english deutsch
  Eger-Tokaj Hilly Wine Region | Directions | Map
  A Past Full of Life
  Events in Geological History
  On the Roof of the Country
  Everlasting Heritage
  From Nature to City
  Musical Stalactites
  Castles and Mansions
  The Wine of Kings

Aggtelek (E2): take care when it comes to the stalactite caves, for once you have peeped into this fantastic underground world you will want to return again and again, to see yet more and experience more adventures. Well, the Aggtelek National Park offers every opportunity to fulfil that desire, for both novices and experts in the world of cave tourism. The Gömör-Tornai 220 million- year-old limestone karst, which straddles the Hungarian-Slovak border, conceals Europe's largest stalactite cave system. Since 1995 it has enjoyed the official UNESCO status of World Heritage Site.
There are about seven hundred caves in all, some larger some smaller; 273 of them are to be found in the Hungarian side, and of these twenty are specially protected. A stalactite is a delicate thing: it grows very slowly (only 1/25th of an inch, or 1 millimetre, in 15–20 years) and one touch by a human hand can halt the development and even destroy it altogether. The largest cave, the Baradla (15 miles/24 km long, 31_2 miles/5.6 km of which is in Slovakia) is also the one that draws the most tourists. From the bone and tool finds, it is believed that it was used by man seven thousand years ago.
One notable feature of the cave system is the underground Concert Hall, where audiences are entertained by the music and the light display. With a little imagination, helped by the surrounding world of mysterious shapes, you can feel that the stones themselves are singing and playing music. There are regular concerts in this beautiful place, with distinguished performers from home and abroad.
Some parts of the Baradla are only open to tourists in guided groups, starting from Aggtelek and Jósvafő (E2); walking tours are about a half a mile (1km) in length. By prior arrangement, the fitter and more adventurous can choose a much more challenging route. This is 41_2 miles (7 km) long, takes from 5 to 7 hours, and necessitates scaling, climbing ladders, and crossing water-filled gullies.

Gömörszőlős (E2): this hamlet of barely a hundred souls lies in idyllic surroundings close to Aggtelek (E2). Its peaceful atmosphere and nicely restored peasant houses ensure it is a popular summer resort as well as a venue for ecological camps. Visitors can learn at first hand some of the old country skills such as felt-making and honey-cake baking, or investigate the local history collection, the wool processing workshop and the 400-year-old orchards. The village won the British Airways "Tourism for Tomorrow" prize in 1999 for its innovative approach to village tourism.

Rakaca (F2): the main road east from Jósvafő (E2) takes you past one of the largest highland reservoirs, the Rakaca. Although only 6 to 10 feet (2–3 m) deep, the water is crystal clear and continually fed from mountain streams. It's a favourite fishing ground for the quality and variety of its fish, as well as for its pleasant surroundings.

Edelény (E3): Edelény has remains of earthworks dating back to the Hungarian conquest, and is also known for its collection of folk relics and its mansion. The latter is one of the country's largest – it has 106 rooms – and was built for a regimental commander called Ferenc János L'Huillier of Alsace-Lorraine in the first half of the eighteenth century. It has been through many a storm and change of ownership, and is now undergoing a programme of restoration.

Szanticska (F2): Hungary's smallest village, nestling in the Cserehát Hills, is so tiny most maps don't even show it. Its old peasant houses are now mostly holiday homes or small hostels; only two families live there permanently. The village has one street consisting of twenty-one houses, a small church, a belfry, and a small bar.

Edelény, 18th century mansion
  Top of Page | Homepage