Carei lies in the western part of the county, on Carei Plain's north-eastern side. It is 35 km from Satu Mare and 8 km from the Romanian-Hungarian border crossing point at Urziceni-Vállaj. At the time of the 2002 census, Carei had 23182 inhabitants. The town also includes Ianculeşti village, 7 km from Carei.

Carei is rich in archeological vestiges, especially on the former Bobald village's precincts, in the town's southeastern part. This site is rich in human traces starting from the Bronze Age and up to the Middle Ages.

Carei was mentioned in 1213 for the first time as Karil. It belonged to the Kaplony clan, the ancestors of the Károlyi family whose history is tightly linked to that of the city.

Carei became a Károlyi estate in the XIVth century and 100 years later King Matei Corvin gave the family the right to erect a stone building here. At that time Carei already had oppidum status (fair, intermediary status between village and town). XVIth century descriptions mentioned a fortress in Carei, probably necessary because of the frequent attacks. In the XVI-XVIIth centuries mostly Turkish robbery expeditions occurred.

The revolt led by Rákóczi at the beginning of the XVIIIth century damaged not only the city, but also the entire area: Kuruc armies attacked settlements, therefore many of the villages were deserted. After the Satu Mare Peace Treaty, count Sándor Károlyi settled Kraut colonists in several settlements, including Carei. The XVIIIth century was a prosperous one for the town. Demographic growth and ethinc diversity characterized the century: in the 1750's Hungarians, Krauts, Romanians and Jews made Carei's population.

Modern times brought a decisive political influence of the Károlyis in the whole county's life. At their initiative Carei, center of the family domain also became the county's residence.

The Roman Catholic church's and school's construction is also linked to the family. The county hall, the Calvinist church, Greek Catholic churches for Ruthens and Romanians were all built at that time, the most important guilds were also founded then.

In 1848 Carei was officially named a town, but only in 1876 did it have the right to its own elected council. The XIXth century brought several natural disasters that damaged the town: the 1834 earthquake, the 1836 and 1887 fires. The latter one destroyed the town almost completely. Carei's current image is a result of the reconstruction works that took place after the fire. In the second half of the XIXth century transportation infrastructure was developed. In 1871 the Satu Mare- Debrecen railway line was opened, and another one to Zalău was added in 1887. Both crossed Carei.

In 1889 the „Association for draining the Ecedea marsh", presided by count Tibor Károlyi was established. Its main aim was to turn the marsh into farmland. The association worked in the current Police Department building.

After the First World War, Carei and the whole of Transylvania were attached to Romania. Carei lost its status as county residence after the 1926 administrative reform and was attached to Sălaj county with all of its surrounding settlements.

In 1944 the biggest battles for re-establishing the Romanian border took place around Carei. October 25th, celebrated today as the Romanian Army's Day, was the day of the decisive battle that also occurred here.

The Second World War brought major changes in Carei's population. Jews were deported in 1944, and Germans were taken to Soviet labor camps only a year later in 1945.

After the 1968 administrative reform, Carei and its surrounding villages were re-attached to Satu Mare county. The communist regime made many changes in the town: food and clothing industry units were established and part of the Satu Mare Unio factory was also transferred to Carei. The town's current economic character is given by remaining food industry units and new mixed companies.

At the time of the 2002 census, Carei's population was 54,33% Hungarian, 41,55% Romanian, 2,25% Kraut and German, 1,66% Roma and 0,21% other ethnics.

Carei is the birthplace of several important cultural personalities: Gáspár Károli, the first Hungarian translator of the Bible was born here around 1530. His bust, made by Árpád Deák stands in front of the Calvinist church. In the city center poet Sándor Petőfi and writer Margit Kaffka, born in Carei, have a statue. A memory plate also marks the writer's birth house. In 1994, a statue dedicated to Avram Iancu was unveiled. He was the hero of colonists settled in Carei between the two world wars.

In the city's central intersection, in a specially arranged park stands the monument of heroes, dedicated to the victory on October 25th 1944. Géza Vida made it in 1964.

The town is dominated by a 10 hectares garden with the Károlyi castle in its middle. The building's current look is the result of 1894 reconstruction works initiated by count István Károlyi. The older castle from 1794 was almost completely changed during these works. Currently, the castle hosts the town's museum and library. Recently initiated projects aim to conserve and restore the building and may make it one of the Satu Mare area's most beautiful monuments.

Many of the religious buildings have exceptional architectural value. Saint Michael and Gabriel Archangels Orthodox church was built in 1752 and combines baroque and oriental architectural styles. Saint Michael and Gabriel Archangels Greek Catholic church, built between 1737-39 is one of the oldest brick buildings of this religion. The Calvinist church, built between 1746-1752 has a separate baroque style tower, added a few decades later. Its inside structure and outside decoration were only added in the second half of the XXth century. The Roman Catholic church Saint Joseph of Calasanz was constructed between 1769-1779 and has often been mentioned as the most beautiful baroque style building in Satu Mare county.

The old county residence hall, reconstructed after the 1834 earthquake, currently hosts Iuliu Maniu school. Two memory plates hang on its walls: one dedicated to Ferenc Kölcsey, former Satu Mare county notary and the other one to Iuliu Maniu's Carei visit on April 25th 1919.

The former Piarist gymnasium, built in 1887, currently hosts the agricultural school. Among its students were poet Endre Ady, painter Aurel Popp, sociologist Oszkár Jászi, historian and politician Simion Bărnuţiu whose statue stands in front of the building.

The current Customs Police Office's building, a former hotel, has an exceptional architectural value. Its architect was the famous Miklós Ybl and this is where Sándor Petőfi met his future wife.

The thermal bath, rustically decorated restaurants and the vineyard planted centuries ago by count Sándor Károlyi in the city's southern part are a few of the main tourist attractions.


Ianculeşti was founded fairly recently, in the 1920's by colonists from Cluj county. The village's Orthodox church Saint Martyr George was built in 1937. In 1992 the village had 461 inhabitants.

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