11th World University Wrestling Championship 2014 Pécs, Hungary

Pécs

Even in prehistoric times man found shelter and a place to settle in the Pécs region. Protected by the Mecsek hill, the Roman settlement of Sopianae had already become a city 2000 years ago. By the end of the 3rd century AD Sopianae was one of the administrative centres of the province of Pannonia. Romans arriving here from the Mediterranean area almost certainly felt at home, and present-day guests from Italy probably feel the same when they visit modern-day Pécs. Indeed, is there any Hungarian city that is more “Italian” than Pécs? Looking at Széchényi tér (square) and the incandescent stones of the Jami (a type of mosque) on a hot summers day, walking through the southern-style Jókai tér in the late afternoon, visiting the promenade, the open-air restaurants and cafés of Király utca (street), and sitting down on the stone rims of the fountains on Színház tér, the visitor can feel transported to Italy. Viewing the city panorama from Harkány, the traveller could be in the hills of Toscana or Lazio.

It is certainly no accident that Janus Pannonius, the poet educated in the Italian renaissance, made his home at the episcopal castle. He sang of the almond tree flowering in wintertime, which even today are still blooming under the Niké statue, on Havihegy (hill) or in the Szkókó district at the beginning of spring. Looking down across the glittering surface of the Pellérd lakes, the eye searches for the sea in the distance, but the horizon is closed by the Croatian mountains, although the Adriatic Sea is only a few hundred kilometres behind them. Locals often imagine how marvellous it would be if only a small bay of Adriatic could wash upon the foot of the Mecsek hill. But alas for Pécs there is not even a small river…

Despite this, Pécs is – as described by a winning competition slogan – “the city of Mediterranean impressions.” At the end of summer city you can discover old fig trees in gardens and vineyards surrounded by rustic masonry on the hillside. The proportion of vines on the Mecsek is decreasing as houses climb up the hillside with the city’s rapid development, but wine is still produced on Aranyhegy (hill) and in Makár, Donátus, Bálics, Patacs, Rigóder and the gardens of Meszes. Not without reason is Pécs referred to as the “City of Grapes and Wine.” People who have lived in Pécs for several generations call themselves “tüke,” which originates from the word “tőke”, or vine-stock.

It is hard to put into words what it means to be a citizen of Pécs. Pécs is Pécs. It can only be measured against itself. “For me: it is THE CITY forever,” confessed the Pécs-born artist Győző Csorba. What can be said about Pécs is that the Mediterranean climate combined with numerous festivals help to define the city, from the Spring Festival to the Pécs Days festival held under the chestnut trees of the promenade. The National Theatre Meeting, the university festivals, the Grape and Wine Festival (accompanied by the Drinking Song Festival), all attract citizens and visitors to the city’s streets and squares. The citizens of Pécs celebrate life itself, and that is what binds the city’s community.
György Pánics