The Calvinist College of Debrecen
The Calvinist College was built in 1538. Throughout its half-millennium-long history, its cultural significance has reached great heights both within and outside of Hungary. Since the very beginning, it has provided both basic and higher education to anybody, independently of social status: children of peasants and artisans studied alongside those of the nobility. Upon returning to their towns and villages, the highly educated and oftentimes well-travelled students became indispensable assets to their communities. Sparing no effort, they founded hundreds of village schools. And they helped to transform the college library into one of the most significant contemporary scholarly collections by gathering the world’s most influential works. Also, they found it equally important to provide village schools with course books and maps. The museums of the College commemorate the importance of their work. A peculiarity worth mentioning is that the College has always owed its existence to the continual support and sacrifices of the common folk.
The historical significance of the Debrecen College was further emphasized by the fact that not only has it served an essential educational function, but it has also humbly served the country regarding public affairs. When Debrecen became the capital of Hungary during the 1848-49 war of independence, the lower house of the Hungarian Parliament held its sessions in the College Oratory between 9 January and 31 May 1849. When Debrecen acquired capital city status the second time in 1944, the provisional National Assembly laid down the foundations of a new, democratic Hungary on 21 December within the walls of the institution.