Archive for the ‘Southeastern Hungary’ Category

Ópusztaszer

In the 9th century Ópusztaszer was, according to the legend, the place where the conquering Hungarian tribes gathered to hold the first national assembly and adopt the first laws.

The National Historical Memorial Park is an open-air museum that commemorates this event. It introduces the history of the Hungarian Nation as well as the culture and life-style of people living on the Southern Great Plain of Hungary.

The greatest attraction here is the Feszty Panorama, one of the largest paintings in the world, portraying the arrival of the Hungarian into the Carpathian Basin. The painting, depicting approximately 2000 people on 1760 square metres, encircles the exhibit hall.

Local sights include a statue of Árpád, the settlers’ leader, the Nomad Park and a 13th century Monastery, where a cemetery containing the remains of first Hungarians was revealed.

Hajós Pincék

Hajós Pincék is an extraordinary village, devoted entirely to wine cellars. Noone lives here at all! It is situated in one of the most important growing areas for Kadarka in Hungary.

1260 of cellars lining the road form the largest concentration of wine cellars  in Europe. Centuries ago, a Swabian population settled here and started storing and fermenting wines. Until now the production is mostly traditional.

You can sample and buy wine in any cellar of the labirynth. Charming wine-cellar streets of this pretty village make the destination perfect for wine lovers.

Kalocsa

Kalocsa is best known today as Hungary’s „paprika capital”. The town is also promoted for its beautiful flowery hand-made embroidery.

However, Kalocsa is also one of the oldest towns in Hungary and a major religious center.
The city was one of the episcopal sees founded by King Stephen thousand years ago. Since it is one of the four Roman Catholic archbishoprics of Hungary, the town has a beautiful cathedral, archbishop’s palace with rich library, and a seminary.

 Along with Szeged, Kalocsa is a center of paprika cultivation. Around the city there are more than 8,000 acres of ‚red gold’ fields. Every year in September the pepper harvest is celebrated with a festival called „Kalocsa Paprika Days”. It is a two-week-long series of programs including exhibitions of food products, a  cooking contest, and the Paprika Harvest Parade with folk dance shows. Apart from that, Kalocsa has its own Paprika Street and Paprika Museum with an exhibition explaining the history of paprika growing and preparing.

Folk Art Museum is also a great tourist attraction. This is the unique settlement in Hungary with hand painted walls.There is a  spectacular exhibition presenting the Local Crafts Society products: 20th-century peasant furnishings and typical examples of the Kalocsa folk art of worldwide renown.

Debrecen

Due to its important role in the reformation movement in Hungary, Debrecen was called ‚the Calvinist Vatican’ in the 16th century. In 1849 it was the capital of Hungary for a short time when the Hungarian revolutionary government fled there from Budapest.

The symbol of the city, the Classicist Great Calvinist Church, with an interior accomodating 3,000 persons, is the largest protestant church in the country. It was in here that Lajos Kossuth proclaimed the independence of Hungary from the Austrian Empire (neglected after the fall of the revolution).

Behind the Great Church you can find The Reformed College, where many famous Hungarians received their education. The 180 year-old building contains  the Oratorium, the Great Library and the Exhibition of School History and Religious Art. The Great Library is the most fascinating. Rarities not only in Europe but in the World can be found there, dating back even to the 13th century. There is a Bible collection including volumes in more than 250 languages.

Déri Museum offers rich collections of art, archaeology, history and ethnography. Its greatest attraction is the world-famous Mihály Munkácsy’s Christ trilogy, three large paintings depicting Christ before Pilate, the Crucifixion, and Ecce Homo!

The Great Forest of Debrecen is a large recreational area in the north of the town. In its territory you can find the termal baths supplied by two mineral springs, as well as the Amusement Park and the Zoo.

Szeged

Szeged is often called the ‚City of Sunshine’, because of the highest number of sunny days throughout the year. Situated on both banks of the Tisza river, it is the lowest elevation city in the country, which accounts for its warmer climate.

Historically, most of Szeged was destroyed in the great flood of 1879. With international help, it was rebuilt on the model of large European cities to become the most modern town of Hungary. The most impressive feature in the inner city is The Dóm Square, a monumental public space. It accomodates a spectacular catherdal, called the Votive Church, which the town leaders had pledged to build after the flood. Another remarkable sight is the gothic Alsóvarósi church. Its barque interior contains a copy of the famous Black Madonna of Czestochowa.

The region of Szeged is the center of paprika cultivation. This special ingredient of Hungarian dishes, as well as salami, are world-famous products of the city. The Salami and Paprika museum outlines the entire manufacturing process of salami and offers a display on paprika and its healthy properties.

Today’s Szeged is an important university town, but it also draws many tourists. The famous Open Air Drama Festival, held every summer, is one of the main attractions.

Kecskemét

The city is well-known as the capital of Hungarian architecture of Art Nouveau and for being the birthplace of composer Zoltan Kodály.

The most splendid masterpieces of the Secessionist style decorate the town centre: The Town Hall building with floral motifs on the walls inspired by folk art and Cifrapalota (‚Ornamented Palace’) with beautiful windows and frescoes on the outer walls.

Other characteristic feature of the Main Square is the presence of churches of different faiths. Catholic, Calvinist, Jewish, Evangelist, Greek Orthodox- all of them found home in Kecskemét.

The building of a former Franciscan monastery hosts the Kodály Zoltán Institute of Music Pedagogy. Students from all over the world come here to study the Kodály method of musical education.

Apart from its artistic values, Kecskemét is also famous for apricot pálinka (brandy) and a local drink called Unicum, a herbal liqueur believed to have positive effects on health.

Kiskunság National Park

Kiskunság National Park was founded in 1975 and safeguards a vast area between the Danube and Tisza rivers. The mosaic patterned national park was formed by the floods of the rivers and the traditional extensive agricultural practices. There are nine separate ecological regions, comprising a variety of habitats: reeded lake lands, swamps, forests, salt lakes, grasslands, bogs, waved sand dunes, wetlands and closed drainage marshes. Two thirds of the Park is a biosphere reserve. Some areas have been also designated as Ramsar sites because of their value for international bird migration.

The best known part of the Park is its largest area, Bugac. The tourist center offers equestrian shows including a breathtaking show of the ‚pusztaötös’- the rider of five galloping horses balances on the backs of the two. In the local Shepherd Museum you can see an exibition of the equipment used by the shepherds and of the typical flora and fauna of the region. There is also an open-air exhibition showing replicas of the ancient shepherds’ houses. The agricultural heritage together with the natural landscapes provide the unique image of the Kiskunság.

Lake Tisza

Although it was created artificially as probably the first dam control system in the world, it soon has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hungary. In between water dams, there are sixteen islands and ten water channels.

Second largest lake in Hungary, it actually is a part of The Hortobágy National Park. The major part of the national park can be visited for fishing and birdwatching purposes. It has been claimed that there are more than 50 types of fish in the Tisza river and lake.

The area can be divided into three parts: the first is a protected bird sanctuary, in the second you can observe giant white water lilies and visit colonies of heron and cormorans by following established trails. The rest of the lake is dedicated to watersports.

The Puszta

Hortobágy National Park (The Puszta) is entirely an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, recognising its rich folklore and cultural history. The Puszta is regarded as an outstanding example of harmonious coexistence of people and nature. The cultural landscape of a vast grassy plains, steppe and wetlands, has been used considerately by herdsmen for mor than two millenia.

The area is completely unspoiled by large scale polluting industrial and urban development. Depopulated when in the 15th century Turkish invaders swept it clean of settlements, the plain remained a deserted wilderness from then on.

Herdsmen, shepherds, horsemen and swineherds of Hortobágy preserved a very ancient way of life. Their customs have endured through centuries. They do not even have permanent buildings for themselves nor their animals.

A major part of the National Park is formed by natural habitats. Some artificial wetlands are of considerable importance: the fishponds, situated on 6 thousand hectares are the largest fishpond system of the world. Water habitats are locations of bird nesting and important sites for the migrating birds. The area is equipped with signposted bird watching hides.

One of the most iconic sites is the Nine-Arch Bridge, the longest road stone bridge in historic Hungary. The Market has been held there every year at the end of August for centuries. It is also worth to stop at the visitor centre at Hortobágy village. There is a small musuem with exhibition of tools and artworks explaining how the people lived in the puszta.