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History of Akarattya & Balatonkenese

Our beloved Balaton, the “Hungarian Sea” can be reached from many directions. It gives a magnificent view for those who approach it from the capital city. Balatonkenese and Balatonakarattya towns are the proud owners of the place ”Magas part” (Highcoast) where landscape is truly remarkable for everyone.

We have been welcoming our visitors with this magic for one thousand years. This ancient place , however, has old memories as well as present history. People who have lived here for ten centuries were always effected by the water that is rich in various fishes, the vineyards and the different waves of history.

Its history leads back in the 11th century when this area was the estate of a nun monastery in Veszprém Valley, but it also gave place to the Hungarian Government in 1532. It also earned the rank borough, and its real golden age came with the Reform Age, since several modernizing phenomena appeared in the area in that time: the railway system, the steam boats (by István Széchenyi), the political and cultural elite’s touristic habits around the lake, they all improved the area and made Lake Balaton a very popular and exciting place in Hungary.

The prolifically spreading bathing and sailing organizations had found a brilliant place for their activities all around the lake so the Arpad-age Kenese and Akarattya towns came into fashion in the first third of the 20th century.

The World War and the social changes in the ‘50s highly increased the population of these two towns which later merged administratively as a crowning of all of these changes the town, rich in natural beauties and historic sites, earned the municipal status again.

The possibilities of today’s people have been grown, their needs are much wider than earlier. They have been passionate for beauty, for something unique, but also needed quiet and rest. Balatonkenese and Balatonakarattya provide all of these 12 km long by the shore for all of those who want to relax and recharge but also for those who prefer active leisure or country walks.

The previously mentioned Magas Kilátó (High Belvedere) on Soos Hill offers an unforgettable view to the touring and it multiplies the pleasure right away: Here is the biggest, nationally rare and cherished, colony of Tatarian Breadplant (Crambe tataria). In memory of Lajos Soós poet, an obelisk was set up there which functions as a compass from far distance. The Tatar holes carved in the loess walls attract the ones who like history, ornithology, or unique sports.

A great place for leisure is Akarattya’s green area, the Rákóczi Park. Here is also a viewpoint for those who are fascinated by the landscape of Balaton. The railway tunnel, which attracts many photographers, is also a unique sight of the region. The shows of the circular stage invite all who fancy culture, and the open air sport track is a great place for those who want to spend their holiday actively. We can find a very special tree here, more than four hundred-year-old elm which gave shade even to monarch Rákóczi Ferenc. This ancient tree has largely been dried up, yet it is the most well-known protected tree in the Balaton Highlands. Its roots nourish a new life under the soil giving the past’s memories to a new generation. This area was the stage of the national government in the 16th century.

Our city provides a memorable cultural and mental experience to our visitors from the children to the retired. It offers several festivals (Lecsófesztivál –Stew Festival; Flavors-Wine-Legends Festival) where visitors can get closer to gastronomy and various types of wine. The children can improve their skills at Tátorján Play Castle (above mentioned).

For further information and for city maps please visit the Tourinform office which you can find at the following address or telephone number: 24. Táncsics M. st. (88/594-645)


Back in the history, the region provided home to Celtic, Illyrian and Roman tribes who also established an advanced wine culture. The holiday-town was formed partly on the place of the ancient village (Kenese), and partly by the 20th century parceling (Akarattya), although it was known as Terra Akaratia in the middle ages.

The first written memory for the word ‘Kenese’ appears in the deed of foundation of Veszprém Valley nun monastery (in Greek) in 990, but of course the prefix ‘Balaton’ did not exist that time, since this word form only came into public after they had opened the Northern railway line.

Knisa – as it appears, a word that has a Slavic origin and it means: ‘monarch’; ‘chief’

Paleontologists have found different layers of culture built on each other in the thousand-year-old village. Huge amount of the artifacts can be seen in Veszprém Museum.

In the middle ages, the area was habited by privileged royal fishermen, hunters, and servants.

Clear evidence of the ordeals of history are the so called “Tatárlik – Tatarian Pits or Töröklik – Turkish Pits” in the side of Magas-part. These chambers were dug into the hill for getting shelter from the attacking armies. The Mongols could cross the frozen Danube in the winter of 1941-42 and reached the area where they robbed all the villages, and killed all the civilians who crossed their way. It happened with the neighboring Máma, Sándor, Csittény and the habitants of these villages ran away to the previously mentioned ‘holes’ so they survived from the raider hordes – according to the legend.

They could use these grooves later too where grains and fishing tools were stored up.

It is a must see sight for tourists of Kenese, the spot can be found on the Magas-part trail.

Kenese is admittedly proud of its borough antecedents, archives prove that it had a city seal back in the 15th century. The colors and patterns of this seal reflect in our present symbols too.

The settlement came in to the center of attention again in 1532 after losing the Battle of Mohács (against the Turks), Hungarian nobles held the parliament here to discuss the further future of the country. They wanted to know which king could be our trustworthy alley who would give us proper protection against the Turkish expansion. The three-day-long parliament (led by Nádasdy Tamás) was not very successful since only a minor part of the nobles (73 thanes and retinue; also the envoy of the emperor Charles V, and the Pope’s emissary) had participated, the others had not come due to the their loyalty for opponent kings. Unfortunately the ones who appeared were not on the side of a friendly debate. They did not concentrate on the common problem, instead they started to argue and fight against each other for the power. This quarrel did not lead anywhere.

There is a pleasant myth about the Akarattya elm. The above mentioned parliament would have been held under it, while the members would have been sitting on their horses.

Unfortunately the exact place of the parliament is not known, but a headboard keeps its memory in the garden of the Calvinistic church.

Another legend connected to this tree is about monarch Rákóczi. The surrounding of the tree is definitely worth a walk, but before we take it, we get met with both stories in the Natural Beauties chapter of our homepage.

Kuruc soldiers came about the settlement during their Transdanubian battles. Béri Balogh Ádám (Rákóczi’s faithful brigadier) fought a winning battle against the army of emperor Rabutin in February 1707. Plaques keep their memory on the walls of the town hall and the Military Vacation House

During the Reform Era, Balaton-side towns got more and more popular. Fortunately this reformation involved Kenese as well: being an important part of the railway system, bigger amount of people were able to reach this holiday-town, from 1846 a new vehicle joined the transportation system: this was the first time when the steam boat Kisfaludy docked. This ship was built by István Széchenyi, who was standing on the deck while the boat was approaching the shore, it was his birthday. This remarkable arrival was the beginning of Lake Balaton shipping, although this very steam liner was cruising alone for almost 40 years.

Then the transportation between Kenese and Pest was mainly done by postal carriage service. During the Independence, the famous ship carried resupply of the Délvidék (southland) battles.

The first steam boat of Lake Balaton was illustrated in many pictures, the people locked it in their hearts.

The Balatonakarattya Bathing Association worked out the parceling areas in the 1930s, the Syndicate measured and dealt out the estates and built the fences as a result of the negotiations started in 1921. They formed 683 estates from 282ha piece of land that had been purchased by the Akarattya Villa Stewardship from the Catholic Educational Fund. The plans were worked out by Lajos Péchy and Károly Lachnitt. The new establishment developed fast: beaches, tennis courts, restaurants, sailboat races attracted the visitors that time. The first villa owner was parliamentarian Jenő Karafiáth, the perpetual honorary president of the Akarattya Bathing Association. This organization’s main goal was to reach the best quality holiday service that included sports, bathing and entertainment as well.

The town suffered many bombing raids during World War II. The Margit vonal (Margit-Line), lied right next to the town, was the stage of heavy clashes. Its slight remainings still can be found.

The elderly might remember the time when they had to present their need for trees and how they all planted them in lines by the roads. The cherry and apricot trees flanking the roads are really specific symbols of Akarattya. They were even perpetuated by Péter Veres in one of his writings.

We can travel back in time in yellowed pictures and postcards which show us great moments from bathing culture, beach fashion to the rentable cabin rows. Akarattya’s beauty whirled lots of people. Many from the capital bought estates, and most of them moved here during the war and in the ‘50s. The Bathing Association was decreed by edict but its follower tries to care the tradition.

The two establishments have laced their connection tight administratively since 1961. Since 1 July 2009 it has reached the city rank again.

Balaton Keleti Kapuja
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