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One cannot tire of Eger. The town’s vast history and unique romantic flair makes for a magical setting.
Spring and summer serve as the perfect seasons for a romantic walk along the town’s atmospheric streets; the magic is elevated by the historic architecture which the Sun’s rays beautifully shine upon- a truly stunning view along your walk.
In autumn, the trip is perfect for nature lovers. With additional offerings of tasty wines, cosy evenings and breathtaking buildings, expect the promise of relaxation all year-round; welcome to Eger!
Eger castle’s legendary heroes
All nations have their dear historical heros. Commonly known for their bravery, such figures treaded forward with confidence in times of defiance in history.
With a committed stance, confident posture and a heated temperament, they drove into the belly of the beast, unfazed by the deathly consequence of their passionate act.
Times of peace do not often bring about such heroes whom the collective of a nation will cherish for generations to come, although respect is rightfully due to the silent, everyday heroes. Even so, Hungary’s history offered many chances to those who were born to be warriors to live on forever in our dear memories.
2100 guards against a whole army
The Turkish invasion is one of such events within Hungary’s history. The guards who were protecting the castle of Eger play a massively significant role in the story of its past.
The minuscule group, made up of barely 2100, faced a large threat; they were overpowered by far.
Some sources cite 200000, others 80000, while some claim 35-40000 Turks rioted against the Hungarians. Such is the way of legendary stories, numbers are not their friend. Despite the fact, the undeniable advantage and unfairness of the attack cannot be argued; heart and passion were never going to be enough to win.
Eger and the legend of bull’s blood
In order to lighten the mood, the generals pulled an ancient trick out of the bag; alcohol. István Dobó, the castle’s keeper brought red wine from the cellars for the soldiers to ease their worries, to restore their faith.
Upon witnessing the wine, trickling like blood from the guards’ beards, the Turk attackers’ bravery vanished, they fled the premises.
News started to spread that the guards of Eger were capable of such bravery because they had been chugging bull’s blood by the litre; their red beards a tell-tale sign. And so the legend of Eger’s bull’s blood was conceived- the rest is history.
Except the fact is that red wine was not harvested in Hungary until the Turkish occupied the land, meaning that at the time of the 1552 siege the guards did not have the means to gain any sort of power from the drink.
Additionally, the nickname of bull’s blood did not turn up in literature until the 19th century. But let’s not think ourselves fools, instead, let us think of the story as a tale, moulded through time by many generations’ imprints upon history.
Times of devastation
The town of Eger resides on a fairly sized piece of land and lacks no colour.
Located in the north of Hungary, it is the second largest town of the northern area, standing mighty on its ground since the Stone Age.
At the start of the 10th century, the first wave of conquerors had already made the town their home and King Saint Stephen had ordered for the first cathedral to be built as early as the year of 1004.
As a result of the ravage against the Tatars in the 13th century, Béla the IV. signed off on the construction of a stone castle to stand as a reminder of the frightful time.
The town had been attacked in the 15th century by the Hussites, in the 16th century by one of the Dózsa Rebellion (peasant revolt)’s generals, followed by the Turks, then in the 17th century by coalition groups aiming to corner the Turkish, in the 19th century by firestorms, floods and World War II in the 20th century, leaving the town in ruins.
Despite such an unfortunate roster of events in its history, Eger has always recovered from every hit.
The very first Hungarian newsletter was founded here along with the first doctoral academy, not to mention the country’s first Hungarian-speaking training college as well as a periodical magazine.
Rather than allowing past tragedies to let the town deteriorate, constant renovation works caused by the damage helped guide Eger towards its growth. The cultural, creative and educational background and spirit of Eger fills the town; to this day, such is the noble concoction which draws so many visitors to its land.
Eger’s main attractions
Most tourists visit the town’s most commonly known attraction: the castle of Eger. This comes as no surprise as it is the country’s most historically iconic site. It would be a shame not to visit should you find yourself close to town.
The castle of Eger
The development of the castle’s structure started after the Tatar invasion.
It was then further extended and strengthened through the centuries until its biggest posed threat arrived in the form of the vengeance of the Turks in 1552, which had been fought off by a handful of guards under István Dobó’s command.
The drawn-out destruction of the building which began in the 18th century stretched to almost 150 years, and yet the castle stands today in its restored state of glamour. What once was the ‘püspöki’ palace has now been converted into an exhibition showcasing the historical timeline of the castle, with a respectable amount of detail on its most significant episode.
The ‘hall of heroes’ (Hősök terme), dedicated to the guards and István Dobó (whose sarcophagus can be found in the hall), is only accessible to the public when accompanied by a tour guide. In this room, visitors get the opportunity to pay their respects to the memory of the heroes of the past.
Meanwhile, underneath the castle, visitors will find a three tiered dungeon development which allowed for the safe transport of the guards when travelling between the bastions.
A step into the gallery will reveal some less widely known artistic works by Italian and Dutch artists. Additionally, there is also some historical wax works to check out and a popular prison-themed exhibition, often favoured by those with a sadistic twist in humour.
Géza Gárdonyi, author of nationally acclaimed novel ‘Egri Csillagok’ (literally ‘Stars of Eger’), rests here. The book is his personal adaptation of the guards’ story, though he did not fear his right to the use of imaginative literary freedom. As a result of his adaptation, archeological works began to explore the castle in the 20th century.
The castle is not the only reminder of the influence of the Turks. The country’s best preserved monument stands on ground which previously belonged to the Turkish speaking people of the northern Ottoman Empire.
A balcony, found at the 26 metre height of the 40 metre tall tower, provides a mesmerising panoramic view of the town.
The minaret almost fled alongside its people; it is rumoured that the combined power of 400 bulls could not destroy the stubborn monument which did not budge from its place. The people of Eger threw in the towel, which means the visitors of today can enjoy a beautiful view.
Basilica of Eger
Faith has always played an important role in the lives of the locals; serving as proof, Eger houses the country’s third biggest church.
The mighty building was built in 1836 according to the construction plans of József Hild, however the interior works took a lot longer to complete.
The very last touches on the dome and the murals were completed in 1950. The 54 metre tall church is the nation’s most important piece of classic Hungarian architecture; its beautiful sculptures, paintings and its devote nature makes it a special sight for sore eyes.
All for nature – Eger’s natural sights
The town residing in the foothills of the Eger-stream is also a popular attraction to the tourists of the area; such is understandable as the neighbouring Bükk mountains create a magnetic atmosphere for those with a thirst to explore.
Vine-culture is another Mecca of Hungary, however much this view tends to be distorted.
The town of ‘Szépasszonyvölgy’ kills two birds with one stone; although we may not remember much of its refreshing, natural environment, it houses ‘Heves’ county’s biggest collection of intertwining winecellars.
With over 200 cellars and connecting restaurants, visitors have the opportunity to spend their time tasting a plentiful collection of delicious wines. Such is a more suitable past time for those who’d prefer a cosy setting over hanging by the greenery- though the lush and encompassing plant life makes for the perfect hiding space from the curious looks at the tiring of interaction.
Superb trip destinations
‘Noszvaj’, located a mere 10 kilometre distance from Eger, is another gem of the country.
With a population of 2000, the town is an enjoyable destination as a result of its closeness to the ‘Bükk’ and the valley of the ‘Kánya-stream’.
To its north side, in the ‘Szent Imre’ spring’s immediate proximity, you will find two man-made lakes, the first of which offers the option to take a boat ride or rent water-bikes, while the latter is a favourite of the fishermen.
Once here, you may continue your journey from ‘Síkfőkút’ and embark upon a magical tourist hike all the way to ‘Várkút’ (literally castle-well), residing in ‘Várhegy’ (literally castle-mountain).
Visitors can take a rest here to recharge before taking a walk across ‘Imány-tető’, which offers a view of the whole village.
Mineral water from over 600 metres deep
Fear not if your body is exhausted from the physical labour of your trip. ‘Egerszalók’, the area’s main mineral water centre, is located just a little distance away from Eger.
Here, you will also find ‘Sódomb’ (literally salt-hill), the township’s emblem. The mineral salts which settle from the Vendel-well’s water create a sightly, blinding white pattern across the surface, which makes for an interesting attraction.
Furthermore, ’Demjén’, found not far from ‘Egerszalók’, is also popular for its mineral waters and its bathing-resort titled Demjén Thermal Spa and Adventure Park.
Tourists will find a number of pools in which they are free to take advantage of the water’s healing properties. Relaxing in a warm pool whilst enjoying an astonishing view of the landscape is not something you want to miss out on.
Activities in Eger
After a chill session at the spa, visitors can enjoy countless vibrant activities offered in Eger.
Spring Festival of Eger
An accurate depiction of the town’s cultural vibrancy is reflected by the Spring Festival of Eger.
The festival runs for a month and a half, and its programmes are filled with showcases, exhibitions, concerts, films, music, dance, theatrics and more! As the festival runs, the town itself becomes embalmed by the booming creativity and transforms into its own work of art on the line up.
‘Bull’s Blood Holiday’ of Eger.
Since the town has a reputation for its own wine and vineyards, it doesn’t hurt anyone to celebrate; this is the motto of the ‘Bull’s Blood Holiday’ of Eger (Egri Bikavér Ünnepe).
Visitors will taste the best wine of its kind throughout the festivities, which are humbly paired with tasty food catered to match perfectly with the wine.
The joyful atmosphere translates and blends faultlessly into the countless concerts, wineknight (yes, they do exist) ceremonies, food competitions and a vintage car showcase.
Bükk Creative Days Baroque Festival
To further your excitement, visitors also may experience a fantastic day of time-travel upon visiting the ’Bükki Művészeti Napok Barokk Fesztivál’ (literally Bükk Creative Days Baroque Festival).
At its core it celebrates, without surprise, Hungary’s baroque music and further creative arts through preservation and showcasing. The event includes bands, theatrical associations and performance artists who all lend a helping hand through exercising their talents.
Visitors, who are free to enjoy festivities without a ticket, are welcomed by sights of Eger’s baroque town centre and its staggering architecture.
As you may have concluded from the above, Eger does not fail at sweeping tourists off their feet; with so much to offer, it competes with bountiful ease. The guaranteed advantage of its wild life and greenery enhances its historical significance and its protected, much valued cultural traditions which are sacred to the hospitable locals.
Viticulture of course is also a stand-out selling point. Soothing, fruitful drinks make for a well-rounded, versatile trip- not to mention the wine’s positive side effects on mood, which will help all to freely tour the area without any guilt.