Eger in detail

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As Strong as a Bull

The story of the Turkish attempt to take Eger Castle is the stuff of legend. Under the command of István Dobó, a mixed bag of 2000 soldiers held out against more than 100,000 Turks for a month in 1552. As every Hungarian kid in short trousers can tell you, the women of Eger played a crucial role in the battle, pouring boiling oil and hot pitch on the invaders from the ramparts.

Eger's wine apparently also played a significant role. It's said that Dobó sustained his troops with a ruby-red local wine. When they fought on with increased vigour – and stained beards – rumours began to circulate among the Turks that the defenders were drinking the blood of bulls. The invaders departed – for the time being – and the name Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) was born.

View the mock-up of the siege in miniature in the castle's museum or read Géza Gárdonyi's Eclipse of the Crescent Moon (1901), which describes the siege in thrilling detail.