The town of Keszthely, which is the most populous settlement of Lake Balaton with its 20,000 residents, and rich in traditions, is entitled to be called as the capital of Lake Balaton. The natural environment of the settlement situated at the foot of the Keszthely Hills in the north-western corner of Lake Balaton gained its present form after several hundred million years of development.
The area was covered by sea several times in the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic eras. The sediment of the latter was dolomite constituting the overwhelming majority of the Keszthely Hills, which emerged from its environment much later, in the Pleistocene era about 2 million years ago. However, in the meantime, in the Middle Cretaceous and Miocene era, this land was arid, and in the course of the Upper Cretaceous period, the desert transformed into a swamp due to the more humid climate. In the Pliocene age, about 5.5-1.8 million years ago, the Pannonian Sea covered our territory. Its sediment is the micaceous, laminated sandstone that can be found on the western rim of the Keszthely Hills. At the end of the period, the basalt hills dominating the sight of Balaton Uplands were formed due to volcanic activity. The north-south movements of the earth caused faults on the surface of the Keszthely Hills. The valleys, which make the Hills so varied, were formed along these faults. The area was almost entirely covered by woods once. However, human activity led to significant changes. Today, mostly vineyards cover the hillsides. Most of the remaining forests consists of Turkey oak and sessile oak. Later, black pines were planted in the dry dolomitic soil to replace the cleared trees. However, black pines affected the original vegetation unfavourably. In the future, the territory of the woods will no longer be extended.
Keszthely and its surroundings are particularly suitable for human settlements since the climate is more balanced due to the proximity of the Mediterranean, the forests are rich in game, Lake Balaton abounds in fish, and the land is fertile. However, we also have to point out that Fenékpuszta, one of the three natural crossings of Lake Balaton (the other two are Tihany and Balatonhídvég) can be found here, so trade has always played an important role in the life of the inhabitants. This explains why our area has continuously been inhabited since the beginning.