The town of Pásztó, on the banks of the Zagyva, a river that winds capriciously between the Cserhát and the Mátra mountains, was the possession of the chief, later the king, after the Hungarian Conquest. A Benedictine monastery was founded on its territory as early as the turn of the 11th century. Later the monastery was extended by the Cistercians. In the Middle Ages Pásztó was an important church centre, and Hungarian kings were happy to spend their time in its castle. In the 15th century, in the time of King Sigismund, the town already had a public bath. The saddest epoch in the history of Pásztó was during the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Only the smoky walls brooded over the totally ruined and depopulated area for a hundred years, and life restarted only in the 1650's.
The parish-church built in the 12th century in honour of the martyr St. Lawrence is one of the notable monuments in the small town, and is also the favourite departure point for mountain walks and trips. The building has been reconstructed and enlarged several times over the centuries; for instance, a many sided chapel was added to its southern side in the 15th century. The windows on the Eastern side, cutting through the abutments of the sanctuary, were only discovered in 1959. The delicate lithography on the stone mullions of the windows show the talent of their creator. The apex of one of the windows is filled up with a rose-like ornament, placed in the middle. This is completely unique in Hungary, reminding the visitor of Italy, and indicates an illustrious customer. A baroque steeple and later a sanctuary and a side-aisle were attached to the church in the 18th century. The Romanesque style, two-storey structure on the northern side was built in the 13th century and served as the burial place of the Rátót family. In its lower, original part an exhibition of stonework can be found.
The former Cistercian monastery was built on the foundation of the medieval cloister between 1715 and 1720. The interesting collection in the Local History Museum can be seen in this building, and this is the place where a memorial room is furnished in honour of the famous musicologist, the last prior of Pásztó, Benjámin Rajeczky. In front of the building, on the site of the former town centre, a lapidarium preserves the ruins of the 12th century abbey and that of the monastery. Walking amongst the stones with a practised eye, one can even discover traces of the 15th century reconstructions.
There is also a building of special interest in Pásztó: the town house of the scola magister, the schoolmaster, mentioned in a document of 1428. The house was built of stones worn smooth by water, a characteristic of the Mátra region. The story of its authentic furniture is also interesting, since its owner, probably running away from the Turks, had hidden his goods in pits under the house, where they were found only centuries later.
The 12th century glasswork is considered a rarity in Europe. The reconstructions of the workshops of the Benedictine monastery, together with the remains of three fireplaces can also be seen in the Museum Square.
The town of Pásztó received equal privileges to those of Buda in 1407 from King Sigismund. In 1987 the citizens of the town erected Ko Pál's modern statue in the memory of the Hungarian king from the Anjou dynasty.
Three castles guarded the strategic road across the Mátra mountains in the old days. Only a few moss-grown pieces of stone remind us of two of them today. The third one, the old fortress of Hasznos built on a protruding cliff of the 338-metre high Gombás peak, is also in ruins, but parts of the castle building and the foundation of a rectangular steeple remind us of the past. A spectacular view unfolds from the ruins, with the highlands of the Mátra Mountains, and beyond them the skylines of the Cserhát and the Karancs mountains. The picturesque Kövecses creek meanders underneath. The water-catchment of Hasznos, the only one in the Western Mátra, offers great possibilities for angling, and the natural runway is excellent for hang-gliding and sport flying.
The Roman Catholic church of Hasznos, a settlement, which belongs to Pásztó, was built in the 15th century; its sanctuary with abutments dates back to that time. Mátrakeresztes, also a part of Pásztó, has its own microclimate and fine tourist routes, and is known for the manufacture of wooden spoons, made by hand-operated and mechanical devices. The closeness of the forest made this industry possible.