Written by marif on 21 Dec, 2004
The 20kms stretch of the Danube between Esztergom and Visegrad is the most scenic part of the river throughout its entire course. Called the right bank of the Danube Bend, this part of Hungary boasts small historical towns and villages, beautiful hills, hiking areas and…Read More
The 20kms stretch of the Danube between Esztergom and Visegrad is the most scenic part of the river throughout its entire course. Called the right bank of the Danube Bend, this part of Hungary boasts small historical towns and villages, beautiful hills, hiking areas and an abundance of parks.
Once in Esztergom, you can take the frequent bus to Szentendre which uses route 11, a beautiful scenic road passing close to the right bank of the river, never more than 5kms away. If you want to walk along beautiful surroundings away from city noises, stop at Pilismarot, the first village along the route. There's nothing worthy of note in the village but the area stretching from here towards the river is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. Marked with hiking trails which lead towards a sharp curve along the Danube, this area has lush vegetation, marshlands and plenty of water.
Another stop along route 11 and about 5kms from Pilismarot is Domos, a small historical village founded by the first kings of Hungary. The restored crypt under the church which was demolished during the Turkish occupation of Hungary is one of the most beautiful relics of Hungarian-Romanesque architecture. This pretty village has always been a popular holiday summer resort being built almost on the embankment of the Danube. Here the Danube passes around Szent Mihaly hegy, a huge hill that towers above the village. Near the river, an excellent campsite has cabins and all amenities but it opens only in summer. If you walk along Duna utca, you'll reach the entrance to the Pilis forest, actually a large park with hiking trails that lead towards the Predikaloszek summit, a 6 hundred metres climbing route for experienced hikers only. You can however take the less difficult trails towards the 7 hundred metres Dobogoko summit which can be reached in three hours through the Ram Gap. Whichever route you take, the views of the Danube, the mountains and the surrounding villages from either summit should be the highlight of your visit to Pilis park.
The next stop on the right bank of the Danube about 6kms from Domos is Visegrad, a historical town situated at the foot of the Visegrad mountains. The Hungarian kings built a fortress here in the 13th-century. King Bela IV built another castle by the river and later a citadel on the hilltop. The lower castle was changed to a palace when Charles Robert of Anjou became king of Hungary. This palace was later rebuilt during the reign of King Matthias Corvinus, this time adopting a Renaissance architectural style. It was a splendid palace with 350 rooms, elaborate fountains and hanging gardens. However, the palace at Visegrad was partly destroyed by the Turks during the Turkish invasion and partly by the Habsburgs during the Hungarian war for independence in the beginning of the 18th-century. What you see today are just sections of the palace which although in ruins still attract crowds of visitors. You can see various replicas of attractions which centuries ago adorned the original palace such as the Hercules fountain and the Lion fountain.
The beautiful panorama from the citadel on the hilltop is breathtaking, as is the mountainous district that rises above Visegrad. This area which formerly comprised the hunting grounds of King Matthias has marked tourist routes and is therefore ideal for picnics in summer. It is truly a paradise for all those who like open spaces, hiking and a pollution-free environment.
The highlight of Esztergom is without doubt the massive cathedral which dominates Castle Hill and catches the eyes of any visitor who approaches the borders of the city. The present structure dating back to the 19th-century is a neoclassical building of immense proportions, 118 metres…Read More
The highlight of Esztergom is without doubt the massive cathedral which dominates Castle Hill and catches the eyes of any visitor who approaches the borders of the city. The present structure dating back to the 19th-century is a neoclassical building of immense proportions, 118 metres long and 40 metres wide crowned with a colonnaded dome 72 metres high.
Stroll along the landscaped gardens in front of the cathedral and enjoy the view of the east side of the town from the Rondella Gallery. The small hill in front of you lined with niches and crowned with a little chapel is Szent Tamas hegy. Entrance to the cathedral is through the side door. Once inside, you will definitely be impressed on seeing the huge canvas painting behind the high altar, a copy of an original work by Titian representing the Assumption. While touring the cathedral, don't miss the 16th-century Bakocz Chapel, a white and red marble Renaissance gem of unparalleled beauty. During the Turkish invasion of Hungary, this chapel was dismantled, the pieces hidden and reassembled in the cathedral where you see them today in the first quarter of the 19th-century.
Don't leave the cathedral without visiting the Treasury, a splendid ecclesiastical collection of chalices, monstrances, Gothic chasubles, priceless drinking horns and other religious treasures adorned with gold, silver and jewels. Watch out for the Suky Chalice of King Matthias Corvinus and his Calvary Cross in gold and enamel, the Eszterhazy Monstrance and the chalice of Empress Maria-Theresa.
Visit the cathedral's crypt to see the tombs of the former Archbishops of Esztergom and Primates of Hungary. The remains of the controversial Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty who for 15 years took refuge in the U.S. embassy in Budapest were added to the crypt only in 1991, though he passed away in 1975 in Vienna.