The Kerka Watermill is one of the most important industrial heritages of Hungary, which managed to survive centuries of turmoil. Visiting to Szécsisziget is like traveling back in time and starting an adventure tour at the same time. You will get the chance to discover the Kerka region, while lamenting on the past amidst the ancient walls of the mill. Join us on this epic journey and unveil the watermill’s rich history!
The Origins of the Watermill
The Alpokalja region is quite rich in natural springs that zig-zag over the countryside and this made it ideal for the construction of watermills. The Kerka Watermill is first mentioned in a text dating back to 1541 AD. Szécsisziget received the privileges of township at the time, and the predecessor of our watermill stood at the same site, though it is quite likely that the river was used long before that. The commanders of the medieval garrisons noted several times that the waterwheels of the mill were broken, and the local farmers had to take their crops to Turkish occupied settlements. This was a challenging task at the time, mostly during wars and skirmishes, since they had to take the crops to the distant town of Lenti, which was a formidable logistic feat.
Watermills of the Kerka River
During the Turkish occupation, the Kerka Watermill is mentioned several times in texts as a key industrial structure in the region. This was the period in time when the economy of the Kerka Valley began to grow, as more and more watermills were built around the creeks. It was the golden age of the Kerka Watermill, since the local nobility developed the building by augmenting its capacity. The currently visible Baroque structure was built around the first decade of the 18th century. Millers working here were drafted in tax registers based upon the amount they paid, so we know a good number of them by name. In the 19th century, the watermill belonged to the domains of the noble Andrássy family, and it was marked on several maps as well. It was working constantly until the nationalization in 1952, after that its fate has taken a radical turn. First, it was developed by installing electric lights and turbines, but its production ceased in 1963, when a decision was made to divert the stream of the Kerka River, so it no longer turned the wheels and the mill became redundant. The building was left there abandoned, its waterwheels rotted away or disappeared. The new millennium brought hope to the watermill, because in 2002, the Kerka Watermill Foundation purchased the building and started a proper restoration works that finished in 2006. They’ve managed to reconstruct 3 waterwheels, each one 5 meter in diameter that once rotated the 3 mill-wheels. Currently, the building functions as an exhibition hall and a tourist inn, while safeguarding its original style and beauty.