The first authentic written record about the one-thousand-year-old Szerencs dates back to a document from the 13th century. In 1241 the monastery of crusaders from St. John-order (the Joannists) stood here, which was named “Szerencs-Abbey of the Apostles called St. Peter and St. Paul”. The documents from the end of the 15th century refer to the settlement as a town.
The most important part of the history of the town can be connected to the era of Zsigmond Rákóczi, around the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1605 in Szerencs on his land the parliament was convoked where István Bocskai was elected the Governor of Transylvania.
Programme “Day of Szerencs town“ has been organized since 1998 to celebrate this historical event on 20 April, every year.
István Bocskai gave Szerencs the status of a royal town with significant privileges in 1606.
Among the Rákóczi Family the last lord of the Szerencs-castle was Ferenc Rákóczi II. In the 18th century, in the era of Mária Terézia, the settlement began to show slow economic development. Then this development came to a sudden stop and during the administrative reform of 1876 Szerencs was qualified as a large village, i.e. it lost its status as a medieval market town.
Establishing industries at the end of the 19th century gave a new pace to the settlement.
The greatest sugar factory and refinery at that time of Europe were built here during 8 months in 1889. The chocolate factory was built in 1923, and its products made the name of Szerencs known nationally. Between the two world wars the settlement developed, but not at an earlier rapid pace. Szerencs had a population of 6707 residents in 1930. The factories, the rolling mill and the quarry provided a decent living for the people living here.
After 1945 Szerencs became the economic, cultural and administrative centre of the district and the modern development of the settlement began in 1960s.
In 1984 the settlement was given town status again.
In the 20th century Szerencs has become a town with its specific atmosphere as a result of urbanizational processes embedded in historical traditions. The educational institutions like the crčche, three nursery schools, two primary schools and two secondary schools, ensure socialization, trade-learning and preparations for higher education at a high level for nearly 3000 children and young people.
International relations of Szerencs enrich the educational and cultural life of the town. Twin town co-operational agreements were concluded with Malchin (1989) and Geisenheim (1989) in Germany, Roznava (1991) in Slovakia and Hesperingen (1997) in Luxembourg. Twin town relations provide opportunities for exchange visits of students, tradition-keeping groups, families and the mutual introduction of cultural values.
Nowadays, the town serves as the engine of the Multi-purpose Microregion of Szerencs Town comprising 18 settlements with its primary and medium level educational establishments, its health care, sports facilities and services.
In recent years, several developments have taken place in the town (construction of a swimming pool, establishing an Industrial Park, creating a flowery city). New developments are also underway: block of flats building program, making up a rainwater and groundwater system, upgrading the existing ambulance center etc.). The ultimate goal is to create a small town of European standard.
The history of the castle, built on the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey, goes back to the 1550s. During the war against the Turkish it saw several battles. Between 1586 and 1616 it was the residence of the Rákóczi family. In the second half of the 18th century three towers of the inner castle were demolished, but the southern tower remained. After the War of Independence, led by Ferenc Rákóczi II, the new landlords rebuilt it as a palace, so it lost its characteristics as a castle.
The Huszárvár Hotel, the Zemplén Museum and the Town Cultural Centre are also housed here where the latter organises various programmes attracting tourists. Every June the Hegyalja Smallholders’ Days with grape-wine exhibition, wine competition and folklore programmes are held here.
The Museum of the town rich in history, at the edge of Tokaj-Hegyalja, was opened in 1969. The permanent exhibition of the Zemplén Museum can be seen in six rooms on the first floor of the eastern wing. The exhibits are displayed in four groups. The largest one is placed in three rooms and called the History of Picture Postcards. This collection of picture postcards is still the biggest collection in Hungary: its estimated number is 900,000.
The Roman Catholic Church, built in baroque style in 1774, and the statue if Saint John from Nepomuk in front of it in Rákóczi Street, have architectural value.
The old Calvinist Church, built in Gothic style at the end of the 13th century, can also be found in Rákóczi Street. Zsigmond Rákóczi was buried here in 1609. His red marble tomb can be seen in the nave.
The Greek Catholic Church, in Ondi Street, was built in the beginning of the 18th century.
The Crusaders of the Order of St. John were the first to discover the beneficial effect of the bubbling springs of Szerencs and used it to heal in their hospital. According to Zsigmond Rákóczi, the castle's rebuilder and preacher, he chose Szerencs as his residence because he often used this medicinal water to cure his gout.
II. Due to similar health problems, Ferenc Rákóczi also liked to visit the sulfur-, iodine- and iron-containing water of the Szerencs spa located on his property near Karlsbad. The XIX In the 19th century, going to the spa became a special cult, and public spas were built one after the other. Szerencs' hot water bath operated in very rudimentary conditions at the beginning of the 1890s, so in 1899 it was decided that a more serious bath could be built from the funds remaining from the construction of the kindergarten and public school.
For the spring of the following year, the architect János Jankovszki designed the spa for free with a steam bath, a mirror bath, 4 cabins with 2 marble bathtubs each, changing rooms and a summer swimming pool. The case dragged on until 1908, when the Ministry of Agriculture provided the city with a plan and budget for free.
After minor and major setbacks, the Art Nouveau building of the long-desired village bath was finally completed by the summer of 1910, which was handed over to the general public for use, without a swimming pool for the time being. In the 1920s, the beach was built in the inner courtyard of the spa building built on piles, based on the plans of certified engineer Imre Dávidházy.
The spa's popularity was enhanced by the fact that it was not officially declared as a spa, but based on experience and word of mouth, the beneficial effect of its sulfur thermal water became more and more widespread. Many people regained their health thanks to him, who were not even able to be cured by the world-famous Pöstyény spa.
In the fifties, about 50-60 referred patients visited the spa every month.
Despite all of this, due to the development of the water pipeline and the spread of providing apartments with bathrooms, the Szerencs bathhouse gradually lost its importance from the 1960s onwards, and the decaying and decaying building was finally closed in the 1970s.
The rescue, renovation, and utilization of the historic spa building in the middle of the city began just in time, in the last hours. In 2007, the village bath in Szerencs was renovated and its surroundings were also beautified.
The contractor completed the large-scale investment, which began in the spring of 2006 and was implemented in the fall of 2007. Decorated in its old glory, the 110-year-old building serves as a spa and wellness center for the city's residents and tourists coming to the settlement.