About Hungary

About Hungary

Located in Central Europe, Hungary with an area of 93000 km² is a fairly small country in comparison to France or Germany.  Although Hungary has no coastline, it does have have Lake Balaton which at 2000 square miles is the fifth largest lake in the whole of Europe, 40 times the size of Lake Windermere.  In Europe only Russia has lakes larger than Lake Balaton.  The Hungarians often refer to Lake Balaton as their Hungarian sea and they are very proud of this tourist attraction which attracts visitors from all over the world to its beaches and coastal towns.  At 1,041 metres (3,327 feet) above sea level Kékes, which means blue coloured, is Hungary’s highest mountain. It is about seven miles northeast of Gyöngyös, in the Mátra range of Heves county. After Lake Balaton and the Danube this area with its wildly beautiful lanscapes, skiing pistes and fine hotels  is Hungary’s third most popular tourist attraction. The Hungarian part of the Great Hungarian Plain,  also known as Alföld or Great Alföld,  occupies about half of Hungary in the South and the East. The Hungarian plain extends into bordering countries, the name  reflecting the much greater size of Hungary before the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 which reduced Hungary to only a quarter of it pre treaty size.  It is a flat fertile lowland  and is the location of two of Hungary’s several great national parks which preserve the traditional landscape and wildlife of the region which includes species of animals, birds and plants only to be found in Hungary

The Rivers of Hungary – The Danube with a length of 417 km and the Tisza with a length of 598 km are the two major rivers that flow through Hungary. There are several other fairly large rivers like the Dráva on the Southern border and the Rába in Western Transdubia.  These rivers and other smaller rivers  provide excellent river boat touring or for the more adventurous, canoeing opportunities. The smaller picturesque rivers of Hungary together with the wealth of natural lakes of all sizes, reservoirs and  quarry lakes give Hungary a total area exceeding 130,000 hectares of water suitable for fishing.

History of Hungary – Hungary also famous for its history. A fairly small country with a very rich and colourful history. From the old ages of the cavemen, who lived in the caves of Bukk and Matra , through to the Roman empire and Mongolian, Turkish empires. Throughout Hungary’s history, kings, politicians, musicians, authors, architects and artists have created a unique national identity that continues to be nurtured by the latest generation of Hungarians.

You can get a real flavour of Hungary past and present by tasting the culture in its galleries and museums. Furthermore, there are clues all around in the country’s architecture. A single street can take you on a journey through several centuries; Hungary contains examples from a host of architectural periods, including Roman ruins, medieval castles, Baroque palaces, Art-Nouveau mansions and cutting-edge contemporary buildings. There are the remains of ancient castles and centuries-old country houses all over the country, and over 50 of these have been converted into elegant hotels where you can enjoy historic charm and aristocratic luxury while making use of the facilities and comforts you’d expect from 21st-century accommodation.

Music enthusiasts should coincide a visit with one of several international cultural and music festivals. Lovers of opera and classical music are particularly well catered for – the capital’s beautiful State Opera House is world class, and there are many concert venues around the country hosting high-quality performances by famous Hungarian and international artists. Furthermore, Hungary offers entertainment for those interested in less-mainstream cultural forms, including fashion shows and art-house films.

Hungary is said to have more yearly festivals than any other European country, there is always something to do at any time of year.  It is also a very active country, 1000’s of people visit for cycling, sailing, flying, walking, climbing, horse riding, golfing & fishing as the facilities are absolutely incredible.

The innumerable beaches and baths are offered for not only families with children, but also for health-conscious visitors. Hungary has a number of spa springs yet to be exploited, but several aqua parks have been built on some of them including the bath in  Hajduszoboszlo  or  Zalakaros  which has been well-known for decades, as well as Heviz which is the largest hot water lake in Europe. Another unique spa is the cave thermal in Miskolctapolca.

With little exaggeration, you could say that all you need to do is push a stick into the ground anywhere in Hungary and up would come thermal water, most likely with some kind of curative properties. The geological features of the Carpathian Basin are such that the earth’s crust is very thin, so waters rise easily to the surface. Hungary is a land of more than 1,000 hot springs and enough spa facilities to accommodate 300,000 people at the same time! These spas are located in big cities and smaller towns throughout the country. Some are simple thermal baths serving the local community.

The Romans, no strangers to the good life, were the first to take advantage of this naturally occurring phenomenon, but Budapest also offers some of the finest examples of the “Turkish Bath” found anywhere. Today, a couple of contemplative hours in the local baths are part of the daily routine for many Hungarians – particularly those with arthritis, breathing difficulties and muscle pains. Despite their popularity with tourists, taking a dip in the baths remains a uniquely Hungarian experience.

In the Great Plain you can still find people living in farms far from the towns, dealing with agriculture and breeding Hungarian grey cattle. In Bugac-puszta horse shows are held regularly, while in Hortobagy you can try the typical speciality of the region, the goulash soup, for instance in the inn next to the Nine-arch Bridge. Hortobagy is part of the World Heritage due to its natural values and traditions, as well as the Old village of Holloko, where not only the houses reflecting the characteristics of folk architecture have preserved traditions, but also the inhabitants, as well. One of the folk traditions is the sprinkling on Easter Monday, an attraction not-to-be-missed, when the boys wearing national costumes chase the girls and water them with a bucket of water.

Although the language of Hungary is a hard one to grasp, most of the younger generation speak English so its not hard to get involved and enjoy time spent here, the people of Hungary are extremely friendly and are happy to help in anyway possible to ensure you are safe and are having the best time possible in their stunning country.

Hungary’s transport system is very good along with the roads, the EU money has been well spent in ensuring that the drive is a pleasurable one wherever you may be visiting.

Hungary is firmly, and proudly, a wine-drinking country. Its wine suffered terribly during Communism and has come a long way since the early-199os when winemakers began to once again focus on quality. But a new generation of winemakers has brought back the passion for drinking wine, learning about it, and making it. There are more than 140 varieties of wine grapes grown in Hungary’s 22 wine-growing regions—which produce the full spectrum of reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines. Their unique microclimates, soil types, and winemaking traditions combine to produce wines with immensely different tastes and styles. See how local wine can still be by sampling wine made from one of the more than 100 indigenous grapes. Though Hungary’s wines are increasingly being recognized around the world, you won’t find many of the most interesting wines outside of Hungary’s borders (and some aren’t even sold at Budapest shops). You’ll have to come taste them from the source!

Characteristics of Hungarian cuisine for a thousand years or so, Hungary’s food, like its culture, has had an intriguing double identity, cleverly blending eastern mystique with the traditions of the west. Recipes were adapted to suit their own tastes, which also gave the dishes a national flavor. Authentic Hungarian dishes are definitely not for people on a diet. You may find some dishes a bit too heavy and fatty; however their rich flavour, aroma and texture compensate you for the slightly excessive calorie intake. But don’t think that everything is soaking in pork fat and paprika. These ingredients are essential for authentic Hungarian dishes, but properly portioning them and using modern cooking methods can make healthy as well as delicious dishes. The ingredients used to cook with are simple. The fertile Hungarian plain and the favourable climate provide excellent conditions for growing tasty vegetables, fruits, and to raise domestic animals whose meat is savoury. At the turn of the last century excellent Hungarian chefs laid the foundations of today’s Hungarian cuisine. They artfully adjusted the gastronomy to the French gastronomy without losing the uniqueness of traditional Hungarian cooking. By the beginning of the 20th century Hungary’s cuisine was internationally renowned. Unfortunately the communist rule put an end to this gastronomic bloom. There were often shortages of certain produce and ingredients. In recent years restaurant chefs are trying to alter Hungarian cuisine to be healthier, low in calories, but still rich in vitamins while preserving authentic Hungarian flavors. TIP: It is worth avoiding the supermarkets and going to a local grocer – or a market hall – for something home-grown to snack on.


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