The 197 metres high Pécs TV Tower is the tallest building in Hungary; thus, it has been the symbol of Pécs for 50 years now.
Looking back to the past, the present-day TV Tower replaced the 15 metres tall Kiss József lookout that had been built in 1908. It had been dismantled in 1967, the year before the construction of the TV Tower began. The lookout had been named after the secretary of Mecsek Association and the tower had been guarded by a sentinel who had had a guardhouse at his disposal. A plaque made by Miklós Zsolnay had been displayed in the lookout that can be found in the TV Tower now. A meteorological station and a 70-metre-high transmission tower made of iron had been built next to the lookout. This was the first tower in the countryside that transmitted the programmes of MTV1 from 1958 until it was dismantled in 1968.
The present-day tower, designed by István Vízvárdy, Gusztáv Söpkéz and József Thoma, cost 100 million forints which was a large amount of money in the 1960s. However, this large fund was needed to build such a monstrous building. The foundation of the tower, 4 metres thick with a diameter of 22 metres, holds the reinforced-cement-concrete structure weighing 19,000 tons. The building consists of 2 rings: the diameter of the inner ring with a lift inside is 5 metres (until 135 metres), and the diameter of the outer ring is 12 metres in diameter (until 92 metres) used by firefighters and visitors with good stamina, because there are 459 stairs in the ring.
Although the TV-Tower was officially opened for Pécs citizens and tourists on 4 April 1973, the building had been finished six months before the opening on 10 December 1972. The TV-Tower (with a capacity of 400 KWs) amplified the signal of channels MTV1 and MTV2 as well as other national and local radio transmissions in Southern Transdanubia. Originally, the TV-Tower was ‘only’ 191 metres high; however, when the old antenna was replaced with a new one in 1995, the height of the tower increased by 6 metres.
The tower holding the national record for the tallest building hosted a café and a confectionary shop (at 72-metres). It is known only to a few that the café was the result of collaboration between over 40 companies: the carpets came from Sopron, the furniture from Kecskemét, the cutleries from Pécs, and the technical devices from Sweden and Germany.
The outlook located above the café at 80 metres has always been a favoured tourist destination. Another interesting fact is that the tallest Christmas tree in the country in 1972 stood aglow in the tower illuminating Mecsek festively every weekend in December.
After becoming a tourist attraction, the tower was visited by two hundred thousand visitors every year and hosted many events.
Part of its history is an accident that was thought have been a sabotage, stirring up intense emotions. In his article The History of Panel Building in Pécs published in Pécsi Szemle, György Rozvány reported an interesting anecdote about the first stages of the construction works. An accident, feared by many, occurred in the tower at 4 o’clock in the afternoon on 22 October 1986 when a dozen of stair blocks, each weighing 1.5 tons, fell off in the outer ring. No one was hurt in the accident; however, the police started to investigate the incident, as the accident took place on the eve of the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. “No sooner had the police occupied the factory producing the stair panels than they started to examine the plans to check the number of iron reinforcements in the panels. They had all the stair panels in the factory chopped to check if any iron was missing from them. In the end, the police found no evidence of sabotage.’
Then, what might have happened? Rozvány solved the mystery: the accident was not caused by foul play; it was not an act of terrorism, but an act of God based on the laws of physics. When leaving the tower, the construction workers left the door open, and the autumn draught flooded the tower. The air current going up in the arched space accelerated when it reached the top. The powerful airflow simply pulled off the top stair which fell on the stair beneath it. Rozvány added that this incident had caused a lot of public uproar, and many put the blame on the poor design of the tower, and some demanded the demolition of the whole tower.
Fortunately, it did not happen. The tower is currently providing the terrestrial broadcast – among others – of channels M1, TV2, and RTL Klub in the region. (In addition, it is transmitting all channels of Mindig TV [Always TV]). The transmission building is right next to the tower. Previously, the TV transmission was both analogue and digital at the same time, operating independently until the digital switchover.
Visitors can enjoy the view from the TV Tower on Misina-tető at 610 metres which is 500 metres higher than the average height of the city at 120 metres above sea level. From the tower’s panoramic view, people can see the horizon afar in good weather conditions. There is much to see in every direction such as the city and Baranya Hills, and farther away, Villány Mountains and the Croatian Papuk Mountain in the South. Zengő, the highest peak of Mecsek Mountains in the East, Tubes in the West, and Mecsek in the North can be seen. Even Badacsony can be seen in clear weather.
At the bottom of the tower to the North-East, there is a ski and -sledge piste going down the mountain.
Since 2017 the famous TV-Tower has been illuminated with floodlight. The colourful night lights of the tower are real eye candy, making the city even more pleasant and beautiful.