About the city

A town with a history which stretches back some 2,000 years, where you can find everything, from an early Christian cemetery to the Victor Vasarely Museum.

Today, Pécs is the fifth largest town in Hungary, with some 140,000 inhabitants. It lies in southern Hungary, 210 km from Budapest and only 38 km from the Croatian border, on the southern slopes of the Mecsek Hills. The town was founded by the Romans in the second century under the name Sophianae, and it became a center for early Christianity. Since 2000, the early Christian relics and historic sites of Pécs have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One can indeed get lost in the past here, for instance in the underground passages which have discovered and renovated.

A small jump back in time and we are in the High Middle Ages, bearing witness to a rather significant event: the first university in Hungary was founded in Pécs by King Louis the Great in 1367. Today, some 20,000 students study here. (The university, alas, did not operate continuously: due to the Ottoman conquest, it survived for less than 100 years in its original form, and it was only much later, after the Treaty of Trianon, that the Elisabeth University of Sciences moved to Pécs from Bratislava after the latter was ceded to the new states of Czechoslovakia). Pécs is the town where Janus Pannonius, a renowned poet of Renaissance Europe, served as bishop. Hs grave is found in the crypt of the cathedral. As for the period of Turkish occupation, Pécs, too, was part of the Ottoman Empire for 150 years, and the town still bears the mark of this time, the most significant example being the mosque on the main square, which now functions as a Catholic church.

Pécs is also home to the first public library in Hungary, which was founded at the initiative of bishop György Klimó, and the increasingly urbanized citizens of the town established today’s emblematic factories, such as the Zsolnay Porcelain Factory. Pécs was also renowned for champagne production and leather manufacturing (Pécsi Kesztyű), and coal mining played a pivotal role in the life of the town as well.

As the city suffered only minimal damage during the Second World War, the legacy of these 2,000 years of history remains intact, ensuring a special historical atmosphere.

Owing to its location and climate, Pécs is considered a Mediterranean town; many believe it is the most pleasant and beautiful town in the Hungarian countryside. In 2010, it became the first Hungarian city to be made European Capital of Culture.  The huge project brought both cultural events and major investments as well: the concert and conference halls of the Kodály Center were built, and both the library Knowledge Centre and several public spaces were redeveloped. In the past 50 years, Pécs has also been renowned for its museums, dedicated to the artwork of Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka, Victor Vasarely, and Ferenc Martyn.  Of course, the nearby hills also attract many visitors.  

German and Croatian ethnic groups are visibly present in the cultural life of the town. These ethnic groups offer a wide range of cultural activities in their own institutions (for instance the Lenau House and the Croatian Theatre of Pécs), while the Romani community also have their own cultural center (the Aladár Rácz Community Center).

Writers of the city

The first significant figure of literature in Pécs was Janus Pannonius; then, in the early twentieth century, literary life began to bloom and gain national significance, owing much to the university, which was brought to the town in 1923. Renowned authors including Károly Kerényi, Nándor Várkonyi, Sándor Weöres, Győző Csorba, and Gyula Takáts lived and worked in Pécs. Periodicals such as Sorsunk [Our Fate], Dunántúl [Transdanubia], and Jelenkor [Our Age], published continually since 1958, have made major contributions to Hungarian literary life.  

Sights to see

Historical buildings and places of the past 2000 years:

early Christian burial chambers from Roman times;

the Mosque of Pasha Qasim on the main square;

the Yakovali Hasan Pasha Mosque and its minaret;

the the four-tower cathedral with the medieval Bishop’s Palace;

the remains of the medieval university;

the “street of museums”: there are more than ten museums in Káptalan Street;

atmospheric little streets leading down from the Tettye and Mecsek Hills to the town;

Tettye Hill, with the ruins of the former Turkish dervish cloister, and a tufa cave with a cave dwelling at the foot of the hill;

the museum, live manufacture, and scenic park of the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter;

the internationally famed concert hall of the Kodály Center, referred to as “an architectural Stradivarius.”  


Hiking opportunities:

the TV tower, offering a spectacular view of Pécs and the surrounding hills;

special hiking trails in the Mecsek Hills;

Tüskés-rét Leisure Center;

Mecsextrém park;

Szigetvár – site of the heroic battle of 1566, the grave of Suleiman I.

Pécs is home to the annual national theater festival, to the festival of light, held each summer, as well as to a number of literary and gastronomical events.

15 km from Pécs, the magnificent village of Orfű is the site of a summer music festival, one of the best of its kind in Hungary.

Villány, one of the best-known wine regions in the country, can also be found in the area, as can Harkány with its famous thermal baths.

About the residence

The Writer in Residence program of the Petőfi Literary Fund now incorporates the former Writers’ Program, which first brought guest writers to the town. Almost 100 writers have spent a few weeks in Pécs and joined in its cultural life, including Antonio Fian, Ottó Tolnai, Nathan Filer, Ljudmila Ulickaja, and Daniel Banulescu, among others. 

Authors participating in the Writers in Residence program stay at one of the guest apartments of the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, near the town center. After having renovated and repurposed its former factory buildings, the famous porcelain factory Zsolnay became a cultural center, including museums, exhibition spaces, theater and concerts halls, institutions of the university Faculty of Arts, handcrafts stores, restaurants, and parks. The apartment is equipped with a kitchen and dining room (with a hot plate, pots, plates, a fridge, and an electric kettle), a bathroom with a shower cubicle, a wardrobe, a washing machine, a color TV, and Wi-Fi. Writers get a free pass to all the Zsolnay cultural institutions, as well as concert or theater tickets when available. Writers also participate if they wish to in university or secondary school activities and local literary events.

Booked Days