English | Göcseji Múzeum


"Centres alongside the River Zala"

Permanent exhibition at the Göcseji Museum of Zalaegerszeg 
Open: from 20 October 2000

According to the basic concept, the exhibition shows the history of the three regional centres, having existed throughout history and still in existence in the area of today’s Zala County, the Roman Salla (Zalalövő), the ninth-century or rather Árpád times Mosaburg/Zalavár and the modern centre, Zalaegerszeg.

The three major exhibition units are introduced and bound together by the so called time tunnels, which provide an insight into the history of the area in prehistoric times, the Migration Period and medieval times.  The connecting function of the time tunnels is emphasised by the dark brown, cave like wall colour, while the walls of the centres’ rooms are brighter, more vibrant (Pompeian red, sunshine yellow, apple green). The exhibition presenting the results of the latest research carries some new information on the history of the county as well. The numismatic tableau repre­senting the coin circulation of the four-century-long history of Salla, in the form of a histogram, the models and sand tables reflecting the current state of Zalavár exploration, or the reconstruction of the former Egerszeg castle are good examples.  Visitors can see a part of the excavated mosaics floor in the room No XIX of a Roman villa unearthed on Alsórajk- Castle Hill, the reconstructed carved stone door frame of the former Zalavár abbey. In the third unit of the exhibition presenting Zalaegerszeg centre the organizers attempt to characterize the object- and home culture and cultural life of Zalaegerszeg, which became a big town from a dusty, small town by the 1960-1970's.

A small river is winding through the hills of south-western Hungary writing down a Z glyph and powering Central Europe's largest lake, Lake Balaton. Its name, which was also given to this land has been known for two thousand years. It was originally written by the Romans, but they also learned it from the natives. It connected the land for those, who settled in this region. In the well accessible valleys of the rugged wooded landscape it was easy to travel to all points of the compass by land and water. Thus, throughout history the man-made centres of this landscape were often built along the river in a natural way.

Our exhibition invites visitors to time travel, invoking the Zala region throughout history by presenting the three major centres which have evolved over the millennia.

Prehistoric times (Time tunnel)

Before the foundation of the earliest settlement known by name, Salla, human dwellings had been set up for at least six thousand years in the Zala River valley and its vicinity. Neither the  name nor the language of the peoples of different  prehistoric eras - the New Stone Age, the Copper Age and the Bronze Age - engaged in raising animals and farming have been preserved by historical tradition. It was the Iron Age Celts who were the first to be known by name in Western Transdanubia. Nowadays, with the help of archaeological methods, dense chains of prehistoric villages can be detected. The sites due to their geographical position, size and rich finds can be deservedly considered to be the local centre of the given culture.

In our first exhibition hall - an introduction to the history of later great centres - we show some of them.

Salla - Roman period

Salla (Sala, Salle) is probably of Illyrian-Celtic origin, Old-European geographicalname to denote the River Zala. This is where the name of the settlement, which was the predecessor of today's Zalalövő in the Roman period, originates from. During 400 years of existence, it played an important role in the history of the region bound by the Rába and the Mura Rivers, the foot of the Alps and the Balaton area. After sporadic traces of Celtic settlements from the 2nddecadeADto approx. 85 a military ancillary troop stationed here. After their departure a rural town was left on the site of the camp, which organically evolved into a town at the beginning of the second century. The settlement - in accordance with Emperor Hadrian’s aspirations for urbanization - was given a rank of municipality in 118, and from then until the end of the fourth century it was the administrative centre of the region. The peaceful development was interrupted by a series of raids by Germanic people, the Marcomanni in 169 and in the subsequent decades. After that the town started losing its importance, and by the middle of the third century it was entirely depopulated.

Salla was revived in the first decades of the 4th century: the most important institution at that time was a public building the villa publica, built along the Amber Road, which functioned until the end of the century.  When the first wave of migrations appeared the Romans left the settlement in orderly conditions.

Migration Period (Time Tunnel)

The appearance of inner Asian Huns and their victory over the Germans living in Eastern Europe (376) started the great migration of peoples. First, the barbarians(Alans, West Goths), in alliance with the Huns later the Germanic tribes (Ostrogoths, Lombards) who ousted them moved to Pannonia.

Another Turkish-speaking peoples of Asian origin, the Avars took possession of the Carpathian Basinin 568.  The south-western boundary of the Avars was the basin of the River Zala, in the strategically important parts of which the first settlements were established. They are unique since the Avars and Slavs created them together. Their specifically blended culture is the Pókaszepetk-Zalakomár group. In addition, the surviving local population and the immigrated and settled Romanized population from the Mediterranean region around Keszthely-Fenékpuszta created a unique late-antique Christian culture the so-called Keszthely-culture.

The Avar khaganate broke between 791 and 811 and Transdanubia became part of Carolingian empire as Pannonia Province. As a result of the turbulent events in the first decades of the 9th century, newer, probably southern Slavic peoples also moved to our region.


At the beginning of 840s King Louis the German, Eastern Frankish Emperor donated extensive fiefdom in Lower Pannonia, „around the river Zala” to Priwina, the exiled prince from Nitra. The fiefdom soon changed to a wholly-owned estate and the centre of the earldom was built on Zalavár-Vársziget. The seat of the new Carolingian earldom became a thriving urban settlement, regional centre of Transdanubia within a few decades, which the sources called civitas Priwinae, Urbspaludarum, Mosaburg=Marsh Castle. Its highly stratified population consisted partly of the basic Avar-Slavic population, partly of people from remote areas of Europe. Their way of life, the way they dressed, their funeral customs truly reflect the diversity of their origin - and their position in the early feudal social hierarchy. The earldom belonged to the authority of the Archbishop of Salzburg, its rulers, Priwina, and later his son, Kocel built more than 30 churches within a few decades. Three out of them, martyr Adrian pilgrimage church, Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist Church were in Mosaburg.

After 900 the region was considered to be a border area by the conquering Hungarians, the earliest border line was the Zala River Valley. It was under the supervision of the Vérbulcsu tribe, who settled in "Zala, around Lake Balaton".

Zalavár - Árpád age

Zala County was first mentioned in 1009 in a record describing the accessories of the bishop of Veszprém County when after the first bailiff, Colon it was named Colonel civitas. Its headquarters were situated in Zalavár-Vársziget which was fenced with strong stone- and a wooden-structured rampart from around that time. In 1019 there was also built a Benedictine monastery and a church in honour of St. Adrian. From the 13thcentury the Zalavár abbey was an authentic place (locacredibilia), as was found in a surviving charter of 238 documents of its activities dating back to before Mohács.

However, Colon’s own land centre, court house might have been close to today’s Kolonpuszta between Balatonmagyaród and Zalakomár. The cemetery which was used by his servants from the end of the 10th to the last third of the 11th century was also found there.

The Middle Ages (Time Tunnel)

During the 14th-16th centuries different and periodically changing locations functioned as the administrative, civil and religious centres of Zala county. The noble county had no permanent seat and venues of prime meetings were initially mostly in Kehida and Mándhida, and from the second half of the16th century Kapornak and Egerszeg. Among the religious institutions Zalavár and Kapornak, which continued to operate as authentic places, the two Árpádian Benedictine monasteries played a leading role, although during the 14th-15th centuries several monasteries were established and  new churches were built all over the county.

From the beginning of the 14thcentury the most significant aristocratic families of Zala county were the Kanizsais and the Bánfis, who built spacious, comfortable castles, which met the requirements of the age, in the centres of their estate. The 14th -15th centuries were the era of peaceful development and flourishing economy in Hungary.  The development of agricultural production and the subsequent boom and expansion in trade, meant the basis of economic prosperity. Many market towns, where fairs and venues for the exchange of goods were held, developed in Zala county. The peaceful flourishing period ended by the Turks’ expansion in Transdanubia. From the 1530's onward the Turkish attacks became more and more frequent in and around Zala county. After the fall of Szigetvár (1566) the southern part of the county became a border area. Kanizsa castle was designated as the new headquarters of the southwest-Transdanubian border-fortress system. From the autumn of 1600 – when after a long siege the Turks captured Kanizsa–the realignment of the centres took place.


In the Zala River region, a new centre: Zalaegerszeg was formed from the 17thcentury.The town was first mentioned in the chapter of Veszprém’s charterin 1247.  It was named after the alder tree common to the swampy floodplains of the River Zala. 23 small villages existed once in today’s area of the town, although some of them have been destroyed over time. "Egerzeg", whose landlord was the bishop of Veszprém, gained the rank of a market town (1421), and the right to hold markets during the middle ages.

During the Ottoman wars, after the Turkish occupation of Kanizsa, its importance increased, the castle became the most important fortress of the border fortress system against Kanizsa. After the expulsion of the Turks the military-administration role transformed, the town held its leading functions as the county’s administrative centre, which was stabilized by the building of the County Hall in 1732. This role has been preserved until now, meanwhile the territory of the large county changed several times and significantly reduced during the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite being the county’s seat, Zalaegerszeg remained a small town for a long time, its catchment area was limited to the immediate surroundings, and the majority of the inhabitants earned their living from agriculture and crafts.  In the first half of the 19thcentury, however, the town's name became nationally known due to the political activities of the county’s liberal nobility.

With the infrastructural development of the modern state system, many offices were set up in Zalaegerszeg. In 1885, it became a city with a regular council; the urbanization process accelerated but the economic development was still not proportional to its role as an administrative centre. This status changed only in the second half of the 20thcentury, when the city really became the centre of Zala county’s economy, transport, healthcare and culture. Its territory– with the attachment of the surrounding villages –has increased manifold; the number of inhabitants has multiplied.

In the millennium, some 60 000 people living here and the visitors alike mentioned it as a cosy, thriving city, adaptive to its natural environment.

Kisfaludi Strobl Zsigmond Memorial Exhibition

Opened in 1976

Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl (1884-1975), one of the greatest, most internationally-known sculptors of the 20thcentury was born in Alsórajk, Zala county, into a poor rural teacher’s family. His budding talent evolved with the help of Zala County’s Ferenc Deák Scholarship which he received at the age of twenty. He studied at the School of Applied Arts in 1904-1907, the National School of Decorative Arts – the predecessor of the Academy of Fine Arts - in 1905-1908. His works were exhibited from 1905, his statue entitled “Finálé” brought his first major success in 1912, for which he received the Rudics award. After that he went on study tours to Europe's great cities (Florence, Rome, London, and Paris).

In his youth he created primarily genres, portraits and nudes. After World War I he was one of the most wanted public statue sculptors; even today there are many heroic monuments and other monuments of his all over the country. In 1921he organized his second collective exhibition in Budapest. From 1924 until 1961he was professor at the College of Fine Arts. In 1927-1928 he took part in a journey to Britain and America, his works were awarded with the Gold Medal in Philadelphia and in Pittsburgh he received the gold key of the city. At the Barcelona World Exhibition in 1929 he received a gold medal for his statue entitled Birth of Venus. Between 1931 and 1937 for several months each year he resided and worked in England, in his studio in London where the leading figures of the age commissioned their portraits from him (Princess Elizabeth, Prince George Kent, GB Shaw, Jan Hamilton, Earl of Athlone, Sir Oswald Mosley, etc.).His domestic reputation was further increased by his successes in England and the golden Diploma he received for Ad Astraat Paris World's Fair in 1937.

He was also a popular artist after World War II, he produced the monumental Statue of Liberty and its secondary figures on Gellért Hill, the Kossuth statue in Budapest Kossuth Square or the magnificent, three-figure-composition in Eger entitled Border fortress fights. In 1954 the collection of his works was exhibited in the Műcsarnok in Budapest, which was presented in several cities of the Soviet Union and also in Prague and Bratislava. He received the Kossuth Prize twice, and he is also the holder of other high awards of the time. He worked hard up until his death and a large number of his works and the sketches that remained show him to have been a prolific, inventive artist. The permanent exhibition at the Göcseji Museum in the seat of Zala County which was always so dear for him opened in 1976 from his rich legacy.

Apart from his juvenile Art Nouveau and progressive attempts Zsigmond Kisfaludy Strobl followed the classical, academic style all his life. According to his credo, "the greatest master of the true artist is the great nature itself”. His delicate, sensuous nudes, his portraits deep in character, his brilliantly composed, lively statue-groups place him among the best of his time, who is rightly the great predecessors’: János Fadrusz, Ede Telcs, György Zala's successor and became the flagship of the Hungarian sculpture for decades.

János Németh ceramist’s permanent exhibition

Open from 13 May 2010

János Németh was born seven and a half decades ago in Zalaegerszeg, he came back here after each of his journeys and cannot and does not want to break away from here either. Not only does he bump into friends in the street at every turn, but also he  knows the houses, streets, squares, trees of the city and knows the hills surrounding the town, the underlying trickling streams, the vineyards running up the hillsides with the promise of sparkling wine, the fields with swinging spikes and the mysterious world of dim, cool forests of Göcsej. He takes pleasure in the snow whitewalls of the man-made ancient temples, the bell towers housing ringing music, the roadside crucifixes sanctified by the Saviour's body, the protective statues of saints. He knows the wisdom of people creating simple pieces of art which has been accumulated through generations; he enters fully into the spirit of their view of life. He is one of them. Although he had the greatest masters at the Academy of Applied Arts, he has travelled half the world as a recognized artist; he has learned and used in his works the message of the much admired artists of great cultures, he will always be one of them. He is the artist who opened the door to the world for people of Zala, but there is a passage through this door from the other side too. Wherever, either in public places or in frequented points of exhibition halls, Németh’s works transubstantiate the mire of Zala land, with the artist's ingenuity; they always radiate Göcsej people’s view of life; those who are able to live in the past and the present, who know exactly, that by being an integral part of the world, that they are responsible for the way things go and for the goods they were given. János Németh’s works each reflect this responsibility.

1934: Born in Zalaegerszeg

1958: graduated from the College of Applied Arts Ceramics Department Budapest, IstvánGádor and Miklós Borsos’s pupil.

1969 freelance artist lives and works in his hometown.

1970 Munkácsy Prize

1978: Artist of Merit

1980: Ministry of Culture Quality Award

1994: Honorary Citizen of Zalaegerszeg

1996: István Gádor Prize

2005: Pro Arte Hungarica Award

2008: Cross of Merit of the Hungarian Republic

2013: Member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts

His works have been presented in Hungary and abroad in many groups and around seventy one-man exhibitions.

The way we lived in the seventies. Temporary exhibition.

April 17 2013 - October 27 2013

After the exhibitions Everyone is a link in the chain – The way we lived in the50s presenting the hard dictatorship of the fifties and the Principles and compromises –The way we lived in the 60s,evoking the Kádár consolidation period, invites museum lovers to an exhibition introducing the most tranquil decade of Hungarian socialism; the golden age of the soft dictatorship hallmarked by János Kádár’s name.

With the help of familiar interiors from our previous exhibitions we show what a garage furnished for making things on the side was like, how May Day parades took place, what the first computers looked like, what games were played with in the nursery, how the large room of cuboid houses was furnished and under what circumstances young people spent the summer in youth camps. In the meantime, you can hear the popular hits, the pol-beat songs of the decade; you can see details of the well-known Hungarian television programs.

We welcome all our visitors!

Opening hours, ticket prices:



Tuesday-Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm

Monday: closed


(01.01.-31.03. and 01.11.-31.12.)

Tuesday-Sunday: 9 am – 5 pm

Sunday, Monday: closed


Ticket prices:

Full price: HUF 700

Youths (aged 6–26): HUF 350

Senior citizens (aged 62–70): HUF 350

Groups of eight or more persons: HUF 500/person

Family ticket: HUF 1600/family

(for a max. of two adults accompanying at least two under-18s)



Full price: HUF 900

Youths (aged 6–26): HUF 500

Senior citizens (aged 62–70): HUF 500

Groups of eight or more persons: HUF 700/person

Family ticket: HUF 2200/family

(for a max. of two adults accompanying at least two under-18s)


Free admission:

  - children under the age of 6
    - visitors over 70 years of age  
      (for citizens of the European Economic Area)
    - teachers holding pedagogue ID valid for the actual school year 
      and employed in elementary or secondary education 
      (for citizens of the European Economic Area)
    - ICOM and ICOMOS card holders