Szeged Witch has a mysterious and haunting history. The place transcends its serene daytime façade to reveal a chilling past as night falls. In the heart of Hungary, where the Tisza River winds its course, lies this seemingly tranquil peninsula, known not for its idyllic landscapes, but for the echoes of a dark chapter in history—the last and most extensive witch hunt in Hungary. But what is the chilling tale of the Szeged Witch Island and what spirits inhabit its wooded realms?
The Szeged Witch Island is not actually an island but rather a peninsula extending into the Tisza River, or more precisely, a floodplain forest. It got its name from the last witch trial in Hungary that ended with a deadly sentence and burning at the stake.
The strange irony of history is that this was not only the last but also the most extensive witch hunt in Hungary. According to the superstitions of the time, witches (who could be men or women) were believed to be responsible for bad weather or poor harvests. In the years leading up to 1728, floods, famine, and drought had afflicted the population. Superstitious people attributed these calamities to witchcraft, leading to unfounded accusations and denunciations. Finally, on July 23, 1728, twelve people (including six men and six women) were executed on the Szeged Witch Island: they were subjected to a water trial – to ensure they were indeed witches – and then burned at the stake.
Among the accused and executed was the wealthiest man in Szeged at the time, Dániel Rózsa, who was once known as a parliamentary representative of the city, and a midwife, Anna Nagy. The accused usually confessed to being witches, as often detailed confessions and admissions marked the end of the terrible torture.
To this day, peculiar and spine-chilling sounds fill this wooded area at night, which is friendly and an excellent hiking destination during the day. However, as darkness falls, the forest comes alive: otherworldly noises, the lamentations of lost souls, as they relive their agonizing deaths over and over again.
As we explore Szeged Witch Island, it’s evident that history has cast a long shadow over this once-blighted landscape. The tale of Szeged Witch Island serves as a poignant reminder of the human capacity for fear, scapegoating, and the enduring legacy of those unjustly accused. This haunted history fosters reflection on the importance of empathy, understanding, and a commitment to justice in the face of superstition’s dark grip.
Photo: Ferenc Somorjai