Eger Castle, officially a National Place of Memory, has undergone significant changes in the past years. As a result of the tourist attraction development project, financed from EU funds, areas that have been closed for decades are now open to visitors. New areas for exhibitions and events have been created.
The objective of future developments is to bring the listed building complex up to a standard, which matches its value, as well as to create a touristic and cultural attraction of European standard. The planned exhibitions and the related museum educational programmes are aimed at arousing the curiosity of children while being informative and entertaining at the same time.
It’s no secret that the goal of these development projects is to offer enough leisure programmes for visitors for a full day.
The project entitled „Eger Castle and Fortification Tourist Attractions Development” has been realised with the support of the European Union, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The overall planned budget of the project is HUF 2.13 billion, from which the financial support was over HUF 1.863 billion.
The Szép Bastion, also known by the more popular name of Calvary Hill, was used as a cavalier originally. It is the highest point of Eger Castle. From its top you can see an unparalleled view of the Castle and the city, as well as the Bükk Mountains.
The Szép Bastion has been completely renewed within the frame of the European Union development project. The sections of the hill where there was a risk of slippage were statically reinforced and at the same time the walls of the old cavalier were renovated. The Calvary established by Archbishop Pyrker was given a face-lift. The stations beside the road leading to Calvary Hill were reestablished, thus renewing the former tradition of the torchlit procession on 20 August, which used to start at the Basilica and finish at Calvary Hill.
The focal point of the current development project was the Szép Bastion and its surroundings. This was the largest undivided area and technically it posed the greatest challenge.
The barbican built by the Ottomans was in a very bad condition.
After having renovated the surrounding walls, a wooden machicolation was designed, which provides an additional viewing point onto the town. The various levels within the bastion are suitable for outdoor events.
Technically the greatest challenge was to support the 10-metre high castle wall above the Turkish Garden. This was done by building a retaining wall along of the section of the orilloned bastion which was blown up during the second siege. The thus divided Turkish Garden consists of an upper and a lower part. The lower part can be accessed through a door on the right hand side after passing through the main entrance, while from the upper part visitors can reach the countermine galleries, which lead to as far as the Dark Gate. This way the Turkish Garden once again became a favorite stop during the castle tours.
The watch-house of the Hippolito Gate was covered up with soil when the castle was turned into a fortress, however, recent excavations have unearthed it again. The cellar has survived in a good enough condition. In order to be able to conserve its present condition the ruins needed to be covered with a roof. This provided the opportunity for utilising the inner space. The archeological findings confirmed that the building used to have an upper level.
The construction of the protective roof meant that the inner square now had a new gallery level that increased the floor-space one and a half times over and also allows for the utilisation of the inner area. After the restoration arts and crafts activities and exhibitions can be held here, as required.
As part of the project the military reenactment accessories were also renewed, and Dobó-era costumes and replica weapons were made. During the daily reenactment shows and the museum educational activities visitors can try on the costumes and try the weapons.
Outer Castle walkway
A 10-stop heritage trail was built on the Outer Castle panorama walkway around the northern and western castle walls on a 384m long section. The Dobó street side of the walkway has a 354 m2 parking area (with two disabled parking bays) and an event area.
It is important to mention the new contents acquired through the project: new informational system for the castle, touchscreens located at the gates and at the Information Point. The entire public utility network was replaced and completely overhauled.
Thanks to the project, the 1552 restaurant was opened, while visitors and locals can enjoy the Turkish atmosphere in the Tent of the Pasha of Eger, located along Dobó Street, at the start of the Outer Castle walkway.
The most important part of the project for the city was the renovation of the Casemates, which is the most famous exhibition of the István Dobó Castle Museum and Eger Castle. Aside from a complete engineering overhaul, three new exhibitions were also added. Previously closed areas were opened to the public, such as the upper barracks and a countermine gallery section which collapsed 420 years ago in the siege of 1596.
During the restoration an alternative route became usable, starting from the Casemates and the Turkish Garden and leading to the back garden of the house at no. 12 Dobó Street through a secret door. The property was renovated as part of the project where a children's educational area was established. The Castle works and the Page School are also located here, offering children creative activities.
The Casemates now have interactive exhibitions with multimedia elements. They present the story of the construction of the Cathedral and the bishopric castle, as well as the military history and castle architecture in the era of the Ottoman occupation. The upper Barrack Hall hosts a popular exhibition, entitled "Eclipse of the Crescent Moon" - the novel and reality’.