Debrecen (dĕˈbrĕtsĕn) [key], city (1991 est. pop. 213,927), E Hungary, the nation's third largest city and the economic and cultural center of the Great Plain (Alföld) region E of the Tisza River. It is also a county administrative center, a road and rail hub, and an industrial city that produces agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals, furniture, and pottery. Debrecen was traditionally famous for its fairs and livestock markets and is still a center for agricultural trade. Known in the 13th cent., the city grew as a market for cattle and grain. It became the stronghold of Hungarian Protestantism in the 16th cent., and its Calvinist college later formed the nucleus of a university. Under the Turkish occupation of Hungary (16th–17th cent.), Debrecen enjoyed semiautonomous status and often served as a refuge for peasants fleeing the Turks. It was also an important trade center, but the wars in the late 17th cent. between Christian Europe and the Turks ruined the city's economy. Debrecen became the center of Hungarian resistance against Austrian rule in the 19th cent.; and on Apr. 14, 1849, Louis Kossuth proclaimed Hungary's independence in the great church in the heart of Debrecen. Russian troops, who had helped the Hapsburgs crush the Hungarian uprising, occupied the city briefly. Economic revival began in the early 20th cent. In 1944–45, during World War II, Debrecen served as provisional capital of Hungary.
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