Lonely Planet Writer

The Hungarian town of Veszprém is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2023

Set between Lake Balaton and the Bakony Hills, Veszprém is one of Hungary’s more underrated cities, but also one that is about to burst into the spotlight.

View of monument from Castle Hill in the evening in Veszprem © Madrugada Verde / Shutterstock

On Friday 14 December 2018, the European Commission announced Veszprém as the surprising winner of the European Capital of Culture title for 2023, beating Hungary’s second city, Debrecen, and the historic city of Győr in northwestern Hungary for the title.

Veszprém has a long history going back to Hungary’s first king, St Stephen, as it was the city where the Christian king beat the pagan lord, Koppány. History lingers around each corner of the city, where you can find one of the earliest stone castles built in the country. The town’s narrow streets, medieval buildings, Hungary’s first cathedral, the historic fire tower, and annual music festival in the summer months make it perfect for anyone looking for a culture fix, especially in the years leading up to 2023.

‘Veszprém has the potential to make a valuable addition to the European cultural heritage,’ said Aiva Rozenberga, the chair of the board, following the announcement, according to the official site of Veszprém 2023.

Fountain decoration statues and historical buildings in Veszprem © Madrugada Verde / Shutterstock

The town close to Lake Balaton already has a rich cultural life, with museums and theatres scattered around the city’s hilly streets. Culture vultures can head to the rocky castle hill for the Masterpiece Gallery featuring contemporary Hungarian art or the Vass Collection focusing on avant-garde art from the constructivist and abstract movements. Those with more traditional tastes can visit the Tejfalussy House for the Beatified Gizella Diocese Collection, or the Dezső Laczkó Museum which hosts an eclectic collection from archaeological to ethnographical and even sports history exhibits. For the performing arts the 100-year-old Petőfi Theatre, a cultural hub, has got you covered.

Preparations for the programme will begin in January 2019, and will extend beyond the city limits to over 200 settlements in the surrounding region.

By Jennifer Walker