This town of monuments was for many generations an important cultural centre due to its Reformed Church College, which was one of the strongest "fortresses" of education in Hungary from the mid-16th century. Between 1650 and 1654 the Czech Johannes Amos Comenius, who was an eminent figure in the history of teaching, taught in this institution. He wrote his work entitled "Orbis sensualium pictus" ('The Visible World') in Patak; this book is a pioneer work on the field of education based on visual aids.
During the long history of the College many personalities of Hungarian literary and political life were among the students. The statues put in the garden of the school keep the memories of these personalities and of the sponsors of the school alive. The classical main building, which can be seen today, was built at the beginning of the 19th century. In the library of rare beauty there are around 2000 volumes left from the stock of the old College library, founded in 1531. Most of these books are real masterpieces of fine workmanship, with ornamented parchment bindings. The leaders of the College considered gymnastics to be as important as the training of the mind. This idea is embodied in the oldest palaestra/gymnasium ('Testgyakorda') of Hungary that was built in 1878. The only side-wing of the College existing today is the so called Berna row and it acquired its Baroque character in 1773; nowadays it is home to scientific collections and there is an exhibition on religious art and the history of the schools of the East Tisza Reformed Church District. The town church was built in Baroque style in the second half of the 18th century. The eclectic ceiling is its special point of interest.
Sárospatak has even given Hungary and the whole Christian world a Catholic saint. In 1207 Saint Erzsébet (Elisabeth) of the Árpád House, daughter of King Endre the 2nd was born here. On the square named after her, there is a sculpture group reminding us that Erzsébet, who was married off and lived in Türing, made the long journey between Sárospatak and Wartburg several times on horseback. The Catholic castle church, which is one of the greatest Gothic hall churches of Northern Hungary and dates from the last years of the 15th century, stands in this square. Over the centuries it was enlarged and gained a Baroque arch, choir and tower in the 18th century. On its south side, the sign on the face-work indicates the place where the foundation of the 11th century rotunda was discovered, which had a wall 7 metres in diameter. The neighbouring picture-gallery hosts an exhibition containing items from the very valuable collection of religious art.
The name of Sárospatak is truly interwoven with the Rákóczi family, which played a very important role in Hungarian history. Eminent members of the family were born, grew up and married in this castle, which was mainly built by them. The last diet, during the time of the war of independence led by Rákóczi, was convoked here and after his defeat Ferenc Rákóczi the 2nd was exiled from here. His statue can be seen just opposite the College.
The Rákóczi castle built in the centre of Sárospatak is the oldest monument in the town with the richest historical assets This castle is one of the most valuable fortified castles in Hungary. The process of building lasted throughout many centuries, so the different stylistic characteristics of different ages can be observed on it. It lived its glory in the 17th century when the owner was the Rákóczi family. The historic heart of the huge castle complex, which is in the park on the bank of the river Bodrog, is the late Renaissance Red Tower (Vörös-torony) with its five storeys. Initially it was surrounded by a pentangular protecting wall with Italian bastions, which are now ruins. The 16th - 17th century side-wings belonging to the tower of the living quarters flank the yard. The Renaissance frames of the so called Perényi-wing and the Lorántffy-lodge are considered to be among the most beautiful monuments in the history of Hungarian architecture.
Today the castle is the home to the Rákóczi Museum of the Hungarian National Museum. The permanent exhibitions present the castle, the Rákóczi family and the history of the war of independence as well as the arms and furniture of the age.
Imre Makovecz, one of the most important architects of our days has worked in Sárospatak, too. The buildings designed by him (The House of Culture and the Árpád Vezér Secondary School) have brought new colour to the historic picture of the town.