Baja is a picturesque town on the banks of the Danube and Sugovica. The small islands and the beautiful churches make up the charm of the town; there is also an artist colony here.
Kalocsa, the center of Hungarian paprika cultivation, is also a city of museums, where Hungarian folk art is kept alive in all its diversity. South of Kalosca is the Gemenc Forest, a nature reserve that provides a habitat for many plant and animal species.
The Northern Highlands
Miskolc near the Slovakian border is Hungary’s second largest city. Sights include medieval structures, most notably Diósgyör Castle, and a labyrinth of man-made caves in the Avas Hills near the city center. The beautiful Bükk Mountains are within easy reach of the city.
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The fertile plain covers more than half of Hungary.
Eger is one of the oldest Hungarian cities and has nearly 200 historically significant structures, including a minaret. To the east of Miskolc lies Tokaj, the center of the country’s most famous wine region. Halfway between Tokaj and the Slovakian border you can see the imposing Sárospatak Castle.
Sopron is near the Austrian border and was built on old Roman foundations. The Fire Tower, the Liszt Museum and the old quarry at Fertörákos are worth a visit. The spa town of Balf and the baroque castle of Fertöd are nearby. Two other beautiful towns in the region are Köszeg (old city walls) and Györ on the Vienna-Budapest motorway. About 18 km southeast of Györ on a hill is the Pannonhalma Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) with the oldest church in Hungary and a library containing over 250,000 books.
Veszprém, 10 km north of Lake Balaton, was built on five hills. The main attractions are the Var Museum, the Bishop ‘s Palace and the Gizella Chapel (13th century).
Lake Balaton and western Hungary
The Balaton (Lake Balaton) offers beautiful beaches. The water is only 3 m deep on average. The surrounding landscape consists of fertile plains with small villages. Further west, on the Austrian border, the country gets hillier.
On the way from Budapest to Lake Balaton you pass Székesfehérvár. Worth seeing are the baroque town hall (17th century), the Zichy palace and the Romkert (“Ruinengarten”, an open-air museum).
Pécs (Fünfkirchen), the largest city in the region – and European Capital of Culture 2010 – enchants visitors with its medieval buildings. The archaeological excavation sites of the UNESCO-protected early Christian burial chambers and the exhibits in the museums remind of the time when the area was part of the Roman Empire. As in so many Hungarian cities, there are examples of Ottoman architecture. The Pasha Hassan Yakovali Mosque deserves special mention.
In Mohács on the Danube in 1526 the decisive battle against the Turks took place, which led to Turkish rule over Hungary. A park commemorating the historical event is now located on the battlefield.
Balatonfüred is a well-known spa with 11 healing springs. From here the first steamship crossed Lake Balaton.
One of the most beautiful towns on Lake Balaton is the picturesque Tihany, which is situated on a peninsula.
Kecskemét is located 85 km from Budapest. In this industrial city, many old buildings have been preserved, including some churches (Szent Miklós Templom). There are numerous museums, including the Museum of Naive Art, the Toy Museum and the Museum of Folk Arts and Crafts, as well as an artists’ colony. At the gates of the city is the Kiskunság National Park with the Shepherd Museum, where you can get acquainted with the habits of people and animals in earlier times.
Szeged is the cultural and economic center of this region. The famous opera, drama and ballet festival takes place in July and August. The most beautiful Greek Orthodox Church in Hungary is here.
Keszthely is a pretty town that is home to Europe’s oldest agricultural academy, the Georgikon, founded in the 18th century. Also of interest are the Helikon Library in Festetics Castle and the Balaton Museum.
Budapest and surroundings
The capital, Budapest (Internet: www.budapestinfo.hu/de ) is undoubtedly one of the most charming European cities. The districts of Buda, Óbuda and Pest were independent cities until 1873. Pest on the left bank of the Danube is the business district. Old Buda with its medieval buildings is connected to Pest by the famous Chain Bridge . In Buda are the Matthias Church and the Fishermen ‘s Bastion, from which one can enjoy a magnificent view. There is also a wonderful view from high up on Gellért Hill (Gallért-Hegy). The Habsburg citadel is also located here. The impressive Buda Castle with the Royal Palace, which houses the National Gallery, is enthroned on the Vár-Hegy. In the Historical Museum, also housed in the castle, you can see remains of the old city as well as Gothic sculptures. In the Pest district are the Parliament, the Hungarian National Museum, the Belvárosi Temple, the oldest church in Budapest (12th century), the Museum of Fine Arts (important collection of European paintings) and the Ethnographic Museum. Margaret Island, a large leisure and amusement park with sports facilities, is connected to Buda and Pest by a bridge. There are about 126 hot springs in Budapest, and the thermal water is used to treat various diseases. A boat trip on the Danube is recommended, the steamers leave from the left bank of the Danube on the Pest side.
Upstream is Szentendre, an old Serbian market town where the painter Károly Ferenczy lived and worked. The museum was named after him and, in addition to a collection of paintings, houses archaeological and ethnological departments. In the Orthodox Serbian Church History Museum are many masterpieces of church art from the 14th-18th centuries. Century exhibited. An open-air museum (Skanzen) beckons at the gates of the artists’ town.
The former royal fortified town of Visegrád, 20 km upstream, is now a popular holiday resort. In the Middle Ages, Visegrád was an important city and royal residence. The old citadel (13th century) was uncovered and restored. The King Matthias Museum is located in the Salomon Tower and contains many interesting archaeological finds.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Magyar kings made the former Roman camp of Esztergom their residence. Here is the largest basilica of the country. The Keresztény Museum is particularly worth seeing (especially sacred works of art, including paintings by Cranach).
Siófok on the southern shore of the lake offers good sandy beaches and recreational facilities.