Life in the city
City information

History of Miskolc

Miskolc is one of the few settlements in Europe dating back 70,000 years in history. 

Thanks to archeological findings proving the presence of the prehistoric man discovered in the heart of the city, Miskolc is considered one of the oldest inhabited regions of Hungary.  The city was named after the clan “Miskoc” (Mishkots).  Miskolc was first mentioned by Anonymus in the Gesta Hungarorum around 1173.  It was given market town (oppidum) status in 1365 by King Luis I (known in Hungary as Luis the Great aka Nagy Lajos) giving Miskolc the right to elect and dismiss, which was later supplemented by privileges and endowments. The town was quickly developing and by the end of the 15th century, it had 2,000 inhabitants. However, during the Turkish occupation, development slowed down. Although the castle of Diosgyor had been successfully restored in 1674, the town was paying taxes to the Ottoman Empire until 1687 when it finally gained its freedom from the Turks. It was around this period that the town became an important center for wine production and by the end of the 17th century, there were 13 guilds in operation.  The first census held in 1786 recorded 2,414 houses and 14,179 inhabitants.  During the 18th and 19th centuries, several important buildings were built including the town hall, the new county hall, theater (which was the first stone theater in the country), a synagogue, and several schools and churches.  The Hatvan-Miskolc railway line was opened on January 9th, 1870 which connected the city to Pest.  These were, however, not just times of great growth; they also brought misfortune to the city.  The cholera epidemic struck again in 1873 and a big flood hit the city in 1878 claiming hundreds of lives.  The flood destroyed many buildings, but these were later rebuilt; better and bigger than before.  The first tram line started in July of 1897.

Between 1907 and 1909, Miskolc became independent from Borsod county gaining its independent jurisdiction.  Although there were older badges used by the city, the oldest one depicting the king’s head with the writings SIGILLUM CIVITATIS MISKOLCZ (Miskolc city seal), the city had no official coat of arms until that time.

Franz Joseph I, Austrian Emperor and King of Hungary awarded a letter of privilege to the city which was signed on May 11th, 1909. The new coat of arms was created from a combination of old symbols. The shield shows a bust of St. Stephen, and above him is a Hajdu (herdsman) holding a bunch of grapes in one hand and wheat corn in the other.

Although World War I didn’t have a direct impact on the city; however, it contributed to many deaths; many Miskolc citizens died in the war or perished during the cholera epidemic. In 1945, Diosgyor and Hejocsaba became part of Miskolc.  Goromboly, Szirma and Hamor were also annexed to the city in 1950. Miskolc reached its present-day size in 1981 after the addition of Bukkszentlaszlo. 

Over the past centuries, Miskolc have fallen on hard times and faced several hardships, but these trials also solidified the city’s social, economic and political role.

Formerly known as the “steel city” for its metallurgical industry, Miskolc has undergone significant changes over the previous decades and has distinguished itself with different qualities.  Instead of an industrial city, it is now known as the “green city” being the first city in Hungary to join the Green City movement the goal of which is environmental protection and sustainability.  It also boasts nicknames such as the “Hungarian Opera Capital” after the esteemed international Bartok Plus Opera Festival which is one of the newest cultural events taking place in Miskolc, or the “Hungarian Movie Capital” after the prestigious CineFest Miskolc International Film Festival which is very well regarded in the movie industry. Furthermore, the city is also known for the Biennial then later the Triennial Series of Graphics; an event which has been taking place in the Miskolc Gallery since 1961 earning the city the nickname as the “Hungarian Capital of Graphics.”