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(dĕ`brĕtsĕn), city (1991 est. pop. 213,927), E Hungary, the nation's third largest city and the economic and cultural center of the Great Plain (Alföld) region E of the Tisza River. It is also a county administrative center, a road and rail hub, and an industrial city that produces agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals, furniture, and pottery. Debrecen was traditionally famous for its fairs and livestock markets and is still a center for agricultural trade. Known in the 13th cent., the city grew as a market for cattle and grain. It became the stronghold of Hungarian Protestantism in the 16th cent., and its Calvinist college later formed the nucleus of a university. Under the Turkish occupation of Hungary (16th–17th cent.), Debrecen enjoyed semiautonomous status and often served as a refuge for peasants fleeing the Turks. It was also an important trade center, but the wars in the late 17th cent. between Christian Europe and the Turks ruined the city's economy. Debrecen became the center of Hungarian resistance against Austrian rule in the 19th cent.; and on Apr. 14, 1849, Louis Kossuth proclaimed Hungary's independence in the great church in the heart of Debrecen. Russian troops, who had helped the Hapsburgs crush the Hungarian uprising, occupied the city briefly. Economic revival began in the early 20th cent. In 1944–45, during World War II, Debrecen served as provisional capital of Hungary.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in northeastern Hungary, in the northern part of the Alfüld. Administrative center of the megye (county) of Hajdú Bihar. It is the third largest city in Hungary, after Budapest and Miskolc. Population, 155,000 (1970). It is an important railroad junction.

During the years of people’s power, Debrecen has been transformed from a city of trade and handicrafts and a site for the collection and partial processing of agricultural products into one of the country’s major industrial and cultural centers. In addition to food industries (flour mills, tobacco, meat, and dairy), there is machine building (plants producing ball bearings, farm implements, and medical equipment and instruments), a chemical and pharmaceutical plant producing penicillin, and a textile and garment industry. There also are furniture and leather plants. Debrecen is the site of L. Kossuth University, medical and pedagogical institutes, an agricultural academy, a conservatory, and a theater.

In ancient times Debrecen was a Slavic settlement, which was conquered by Hungarian nomads in the tenth century. During the Hungarian Revolution (1848-49), the Hungarian revolutionary government headed by L. Kossuth was in Debrecen from January to May, 1849. On Apr. 14, 1849, the Hungarian Parliament in Debrecen proclaimed full independence of Hungary from the Hapsburgs and their removal from the Hungarian throne. During World War II (on Mar. 19, 1944), Debrecen was occupied by fascist German troops. The city was liberated from the occupation forces on Oct. 20, 1944, by units of the Soviet Army during the Debrecen Operation of 1944. The Provisional National Assembly of Hungary began its work in Debrecen on Dec. 21, 1944, forming on December 22 a provisional national government that declared war on Hitler’s Germany on Dec. 28, 1944.

Debrecen’s broad streets and large parks were mostly laid out in the 18th and 19th centuries. The most noteworthy architectural monuments are a Protestant college (1801-17) and cathedral (1803-21) built by the architect M. Pécsi in the classical style. Architectural and planning originality distinguish the complex of buildings of the agricultural academy (including the classroom building, 1962-64, architect T. Mikolás) and the 400-place Public Service Residence for the Elderly and Invalids (1963-1965) by the architect G. Biki. There is a monument to the poet M. Csokonai Vitéz (by the sculptor M. Izsó, in bronze, 1871). The F. Déri Museum contains archaeological materials, masterpieces of ancient Egyptian and classical art, Hungarian folk art, and fine arts.


Balogh, J. Debrecen. Budapest, 1958.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.