industrialization during the Socialist era; in fact industry (including metallurgy) has a long history in the city.

Miskolc was already an important market town in the Middle Ages, mostly due to its proximity to the main trade routes of the region. In regards of the economy, real development started only after the Ottoman occupation. In the 18th century, the town already had a lumber mill, a paper manufacture, a brewery, a gunpowder factory and fifteen mills on the Szinva stream. The glass works manufactures and iron furnaces appeared in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The first iron furnace, built by Henrik Fazola around 1770, did not survive, but the second one, built in 1813, can still be visited. Several new settlements were formed in the Bükk mountains to provide dwellings for the workers of glass works manufactures and furnaces. Many of them – including Alsóhámor, Felsőhámor, Ómassa and Bükkszentlászló – are now parts of Miskolc.

Development quickened from the second half of the 19th century, partly because of the political situation (after the Ausgleich) and partly because of the newly constructed railway line. A large furnace (second largest in the country) was built in Diósgyőr, and several other factories were built. The mining industry became more and more important, too. Within forty years the population doubled. The industrialization led to the forming of Greater Miskolc with the unification of Miskolc and Diósgyőr (1945) and several nearby towns and villages (between 1950 and 1981). The unification was only the first step in Miskolc being developed into an industrial centre. Development reached its highest point in the 1980s, when the metal factory had more than 18,000 workers and production was over one million tons per year. The population hit all-time record (over 200,000 inhabitants), ⅔ of the working people worked in heavy industry.

The economic recession after the end of the Socialist era hit the industrial cities of Northern Hungary the hardest. The unemployment rate rose until it became one of the highest in the country, the population of Miskolc dramatically decreased (not only because of unemployment though, but also due to suburbanization which became prevalent nationwide). The economic situation of the city went through a change, smaller enterprises appeared in place of the large state-owned companies.

Public transport in Miskolc is provided by the company MVK Zrt., owned by the local government. There are 36 bus lines and 2 tram lines. The first tram entered service on July 10, 1897 (making Miskolc the third city in Hungary to have a tram line), the first scheduled bus line started on June 8, 1903 (first in the country as well.) Today the public transport of Miskolc is one of the best ones in Hungary. There are several taxi companies too.

The Lillafüred Forest Train connects Diósgyőr to Lillafüred. It is mainly a tourist attraction.

The city has two railway stations (Tiszai and Gömöri) and a small unpaved airport, which is not open to the public, used mainly as a sports facility and has no role in public transport since 1963.

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén (Hungarian: Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén megye, pronounced [ˈborʃod ˈɒbɒuːj ˈzɛmpleːn]; Slovak: Boršodsko-abovsko-zemplínska) is an administrative county (comitatus or megye) in north-eastern Hungary (commonly called "Northern Hungary"), on the border with Slovakia. It shares borders with the Hungarian counties Nógrád, Heves, Hajdú-Bihar and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg. The capital of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county is Miskolc. Of the seven statistical regions of Hungary it belongs to the region Northern Hungary.

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén is the second largest county of Hungary both by area (after Bács-Kiskun) and by population (after Pest County).

The historical comitatus (Hungarian: vármegye – "castle county", since each of them belonged to a castle) came into existence during the Middle Ages. Borsod county belonged to the Castle of Borsod, Abaúj belonged to the Castle of Újvár (in the modern village of Abaújvár) and Zemplén belonged to the Castle of Zemplén (today in Slovakia.)

At this time the area of Borsod also included the later county Torna, and Abaúj also included the later counties Sáros and Heves. In the 12th century the former Abaúj comitatus was split into Abaúj, Heves and Sáros counties, while Torna was separated from Borsod. For the next hundreds of years the borders remained unchanged.

About two third of the areas of these counties were royal property, the others were ruled by clans, for example the Miskóc clan (after whom the city of Miskolc was named.) The area was inhabited mostly by castle serfs and foreign settlers (Pechenegs, Walloons, Czechs and Germans.) By the 12th century more and more areas were owned by noble families and the Church. Most of Borsod was ruled by the Bors-Miskóc clan, while Abaúj was the estate of the Aba clan.

By the 14th century most of the area was owned by oligarchs. To straighten his rule Charles Robert waged war against them. Palatine Amadé Aba (Genus Aba) was "de facto" ruler of Northern Hungary. Charles Robert betrayed and defeated Amadé in the Battle of Rozgony in 1312, and also gained power over Northern Hungary.

The differences between towns and villages became important during the Anjou age of Hungary. In Borsod and Abaúj the Free Royal Town of Kassa (today's Košice, Slovakia) and Miskolc emerged as the most important towns. The Castle of Diósgyőr had its prime under Louis the Great, it was one of the favourite residences of the royal family.

In the 16th century wine growing gained more importance. Today Tokaj-Hegyalja in Zemplén is one of the most important and famous wine districts of Hungary, home of the famous Tokay wine (named after the town Tokaj, the center of the wine district.)

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