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382 Years Ago Hungary’s Oldest Still Operating University Was Founded

By Tamás Székely // 2017.05.12.

The oldest still operating university in Hungary was founded by Archbishop of Esztergom Péter Pázmány (pictured above) on this day in 1635. In fact, there were two older Hungarian universities, one in Pécs (founded in 1367) and one in Óbuda (founded in 1395), but unlike Pázmány’s university they had not survived the country’s troubled history and were shut down in the 1410s.

Piliscsaba, 2005. május 27. A Pázmány Péter Katolikus Egyetem épülete a Pest megyei Piliscsabán. MTI Fotó: H. Szabó Sándor

Campus of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. It is located in Piliscsaba halfway between Budapest and Esztergom, the seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church. (photo: Sándor H. Szabó – MTI)

During the Ottoman occupation, the most tragic years of Hungary’s history, Archbishop of Esztergom Péter Pázmány established the university, because he was convinced that it was the only way to guarantee the survival of the nation’s moral and intellectual culture. The university he founded adopted both his intellectual heritage and his name. The institution was moved to Buda (now Budapest, Hungary) from Nagyszombat (now Trnava, Slovakia) by Queen Maria Theresa in 1777 in accordance with the intention of the founder. In the 19th century, in the spirit of the 1848 reforms the university became a modern and autonomous educational centre and by the beginning of the 20th century it became one of Europe’s greatest universities.


Library of the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences in Budapest (photo:

In 1921, after the grisly calamities of World War I the “Royal Hungarian University of Science” in Budapest was once again named after its founder, Péter Pázmány, and it bore his name until 1950, when the communist state restructured the university by separating the Faculties of Medicine and Theology, and changed the name of the remaining institution to “Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences”. After the collapse of Communism in Hungary, however, the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian Catholic Church jointly established a new university in 1993 and named it “Pázmány Péter Catholic University”. The new Pázmány university inherited the old one’s Faculty of Theology, therefore today both the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences and the Pázmány Péter Catholic University proudly claim that they are the oldest still operating university in the country.

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