According to origo.hu, when a triumphal arch is mentioned, people immediately associate to the Paris monument. Not so many people know about the memorial in Vác, which is locally known as the Stone Gate.
There is a pub, a street, and a bus stop named after it, yet tourists don’t seem to be flocking to Hungary’s only triumphal arch, which even has some legends surrounding its history.
The arch was built in 1764 for the occasion of Maria Theresa’s visit to the town, who arrived by ship from Pressburg (present day Bratislava). The queen was very popular among her subjects and the bishop’s idea to build the triumphal arch was greatly supported. According to the story, the arch was completed in only two weeks, which made the queen understandably wary. She refused to pass under the arch, convinced that it would collapse right as she was riding under it. A couple of weeks later she returned, and seeing the arch was still standing, she was no longer afraid to pass under it.
Another story of the Stone Gate is about Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, husband of Maria Theresa, who died in Innsbruck on August 18, 1765, on the first anniversary of the completion of the triumphal arch. Legend says that on that night, a lightning bolt struck the stone medallion on the top of the arch that depicted the Emperor.
The Vác World Festivities programme series is held every year to commemorate the 1764 royal visit to the town.
Copy editor: bm