Centuries of Sárvár
The history of the town can be tracked back to the 13th century, however, in the past decades archaeological findings unearthed prove that people of earlier ages also found this area to be ideal for living.
At the times of the Roman Empire a river crossing was erected in the vicinity on the river Rába and the sources preserved its name – Bassiana. The inhabitants of Roman Ages did not survive the turmoil of centuries and neither did other nations and peoples. The former Mediterranean empire still left its traces and these impacts still define the life of the town. River regulations and canalisations in the vicinity of the town of Savaria in the Roman Ages had an impact on the town as the islands surrounding Sárvár persisted not only on maps, but also in the name of the settlement.
Thus there was no settlement on the area of Sárvár prior to the 13th century but both the castle and the town were built in the second half of the 13th century following the campaign of the Tatars. This is undermined by the fact that the first mentioning of the town originates from 1288. It must have been the Kőszegi family to found the town on the island engulfed by swamps of the rivers Gyöngyös and Rába. The name of the town (Sárvár = mud castle) also refers to this.
After the armies of King Róbert Károly had retaken the town, it received privileges of a market town 1328. As a market town it remained in the possession of the landlord and was not allowed to have a stone wall erected around it, however it could elect judges on its own and the inhabitants received the right of holding markets and gained tax free trade. One of the key fairs, the Simon-Judas fair existing since the 15th century, is still held on the last Saturday in October even today. These privileges enabled the establishment of guild small trade and other trade activities serving primarily local and regional needs. The first guild organisations emerged from the 16th century onwards, they had their peak in the 18th century, as the articles, the guild regulations, exhibited clearly indicate this.
These bound circumstances began to slowly decay in the course of the 19th century and were replaced by small trade and industry. The railroad connection established in the year 1871 greatly contributed to the development. At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries the first major factories, the sugar, the artificial silk, the brick, butter and cheese factories were established. The products of certain companies became famous all over Europe, like the Romatour cheese manufactured in the factory of the Bavarian estate.
The economic development brought about major social changes and the inhabitants of the town adopted a civic lifestyle. Subsequently civic activities gained strength and sports, cultural, charity, religious and vocational associations were established. The volunteer firemen, the Industrialist association and the actors’ circles, which help to embellish the town, played a crucial role. Several schools opened their gates and underlined the importance of education. Géza Gárdonyi, the famous Hungarian writer, was a tutor at the Catholic School for Boys in the school year 1883/84.
Dire times, such as the Ottoman siege of 1532, the Rákóczy War of Independence, or the French occupation 1809, rarely hindered the economic development.
The landlords of the town reacted sometimes in favour and sometimes against the privileges and there were times when they tried to abolish them. The town became the possession of one of the richest noble families in Hungary, the Kanizsai family, 1390. Dorottya Kanizsai, a member of the family, buried the heroes who fell at the battle of Mohács. Her niece, Orsolya, married Tamás Nádasdy and his family inherited her property. The Nádasdy family held major national ranks and titles, their seat Sárvár became a key cultural, political and military centre. We consider this ear to be one of the peak of the municipality. The Nádasdy family established an orchard and game park, and the noblemen and soldiers arriving here were the customers of local craftsmen and traders.
On 30th April 1671 Judge Royal Ferenc Nádasdy III. was beheaded in Vienna for his participation in the Wesselényi conspiracy against the emperor. It meant that his estates were confiscated, thus the fate of Sárvár also became uncertain. The town deteriorated in the hands of successive owners (the Draskovich family, Boldizsár Inkey, Ádám Szily, the Republic of Genoa. 1803 the castle of Sárvár and the estates were bought by the Italian branch of the Habsburg family, the Dukes of Este-Modena. They had the building opposite to the castle, the neighbouring Korona Hotel and the stud behind the place where today the spa can be found, built. The Reformed Age brought changes in the image of the town, the Lutheran church, the Catholic School for boys, and the hunting castle on the main street of the town were built. The latter became a nunnery. Count Lajos Batthyány, an estate owner from the neighbouring Ikervár was elected first Member of Parliament of Sárvár and 1848 he became prime minister of Hungary.
The estate at Sárvár received a new owner. The last duchess of Habsburg-Este, Maria Therese Dorothea married the Bavarian prince Ludwig of Wittlesbach. The couple and later on their son, Ferenc and his family spent a lot of time in Sárvár and did a lot for the town. They established new ways of husbandry, built factories and equipped the estate with machinery, but also took their share from the civic life. Prince Ludwig was elected King of Bavaria 1913, however he was forced to resign following the revolution 1918. The ruler moved to Sárvár and died within the castle walls 1921.