Castle Hill (Vár-hegy), towering over the city centre, was the site of the Roman settlement of Solva Mansio in the 1st century AD, 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 capital, 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.
Esztergom lost its political significance when King Béla IV moved the capital to Buda after the Mongol invasion in 1241. It remained the ecclesiastical seat, but Esztergom’s capture by the Turks in 1543 interrupted the church’s activities, and the city’s archbishop fled to Nagyszombat (now Trnava in Slovakia). The church did not re-establish its base in this ‘Hungarian Rome’ until the early 19th century.