The settlement of Palkonya, which originally belonged to the estate Kernend, was first mentioned in a document in 1296. After the Battle of Mohäcs in 1526, this part of Hungary came under Turkish rule. In 1687, when the Turkish army suffered a devastating defeat at Nagyharsäny and this area was finally liberated from Turkish occupation, 20 inhabitants lived in 8 houses in Palkonya. The inhabitants were engaged in agriculture and viticulture. During the Turkish wars, some of the population died as a result of the campaigns, others fled or were kidnapped.
German, Serbian and Croatian families were settled in the first third of the 18th century to rebuild the region. The first German colonists in our region were settled in the twenties of the eighteenth century, but the first entry of a German farmer is found in the register of the parish of Üjpetre/Razpeter, which was founded in 1745. In the county land register of that time it can be seen that 20 German, one Hungarian and two Serbian families lived in Palkonya at that time, whose children were taught by teacher Valentin Metzing. Although the village was inhabited exclusively by Germans for more than two centuries, the census of 1880-1910 showed that seven to 34 people lived in the village, and by 1920 149 people were of Magyar nationality. As a result of the war and the expulsion, many German families had to leave their homeland for Germany and Austria at the end of the Second World War. Hungarian families moved into the empty houses of the Germans.
Nowadays in Palkonya Magyars and Germans live peacefully together, connected by common work and worries. The interests of the German minority (35% of the inhabitants) have been represented by the German minority self-government since 2003. The families of the village are mostly engaged in viticulture and agriculture, but many also commute to work every day in Pecs. There are now nine artist families living in the village and the number of families coming from abroad continues to grow. Tourists visiting the “Villäny-Siklös” wine route can spend the night with the families of the village and enjoy a wine tasting with the winegrowers. Further information can be found at www.palkonya.hu.
The village image faithfully preserves the building culture of the German winegrowers who settled here during the 18th century. The cellar village consisting of 53 cellars and known throughout the country is a listed building. The cellars were built at the beginning of the 19th century, in the heyday of wine culture. In 1992 the local council placed the more than 52 houses, which represent the traditional German building culture, under local protection. The initiative to preserve the historic village image prompted the inhabitants to restore their houses and brought remarkable results – the orderly streetscape and cultivated traditions strengthen the attractiveness of the landscape and also increase the market value of the properties.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the lord of the manor Johann Batthyany had this unique Roman Catholic church built in classicist style, which was consecrated in 1816 by Anton Juranics (canon) from Pecs in honour of St Elizabeth. Above the main altar there is a large painting depicting St. Elisabeth giving alms to the poor. The beautiful round dome covered with sheet metal (formerly red – then grey – and now red again) can be seen from afar. The church is a listed building.
In the village the care of the own culture was always considered important, and the cultural life and the viticulture are closely connected with each other. The most visited folk festival in Palkonya is the “Open Cellar Day”, which takes place every year on Whitsunday. On this day, in addition to wine tasting, cultural events and children’s programmes are organised, as well as carriage rides and roast bacon.
Hungary is represented by Palkonya in the “European Cultural Village” movement. On a Dutch initiative, 12 villages from 12 European countries joined together to found the “European Cultural Village” movement, similar to the “European Capital of Culture”. The member municipalities from Denmark, Germany, England, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary meet several times a year on the basis of a ten-year programme. This plan includes meetings between the populations, school and youth camps and an annual conference. In 2007, Palkonya hosted the “European Cultural Village” events.