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Route of medieval churches in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg and Satu Mare counties

The route of churches connects medieval churches as a thematic tourist trail, which is located in the Szatmár-Satu Mare region.

The reason for this is that the Szatmár-Satu Mare region has the most of religious-tourist locations of great historical values which are also one of a kind, and their promotion needs to be improved. Tourism related to religious monuments and historical heritage is a possible way to boost tourism in the region and the implementation of the project is underlined also by the need to preserve these monuments.

The concept
The idea of the route of churches was worked out during a series of extensive professional negotiations, which resulted in a consensus of the participating actors in the historical area of Szatmár-Satu Mare. Several organisations were involved in the discussions to provide the best professional basis for the project.

The following bodies participated in the preparatory negotiations: National Office of Cultural Heritage, the Tourinform office, the Jósa András Museum, the Reformed Bishopric of Szatmár, congregations alongside the route, a Szatmár Leader Public Benefit Association, The Regional Development and Environmental Management Agency of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Government, Museum of Satu Mare County, a The Roman Catholic Bishopric of Satu Mare County, Directorate of cultural and religious affairs, Satu Mare County Council. Besides these organisations, tourist, art-historical, regional development, cultural heritage and marketing professionals were involved in the joint work, making sure that the definition of the thematic route incorporates tourist and cultural attractions alike.

A placed filled with history
The watery areas of this region are characterized by a settlement structure consisting of small villages. The extreme geographical conditions, devastating floods and inland waters played an important role in the conservation of this settlement structure. The built and natural environment remained unspoilt and visible for the further generations and so did the traditions of local people. The land bounded by waters has kept its unique image, atmosphere and values of medieval times. Due to the poverty and isolation special architecture developed, which can be mostly captured through the churches. The unique atmosphere of the historical Szatmár-Satu Mare can be recognized by visiting the small-sized churches and the wooden belfries built next to them, the gilded ceilings and pulpits or the painted balconies.

The thematic route, which is the first of its kind in the Hungarian-Romanian border region, aims to promote the unique religious and cultural heritage of the Carpathian Basin. The route consists of twenty churches from Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, and ten churches from Satu Mare County. In the Hungarian part of the church route the following settlements are concerned: Cégénydányád, Csenger, Csengersima, Fehérgyarmat, Gacsály, Gyügye, Jánkmajtis, Kisszekeres, Kölcse, Nagyar, Nagygéc, Nagyszekeres, Sonkád, Szamosbecs, Szamosújlak, Szamostatárfalva, Tiszakóród, Túristvándi, Túrricse, Vámosoroszi, whereas the settlements in Satu Mare county are: Acâş, Negreşti Oaş, Bixad, Agriş, Ardud, Căpleni, Livada, Corund, Tăşnad and Vetiş.

Both counties consider the built and cultural heritage a unique treasure of the region; therefore, they worked out a joint development programme focusing on the preservation and promotion of medieval churches with outstanding historical value and potential, but lacking the desired popularity in terms of attracting tourists into the area. The project reacted to these problems and it offers comprehensive information about these unique architectural monuments and draws the attention to the religious tourism values of the two counties. The whole thematic route itself is based on the connection between similar attractions, services and programmes from different locations, as part of a single tourism product.

Various communication activities
So far several events took place and some are still planned on both sides of the border for the wide public and the professional actors (professional workshops, scientific symphosium, press conference, closing conference): a detailed, illustrated study on the sights of the church route containing the results of the researches conducted so far is planned to be finalized in April-May, and so is the high quality webpage ( - some elements are yet to be finalised) along with 30000 visitor brochures as well as a tourism related movie.

The promotional materials will give an insight to the outstanding cultural heritage and we hope these activities will draw the attention towards the region as well. Unified information tables will be set up through the sights of the church route which will ensure that the visitors will be familiar with the medieval heritage of small congregations.

Long term perspectives
The development of the religious tourism of the region and based on that the development of tourism are our long term goals. The project will give a strong basis for the promotion of the medieval churches of the Szatmár region, facilitates the cooperation between the actors involved in religious tourism and encourages their contribution to further objectives.

We hope that the project will help to significantly increase the number of visitors of the churches included in the route, and the reputation of these outstanding monuments will be increased countrywide and internationally as well. We also hope that the other religious tourism route besides the Maria route can be implemented.

Co-author: Majorné László Brigitta

Additional information on the project>>