All day long bathing in the Balaton, a romantic walk in the Szigliget Castle, the mysterious world of the Tanúhegy unfolding before us at dusk.
Taking a rest on a forest walk at the top of the Kamon-kő and admiring the rays of the sun reflecting on the Balaton. The intimate moments spent hiding within the walls of Óvár (Old Castle). The first fishing experience. All of these are lasting experiences from my life, which I gained only here, at the town named the “pearl of Balaton”.
Szigliget (pronounced: seeg-leeg-at) didn’t get this description by chance. It’s easier to experience it than putting it in words. The surface of the Balaton, surrounded by reeds, always provides a new experience, refreshment to those who visit.
It’s not only rich in nature, but also in attractions. I recommend it to those who want to get away from their busy everyday lives for a little and crave some peace and quiet, and connection to nature.
The Creator made our village when he was in a good mood. The Vilma mountain, the Skirt of the Queen (Királyné Szoknyája), the Külső mountain, the Kamonkő, the Antal mountain and the Várhegy makes the terrain varied.
The surface of the Balaton, surrounded by reeds, always provides a new experience, refreshment to those who visit. Szigliget isn’t only rich in nature, but also in monuments.
The Castle (Vár), the Old Castle (Óvár), the Avasi-tower (Avasi-torony), the Esterházy Castle (Esterházy-kastély), the old houses of the Old Village (Ófalu).
All of them are a part of history, which await for the visitors that are hungry for our history to “devour” them.
Szigliget used to be an island
Szigliget can be found in county Veszprém at the northern part of the Balaton.
According to archeological findings, Szigliget was already inhabited in the Stone and Bronze Age, but today it’s a quiet painting-like town, with a population of approximately 1000 people.
The town was an island for a long time, it could only be approached by a boat or a ship.
During the 19th century, the water of Central Transdanube was regulated, and the Balaton was drained. As a result, the water at the North-west part of Szigliget disappeared, and turned from an island to a peninsula. The name of the town came from Sziget-liget (Island-grove), shortened to Szigliget, and just like the name portrays, it’s a small island, the island of peace…
Many artists were captivated by the town. The many poems, novels, paintings, statues (that were made here) all tried-try to give back the experience, that the visitor gets while strolling on the zigzagged streets.
If we are already here, there is plenty to see
At the center of the town is the Esterházy Castle, which today is the work-home of writer’s, a beautiful garden arboretum. A new colour splash of the Szigliget is the sailboat marina which is in harmony with the marina.
The Country’s Blue Tour ( Országos Kéktúra) runs through the village. The visitors can get to know the town’s traditions and natural conditions by walking the Kamon-kő study trail.
The main feature of the Szigliget is the Szigliget Castle, built in 1262, which towers over the village, and which due to its good strategic location, the Turkish never managed to take. From one side the Balaton and its swamp, from the other a steep rock wall protected it.
Although not the castle, but the nearby settlements were burnt by the Turkish. And the soldiers left with no money, plundered the villages when it came to it. The castle came to the same destiny as other Hungarian fortresses: it was blown up in 1702 by imperial decree.
The Ófalu (Old Village) lays at the southern side of the Vár mountain, which is the oldest part of the town, filled with relic houses. It’s irregularly shaped plots, small streets still bear the traces of centuries of construction. This is where the Castle gallery, the Craft Garden and the Esterházy cellar is.
East of Szigliget is the truncated tower of the Avas church from the Árpád dynasty, which is a must to visit. The Avas church is Szigliget’s oldest standing building.
The church was built by the use of a building from the Roman times. Its square plan has a tower from rectangular and octagonal basalt stones, and the top is covered by a 13th century stone helmet. The church was restored and only the base walls remained.
The mountain chapel, also known as Holy Trinity Chapel (Szentháromság kápolna) is considered the most extraordinary lookout point of the northern shore of Balaton. The neoclassical building was built in 1845. The chapel named after the Holy Trinity is a rectangular chapel with a central tower and a bell.
In front of the chapel is one of the town’s most famous limestone crosses, which is wreathed in memory of the soldiers who fell during the Second World War.
Getting to Szigliget
Szigliget is 170kms from Budapest, at the shore of Balaton. The village is easily accessible by car on the 71 main road, and by scheduled boat between May and September from Badacsony and Keszthely.