Mezőtúr (population: 17 620 in 2011), the seat of the Mezőtúr subregion, is located in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county, about 150 kms (approx. 94 miles) from Budapest. The town can be approached by road (main road 4 and then main road 46) or by rail (the Budapest-Szolnok-Békéscsaba-Lőkösháza railway line runs through the town) from the capital city.
The settlement was first mentioned in the 13th century and as early as in 1378, it was granted market town status by Louis I of Hungary, who visited Mezőtúr several times (the lily on the coat of arms of the town is a reminder of the Anjou king).
Mezőtúr was a significant centre of trade and crafts, as well as a notable market town which remained populated during the Ottoman occupation. The town served as an important commercial link between the eastern and western part of the country and the neighbouring lands.
One of Hungary’s oldest Protestant colleges is located in Mezőtúr (founded in 1530). Students came from around the country to study here and many of them continued their studies at prestigious European universities. The college library boasts a collection of more than 16,000 volumes. Several noted Hungarian scholars, artists, athletes and public figures graduated from the Protestant college of Mezőtúr.
In the Carpathian Basin Mezőtúr was the biggest center of pottery that has produced various kinds of earthenware from the 16th century on. In the early days potters used to manufacture black ceramics. In the 19th century the use of glazes became widespread and the masters commenced fabricating green, yellow and brown potteries of excellent quality, ornamented by plain black lines, flowers or leaves.
The period between 1870 and the turn of the 20th century was the heyday of fictile art in Mezőtúr. At that time, there were nearly one hundred potteries in the town that produced quality earthenware and delivered to every city and village in the country. One of the most famous of these ceramics was the “korsó”, a distinctive type of pitcher made in Mezőtúr used for both holding and carrying water.
The most celebrated master potter of the golden age was Balázs Badár (1855-1939), who became well-known far and wide for his unique, art nouveau-style ceramics.
In the 20th century fictile art in Mezőtúr underwent a serious crisis, which came to an end in the 1950’s, when potters set up cooperatives and managed to restore the quality of production lost during the war period. They also established first-rate schools in which many of the ceramists of today learned the niceties of potter’s craft.
Nowadays 10 potteries are at work in Mezőtúr.
Since 1983 the has been showcasing one of the greatest collections of folk pottery in Hungary – a collection that is unique both in the country and in Europe.