The history of
Miskolc, the descendants of the ancient settlement
which was formed at the foot of the Avas Hill, along the two brooks
called Szinva and Pece flowing into the river Sajó, can be traced back
paleoanthrophic cultures where man's earliest implements were carved
from stone and bone. The Szeleta Cave near by Lillafüred and other
caves in the Bükk Mountains have preserved not only the memories, but
also traces of the hard life of man in pieces of clothing and finely
worked clasps. At the top of the Avas Hill Neolithic tools were found.
The region was gradually populated during this period over 10,000
years ago. The grinding implements and the richly ornamented ceramics
found in the Bükk Mountains are 5,000 years old. The finds coming from
the area of the today's Iron Works refer to a more developed way of
life during the Bronze Age.
The first dwellers known in the Miskolc region at the end of the Iron
Age were the Cotinus, one of the Celts' tribes. During the period of
the Great Migrations, Teutonic, Sarmatian, Hun, and Avar people made
their permanent home in this region.
This area was settled by the Ancient Hungarians over a thousand years
ago, and the settlement was named after the Miskóc clan. The
settlement became the centre of the region from the beginning of 11th
century. A work by Anonymus (ca. 1210) mentions the dwelling place of
the Bors-Miskóc clan at the time of the Magyar conquest as terra
Miskoucy. This clan founded a St. Benedictine abbey in Tapolca Valley
but the Tartars burnt down the settlement in 1241.
The Bors-Miskóc clan lost their power in 1312 when they stood against
Róbert Károly, whose intention was to break the feudal anarchy.
The clan of Miskóc was followed by the Széchy family who laid the
foundations of urbanization. They managed to obtain the rights to hold
countrywide fairs, and exercise minor jurisdiction, which resulted in
Miskolc, the former village developing into a market town.
At the end of 1364 Lajos I. (the Great) annexed the town of Miskolc to
the Diósgyor Royal Estate. The 13th century Diósgyor Royal Castle,
which was accomplished and magnificently developed in the 15th
century, became the centre of the Royal Estate including Miskolc. A
Pauline Monastery, which was the only one of a Hungarian foundation
dating back to the time of the Árpád dynasty, used to stand in
By the end of the 15th century the townscape had changed a lot and the
origins of today's town centre were gradually developing at the foot
of the Avas Hill. The town's ancient school (now museum) was
established on the side of the Szinva brook near by the church, which
still exists built on the side of the Avas Hill.
The first wave of Turkish war reached the town of Miskolc in 1544. The
most beautiful buildings fell prey to the first attack of pasha of
Buda. The Turks burnt the thatched houses, and carried off all the
able- bodied men and drove away all their animals. With the fall of
Eger Miskolc too, joined the taxpayers of the Turks but no such
devastation as in 1544 reached town ever since, which can be
attributed to the foresight and the tactful diplomacy of the town
Before chasing the Turks out of the country the Kuruc troops
(Hungarian insurrectionists) had taken possession of the Diósgyor
Castle in 1674 but it was only in 1687 that Miskolc ceased to be
taxpayer to the Turks.
During the Rákóczi war of independence the prince put his headquarters
in Miskolc from 18th of January to 15th March in 1704. On 25th of
September in 1706 town was sacked and burnt by the imperial
The town council was formed on 1st January in 1707 and during two
short years — with the patronage of the prince, the town of Miskolc
The most significant buildings of Miskolc were constructed during the
great period of prosperity in the 18th century. All denominations
started to build their own churches and schools, and presently town
hall and county hall were built.
The first inn of Miskolc with storeys was built in 1570. The rich
landlords built mansions one after another: Dory-, Almássy-,
Szathmáry-, and Király mansions. Characteristically of a town
advancing towards the Enlightenment there was an active Masonic lodge
in Miskolc around 1780 which kept in touch with the Hungarian Jacobin
people as well. The first stone-built theatre of the country was put
up here with the contribution of Miskolc citizens in 1823. When
Széchenyi and Kossuth appeared in the country's public life their
political programme was followed by Szemere Bertalan and Palóczy
László first in Miskolc, and then as representatives in the
Parliament. Szemere Bertalan, who was first Home Secretary, later on
became the Prime Minister of the First Independent Hungarian
Government on the side of the Governor Kossuth after the dethronement
of the Hapsburgs.
The population of Miskolc took an active part in the revolution. More
than 700 volunteers entered the newly formed militia. Later on the
Hungarian Army was set up and all these militiamen went over to it.
During the winter of 1848 Szemere Bertalan organized the Upper-Tisza
Army in Miskolc. Jókai Mór in order to evade persecution also hid here
in the vast forests of the Bükk.
After the Compromise of 1867 the town began developing. This
development was based on the railway, which was completed by 1859. In
1868 the Diósgyor Ironworks became the successor of the Hámor
metallurgy. Development was interrupted neither by the cholera
epidemic in 1873 nor the devastating flood in 1878. This natural
catastrophe took 277 human lives away in one hour, destroyed 700
houses and damaged 2182 buildings.
After nearly all of the famous vineyards of Miskolc were devastated by
the filoxera they were not replanted as the inhabitants now earned
their living in industry and trade. Multi-storied houses built at this
time gave an urban character to the town. They still can be seen in
the streets. The town got municipal rights in 1907. Ferenc József I.
granted a crested charter to the town on 11th May in 1909.
The violence of the First World War did not reach the immediate area
of the town but indirectly it damaged the inhabitants of the town.
More than 5000 people fell victim to the cholera epidemic in the local
military hospital and the cholera huts. Two new cemeteries had to be
built: the Heroes' cemetery at Tetemvár (Corpsecastle) and another
cemetery for those who died of cholera situated beyond the Sajó river.
Following the First World War, a decline occurred in the regime's
economy. This situation was made worse by influx of Hungarian refugees
arriving from the newly detached parts of the country.
The production level decreased initially because of the economic
crisis. However, by the middle of the 1930's an economic upturn
occurred due to the development of the military industry making
preparations for war.
During the 2nd World War the town first experienced an air attack on
2nd June 1944. For the inhabitants of Miskolc the war came to an end
on 3rd December with the arrival of the Soviet Red Army. Miskolc
suffered massively because of the war: 350 houses were destroyed; 7150
damaged and all the bridges were blown up due to the air raids. Wooden
headboards were erected in memory of the victims of the 2nd World War
in the Szemere-garden.
The town was rebuilt rapidly and became one of the industrial centres
of the region. Consequently, huge factories and housing estates were
built and the University of Technical Sciences was established here in
The Miskolc University Youth and the Workers' Council of the Iron
Works played an important role in the revolutionary events of 1956.
The victims of the revolution are commemorated with plaques in several
prominent places in the city.
The number of inhabitants increased significantly due to the
industrial developments of the 1960-70's and therefore huge housing
estates were built in different parts of the town such as Kilián and
Szentpéteri kapu. Besides these the Avas housing estate was built
where more than 35 thousands people live at present.
The vast reconstruction of the town centre began in the middle of the
1980's and it is still going on. The principal street of the town
called Széchenyi Street was repaved as a part of this redevelopment.
The 100 year-old tram network is also being renovated. The commercial
life of the city is now growing rapidly. Miskolc in the 90's is a
dynamic town developing and changing with the new times.