NAGYKANIZSA (pronounced "nodge-konizha"), 49km south of Zalaegerszeg, is a quiet backwater that makes a pleasant stopover, but isn't worth a special trip. In its day it was a proud fortress town straddling the River Principális, which together with Szigetvár and Siklós bore the brunt of Turkish assaults during the first decades of the occupation and finally succumbed. Unlike the others, the fortress at Nagykanizsa no longer exists, and the town is best known for its brewery, producing a brand named Kanizsai Kinizsi after the folk hero Pál Kinizsi, a miller's son of legendary strength who reputedly once used a millstone as a tray to serve a drink to a woman he admired.
The compact centre of Nagykanizsa consists of two leafy squares connected by Fő út. Coming in from the train station you'll pass a large, well-tended Jewish cemetery (Mon– Fri 8am–4.30pm, Sun 9am–4.30pm), attesting to the large community that once existed here; if it's closed, ask for the key from Sasvári Lajos at Őrház utca 6. The synagogue, in the courtyard of Fő út 6 (Tues– Sat 2–6pm; free), was built in 1821 with the support of Count Fülöp Batthyány, whose ancestors settled Jewish families on their estate. In April 1944, all three thousand Jews were deported to Auschwitz; only three hundred survived, of whom about 120 are still alive to meet in the prayer rooms in the courtyard opposite the synagogue, which was sold off to the municipality in 1982. Though sometimes used for concerts, it remains in a sorry state. Across the road at Fő út 5, the Thury György Museum (Wed– Sun 10am–4pm; 250Ft) mounts temporary exhibitions and displays a few Roman sarcophagi in its entrance way. You'd do better to go looking for the parish church on Zárda utca, built with masonry from the town's fortress, and originally a mosque where Nagykanizsa's last Turkish overlord, Mustafa Pasha, is buried in a tomb into which baptismal fonts have been cut. To get here, retrace your steps to Ady utca and turn left just beyond the post office at no. 10.
Alternatively, head up Fő út to reach Deák tér, a pleasant square with several café terraces overlooking a bizarre statue of the poet Petőfi urging a twentieth-century soldier to throw a grenade at the nearest row of shops. The monument honours the 48th Infantry Regiment in which he served in 1848–49, though it chiefly refers to their World War I campaigns, and was created in the Horthy era by Kisfaludi Strobl.