Archive for the ‘Transdanubia’ Category

Tihany

tihany

Tihany is located on the only peninsula of the Lake Balaton. It divides the lake into two parts. It is considered to be the most beautiful place on the lake.

The town is home to an old Benedictine Abbey, surrounded by the famous nature reserve where a number of rare animals and plants can be found. It was the first landscape protection area in Hungary, created in 1952.

The abbey was established in 1055. King Andrew I chose Tihany as a burial-place for the royal family and founded a Benedictine monastery. The oldest written record of the Hungarian language is connected to its foundation. The original document is kept in the Pannonhalma Abbey.

In 1267 a fortress was built around the church. It was regularly attacked by the Turks, but it was eventually destroyed in 1702 by the Habsburgs. They ruined many of the Hungarian castles in order to eliminate the means of resistance against their reign in the country.

The echo of Tihany is a well-known phenomenon since the 18th century, when the abbey was rebuilt. The words shouted from the top of the Echo Hill are reverberating from the abbey’s north side wich is more than 300 metres far. In the 19th century many poets were inspired by the Echo Hill which was said to repeat the words even sixteen times. Currently the echo is disappearing due to increased noise and many other buildings built in the area.

The abbey is still functioning. The monks are also in charge of the Benedictine Abbey Museum.

Herend

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Herend is a village of the world-renowned Hungarian porcelain. It has been made here since 1826. This ceramic factory is the biggest in Europe.

During the visit you can get to know everything about porcelain manufacturing process.The Herend Porcelain Museum offers the largest collection of porcelain treasures in the world. In the shop you can buy hand-painted products with patterns such as flowers, birds and butterflies.

Lake Balaton

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Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe, with a 200-km shoreline. Local people call it ‚the Hungarian sea’.

The lake became Hungarians’ most frequented holiday resort after the World War I and The Treaty of Trianon, whereby the country lost direct access to the Adriatic sea. During the communist period, the Balaton Lake and the whole region surrounding it were a very fashionable destination among all the states of the Eastern Bloc.

The lake lays in a large wine growing region.  The surrounding towns offer attractions of historical and cultural nature: many fabulous beaches and modern thermal spas mixed with historic buildings.

The north shore is famous for cities such as Balantonfüred, called ‚Balaton Riviera’. It has a splendid lakeside promenade, from where the cross-lake ferry departs. It is the oldest and most popular spa resort.

Veszprém

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Veszprém is located in the scenic Bakony mountainous region, near the Balaton resort. According to local legend it was founded on seven hils, like Rome. It is often referred to as ‚the City of Queens’ thanks to Giselle, the wife of Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen. For centuries, the queens of Hungary were crowned by the bishop of Veszprém.

The history of the city goes back to the ninth century. It had an important religious role during the Christianization of Hungary. It was here that king Stephen I defeated the armies of his cousin, Koppány who claimed the throne and had him executed as a pagan. In 1009 Veszprém became one of the most significant centres of the Catholic Church as the bishop’s seat.

The historic centre of Veszprém is the Castle Hill. According to the notary of King Bela III, the castle had been built before the first Hungarians settled in here. It was probably a 9th century Frankish fortress. Destroyed during the Turkish occupation and the subsequent battles, the castle, blown up by the Austrians in 1702, never had its medieval parts rebuilt.

In the town square of the Castle Hill among many beautiful Baroque-style buildings there is also a spectacular Bishop’s palace. Next to the palace is the most important historical monument in Veszprém, the Gisela Chapel. It was built in 1230 and served as a private chapel to the bishop and the queens who resided here. It is believed to have been founded by the Blessed Gisela. Damaged during the Turkish period, today’s Gothic building has one of the oldest interiors in Hungary: the 13th century frescoes of the apostles on the walls.

In Saint Michael’s Cathedral you can find the remains of Saint George’s chapel, a monument of national importance. Thousands of pilgrims come here to see the relics of the head of Saint George.

Two most important symbol of the city are the Fire Tower and the Viaduct, offering a wonderful view of the town and its surroundings.

Kőszeg

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Situated at the foot of the Alps, near the Austrian border Kőszeg is a charming, almost 800-year old town, known as the country’s jewelery box.

In the 14th century it gained status of a free royal town and since then it has played an important role in the Hungarian history. In 16th century, Kőszeg became the major target of the Ottoman attack, but  the inhabitants, under the leadership of the captain Miklós Jurisich, managed to repel the siege. For its heroism and saving Vienna from the Turkish attack, Ferdinand I granted the city an eternal exemption from duty and tax.

The monuments in Kőszeg remained almost in their original form. The colorful Jurisich square with its original Gothic, Renaissance and baroque buildings claims to be the prettiest in all Hungary.

 The real symbol of Kőszeg is the Jurisich castle. It was restored in 1958 and since then it has been the cultural centre of the city. In the castle museum there is a permanent exhibition of the pictorial history of Kőszeg. In the yard you can see the statue of Miklós Jurisich.

Currently, Kőszeg is famous not only for its historic past but also for its unique ‚honesty boxes’ placed in front of the houses. They are full of locally grown vegetables, fuits and flowers which you can buy just by dropping the money into the small boxes. Noone keeps an eye on them! The city is very proud of the excellent public security and reliable people.

Apart from its architectural heritage Kőszeg offers also the natural beauty of its surroundings: the Kőszeg-mountains, with the highest peak Írottkő (882 m). The sub-alpine climate and the soil in the area are favorable for winegrowing and wine-production. Kőszeg is well known for the Kékfrankos and Blaufränkisch grape variety responsible for strong dark red wines.

Győr

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Centred around the confluence of the Danube, Rába and Rábca, Győr is known as the town of rivers. Founded by the Celts and developed under the Romans,  it has been inhabited ever since.

During the Magyar period it became a bishopric. During the Turkish Wars the city was damaged. In 1529, the defenders set the town on fire, because they knew they could not defeat the Turkish army. When the Turks arrived they found nothing but piles of ashes, which is why they called the place ‚Janik Kala’ (Burnt City).

Győr was then rebuilt in Renaissance style with the help of Italian architects. The Turks came back and managed to occupy the city, but they only stayed for 4 years, while in other parts of Hungary they ruled for 150 years. After they left, the new artistic era begin.  The beautiful Baroque buildings date from this period. In 1743, Queen Maria Theresa gave Győr the status of ‘Free Royal Town’. The last siege of Győr took place in 1809, when Napoleon won the battle against the Habsburgs and occupied the castle. The house where he stayed during the battle functions today as the City Art Museum.

After its military role diminished, Györ became the major industrial town in northern Transdanubia. It is still often referred to as the City of Meetings as it is an important economic and industrial centre.

The Old Town, with the Chapter Hill crowned by a Cathedral and The Royal Town are full of splendid Renaissance and Baroque monuments. The well preserved Baroque city centre with its churches, palaces, museums, characteristic corner-balconies and narrow lanes was granted the Europa Nostra Award for monument protection in 1989.
Győr is particularly rich in sacral heritage. The Chapter Hill is home to the Bishop’s Cathedral, where the reliquary of king Ladislaus I, the patron saint of Hungary is kept, and the Episcopal Palace.
The Vienna Gate Square is one of the most beautiful Baroque squares in Hungary. On its southern edge stands the Carmelite Church, modeled on the Carmelite church in Rome.
The most notable sights on The Main Square (Széchenyi tér) are the Benedictine church of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the monastery.

In the downtown area changed to pedestrian zone The Town Gallery in the former Esterhazy Palace can be found. The Town Hall is the symbol of the city. From its distinctive tall central tower (59m)you can enjoy the view of the city center.

Tata

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Situated on the slopes of the Gerecse Hills, Tata is a pleasant town with two large lakes: the Old lake and the Cseke Lake. Apart from its wonderful natural surroundings it also has a lot of history.

In the Middle Ages, the Old Castle was a royal estate and a favourite residence of King Sigismund. The castle was damaged by the Turks in 1683 and rebuilt in neo-Gothic style only at the end of the 19th century.

Afer the Turkish invasion, the town started recovering in the 18th century. From 1727 to 1945 it belonged to the Esterházy family who developed it into an attractive town. The building of their Baroque mansion stands close to the western shore of the Old Lake. In 1783 first trees were planted around the lakes and the park was built. ‚The English Park’, as it is called, extends practically throughout the town and the surrounding landscape.  

The castle is surrounded by a large moat and the lakes, connected through a system of canals. Tata used to be known as ‚the town of mills’. There was more than 20 of them but currently they are all defunct. The oldest one, called Cifra Malom, is more than 400 years old.  Tata is a town of waters, though: with two lakes, some small ponds and more than one hundred springs. The Old Lake of Tata, the oldest artificial lake in all Hungary, is 700 years old.

The walls of the castle now accommodate the Kuny Domokos Museum with the local history collections on the first floor and a porcelain exhibit on the second.

The open-air Geological Museum, located at the Kálvária hill is a truly unique sight to visit. It offers an exhibition of 200 million year old geological strata.

Pécs

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Pécs is a vibrant university city notable for its multitude of museums and  rich art life. In 2010 it was slected as European Capital of Culture. Situated at the foot of Mecsek Hills, close to the border with Croatia, it has a very favorable climate.

Pécs has historically always been a multi-ethnic city, which is why it is often referred to as The Borderless City. The cultural layers of Latin, Turkish, German, Croatian and Hungarian origin left the city a valuable heritage of monuments from different ages and styles.

The area was first occupied by Celts, then it became a part of The Roman Empire. The Magyars settled in Pécs in the 10th century. The city’s importance grew in the Middle Ages. In 1009 St. Stephen founded a bishopric in here and the town was a main stop on the trade route to Byzantium. The first university in Hungary was founded in Pécs in 1367 by Louis I the Great. The Turks, who came in 1543, turned the city into their administrative and cultural centre.

The magnificent Széchenyi Square itself and the elegant buildings surrounding it encompass all that Pécs has to offer: history, culture, architecture and the arts. The square is dominated by the imposing Mosque of Pasha Qasim, the symbol of the city. The original gothic church was converted into a mosque in the 16th century by the occupying Turks. Fragments of Arabic decorations and quotations tions from the Quran are still visible on the walls.Today it functions again as a Catholic church. The peaceful coexistence of cultures is symbolised by the Turkish crescent and the Catholic cross together above the dome. Locals call it the Mosque Church.

The most important remains from Roman times were found in the heart of the city, around the cathedral.  The early Christian burial chambers are listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The earliest Christian place of worship excavated here is a chapel dating back to about 350. The Roman and early Christian relics and painted crypts are largest and best quality early Christian structures outside Rome.
Near the Roman remains are the ruins of the medieval city wall. The circular Barbican is the only part of the fortification system to survive in  Pécs.

Király Street, the city’s most popular pedestrian zone and shopping area, is lined with buildings from the Habsburg era. There is a church and a former monastery of the Pauline order dating back to the 1700s as well as Pécs’s National Theater, a neo-rococo style building built in 1895.

The vine has been grown in the Pécs region since 2000 years. It is known for its white wines, like Cirfandli, Italian Riesling and Chardonnay.

Fertőd

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The Fertő Region has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site due to its natural and cultural landscape. Its most outstanding spots are: Lake Fertő and Esterházy Palace in Fertőd village.

 Most of  Lake Fertő extends into Austria, where it is called Neusiedler See. On the Hungarian territory it is a part of the Fertő-Hanság National Park, founded in 1991 to protect the lake.  It is the second- largest wetland in Hungary and a very important resting place for migratory birds.

The Esterházy Palace, the largest and the most exquisite Baroque-Rococo edifice in Hungary, is called ‚The Hungarian Versailles’ for its extravagance and style. The Esterházys, the wealthiest aristocratic family in the country, had it constructed in the 18th century. The residence with nearly 200-hectare park was comparable to the royal courts of Europe.

Joseph Haydn, the famous Austrian composer, spent almost thirty years in here working for the Esterházy family as a court composer and musical director of the castle chamber orchestra.  

Today the horseshoe-shaped palace is a museum and a centre for Hungarian Haydn research. Some renovated rooms of the family are open to the public. There is also a permanent exhibition of Fertőd’s regional history. The apartment where Haydn lived now contains Joseph Haydn Memorial Hall, commemorating the world-famous composer’s work. Every year in September there is a Haydn Festival, celebrating this one of the greatest musicians of the 18th century.

The surroundings of Fertőd offer amazing natural landscapes composed by a unique combination of vineyards, water, hills, valleys, marshes, and a very attractive flora and fauna.

Sopron

Situated at the foot of Lővér Hills on the Austrian frontier, Sopron is one of the most popular holiday and tourist resorts of Hungary. It is the richest Hungarian city in terms of monuments, often compared to Prague.

 Sopron used to be a Roman Empire province and a very important commercial center, situated on The Amber Road. The Hungarians started settling in here in the 9th century. In the 13th century it was given a status of a free royal town. During the Ottoman Invasion the Turks did not occupy Sopron, so many people who fled their invasion took refuge in here. This is why, unlike most of the rest of the country, many of its medieval and ancient buildings still stand. After the fire of 1676, the damaged parts of the city were rebuilt in Baroque style.

The beautiful medieval structures include several churches, the exceptional Old Synagogue and the twelfth-century Firewatch Tower, the town’s symbol, offering a wonderful view over the city. At the bottom of the tower there is a Gate of Faith, made in the memory of referendum in 1921. It was decided then that Sopron would join Hungary instead of Austria. Walls and foundations from the Roman Empire are also still common. The inner town is surrounded by a triple medieval wall built on ancient Roman basements and the remains of the Forum were excavated near the Main Square.

Sopron is often called City of Museums.  Most of them are situated in the heart of the Old Town: Storno House, Fabricius House and Pharmacy Museum are the most fequently visited. The central point of the Main Square is The Holy Trinity Statue, a real  masterpiece of Hungarian Baroque sculpture. It is a votive pillar offered by people who survived the plague  between 1695 and 1701. Behind it stands The Goat Church. Built in 1300 for Franciscans, it became a place of  kings coronations and Parliament sessions in the 17th century.

Sopron is also a major wine-producing center. The most common wine is made of the famous Kékfrankos grape. The second local speciality is tramini, an apple flavored wine.