The round-shaped, yurt-like, purpose-built panorama building was designed by architect István Novák, and erected between 1982-1992. By investing a total of 640 million HUF with the help of EU funding amounting to 463 million HUF, the Rotunda and its surroundings have undergone a major upgrade in 2010, including a new roof, two elevators, accessible restrooms, a new gift shop and snack bar, and a total of 880 m2 area of new and renewed exhibitions. Visitor Center levels are now fully accessible with elevators and ramps.
The new permanent and temporary exhibitions of the Rotunda cover the following subjects, among others:
- The Hungarian Conquest: from the time of occupation to the foundation of the Christian Kingdom
- Foundation of the state of Hungary
- Anthropological image of the Hungarian ancestors
- The lord and people of the Csengele Cumans: rare archeaological findings from the first authentically excavated grave of a Cuman commander in Hungary, and
- The monastery and settlement of Szer.
The continually updated, interactive exhibits of the Rotunda are living sources of information that enhances a deeper understanding and enjoyment of the Historical Heritage Park’s features.
Tourist attraction since 1894
The word "panorama" was coined by the Scottish painter Robert Barker in 1792 to describe his paintings of Edinburgh shown on a cylindrical surface. Barker\'s Panorama was hugely successful, and by the 1880s the Panorama emerged as a new form of entertainment that grabbed the fascination of the public. The main idea behind this genre is that the visitor observes the panorama from a raised viewing platform in the center of the cyclorama, with a diorama in front of the canvas. The canvas and the diorama is synchronised in a way that creates the illusion of a real landscape.
Hungarian painter Árpád Feszty decided to paint a panorama in 1891. To create the massive artwork that depicts a wide, all-encompassing view of the arrival of the Hungarians into the Carpathian basin, Feszty enlisted over a dozen artists, traveled to the site, and sketched the scenes. They completed the work between 1893 and 1894.
As noted earlier, "The Arrival of the Hungarians" was among the most visited and popular attractions at the Budapest World\'s Fair in 1896, and was also introduced at the Greater Britain Exhibition in 1899. Upon its return to Budapest in 1909, it was placed in a temporary wooden building, which was hit by a bomb in 1944. The painting was severly damaged, and the remaining pieces were first cut into strips and stored on wooden rolls, and later they were handed over to the National Gallery.
In 1970 a governmental decree was issued about the construction of a Memorial Park in Ópusztaszer. It was around this time that the idea arose to restore and display the panorama painting. Restored between 1991 and 1995 by Polish artists, the Feszty panorama attracted some 3 million 250 thousand visitors between 1995 and 2005, and was closed briefly in December 2009.
Following the Rotunda development project, plus restoration, maintenance, and cleaning, the panorama reopened to the public in April 2010. The core of the Rotunda exhibits takes up two levels of view, now with 2 costumed warriors added to the faux terrain leading up to the 15 m high and 120 m long (590 in × 4,700 in) circular painting to complete a 3D effect. A new, glass tiled path over the diorama, and modern light and sound technology complete the experience. The 4 millionth visitor of the Feszty panorama is expected in summer 2010.
The settlement of Szer is first mentioned in Anonymus's 12th century manuscript, Gesta Hungarorum, The Deeds of the Hungarians.
According to the manuscript, Szer was the location where Árpád the conqueror and his chieftains laid down the laws of the land for the first time; and this is why Ópusztaszer emerged as a major memorial location of the Hungarian occupation of the country.
"The monastery and settlement of Szer" exhibit takes us through the key stages of the archeological excavations at Szer, which started in 1882 and are still ongoing. Through artifacts recovered, the story of the settlement of Szer is reconstructed, from the time of the Árpád dynasty to the Tartar Invasion (late 9th century through the 13th century an onwards).
Although well researched at the time, the Feszty-panorama gives a romantic image of the Hungarians occuoying the country.
The exhibition presents facts and fiction surrounding the Hungarian ancestors, as well as artifacts recovered from 10th century graves.
Promenade 1896 - an exhibition presenting period clothing - was inaugurated on the 1100th anniversary of the Hungarian conquest.
Entering the exhibit, the visitor actually steps out on a 19th century city street, and walks along life size replicas of people socializing on the promenade. The atmosphere is bound to create an urge to stop by the Visitor Center\'s snack bar to relax over coffee, meet friends for a drink, and enjoy the experience before perusing the wide selection of gifts, souvenirs, and memorabilia available at the museum shop, at the General Store in Heritage Village, or at other locations throughout the park.
The Lord and People of the Csengele Cumans
The Cumans ("kunok" in Hungarian) were a Turkic speaking people who entered the grassland of Southern Russia in the middle of the 11th century and remained the masters of the territory for a hundred and fifty years.
To avoid complete and final eradication during the Mongol Invasion, the Cumans sought asylum in Hungary. The exhibit gives a brief overview of Cuman history from pagan nomadic past to Christian Hungarian future. During preparation for construction of M5 motorway, in 1998, excavations near the medieval church of Csengele revealed the remains of a fortification constructed during the Mongol Invasion, as well as the grave of a Cuman commander: the first professionally excavated grave of a Cuman commander in Hungary. The findings and their significance are also addressed in the exhibition.
Anthropological image of the Hungarian ancestors
Contemporary science enables us to reconstruct the face on any undamaged skull recovered through excavations.
The first part of the exhibition addresses the individual steps in facial reconstruction, the technique used to identify an individual from morphological characteristics of the cranium. Thanks to forensic anthropology, we can now tell much more about where the Magyar ancestors came from, about their lifestyles, and even the causes of their death. The scientifically processed anthropological findings truly help us put a face on- and gain a deeper understanding of our history