The small village in Nógrád County is the only settlement in Hungary that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It didn’t gain this honor in any way but through authentically presenting the untimely 20th-century village life.
If you would like to take part in a time travel and see the life of a Hungarian village, go to Hollókő.
How Hollókő Came About
The peculiarity of Hollókő is that it hasn’t become a museum village, but it is still a living settlement and this is what gives its real charm. Most of the buildings are still being used by the inhabitants as intended for the traditions. The history of the village, however, goes back much further.
In the 13th century, after the Tartar invasion, the castle of Szász Hill was built, on the side of which the settlement is first mentioned as an ecclesiastical village, but for the most part, we can only see the castle in the documents and records of that time. There is a small myth about how the village was eventually named Hollókő “Raven stone”.
According to the story, landlord András Kacsics kidnapped and locked the neighboring landlord’s wife in his castle. But he didn’t expect that her nanny is a witch and turned her sons into a raven. And from stone to stone, they liberated the woman from the castle, and because they probably didn’t like wasting time, they built a new castle out of the stones.
Like many other settlements in the Turkish times, Hollókő is extinct and is mentioned again only from 1715, and in 1720, it got the name ’noble village’.
The village was repeatedly devastated by fire, as the houses were built of wood, and after 1909, they were made of adobe walls with stone floors. By 1911, the Palóc Old village achieved its present image.
Sights in Hollókő
Of course, the Old Village and its surroundings are unmissable. Hollókő represents the typical old single-street village type with houses on narrow strip plots.
The Palóc tradition is still preserved in the village, which goes beyond the fact that the houses were built in this style. It also appears in folk costumes, local traditions, and gastronomy.
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Just as it used to be in the villages, here in the center, in the middle of the village, there is a church, which is a small wooden shingle with a wooden tower. It fits beautifully into the picture of the village.
In the center of the settlement, which has nearly 400 inhabitants, there are 67 protected houses. These are authentic hipped gable cottages with beautiful wood carvings decorating the front porch.
Today, most of the residents of the new village are still keeping the traditions alive, such as the Easter festival.
At this time, everyone dressses up in their most beautiful folk costume and the traditional Hungarian watering begins, besides, of course, other folklore programs are waiting for visitors.
It is especially worth visiting here, as besides children’s programs, concerts and crafts, we can also get acquainted with gastronomic and folk customs.
The Hollókő Castle, or rather like the ruins of the castle, is a must-see if we are around in this tiny village. The area belonged to the Kacsics clan, and after the Tartar invasion, the construction of the fortress began.
The descendants of the clan became the followers of Máté Csák, which proved to be quite a bad choice, as a result of which the then King Charles Robert confiscated their estates.
The fortune of the castle and the surrounding area didn’t return because later on it was taken over by the Turkish, and had to wait for its liberation until 1683.
The almost fully restored castle, which can be seen since 1996, in fact, as a result of the renovation of the past few years, the old tower can now be visited too. Visitors can get an insight into the history of the medieval castle thanks to the 3D animated film.
We can also visit parts of the castle, such as the blacksmith workshop, the gun room, the knight’s room or even the kitchen.
A real medieval building, with all that it entails and for a fuller experience, we can try the weapons ourselves, and the Knights of St. Ladislaus wearing their clothes are waiting for tourists. This is how time travel will be complete.
There are also museums in the village which we can visit, such as the postal museum and the village museum. The village museum is housed in a typical farmhouse which is under the protection of monuments.
Here, we can get an insight into the day-to-day lives of a family living together with grandparents, living in a room-kitchen-pantry divided house, in the early years of the 20th century.
All of the furnishings, from eiderdown to wall-mounted decorations and tools are authentic. An oak press in the middle of the yard introduces us to the past of the grape cultivation.
In the postal museum, the postal memorials of Palócföld are awaiting visitors: for example, we can catch a glimpse of Palóc’s correspondence, and we can also see beautifully decorated coins and stamp designs.
House of Legends
For those who love intricate stories and are curious about the legendary story of Hollókő, I can highly recommend the House of Legends.
Here, we can wrap up four legends up to the Turkish times. Contemporary songs and music also contributing to the mood.
This way, as we walk through the panoptic room’s small details and we read the stories, we can actually fit into that historical era.
The doll museum in Hollókő can be a good program for the family as well, as we can get a full picture of the folk costumes and customs of the different ages.
Hollókő Country House
The Man and Landscape Exhibition of the Hollókő Country House are intended to showcase the natural values of the place and the culture of the Palóc people. There is plenty to see in the tiny village.
Hiking in Hollókő
Those who wish to actively relax in the area have come to the best place: within a short castle tour, they can explore the castle and its surroundings, but the National Blue Tour route can also be found here.
The first part of the castle trail goes to the Hollókő Castle, and from there it goes down to the Old Village. While walking, we can admire the man-made landscape surrounding the castle hill. In this way, an outlined, mosaic-like hillside is brought in front of our eyes.
The route of the National Blue Tour runs from Alsótold to Hollókő, so we can explore the hilly area of Cserhát. During a comfortable walk to the Mount Cserhát, we reach Tepke, where we can admire the view from a lookout tower.
Continuing the hike we reach the bottom of the Szár Hill, where Hollókő is spread: we can also choose to head straight to the village or continue the hike along the nature trail.
And if you’re a fan of two-wheelers, you can take a bike tour in the area. There is a good quality bike path between Hollókő and Rimóc.
Coming from Rimóc, riding down the 8 km hike, we arrive at the Old Town, where we have lots of opportunities to relax.
Anyone who loves the true village romance or has never tried it yet but has always wondered what it might be like, I can only recommend this town.
Nowadays, with the disappearance of wonderful places on Earth every day, the role of Hollókő, which has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, is becoming more and more important.
It is worth exploring the area because of its magnificent surroundings too. However, the Old Village and its protected, beautifully decorated buildings are definitely a must-see.
Of course, all this couldn’t have survived it without the great community that keeps the village and Palóc folk traditions alive.