Kecskemét is the seat of Bács-Kiskun, the largest Hungarian county. It is situated in central Hungary, between the rivers Danube and Tisza, 86 km south of Budapest. It is the seventh largest town of Hungary with the area of 321 km² and the population over 114.000. International and national highways are crossing the city. The region has common borders with Romania in the east and Serbia in the south, so it is often referred to as „The Gate to the Balkan territories".
Being the seat town of the county, Kecskemét is the administrative, economic, and educational centre of the region, rich in cultural values. Thanks to its geographical position, Kecskemét has always been a town of meetings, the meeting point of different religions, cultures, and traders of all nationalities.
The city was founded at the cross-roads of ancient trading routes. In 1368 it was identified as a market-town in a charter of King Anjou Louis the Great. In 2018 we celebrated the 650th anniversary of our town with a series of programmes.
The name Kecskemét originates from the word „kecske" - meaning goat, and „mét" - meaning district. The goat can be seen in the coat of arms with the motto of the city: 'neither height, nor depth deters us'. This motto was guiding our ancestors at the turn of the 19th - 20th century at the time of the first important economic boom, when they rebuilt the downtown, turning the city into a pearl of Art Noveau.
The expansion of gardening, wine-growing viniculture and fruit-growing all led to the improvement of the city. The most famous product of the town is Apricot Pálinka, which is made of special tasty apricots. The cultivation of this characteristic fruit of the region started more than 100 years ago. The one-time market town transformed into a sizeable city and became a county seat in 1950. Since then it has been dynamically emerging into an industrial, commercial and cultural centre.
Rapid development of economic growth in Kecskemét began when Daimler - the inventor of the automobile - set foot in 2008. The construction of the Mercedes-Benz plant has given a significant boost to our region; it has created several thousands of jobs reducing unemployment, has opened up the possibility of development for smaller businesses and provided impulses for the training of future generations. Today, Kecskemét is a major contributor to the national economic growth. The Hungarian Government declared the town and its region Hungary's automotive centre of national significance in 2012.
The qualification and professional knowledge of the workforce is an important factor in Kecskemét, where the labour-intensive industrial manufacturing processes are characteristic features. There are 9 specialized secondary educational institutes, where nearly 1000 students start school each year, they can choose from approx. 80 different trades. 8 grammar schools operate in Kecskemét, 2 of them are maintained by churches. John von Neumann University has five faculties including the Faculty of Economics and Business, GAMF Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, Teacher Training Faculty, and the Faculty of Horticulture and Rural Development.
Kecskemét is the native town of József Katona, the author of the Hungarian national drama, and Zoltán Kodály, the world-famous composer, expert of music pedagogy, musicologist, and researcher of folk music. He founded the first primary music school of the country in Kecskemét, which bears the name of the master and has become world-famous together with the Kodály Zoltán Institute of Music Pedagogy.
The city is also a significant centre of Fine Arts. Our town gives home to several institutions of art, like the International Studio of Ceramics, Animated Film Studio, Workshop of Enamel Art, the Toy Museum and Workshop, Museum of Naive Artists, Folk Art, Leskowsky Collection of Musical Instruments, Cifrapalota Art Gallery, just to mention a few.
„Hírös7" Festival is a traditional celebration of Kecskemét taking place in August every year. During the festival visitors can get acquainted with the agricultural, arts-and-crafts products and the gastronomy of the region, thus the finest wines of the country. The Kecskemét International Animation Film Festival is organized by turns with the Future of Europe International Children and Youth Meeting (Csiperó).
We have launched significant touristic developments of service and attractions in the city and its region to become Hungary's new heart of business tourism. The geographical position is remarkably favourable for tourism development purposes, since Kecskemét is within an hour reach from Budapest on highway and 45 minutes from the Liszt Ferenc International Airport. Economic growth enhances the tourism of the region, our city becomes more and more international, which affects domestic tourism as well.
In the region of Kecskemét horse culture is also famous, thus important developments started in this field, too. High quality programs attract tourists from all over the world, e.g. carriage-driving world championships. Besides our colourful cultural life, the improvement of health and wellness tourism is also a significant priority. Kecskemét Bath with the indoor swimming pool, thermal bath and aqua park is a recreational centre for all generations. Our thermal-waters qualified as medicinal-waters in 1987, and its content is unique in Hungary.
Kecskemét has quite an extensive network of international relations: it has 13 twin-towns and five partner towns. These relations play a great role in the field of sports, education and culture, moreover they result in economic co-operation. Cities from Japan, Israel, several Central and Western European countries have decided to collaborate with us.
International Children's Games
On 5th June 1968, the first International Children's Games took place in Celje, Slovenia. On the initiative of physical education teacher, Professor Metod Klemenc, young male and female children between the age of 12 and 15 met from Belgrade (Serbia and Montenegro), Brno (Chech Republic), Celje (Slovenia), Graz (Austria), Kranj (Slovenia), Lausanne (Swiss), Trbovlje (Slovenia), Udine (Italy) and Zagreb (Croatia) for a Track and Field competition.
Sports officials from that time: Prof. Metod Klemenc from Celje, as President and Prof. Ovido Bernes from Udine, Dr. Josef List from Graz, Dr. Robert Sander from Munich, Emmanuel Braunschweig from Lausanne, and Zoran Naprudnik from Ljubljana, as members decided to establish an International Committee of the Children's Games - with the basic goal and task being - through the encouragement of sports meetings and competitions to enable the children of different countries, with their different languages, origins and outlooks - to meet at different types of sports, to practice friendship and understanding and to help to secure world peace and follow the Olympic ideals
And so the International Children's Games was born.
Since then more than 55 cities in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia have hosted unforgettable and successful Summer- and Winter-Games. The young athletes participating in these Games came from all continents and more than 800 cities took the chance to be part of the movement. However, it is not just sports that are important in the events organized for children, they are getting acquainted with other cultures and life styles, with sightseeing tours, excursions, common events and free-time activities that are the essential part of inter-cultural learning and fellowship of the young athletes.