The mythical Turul

The mythical Turul

The mythical Turul

The Turul bird was the most important mythical animal of the ancient Hungarians. 

The mythical Turul:

The Turul is a mythological bird of prey, mostly depicted as a hawk or falcon, in Hungarian tradition and a national symbol of modern Hungary.


The Turul is probably based on a large falcon, and the origin of the word is most likely Turkic: togrıl or turgul means a medium to large bird of prey of the family Accipitridae, goshawk or red kite. In Hungarian the word sólyom means falcon, and there are three ancient words describing different kinds of falcons: kerecsen (saker falcon), zongor [Turkish sungur = gyrfalcon] (which survives in the male name Zsombor) and turul.
In Hungarian tradition, it presumably originated as the clan symbol used in the 9th and 10th centuries by the ruling House of Arpad.
In the legend of Emese, recorded in the Gesta Hungarorum and the Chronicon Pictum, the turul is mentioned as occurring in a dream of Eseme's as impregnating her, and in a second dream by the leader of the Hungarian tribes, in which eagles (the emblem of the Pechenegs) attacked their horses and a Turul came and saved them.

Modern use:

The Turul is used as in the design of coats of arms of the Hungarian Army, the Counter Terrorism Centre and the Office of National Security.

There were 3 large Turul statues, each with a wingspan of 15 metres, in Greater Hungary (before the country had its borders reconfigured by the Treaty of Trianon). The last of the three stands on a mountain near Tatabánya, Hungary, but the other two were destroyed. It is the largest bird statue in Europe, and the largest bronze statue in Central Europe. There remain 195 Turul statues in Hungary, as well as 48 in Romania (32 in Transylvania and 16 in Partium), 8 in Slovakia, 7 in Serbia, 5 in Ukraine, 1 in Austria. And one more as of 29 September 2012, St. Michael the Archangel's Day erected in Hungary's Ópusztaszer National Heritage Park
Some of the Kingdom of Hungary postage stamps issued after 1900 feature Turuls.


  1.  "Great Turkish Dictionary"Turkish Language AssociationRetrieved 1 August 2009.
  2.  Chronicon PictumGesta Hungarorum. Arnold Ipolyi, "Magyar mitológia" (Hungarian Mythology) 1854; Gáspár Heltai, Hungarian Mythology. "[...] the hawk orturul, which in shamanistic lore rested upon the tree of life connecting the earth with the netherworld and the skies, persevered for longer [than other clan totems] as a device belonging to the ruling house. But even this was soon eclipsed by the symbol of the double cros and, around 1200, by the striped shield coloured in the ed and white of Christ's Passion." Martyn C. Rady, Nobility, land and service in medieval Hungary, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000, p.12
  3. "Magyar Néprajzi Lexikon: Emese". Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  4.  Tom Warhol, Birdwatcher's Daily Companion: 365 Days of Advice, Insight, and Information for Enthusiastic Birders, Marcus Schneck, Quarry Books, 2010, p. 158
  5. István Dienes, The Hungarians cross the Carpathians, Corvina Press, 1972, p. 71