Eger (D4): Hungary's third most popular and Northern Hungary's most visited
town has found it is capable of the impossible – to hum with activity and
to offer the atmosphere of a quiet country town at the same time. It's good
to wander along the promenade beside the Eger stream and look around,
stopping here and there to peer into the tiny craft shops that are scattered
throughout the narrow little streets. But it's also rewarding to hurry from
one interesting sight to another in the well fortified Eger Castle; from the
archers to the costumed dancers, for example, or from the wine tents down
to the underground casemates. There one can listen to the guide, as he
describes how the enemy once broke through the thick stone wall. This
town has both light and dark, a humorous side and a serious side. For it was
here that a most remarkable and historic victory was won over the advancing
armies of the Ottoman Empire. The siege of Eger lasted for over a month
in 1552. Less than a thousand soldiers along with the valiant girls and
women of the town and castle repelled Turkish forces numbering a staggering
eighty thousand. Descendants of the famous "Eger women" still meet
today, but their communal activities in defence of the town are purely
Eger has been an ecclesiastical centre for centuries. It has been an archbishopric
since 1804, its basilica is Hungary's third largest church. Among the
many baroque buildings the Minorite church is regarded as the most beautiful.
The Greek Catholic church, on the other hand, possesses a beautifully
carved iconostasis, and brings to mind the number of Serb and Greek families
that settled here in the seventeenth century. The Turkish Baths were built
at the beginning of the 1600s, roughly at the same time as that more obvious
monument to the nearly one hundred years of Turkish rule, the slender
131 foot minaret. The town's principal centre of education is the Copf style
Lyceum, in which visitors can also see an observatory and astronomical
museum as well as the codex collection of the Archdiocesan Library. The latter
contains the first Hungarian printed book, dating from 1473.
And the wine… The ten thousand acres (4000 hectares) of this historical wine area were producing
grapes as early as the eleventh century. Its best known wine is the "Egri bikavér", better
known in the English-speaking world as Bull's Blood. But a great many more wonderful varieties
can be tasted in the nearby "Szépasszony-völgy" or Valley of the Beautiful Lady, in the many old
wine cellars dug out of the rhyolite tuff hillside.
Feldebrő (D4): although less famous than its near neighbour, the name of this village is also known
outside Hungary – for its aromatic wine made from the Debrő linden-leaf grape. It is also the site of
an especially interesting architectural monument – an eleventh century arched crypt with thick
columns and frescoes. It can be visited from the still functioning eighteenth century church above.
Egerszalók (D4): in all Europe only Turkey has a similar sight to this: a hot thermal spring with water
gushing out of bore wells at 154 °F (68 °C) and leaving lime deposits on the hillside that give it the
appearance of somewhere beyond the Arctic Circle. But on this hill of virtual snow, it is definitely heat
that rules: it is not advisable to step into the bubbling streams close to the source, they are boiling hot.
By the time the salty, sulphurous water, rich in calcium, hydrogen carbonate and other minerals, has
reached the man-made pool at the bottom of the hill, it has cooled down sufficiently to be enjoyable for
Noszvaj (E4): the attractive hillside village of Noszvaj is known partly for the quality of its local wine
and partly for its own peculiar architectural style. Examples of the latter include the early nineteenth
century cave and cellar houses, as well as the "Gazdaház" (a type of farmer's house). The jewel in the
village's crown is the mansion house built in Louis XVI style; it now contains three apartments in which
hotel guests can stay.
Mezőkövesd (E4): the main town of the Matyóföld area attracts visitors on account of its famous and
distinctive folk costume. "Matyó" is the name given to the people who have historically lived in this
area, largely keeping to their Catholic faith where otherwise Calvinist Protestantism predominates.
At the time of Turkish rule both the town and its people suffered greatly and things didn't improve
much afterwards either; yet the Matyó folk costume was still the most richly ornamented of all.
The girls embroider so many leaves and flowers on to the aprons and clothes, that no other ethnographical
group can compare. The town's most visited cultural attractions are the Matyó
Museum, the open-air Agricultural Machine Museum (known throughout Europe) and, for
unwinding and relaxing, the Zsóry Thermal Baths, Hungary's largest.
|Eger, wine cellar
|Egerszalók, lime deposits from thermal spring water
|Mezőkövesd, folk costume