University of Tokaj


(The University’s setting)

Although all of the regions in Hungary have their own special values, the natural factors, history, and material, intellectual and spiritual cultural heritage are found in unique concentration in the Tokaj Wine Region.

Tokaji wine is a world-famous symbol of Hungary. This “Hungarikum” (unique Hungarian product) celebrated in the Hungarian national anthem has historical roots, a traditional production method, brand strategy and consumer culture that make it of outstanding importance among the wine regions in Hungary. The Tokaj Wine Region, which covers 27 settlements, has all the opportunities to rise to be among top wine regions in the world again, indeed to regain its elevated status held since the Middle Ages. The largest wine company in the region, Grand Tokaj, is now owned by the University of Tokaj Foundation, creating a direct link between producers, consumers and viticulture-winemaking training needs.

The nearby Zemplén Hills, the Hegyköz and the Bodrogköz all have different natural assets. The living world of the rivers Tisza and Bodrog are unique. The region’s flora and fauna are cared for by the Zemplén Landscape Protection Area and manifest in the World Heritage Cultural Landscape of the Tokaj Wine Region. The National Blue Trail starts here. Not only a source of livelihood, the grape and wine culture of the Tokaj Wine Region fundamentally defined the conditions for social coexistence. It also attracted Italian, French, Polish and Greek cultural influences. It is only thus that the regional significance of the role of Tokaj as cultural and tourist centre, Sátoraljaújhely as administrative and political centre and Szerencs as the industry and trade hub can be understood.

The thousand years are almost tangible in the historical traditions. The route of the settling Hungarian tribes passed through the region, and dozens of Árpádian (10th to 13th century) relics lie in the Bodrogköz. Sárospatak is the birthplace of St Elizabeth of Hungary. Sárospatak Castle is one of the most intact of the medieval castles in Hungary. The region was the starting point of the Hegyalja uprising and Rákóczi’s War of Independence. Ferenc II Rákóczi was born in the Zemplén. Many prominent figures of the Reform Era and the Dual Monarchy came from here or started their career, including Lajos Kossuth and Count Gyula Andrássy. And, part of the drama of Hungarian history, the Peace Treaty of Trianon, hit Zemplén County harder than any other which remained in Hungary – two thirds were annexed.

Ethnic and multicultural relations are unique in our region. Zemplén County is almost on the border of four countries, which is symbolic in some respects since the opening of internal EU borders. Cooperation is natural with areas formerly part of Hungary (Felvidék, Slovakia; Kárpátalja, Ukraine; Erdély, Romania; Partium, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania). There are distinct German, Slovak, Ruthenian and Roma minorities. Several Jewish cemeteries stand as eternal testament: in 1944 the largest number of Jews were deported from this region.

This land is the cradle of Hungarian literature and language: the first Hungarian-language bible was printed here; the Enlightenment started here. Ferenc Kazinczy created the literary centre in Széphalom. It would be hard to overestimate the influence of the Sárospatak Reformed College founded in 1531 on Hungarian culture. Students included acclaimed writers. Scientists, writers and artists represented and represent the cultural traditions in Sárospatak that remain unique. The city currently has two institutions of higher education (Sárospatak Reformed Theological Academy, University of Tokaj), three secondary schools, four museums and seven libraries. The Reformed College Great Library safeguards rare books of international value. Significant cultural institutions in Sátoraljaújhely are the former county archive, museum, Piarist grammar school and other secondary schools. This region has a high concentration of intellectuals (teachers, students, pupils, researchers).

Sárospatak – which was known over the centuries as “Athens on the river Bodrog”, “Hegyalja’s Helikon” and “Hungarian Cambridge” – has long been a renowned college town, the cultural and education centre for the Tokaj Wine Region and wider area. The fate of the town and the region fermented in parallel with the wine and its culture. Education has been a common set of these two important factors for centuries. For a long time, grape growing and winemaking provided the main source of patronage to fund education – just as one of the main goals of education for many, many generations has been for it to be the preserver and worthy patron of this special economic and cultural legacy.