European Heritage Policies


National heritage policy

Cultural heritage protection and management in Hungary deals with the tangible items of heritage. The intangible heritage is part of the cultural policy. Tangible cultural heritage includes the archaeological heritage, the built heritage values, cultural goods, and elements of the military heritage researchable with archaeological methods. Sites, which have major importance in the history of the Hungarian nation, are considered national memorial places. Registered archaeological sites and built heritage values are protected by the force of law, but archaeological sites and buildings or building complexes with outstanding value could also receive additional protection (the number of registered archeologic sites is approximately 60.000, out of which 1700 has additional protection; there is approximately 15.000 protected building or building complexes, so called ‘monuments’, and conservation areas). The built heritage values include historic gardens, historic landscapes and conservation areas as well. Cultural goods could include artworks, antique goods, manuscripts, books, maps, photographs, films. Within this category, there are items protected by the force of law (e.g. public collections) or classified as protected cultural good.

The protection and management of the tangible cultural heritage is regulated by legislation, basically Act LXIV of 2001 on the protection of cultural heritage. The regulations incorporate many aspects and provisions of the Council of Europe Conventions on cultural heritage, like the Granada and the Valetta Convention. Presently, Hungary is undertaking preparatory tasks to include the directives of the Faro Convention into the heritage policy.

Roles and responsibilities

The overall responsibility for cultural heritage protection lies with the Prime Minister’s Office. This ministry is undertaking the tasks related to drafting and issuing legislation on the field of cultural heritage, including the additional legal protection of archaeological sites and built heritage values. It also supervises the Gyula Forster National Office for Cultural Heritage Management, the main governmental organisation for tangible cultural heritage. The Office provides a legal, regulatory and structural framework for built heritage values, archaeological sites and movable cultural heritage. It provides scientific background for the research of the built heritage values, and takes care of collections on this field (scientific library, archive for historic architectural design documents, photo collection, and museum collection of the history of architecture). It also prepares the scientific documents for the protection of monuments, conservation areas, and archaeological sites. It operates the national register of archaeological sites and built heritage values (including protected monuments and conservation areas). In the field of archaeological heritage, the Office is responsible for preparing the archaeological assessment documents (prospection) for the large scale investments, and to coordinate the archaeological excavations for these works. The Office takes care of more than 40 significant sites (archaeological sites, stately homes, castles) owned by the Hungarian State, and also carries out projects for their restoration and maintenance (presently the Office is developing a national programme for the restoration of the historic stately homes and castles). It also contributes to the implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, coordinating and inspecting the World Heritage sites in Hungary. In its scope of duty as an authority the Office operates a special unit for the movable heritage. The Inspectorate of Cultural Goods is part of the national public administration system and has exclusive competence at national level concerning the protection of movable cultural goods. Its main tasks are classifying/listing and inspecting movable cultural goods which are irreplaceable and of outstanding significance and licensing the export of all kinds of cultural goods. The Inspectorate also maintains a database of movable cultural goods, containing data of about 90.000 items.

The public administration system for archaeological and built heritage is operated through 21 District Offices of the Government Offices of Counties and the Capital Budapest. Their main role is licensing for works that affect the cultural heritage. The scientific research and preventive excavations of archaeological sites are carried out by museums with archaeological authorisation (their task is also the exhibition of cultural heritage for the public), the Institute of Archaeology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and universities with an archaeological department. The protection and promotion of cultural heritage is a shared task between the Ministries, the Office, the museums and the NGOs. Local governments also have a role in the protection on a local level; they have the right to issue local protection decrees for archaeological sites and historic monuments within their territory. Local museums are sustained by the local governments.

The Ranger Service is operated by the National Park Directorates. State rangers are entitled to take measures on behalf of the authorities, and are equipped with appropriate service devices and a uniform. Their primary duty is the protection of the natural assets and areas, but they also guard the archaeological heritage within the National Parks.

The National Memorial and Piety Committee is a professional body of the Government for the coordination and monitoring of national memorial places. 

List of main legal references

Act LXXVII of 2011 on World Heritage

Act CXL of 1997 on museums, public libraries and cultural community services

Act LXIV of 2001 on the protection of Cultural Heritage

Related decrees to this Act:

Act CXI of 2007 on the promulgation of the Florence Convention

Act CX of 2012 on the promulgation of the Faro Convention

Government Decree 149 of 2000 on the promulgation of the Valetta Convention

Act 9 of 2014 on the promulgation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

Act 6 of 2008 on the promulgation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions 

Act 29 of 2006 on the Hague Convention

Act 38 of 2006 on the promulgation of the UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage

Act 21 of 1985 on the promulgation of the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage

Act 2 of 1979 on the promulgation of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

PDF icon Organisation chart_Hungary.pdf181.29 KB
National coordinator: 
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9 986 000
Area (km2): 
93 036.00
Density (pop/km2): 
Photo gallery: 
Pécs - Early Christian tomb
Official minorities: 
NamePercentage of overall population
Gipsy (Roma, Romani, Romungro, Beas)
Data = 13.11.2013 There are officially 12 national minority groups and 1 ethnical minority group (the Romas) in Hungary (these are so called ‘historical minorities’). Although other national groups also exist in the country, they do not meet the conditions for a declaration of official minorities. According to the official statistical data the number of minorities makes up the 3,145% of the population, but their estimated number is much higher: 8-10%. The largest majority of the minorities are considered to be the Hungarian speaking Romas. The right for ethnic identity is a human right in accordance with the operating legal regulations, and the decision about belonging to a minority group is defined as a decision of the individual persons. The official minorities have the possibility to form minority governments in local and in national level. The minority governments have specific functions, but they do not perform tasks related to the public administration. The aim of the sel