Vizsoly Bible


A unique work of Hungarian literature - the Vizsoly Bible can also be found in Košice

Main partner of the project -  the State Scientific Library in Košice

The collection of the State Scientific Library in Košice (SSLK) is one of the largest libraries in Slovakia. The origins of its historical collection, currently known as the Library of the Law Academy in Košice, can be traced back to the activities of the Jesuits in the city of Košice, primarily the establishment of the Jesuit College and the University of Košice in 1657. The first catalogue of the library was created in 1773 when the Jesuits ended their activities in the city, with the collection consisting of 1443 volumes in this period. After the university was closed and its activities were transferred to the only remaining university within the Kingdom of Hungary in Buda, the library changed its name to the Library of the Royal Academy. In 1855 the collection of the library was acquired by the Law Academy which had been established in the years 1849-1850. In 1924 the archives of the Law Academy were transferred to the Faculty of Law of the Comenius University in Bratislava, and the collection of the library, which consisted of 33,366 volumes as of 31 July 1922, was allocated to the Public Library in Košice. The origins of the SSLK are connected to the establishment of the University of Agricultural and Forestry Engineering in Košice. The University library was officially opened on 20 February 1947, and after obtaining the right of full legal deposit in 1952 the library gradually built up a scientific collection of Czech and Slovak publications in all fields of science. Since 1954 the Scientific Library has gradually accepted a substantial part of the historical collection of the Law Academy. The collection of the SSLK includes many rare texts including two original copies of the Vizsoly Bible. The SSLK is currently based in the building of Forgács' Palace on Hlavná 10 in Košice.

Project partner –the Reformed Church congregation of Vizsoly

The village of Vizsoly is located in the north-east of Hungary in the county of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén. The village was probably established at the end of the 12th century near the river Hornád on the important medieval trade route which ran from the Balkans to the Baltic Sea. By the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries, a Romanesque church had been built in the village to which a Gothic extension with valuable frescoes would later be added. In the 13th-14th century the village was the centre of the self-governing region of villages of the “Germans of the Queen of Hungary” and the site of the courts of the Palatines Amadeus Aba and William Drugeth and his court judge Nicholas Perényi. The most important events in the history of the village include the granting of city privileges in 1454 and market law in 1477. As the Reformation spread throughout the Kingdom of Hungary in the later 16th century, the church community in Vizsoly became a reformed Calvinist congregation. The effects of the Ottoman invasion had a negative impact on the development of the village of Vizsoly, but the village briefly became a centre of Protestant printing in this period. Nowadays, Vizsoly is a predominantly agricultural village. Its significance grew in the second half of the 20th century when the Vizsoly Bible became more widely known throughout Hungary. The congregation of the Reformed Church now accounts for only about 12.5% of the population of the village, but thanks to the importance of the Vizsoly Bible and the village’s "genius loci", Vizsoly has become one of the cultural and religious centres of Hungary. An extensive educational and religious centre called "Református Betlehem" was opened in the village after the 2015 announcement that the Vizsoly Bible had been included in the honorary list of the most important Hungarian cultural monuments – the Hungarikums.

Both organizations signed a Partnership Agreement for the implementation of a project whose main objectives were: 

  • To promote the cross-border exchange of experience in the preservation and promotion of a unique work of written cultural heritage – the 16th century Vizsoly Bible (also known as the Károli Bible).   
  • To ensure the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage of Vizsoly and Košice and to increase interest in this heritage among citizens by drawing attention to the shared religious, economic and social roots of Vizsoly and Košice, and the multi-ethnic and multicultural cooperation involved in the creation, translation and printing of the Bible.  

The exhibition room in which you are currently standing is one of the main outputs of the project which was implemented thanks to the Interreg V-A Slovakia – Hungary Cooperation Programme. The EGTC Via Carpatia s.r.o., Košice Region and Szechényi Programiroda Nonprofit Kft are part of the umbrella organizations of the Small Projects Fund within the Interreg V-A Slovakia – Hungary Cooperation Programme. The Small Projects Fund is a programme which supports smaller-scale projects at the regional level.

Shared historical connections between Košice and Vizsoly

  • from the Middle Ages until modern times, both Košice and Vizsoly were part of Abaúj County (until 1848) and more recently of the county of Abaúj-Torna (1853-1919, 1938-1945), with Košice acting as a catchment city for Vizsoly,
  • some citizens from Vizsoly settled in Košice after the devastation of the Kingdom of Hungary by Tatars,
  • both settlements lay on the path of the Royal Road - Via Regia,
  • the Palatine Amadeus Aba held territories around Košice which included Vizsoly and also claimed authority over the city itself,
  • goods warehouses belonging to Sigismund Rákóczi in Košice were used for the importation of paper for the printing of the Vizsoly Bible,
  • for several years, Gáspár Károlyi was the superintendent of the Reformed Church congregations of the so-called Košice Valley diocese,
  • since 1790 Košice and Vizsoly have been connected via the Košice-Eger postal network,
  • Vizsoly is known as the gateway to the so-called “Gothic Route” in Hungary and Košice is the main point of its central section in Slovakia.