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Esztergom

History

Vár-hegy (Castle Hill), towering over the city centre, was the site of the Roman settlement of Solva Mansio in the 1st century, and it is thought that Marcus Aurelius finished his Meditations in a camp nearby during the second half of the 2nd century.

Prince Géza chose Esztergom as his cap- ital, and his son Vajk (later Stephen) was crowned king here in 1000. Stephen founded one of the country's two archbishoprics at Esztergom and built a basilica, bits of which can be seen in the palace.

Esztergom (German: Gran) lost its polit- ical significance when King Béla IV moved the capital to Buda after the Mongol invasion in 1241. It remained the ecclesiastical seat, however, vying with the royal court for power and influence. Esztergom's capture by the Turks in 1543 interrupted the church's activities, and the archbishop fled to Nagyszombat (now Trnava in Slovakia) to the northwest.

The church did not reestablish its base in this 'Hungarian Rome' until the early 19th century. It was then that Esztergom went on a building spree that transformed it into a city of late baroque and, in particular, neoclassical buildings.