Baja is a city in Bács-Kiskun County, southern Hungary. It is the second largest city in the county, after the county seat at Kecskemét, and is home to some 35,000 people. Baja is the seat of the Baja municipality.
The environs of Baja have been continuously inhabited since the end of the Iron Age, but there is evidence of human presence since prehistoric times. The settlement itself was most likely established in the 14th century. After the Ottoman Empire had conquered Hungary, it grew to prominence more than the other nearby settlements, and was granted town rights in 1696.
The city was first mentioned in 1308. The Bajai family was the first known owner of the town. In 1474 the settlement was given to the Czobor family by Matthias Corvinus.
During the Turkish Conquest in the 16th and 17th centuries it was the official center for the region and it possessed a fortification. This era saw the immigration of Bunjevci and Serbs into the town. There was also an active Franciscan mission with monks from Bosnia.Kálmán Tóth Square, Baja
In the 18th century, Hungary with its regained territories was a part of the Habsburg Empire. Germans, Hungarians and Jews migrated into the town. Due to its location on the Danube, it became a transportation and commercial hub for the region.
In the 19th century Baja became a minor railway hub, but its importance declined as the railway to Fiume (Rijeka) was built in order to get Hungarian grain seaborne. The city was still a commercial and service center for the region.
After World War II the city became known for its textile mill and because of its important bridge crossing the Danube. Its importance is still evident as people from the Bácska region (Serbian: Bačka) of Hungary come for higher education, government and business services.
The city plays an important role in the country’s water transport on the river Danube with its second biggest port in Hungary. Baja gives home to an extensive corporation: to AXIÁL Co. Axiál sells agricultural machines all over eastern Europe with great success. Gemenc Forest and Game Co. Ltd. is managing the nearby nature reserve, Gemenc. There are numerous commercial structures in the city, which prove important to the people living in and around Baja. Roughly 10 years ago a TESCO supermarket opened along with a shopping centre next to it.
Culture, education, and life
The city has some museums and art galleries, most of them with permanent exhibitions. These include the István Türr Museum (exhibits objects of former local life), the István Nagy Gallery (a collection of István Nagy‘s paintings), and the Bunjevci House (about Bunjevci traditions). The annual Fisherman’s Soup Boiling Festival is a famous event in Europe, which includes a great fish soup boiling contest, and other cultural occurrences.
There are 15 churches in the city, representing the religion of each ethnicity. These religions include (with the number of believers) Roman Catholic (25 203), Protestant (1 623), Evangelist (268), Unitarian, Orthodox (90), Lutheran and Judaism (27).
There are three notable educational institutes in the city: Béla III High school, famous for high teaching skills; Eötvös József College, the only top-level educational institution of Northern Bácska, and the German center. A smaller observatory also exists.
Tha MNÁMK (Magyarországi Németek Általános Művelődési Központja; English: General Culture Center of Germans Living in Hungary) is internationally respected for providing German education for the German minority living in Bácska, and in Hungary. Students get up-to-date education with modern tools using their mother language.
Endre Ady Library
Baja’s library got its name from the famous Hungarian poet, Endre Ady. The library’s building used to be Baja’s synagogue. The building was offered by the city’s Jewish community. The Holocaust memorial stands in the synagogue’s garden.
The library has a very large collection of pre-18th-century books. The “Ancient book” collection includes 4,352 volumes, and a lot more writings, because many of the volumes are collectives (for example, one of them contains 17 writings). The library has three incunabulums.