Located between the Great Church and the College, the Memorial Garden evolved in the second part of the 19th century as the first public park of the city. Excavated in 1982, the foundations of the Gothic St. Andrew-church (which was destroyed by the great fire in 1802) are displayed in the Ruin Garden. The Reformed Congregation of the Great Church runs here its café and bookshop called Karakter 1517.
The Bocskai statue (made by Barnabás Holló) was erected by the city of Debrecen in 1906, on the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Vienna. István Bocskai, Prince of Transylvania was an outstanding defender of religious freedom and the patron of the Reformed College. He made the hajdu people, who had converted to Calvinism, settle down around Debrecen. The freedom fight he led against the Habsburgs began in 1604 and ended with the Treaty of Vienna, which granted all constitutional and religious rights to the Lutheran and the Reformed citizens living in the Hungarian Kingdom.
The Galley Slaves’ Memorial Column was erected in 1895 with the financial support of a pious widow, Mrs Mihály Hegyi. On the column you can see the names of the 41 Protestant pastors who were convicted by the Pozsony (today: Bratislava) tribunal on the basis of false charges. Since they were not willing to deny their faith, they were sold as galley slaves in 1675. It was the Dutch Admiral Michael de Ruyter who was given the noble task of freeing the brave preachers. On February 11 1676, he managed to rescue the 26 surviving pastors and took them on board. The memorial site played a specific role in the process of the Catholic-Protestant reconciliation, since Pope John Paul II laid flowers at the pillar during his Hungarian visit in 1991. Today this unique moment is commemorated by a bronze wreath.
Opening time: The park is closed at night
Karakter 1517 Café and bookshop: Mon – Sat: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.