National and historical symbols of Hungary

In this section you can find the crests of almost 2400 settlements of Hungary with notes. Find the starting letter of the settlement in the list and click if you want to see it.

The Coat of Arms of the Village of Szeleste
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(Vas County)

The settlement’s coat of arms can be described as follows:

In shield erect and azure the figure of a lion or, its tail bifourchée, in its raised dexter paw beast is holding a sword, hilted or. To the point of the sword the head of a long-moustached, turbaned Turk is stuck. Above the shield a helm argent, decorated with a crown or. Mantling: azure and or on the sinister, gules and argent on the dexter side. The charge of the lion symbolises courage, while the Turkish head on the sword is the emblem of the struggle for Christianity. The whole shield, its mantling, as well as its tinctures signify glory and wealth.

Although the earliest mention of Szeleste’s name goes back to a document of 1247, as it is attested by archological finds unearthed in the area, including the remains of horses and warriors and urns, the settlement had existed before that date.

The owners of Szeleste, the members of the Szelestey family belonged to the Ják clan, a member of which, Márton Nagy founded the famous abbey at Ják. They owned their property until as late as the 17th century.

The Szelestey family also had possessions at Jákfa. László Szelestey served as general in the War of Independence of 1848-49. The house, in which he was born in Uraiújfalu has a memorial plaque on it.

The more then 750—year old document of the foundation of Szeleste is mentions five noblemen of the Ják clan, who claimed the property of the Szeleste estate from Miklós, the bailiff of Vasvár. The property had been leased to governor Fila by King Béla IV. The document of this deal is kept in the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest.

In the Szelestey Archives of Szentivánfa there used to be a document going back to the period of King Géza II (1141-1162), which unfortunately got lost. The landowners of Magyarszeleste – later called Felsőszeleste – were the bondmen of King Géza II, while the village of Németszeleste –later called Alsószeleste – was acquired by the members of the Ják clan.

In 1318 the members of the Szelestey family had a parish church built in the village, but religious services had to be approved by the parent congregation of Répceszentgyörgy. The settlement’s first church was erected to honour the martyrdom of St. Stephen.

The inhabitants of Németszeleste also had a church of their own built in the Medieval period. It is thought to have Medieval origin, although, the first written mention of the church goes back to the age of Reformation.

The most renowned member of the Szelestey family was János Gosztonyi of Felsőszeleste (+1527). He was a member of the clergy, a diplomat and patron of arts, one of the most significant humanists in Hungary in the period of the reign of the Jagello dynasty. In 1489 he studied at the University of Vienna and he earned his doctorate in Italy. He rose very quickly to high religious and secular positions; he was a member of the Royal Chancellary, with his excellent knowledge of French he was an interpreter, then served as secreatary to Queen Anne, the French wife of King Ulászló II. János Gosztonyi was also a Chapter of Esztergom, the provost of Buda, then from 1507 onward the bishop of Vác, from 1510 the bishop of Győr, and eventually from 1524 the bishop of Transylvania. 1514, the year of his studies in Paris, marks the peak of his career. In 1526, upon the call of King Lajos II he wanted to go to war against the Turks, but János Zápolya captured and imprisoned him. János Gosztonyi was eventually executed in the prison of Kolozsvár.

The members of the Szelestey family were the landowners in both parts of the village until as late as the end of the 17th century. In the 1690s new landlords became the owners. The upward-moving János Horváth of nearby Répceszentgyörgy married Anna Szelestey and thus he became the owner of Szeleste. In the middle of the 18th century the members of the Festetich family also acquired property at Szeleste. The decree of 1767 by Empress Maria Theresia dealt with the legal relationship between landlords and serfs.

The mansion at Alsószeleste was built in English Gothic style in 1855 by Ádám Horváth of Szentgyörgy. Mihály Baich called it a cottage-style building. In 1871 it was Count Andor Festetich who began to establish a park next to it. The Count was the agricultural minister of the Wekerle, later of the Bánffy government.

In 1910 the estate got into the ownership of Baron Mihály Baich, who developed the park into a renowned botasnical garden, the emblem of the village of Szeleste.

The Botanical Garden of Szeleste

Address: 9622 Szeleste, 42 Berzsenyi Dániel St.

Owner: The Local Government of the Village of Szeleste

Manager: The Local Government of the Village of Szeleste

Telephone: (95) 365-002 (95) 565-000

Fax: 002 (95) 565-000


Open: 7 a.m.-5 p.m all the year round.

Entrance: free

Guided tours available for groups upon preliminary registration

Accessible by car on trunk road No. 86 or by coach from the town of Szombathely. By rail from the Ölbő-Alsószeleste station and it is a one-and-a- half kilometre walk. The main entrance to the botanical garden can be found in the village centre.

The National Blue Tourist Route passes through the village and this is why Szeleste and its botanical garden is popular with hikers. The thermal spas of Sárvár and Bükfürdő are also nearby. The botanical garden is a popular destination for cyclists as well. From May to September groups of students as well as of old-age pensioners arrive in tour buses and by spending their free time in the garden they can enjoy the shade of the gigantic old trees.

The area of the botanical garden is 13 hectares. It was established by Count Andor Festetich in 1872. He purchased plants and young trees at the World Exhibition of Vienna and he had the terraces constructed in the vicinity of the mansion. He bought evergreens in Erfurt, Germany.

In 1910 the park went into the ownership of Mihály Baich, who, in 1913 already had a well-made plan for enlarging the garden. He did not spare his time and money to build heatable conservatories, gardeners’ headquarters and he added an additional 4 hectares to the area of the 9-hectare garden. He purchased plants and trees from all over the world. He bought perennials in Holland and Germany. He had a paved winding path constructed at the bottom of the hill. During construction works Mihály Baich had consultations with the artist Oszkár Kleiner to achieve the perfect harmony of space, form and colour when designing the garden.

It was in 1928 that the park reached its recent size. It was only then that the owner began to establish his flower garden. The garden paths cross each other at right angles and they are bordered by pruned box trees. The background to the flower beds is made up of thujas, damson trees, syringes, smoke trees, roses, viburnum and hollyhock. In the alpine garden by the gate daffodils, primroses, wind flowers, bluebells, stonecrops and houseleeks grow. With the approaching spring below the birch trees snowdrops, snow-flakes and other bulbous flowers appear. There are different variations of perennials as well as some other plants, typical of the local flora. Less informed visitors are not aware of the fact that the beautiful flower, the so-called queen’s candle is acutally from the wooded areas around Sitke and the irises are from the Sághegy region.

The work of baron Mihály Baich was assisted by a number of professional gardeners including Edmund Fics, József Mészáros and Gyula Molnár, who was the manager of the botanical garden until as late as 1973. Mihály Baich also befriended with Gyula Gayer and thus his knowledge of botany could also deepen. He was also on friendly terms with István Saághy, founder of of the botanical garden of Kám and Count István Ambrózy-Migazzi, founder of the botanical garden of Jeli.

Mihály Baich did not leave his native country after the second world war either and he lived in a small cottage on the outskirts of the village until his death in 1955.

The botanical gardens were declared a narionally protected area in 1952 and as such it was maintained by the Szeleste Forestry Department until 1969, then from 1969 to 1992 the Szombathely Landscaping Company, until eventually on February 1, 1992 the area was taken over by the Local govenrment of Szeleste.

Recently managerial tasks are performed by István Bánó Jr. The cottage-style mansion, which was built in 1855 in the southwestern part of the botanical garden serves as hotel and thermal bath.

The botanical garden can boast ovewr 500 different species of botanical rarities. In the garden of perennials the collection of different plants consists of 500-600 different species. The flowers planted in flower beds by the garden paths were selected in such a way that they flower all the year round. Recently there are about 90-100 perennials in the garden but their number is likely to grow in the near future.

The most famous trees of the garden are the old pine trees (coastal pines, Greek pines, Douglas pines and cedar trees), the silvery linden trees, which used to be the most valuable trees of the garden but many of them got destroyed during storms. The chestnut trees, the magnolias, the birch trees and oak trees also represent special value.