Debrecen with its almost 205 thousand inhabitants is the second largest city in Hungary, and the city 220 kilometres far from Budapest has a rich history more than 6 centuries long. It is not only the cultural and scientific centre of the region, but also a marvellous place of various festivals and cultural events. Moreover, Debrecen is the city of a flourishing bath culture and a distinctive health centre as well.
The history of this marvelous city shows its importance and magnificence although the centuries, and also serves as the basis for the distinctive and exceptionally rich cultural and historical life of Debrecen. The city and its region was already inhabited in the ancient times, as up to the arrival of the wandering Hungarians in the 9th century A.D. a number of various nations and ethnic groups lived here. As a result of this, the margins of the contemporary city often functioned as border territories among major empires and nations. Nagyerdő (Great Forest) and Ördög-árok (Devil’s Ditch) in the territory called Erdőspuszták also show evidences of ancient habitation as it reveals the remnants of an enormous frontier defence system. The city grew out of the union of a number of villages and was founded in the meeting of important trading routes, but the history of the city is still hardly known around and even after the time of the conquest. Debrecen emerged from the surrounding villages after the Mongol Invasion. The name of the city occurred first in 1235 in an ecclesiastic document, and in 1271 it occurred as Dubrychyn, and in the last years of the 13th century as Debruchun.
An important stage of the development of Debrecen was the charter given by King Louis the Great in 1361, which elevated Debrecen into the group of privileged market-towns. Thanks to the records kept about the active and flourishing trade from the 16th century, an image of a well-established and effective city with flourishing external relations is drawn.
By the end of the 17th century, after the Turkish withdrawal, the country was drawn under Habsburg rule, and the charter presented by Leopold I. in 11 April, 1693 Debrecen was elevated to the rank of a royal free town.
Debrecen is one of the cultural and social centres of Hungary for almost half a century, and has been dedicated to establish and maintain a remarkable and outstanding cultural credo. Since 1538 the most marvellous minds of Hungarian culture and science learned in the famous Reformed College. The Museum of the College has an outstanding collection of 17 000 pieces and its library owns distinctive book rarities, while its collection of embroidery and goldsmith’s crafts also offers a unique experience. The Kölcsey Conference Center, one of the largest ones in the country, was opened in 2006 and hosted a number of national and international stars, at the same time its hall and gallery regularly houses distinctive and unique exhibitions.
Debrecen is extremely proud of its centuries’s old traditions and heritage in education, that is why the city pays considerable attention to this public sector from lower to higher levels as well. As a result of this Debrecen is not only a regional and national, but an international centre of education, especially on higher levels. Several thousands of foreign students choose Debrecen as their educational destination year after year which hallmarks the traditionally high level of the various trainings and the well-established technical and scientific background supporting the institutional network. This network consists of almost 50 kindergartens, 40 elementary schools and 30 secondary schools, many of which are financed by the local government, though some are under ecclesiastical rule. At the same time the city also pays attention to children with special needs and those who require special treatments: two special institutions and three special student residences offering distinctive and differentiated educational programmes deal with these needs.
Being a traditional regional and cultural centre, Debrecen is devoted both to promote education in different languages and to support talents as well. Therefore there are a number of bilingual schools and schools with special curriculum enhancing student performance.