Tatabánya is a city that is typically a good example of how, if we take the time and let us close to what may seem like a boring mining town at first, we discover the hidden treasures of the neighborhood. The saying goes, do not judge the book by its cover. Not only is it a beautiful countryside, but it does have opportunities and attractions not to be missed.
The city has an unusual history
The history of Tatabánya is not enough to be ancient or even prehistoric, but certainly not to be called ordinary. The area itself has been popular since the beginning of time as it has been inhabited since the Stone Age.
Before the conquering Hungarians arrived to occupy their ascent land, many different ethnic groups had already visited this region. The reason for its popularity is its rich natural resources and good abilities.
The Tatabánya Basin, with its mountain concatenations, freshwater streams, and springs, has been an ideal place to live for thousands of years.
However, its priority, that is, to be the seat of Komárom-Esztergom county, has been questioned for a long time. Although it has the largest population of the county with its 72000 citizens, which it reached after the unification of four settlements, it only holds this title since 1950.
Before that, Esztergom was the center, which was a little harder to reach, but eventually, thanks to coal mining, Tata was defeated, and Tatabánya started to develop, and thus began unstoppable. And since 1991, it has been a city with county right in one place.
Its diversity is not only due to its geographical features, but also to the fact that almost every segment of history has left its mark on it, from the time of its conquest, through the Turkish subjection to every ordeal of the twentieth century.
The most famous “Turul” and local attractions
When we think of this city, one of our earliest thoughts might be the ancient Hungarian symbol, the Turul monument, which has become one of the largest metal birds in Europe and now probably the symbol of Tatabánya.
If you want to get to the famous monument, then it is worth connecting it with a smaller tour. The city is part of the Transdanubian Mountains and lies at the fault-line of Vértes and Gerecse, with the statue on the edge of the latter. It is worth knowing about Gerecse that it has 100 meters of rock wall on the border of Tatabánya, its whole area is a real hiking paradise.
The hike is easy, even with children and baby stroller, thanks to its well-traveled walkways in the woods, but be sure to be careful with the rocks, and it does not hurt to wear no-slip shoes for the implementation.
The Turul monument, commemorating the battle of Bánhid, looks out over the top of the Rocky Mountain. It has a wingspan of 15 meters and stands on a base of 8 meters. After admiring the prestigious monument, let’s take a look at the panorama as well since there is a pretty spectacular view from here.
It is definitely worth a walk in the forest, as there are other attractions in the area, such as the Szelim Cave. Already on the way there, we get a taste of the geological diversity that makes up the mountains. There were not few prehistoric finds in the cave, which can now be viewed in local museums. The spacious and impressive interior of the cave itself is spectacular. Two of its horns radiate light to the inside, and its entrance is a huge hole that you can see from afar.
A not-so-cheerful legend is related to the Szelim Cave from the time of the Turkish invasion of Hungary. According to it, the inhabitants of the area fled from the armies of Szulejmán to this cave, which, when the army had got wind of it, lit it at the people hiding there. In spite of the not too pleasant saga, it is one of the must-see attractions in the area.
As its name implies Tata mine looks back to a very rich history of miners the memory of which is held, among other things, by the Industrial Skansen or the Open-Air Mining Museum.
One of the interesting things about the place is that this memorial house was built on the site of the original mine where coal was last mined. The exhibition is complemented by the mining company ‘s former building complex, which gives us an insight not only into the tools, machines and mining techniques, but also into the lives of the families who once lived there.
If you’ve always been curious about this exciting and dangerous underground job, you’re sure to get answers to almost all of your questions. We can see the original head-gear with the powerhouse minerals, fossils, or even the reconstructed operator’s office.
The museum also got a place of Viktor Lois’ Sound Bath, known for its extreme instruments and sounding machines. In the bath and dressing room, where it’s to say nicely shaky at the least, but in a very realistic room, we can play these weird industrial instruments ourselves, if we can.
The organizers also smooge the fine art lovers as there are several different and interesting metal sculptures in the area, including the initial early station of the Turul statue.
Still, perhaps the most exciting part of the exhibition is the six-dwelling miner’s house, which reconstructed the everyday life of all layers living there, from the poor to the better to do, from the 1900s to the 1960s.
In the 1980s, unfortunately, the mines in the area were exhausted and many people were left without a livelihood, but thanks to years of work, an industrial park has evolved, with many medium and large-sized companies moving into the car industry among others.
Roaming in Vértes
Our tour guide still does not end, because after Gerecse, the Vértes and its surroundings are worth mentioning. For those who love romantic gorges and castle ruins, it’s a good idea to visit the Maria Gorge, and the Körtvélyespuszta – where you can admire a lonely forest cemetery – the remains of the abandoned Vitányvár.
This hike can no longer be called a light family hike, as it is a 15 km long and sometimes steeper hills uphill, but overall it is not too difficult to complete.
The specially shaped rocks of the creek of Maria are interesting sights in themselves, so we can imagine how the water of the nearby stream could have fallen on the white limestone stairs.
As we approach the Körtvélyes Mere, the landscape becomes more gentle. In the valley, surrounded by huge trees, is the former cemetery of the area, which gives an even more mysterious sight – where the remains of former residents have settled here for the last few hundred years.
From here and there is only a shorter but nicer walk to the ruins of Vitányvár. The former fortification was owned by several Hungarian families during the Turkish conquest, which was then blown up by Hungarian troops to keep it out of the enemy’s control.
Later, it became the property of the famous Hungarian noble family, the Eszterházy, but as its significance ceased to exist, the pieces were slowly disassembled by the local population.
Check this out in the city
For those who do not just want to hike, but also map a little bit about the city itself and its surroundings, I have some good ideas. How can we get to know the history of a city better if not in the local Tatabánya museum, where Tatabánya and Komárom-Esztergom county unfold before us in the framework of an interesting exhibition.
The exhibition is mostly in the 19-20 century collections of industrial and social history materials, with a particular emphasis on mining and lifestyle history, which gave the essence of the city and its surroundings.
Another attraction of Tatabánya is the Tulip House, which is also called Cifra Palace. The Art Nouveau style building was named after its Hungarian tulip decoration, which surrounded the windows of various shapes.
If you have ever seen an episode of the Hungarian Folk Tales or looked at any ornament of Hungarian folk art, you know exactly what we mean when we say that it is a truly fairytale building.
However, in the memory of the elders, the Tulip House may still be the commission casino for officers, until 1945 it provided recreational facilities for mining officers, senior officials, and workers.
The nearly 100-year-old property, which has been turned into a property owned by many, is undergoing renovation, which was wanted badly as it had been unused for a long time. However, it will soon be a mining museum and interactive playhouse as well as a community space.
If you want to dig deeper into the mining past of Tatabánya, then it is worth highlighting the old town, which is one of the four founding members of the town: and can be found between Felsőgalla and Alsógalla.
This section preserves most of the buildings and monuments from former mining operations. Nowadays, we can see mainly panel and blockhouses here, but once there were so-called six-door buildings, which have naturally been demolished since then.
Do not be discouraged at first by the seemingly simple and gloomy blocks of houses in this area, as they contribute to the image and variegation of Tatabánya.
Also, there are many hidden little treasures in this area. The Jászai Mari Theater, the Liget Park, St Stephen’s Church and other facilities related to the mining past are located here.
The Liget Park mentioned by the locals only as a grove is a true green oasis, many times it is a seemingly gray townscape. The history of the park goes back to the 1920s, when this green area was created between the People’s House, today the Jászai Mari Theater and the Steam Bath, which quickly gained popularity among the locals.
Even the indigenous trees of this sloping Vértes forest part were successfully rescued and a truly well-maintained and a well-designed park was created, which was much larger then than it is today. However, as the years passed, the park was less well maintained and the weed began to grow slowly, so visitors began to get unused to relaxing here. Recently, however, the importance of the place has been recognized as it created a resting place, reminiscent of the old-fashioned patinated in the spirit of the present day.
Another popular resting area of Tatabánya is the Boating Lake, which is also under construction. It is located between the Galla stream and the railway and has a bridge to access the Jubileum Park, the center of which is the aforementioned lake. The lake and the surrounding area provide ample recreation for walkers, cyclists and flexible running circles for sports enthusiasts.
The groovy land, spacious park is populated with poplars, willows and sycamore trees amongst which we can safely lean down to admire the scenery. One of the attractions of the park is the Sun Clock whose main figures are the first king of the Hungarians, the child Stephen I and his father, Prince Géza, whose shadow of his head shows the passing of time. According to tests, it shows the time with a 16-second time difference, which we can be safely measured if we are there.
For those who want to relax: wellness in Tatabánya
If you are looking for complete relaxation, then the Diamond Bath, a three-story adventure bath of the city, is a must-see if you visit Tatabánya.
The above-mentioned entire city is surrounded by amazing natural surroundings, so it’s no wonder that this facility is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Central Europe. The spa offers relaxation and entertainment for the whole family in winter and summer, whether it is wellness or an adventure pool with a rolling corridor and a wave pool.
Tatabánya is a living example of a seemingly unanimous mining town that may have surprises and little treasures worth exploring, not to mention its surroundings. One thing is for sure, Tatabánya is worth a night and even more!