Hungarian and Turkish officials unveiled a joint memorial to the soldiers fallen of the 1552 siege at the eastern Hungarian Eger fortress, a battle where Hungarians famously defended the fortress against overwhelming odds.
The siege of Eger went down in Hungarian history as one of the most heroic defensive efforts against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the mid-16th century. The fortress of Eger faced a numerically and technically superior enemy force for 39 days, from September 9 to October 17 in 1552.
The besieging army, led by Pasha Kara Ahmed, had between 35,000 and 40,000 troops, 16 very large siege cannons and 150 pieces of medium and small artillery.
The defending forces consisted of between 2,100 and 2,300 people, of which 1,530 were combat-ready soldiers, with the rest peasants, children and a few dozen women.
After a protracted and bloody siege, the Turkish forces abandoned the siege. Despite the failure of the siege, the campaign itself was a resounding success for the Ottoman Empire, whose forces captured 28 Hungarian strongholds, including four of key strategic importance. Part of Hungary remained under Turkish occupation until 1718.
The siege was immortalized in an 1899 romantic novel Eclipse of the Crescent Moon by writer Géza Gárdonyi and a feature-length television film based on the siege that is still regularly shown on Hungarian television channels. The largely renovated Eger fortress is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northeastern Hungary.
The granite obelisk has a cross and a Hungarian inscription on one side, and a crescent moon and a Turkish inscription on the other side. The Hungarian inscription says, “A dead soldier is not an enemy – Tribute to the fallen Christian heroes”.