Article for tourists planning to visit Hungary. Discover interesting facts about the country’s religion, learn about the beginnings of history of Hungary, important dates, and events that shaped the Hungary we know today. I won’t just copy Wikipedia, and this article isn’t for a school report; it’s specifically for tourists to better understand Hungary and prepare for their trip.

Religion in Hungary: Interesting Facts, Important Dates

Hungary is unique in terms of religion, with its own interesting features uncommon in this region.

  • Almost 60% of the country’s population is Catholic. Nothing particularly unusual there.
  • Secondly, around 20% of the population is Protestant. The main Protestant denominations in Hungary are Calvinism and Lutheranism.
  • The most Protestant regions in the country are in Debrecen, the second-largest city in Hungary. There are numerous Protestant religious landmarks here: the Reformed Cathedral, four Reformed churches, which are unparalleled in any other region of Hungary.
religion in hungary protestantism
Debrecen’s main Reformed Cathedral. Protestants typically don’t adorn altars with gold or paint frescoes on walls and ceilings. It’s always modest, a religious minimalism.

Interesting to note:

According to official statistics, only 5% of the population in Hungary practice Orthodox Christianity (mostly the Serbian diaspora), Judaism, and Islam. There are many Jewish districts; in every major city, you’ll easily find several synagogues.
history of Hungary
This is the main synagogue in Szeged. Take a look inside; it’s more opulent than the Catholic churches.

Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Jews are officially considered religious minorities in Hungary, and their holidays are not part of the national holidays. For instance, Orthodox Christmas on January 7th is not observed as a public holiday in Hungary. All about Hungary’s holidays and traditions.

turkish baths in budapest
These are the Rudas Baths in Budapest. Classic Ottoman architecture; any Turkish bath looks like this.

History of Hungary: From Romans to the European Union, Briefly

Now, the most interesting moments from Hungary’s history and what tourists should know:

  • Pannonia was a region of the Roman Empire situated in what is modern-day Hungary.
history of hungary interesting facts
Gellért Baths in Budapest; can’t you feel the Roman architectural heritage?

Interesting to know:

It was the Romans who discovered a vast number of thermal springs and built the first baths here. They introduced the culture of thermal baths to Hungarians. Today, there are over 1300 equipped thermal springs across the country. Hungary’s most impressive thermal baths.
  • In the year 1000, one of the Hungarian tribal leaders managed to unite all the scattered tribes, adopted Catholicism, became the first King of Hungary, and was named Stephen I. Later, he was canonized, and today, numerous objects across the country bear the name of Saint Stephen: streets, squares, churches, and so forth.

For instance, from 2020 to 2023, the best Christmas market in Europe is held in Budapest, on St. Stephen’s Square, opposite St. Stephen’s Basilica.

  • Starting from the year 1100, relentless wars for lands and power took place in Hungary, much like in the rest of Europe. These were dark times that lasted centuries: Mongols, Turks, Austrians – a constant stream of those seeking to conquer Hungary due to its convenient geographical location, right in the heart of Europe, where you must pass through Hungary to go anywhere else.

An informative article about Hungary on the map of Europe, its neighbors, modern borders.

  • In 1323, the city of Visegrád became the first capital of the Hungarian Kingdom. The Visegrád castle in the Danube Bend, where kings met and formed military alliances, stands in excellent condition today and is open to tourists as a museum.
religion and history of Hungary
This is how the Visegrád castle looks today – it played a significant role in the formation of the Hungarian state.

A fantastic article: a route to the north of Budapest for 1-2 days through Szentendre, Visegrád, and Esztergom. By the way, Esztergom is the birthplace of Stephen I, and today, it houses the largest cathedral in all of Hungary. A route for those interested in the country’s history.

Interesting fact:

In the Middle Ages, Hungary was so ravaged that cities were wiped off the face of the earth. The bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe, practically bypassed Hungary due to its very low population density. Though plague columns were erected here, much like in Europe, more as protective talismans.
  • Sümeg – the only castle that never fell in its entire history, even when besieged by the Turks numerous times. Among Hungarians, there was a saying: “As long as Sümeg stands, it’s too early to pray to Mecca.” Today, the castle is open to tourists. An overview of Hungary’s best palaces and castles, including Sümeg, is on the list.
  • In 1918, the first Hungarian Republic emerged, governed by a parliament.
  • In 1939, Hungary formed an alliance with fascist Germany and participated on the side of the Germans throughout the Second World War.
  • When the fascists began losing, Hungary wanted to withdraw from the alliance and remain neutral. But Hitler anticipated this; in 1944, within a month, the Germans occupied the entire country, and hundreds of thousands of Jews were sent to death camps in Poland.
  • By March 1945, the Soviet Red Army managed to completely liberate Hungary from the fascists, and for the next 40 years, communist rule was established. The anti-communist uprising in 1956 was brutally suppressed by the Soviet army within two weeks.
house of terror history of hungary
Today, in Budapest, there is a museum called the House of Terror, dedicated to the genocide and terror inflicted on the Hungarian people, first by the Germans from fascist Germany and then by Soviet rule.

In essence, it wasn’t until 1990 that Hungary truly gained independence for the first time in its 2000-year history.

In conclusion: Hungary’s history for 2000 years has been incessant wars and conquests; nearly everyone came here with a sword. But Hungarians endured and today are building their independent state. This was a very brief history of Hungary to help you understand the main events that have somehow influenced the country’s modern life, religion, and culture.

IMPORTANT: Below are useful links that will help organize your trip to Hungary and Budapest:

  • Flight: Aviasales – compares prices for flights among 30+ airlines flying to Budapest.
  • Tours and excursions:
    • Viator and GetYourGuide – the best services for finding tours in Budapest and Hungary with the largest database of activities in Hungary. They offer river cruises on the Danube, tickets to baths, and 1000+ tours (available in different languages).
  • Accommodation, apartments, hotels, hostels:
    • Hotellook compares the prices among dozens of other booking services and offer the best price
    • Booking – the most popular booking platform
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Hungary
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – the leading and largest car rental service in Hungary.
  • Travel Insurance: EKTA.
  • eSIMAiralo virtual SIM card in Hungary.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel