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 Town of Szentendre [¤]
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(County Pest)

Szentendre, a town of picturesque location, is situated on the right bank of the Danube River. It is the southern gateway to the Danube Bend.

The coat-of-arms is an oval shield erect surrounded by an ornamental Baroque cartouche topped with a crown. In the field a Paschal lamb is borne.

The tinctures of the coat-of-arms can be seen in a depiction of recent times kept at the Ferenczy Museum. According to this, the coat-of-arms bears: azure, on a ground vert a lamb statant proper headed reversed aureoled or, holding in the raised dexter foreleg a flagpole in bend sinister proper ending in a cross pomel with a gonfalon (labarum-type banner) gules thereon ornamented with an even-limbed cross argent.

In the broadest sense of the word the lamb refers to the flock and the people. However, it does not mean people as they actually are in reality but as they should be, since the lamb is the symbol of innocence and purity, as opposed to the bellicose emblems of the bear, the lion, the panther, the snake or the dragon.

Thus the lamb has also been a religious symbol ever since ancient times. By sacrificing an innocent lamb and sprinkling its blood on the doorpost did the Jewish people escape the judgement of the angels of wrath that destroyed the firstborn, when they were called upon by the Lord to forsake Egypt, the slavery of the flesh-pots for the freedom of the boundless wilderness. Thus has Passover (pesach in Hebrew) ever since been one of the most sacred of all holidays for those who follow the faith of the Old Testament.

It is to be remarked that the charge of the Paschal lamb, which acquired its final form of representation in the second half of the Middle Ages, is usually borne as a lamb passant, a posture necessitated by the 'holding' and the position of the flagstaff. The fact that the lamb is not motionless is meant to emphasise that it is living, which evokes the lamb in the Book of Revelation, who resurrected and shall live forever. The banner carried on the shoulder is also a sign of triumph, which expresses that humbleness is eventually victorious, as was the crucified Jesus Christ, who resurrected from his death.

Szentendre, a settlement of picturesque location and rich in historic buildings, the southern gateway to the Danube Bend, is also the town of arts and artists. Situated north of the capital city Budapest, this small town of 22,000 is accessible on trunk road 11 in twenty minutes, and on the suburban train in 38 minutes. The citizens do their best to give tourists and holidaymakers a memorable experience. In addition to being an ideal venue for conferences, exhibitions and sports events, it also offers various opportunities to entrepreneurs who wish to invest in the town. The great variety of local cuisine, which is the result of the fact that Szentendre is dwelt by a mixture of ethnicities, gives surprises to those who like culinary pleasures.

The town was already inhabited in ancient times. During the great migration of the fifth century AD, the Illyrians and the Celtic Eraviscan tribes were followed by a number of peoples (Huns, Longobards and Avars), as attested by the finds of the burial sites unearthed nearby.

In the first century AD, Szentendre was dwelt by the Romans; by the end of the century their military camp town called Ulcisia Castra (Wolf Castle) had emerged, around which a well-built civilian settlement came into being. However, by the time of the Magyar conquest, not many of these Roman buildings survived.

The first golden age of Szentendre was that of the Romans. It was the Roman civilisation that first emerged in the region: they built roads, aqueducts and stone houses, and also introduced trade and crafts. They lived in a well-organised society. Their memory is kept by artefacts and several street names, whereas the roads they built had a profound influence on the layout of the modern town.

The early Magyars occupied Szentendre and its environs in the 9th century AD, under the leadership of Prince Kurszán.

Szentendre's name appeared for the first time in a document of 1146.

The settlement's first church was built in the 13th century, and the name of the town derives from its patron saint, the apostle St Andrew (Sanctus Andreas; a version of the name in Hungarian is Endre). In the Árpádian age (11-13th centuries) the locals made their living of agriculture and the growing of fruit and wine. Owing to its favourable location, the importance of the town began to grow from the 14th century onward, since it was situated half-way between Visegrád and Buda, the two royal residences of the time.

As a result of the uprising in the Balkans in 1690, for fear of Turkish revenge, Serbian, Greek, Dalmatian and Bosnian families fled to Hungary under the leadership of the patriarch Arsene . About 800 of them settled down at Szentendre. The refugees, who had arrived from various regions and settlements of the Balkans, remained in the close relatedness of their own communities. Led by their priests, they built their own churches, around which they settled down. Seven of the one-time eight churches still stand, but today only some of them belong to the East Orthodox Church. The 18th-century wealthy Serbian citizens built not only Baroque-style churches but impressive schools and dwelling houses as well. The Serbian merchant families had their multi-storey houses erected primarily on the main square and in its vicinity, in Jenő Dumtsa, Bogdányi and Görög utca (streets). Their houses included stores, storage rooms and flats alike.

The Catholic Dalmatians lived in a separate quarter, near the Roman Catholic church on the castle hill, as well as on the hills called Klissza and Szamárhegy.

In the mid-19th century Szentendre had 3,600 inhabitants. Apart from the inn, the ferry, the pharmacy, the several shops and the mill on the Danube, the most valuable possession of the town was the 2,550-acre hillside vineyard, where the famous local red wine grew.

In the 19th century the development of Szentendre halted and started to decline. The town was devastated by heavy floods and great fires, while at the end of the 19th century the phylloxera epidemic destroyed the famous vineyards. Unlike in many other Hungarian settlements, due to the lack of capital, no industry was established at Szentendre in that period.

However, the impoverishment in the 19th-century also had an advantage, at least for future generations: since old houses were not demolished in order that new ones be built, the town was able to preserve its Baroque character.

By the end of the 19th century the decline of Szentendre slowed down and eventually stopped. Jenő Dumtsa, the town's first mayor, had the nearby swampy fields drained, and thus made it possible for the inhabitants to acquire large ploughlands. Fruit trees were planted to replace the perished vine stocks, and animal husbandry also developed. The Serbians gradually returned to their homeland, and their place was taken by ethnic German and Slovak settlers from nearby settlements. By the 20th century the majority of the population had become Hungarian.

This period witnessed a new enlivening of social life, whereby a number of associations came into being and folk traditions also thrived (such as Dalmatians' jump over the fire on Midsummer Day and their rainmaking dodolajárás ). Local press appeared, and millennial events and festivals were organised. This process continued and strengthened after the turn of the century. In 1928 the Szentedrei Festők Társasága (association of local painters) was established, and the painters of Nagybánya also found their new home at Szentendre, where several of them lived the rest of their lives. Prominent Hungarian painters who worked here included Endre Bálint, Dezső Korniss, Lajos Vajda, Jenő Barcsay, Piroska Szántó, Béla Czóbel and others. From among the writers Béla Hamvas and László Németh are especially worth mentioning.

It was in the late 1960s that Szentendre got into the focus of nationwide attention. That was the time when the building of the open-air museum began and the performances of the Szentendre Teátrum started within the framework of the cultural events called Szentendrei Nyár (Szentendre Summer Festival). In addition, several important cultural institutions were opened.

The open-air museum gives an introduction to the folk architecture and the traditions of all of Hungary's regions; moreover, it also exhibits the rural architecture and the artefacts of ethnic Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries, both from the near and the more distant past. The construction of buildings in the museum is still in progress.

The town attaches great importance to the cherishing of arts, which can now be considered as a part of local traditions. This is proven by the construction of the "Mill of the Arts", the country's most significant investment in modern art. When completed, it will be the largest exhibition site in Hungary.

Szentendre's environmental and historic values are cherished by the town's loyal dwellers, who are faithful to their traditions, by the large number of intellectuals and artists, as well as by the architects, who are aware of their responsibility for the town. Most of these people work within the framework of civil organisations, thus supporting the efforts of the local authority.

The branch of the Danube at Szentendre is a favourite spot for rowers.

The number and the standard of local retail trade is high. Visitors are especially attracted by the handicraft trade and the hospitality, which manifests itself by the many cafés and restaurants.

The town is expecting great changes, since the proximity of the capital city, the large number of new settlers, as well as the prospective infrastructural investments in the region (e.g. the construction of a new bridge over the Danube) will add new shades to the colourful life of this town, which will become a lively and bustling place all the year round for dwellers and visitors alike.


Pictures :

1. Street view

2. The roofs of Szentendre

3. Blagovestenska Church