Pécs is the fifth largest city of Hungary, located on the slopes of the Mecsek mountains in the south-west of the country, close to its border with Croatia. It is the administrative and economical centre of Baranya county. Pécs is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pécs.
The city Sopianae was founded by Romans at the beginning of the 2nd century, in an area peopled by Celts and Pannoni tribes. By the 4th century it became the capital of Valeria province and a significant early Christian center. The early Christian necropolis is from this era which became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2000.
Its episcopate was founded in 1009 by Steven I, and the first university in Hungary was founded in Pécs in 1367 by Louis I the Great. (The largest university still resides in Pécs with about 26,000 students). Pécs was formed into one of the cultural and arts center of the country by bishop Janus Pannonius, the great, Hungarian, humanist poet. Pécs has a rich heritage from the age of a 150 year long Ottoman occupation, like the mosque of Pasha Qasim the Victorious on Széchenyi square.
Pécs always was a multicultural city where many cultural layers are encrusted melting different values of the history of two thousand years. Hungarians, Croatians and Swabians still live in peace together in economic and cultural polarity. In 1998 Pécs was given the UNESCO prize Cities for peace for maintaining the cultures of the minorities, and also for its tolerant and helping attitude toward refugees of the Balkan Wars. In 2007 Pécs was third, in 2008 it was second Livable city (The LivCom Awards) in the category of cities between 75,000 and 200,000 inhabitants.
In 2010 Pécs was selected to be the European Capital of Culture sharing the title together with Essen and Istanbul. The city’s motto is: “The Borderless City”. After receiving the title major renewal started in the city. Renewed public places, streets, squares and neighbourhoods, new cultural centers, a concert hall, a new library and center and a cultural quarter were designed.