Like most towns along the Danube Bend, Szentendre was home first to the Celts and then the Romans, who built an important border fortress here called Wolf's Castle (Ulcisia Castra). The Magyars arrived late in the 9th century and established a colony here and by the 14th century Szentendre was a prosperous estate under the supervision of the royal castle at Visegrád.
It was about this time that the first wave of Serbian Orthodox Christians came from the south in advance of the Turks, but the Turkish occupation of Hungary over the ensuing centuries brought the town's peaceful co- existence to an end, and by the end of the 17th century the town was deserted. Though Hungary was liberated from the Ottomans soon afterwards, fighting continued in the Balkans and a second wave of Serbs, together with Greeks, Dalmatians and others, fled to Szentendre. Believing they would return home, but enjoying complete religious freedom under the relatively benevolent rule of the Habsburgs (a right denied Hungary's Protestants at the time), half a dozen Orthodox clans each built their own churches and gave the town its unique Balkan feel.
Szentendre's delightful location began to attract day-trippers and painters from Budapest early last century; an artists' colony was established here in the 1920s. The town has been known for its art and artists ever since.