Travelers who are searching for a different rhythm of experience should try what Hungary has to offer. Fondly named as Europe’s most exotic destination, you will not get tired of learning and understanding the way of life in the country. Aside from thermal springs, architecture is a big deal in Hungary. You will see a plethora of structures, including baroque churches, Art Nouveau bathhouses and neoclassical buildings. In fact, some of the world’s best old architectural wonders can be spotted within its borders. In the gastronomic side of things, Hungarian food is one of the essentially delectable cuisines to be created.
Important and Interesting Facts about Hungary
- Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west.
- Hungary’s geography has traditionally been defined by its two main waterways, the Danube and Tisza rivers. The common tripartite division of the country into three sections—Dunántúl (“beyond the Danube”, Transdanubia), Tiszántúl (“beyond the Tisza”), and Duna-Tisza köze (“between the Danube and Tisza”)—is a reflection of this. The Danube flows north-south right through the center of contemporary Hungary, and the entire country lies within its drainage basin.
- Transdanubia, which stretches eastward from the center of the country toward Austria, is a primarily hilly region with a terrain varied by low mountains. These include the very eastern stretch of the Alps, Alpokalja, in the west of the country, the Transdanubian Mountains in the central region of Transdanubia, and the Mecsek Mountains and Villány Mountains in the south.
- This central European country is the size of Indiana.
- A UNESCO World Heritage site,Buda castle is located in Budapest. Finished in 1265, it now houses the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. It is an enormous architecture, built and rebuilt in the centuries in order to become a grand palace with 203 rooms, hosting the Historical Museum and the National Art Gallery. Situated 48 meters above the Danube, the Castle is actually gigantic and the Baroque style.
- Situated in the Buda Castle District, the Matthias Church was built in the 9th century. Renovations have made it the second biggest church in the Buda. Its main feature is the Ecclesiastical Art Museum. This is one of the most visited tourist spots in Hungary as the gallery hosts a number of religious relics.
- Lake Balaton, It is a fresh water lake, known also as the Hungarian Sea. Lake Balaton is the biggest lake in Central Europe. Now, it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Hungary. There are mountains on one side of the lake and there is a region, developed in vineyard growing, and the other shore is more touristic, so there all tourists are able to enjoy the beauty of nature, have fun and do whatever they like, because there are many activities available.
- Balaton-felvidék-The plateau on the northern shores of Lake Balaton has more attractions than you can shake a stick at: picture perfect volcanos, fabulous vineyards where you can taste the locas tipple, cultural festivals and meandering bike paths, and of course fabulous vistas of the lake itself.
- Aggtelek-The largest cave system in Central Europe looks like the bizarre combination of an enchanted forest and the fairy queen’s palace. No wonder the whole of it is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
- Őrség-Way off the beaten track, this small Hungarian region bordering Slovenia is where in the now city dwellers go for a couple of days of total relaxation. Even cellular coverage is sketchy here, and in some of the villages not much has happened in the past couple of centuries.
- Budapest spas-Indoor or outdoor, modern or medieval, steam bath or sauna, the amazing array of spas in Budapest offer satisfies all your water-related needs. There are literally dozens of choices in the city, that sits above a huge reserve of thermal waters.
- Ecseri piac-This flea market on the outskirts of Budapest has a mind-boggling array of serious art and collecitble bric-a-brac. Do you need a communist medal from 1953? Or maybe an amazingly carved chair from 1753? Ecseri will leave you satisfied.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Hungary
- The 1986 Hungarian Grand Prix was the first Formula One race to take place behind the Iron Curtain.
- Inventions by Hungarians in Hungary include the noiseless match (by János Irinyi), Rubik’s cube (by Erno Rubik), and the krypton electric bulb (Imre Bródy).
- Hungary has one of the most important thermal spring cultures in Europe. The country boasts no less than 1,500 spas, typically featuring Roman, Greek and Turkish architecture.
- As of 2007, 13 Hungarians had received a Nobel Prize (this is more than Japan, China, India, Australia or Spain) in every category except peace.
- Spends 4.9% of GDP (2010) on Education.
- Literacy of total population is 99%.
- Hungarians won gold medals at every summer Olympics except Antwerp 1920 and Los Angeles 1984 when they did not compete.
- Hungarian fencer Aladar Gerevich won gold in six consecutive Olympics from 1932-1960.
- Hungary has, together with Sweden and the US, the lowest completion rate at tertiary level among OECD countries: in 2011, only 53% of students graduated from the program they entered, in comparison with the OECD average of 68%.
- There are cowboys in Hungary. Cowboys, or csikos as they are called in the region showed off their prowess on horseback. Horsemanship in Hungary has a long history, going back to the Magyars, the first Hungarians. They rode from central Asia to settle in present day Hungary. The tradition is best seen on the Great Plain (Puszta), a vast flat plain reminiscent of the American Old West.
- Founded in 897, Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe (before France and Germany became separate entities, and before the unification of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.
- The word ‘coach’ derives from the name of the Hungarian town Kocs, where multi-passenger wheeled vehicles first appeared around 1500.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Hungary
- Hungarians were nomadic people and are believed to have moved to the Carpathian basin from the East, somewhere around the Ural Mountains. Under the leadership of Árpád, the Hungarians took over the land around 895.
- In 1000, King Stephen I (St. Stephen) founded the state of Hungary, and accepted the Catholic religion as standard. Stephen was crowned with the Holy Crown of Hungary and blessed by the Pope. The crown is now displayed in the Parliament building.
- In 1241-1242 the invasion of the Mongols caused serious destruction in the country, and half of the population were killed or deported as slaves (1 million people). After the invasion King Béla ordered the construction of a system of strong stone castles to defend the country from further attacks. The second Mongolian strike was stopped at Pest by the royal army thanks to these castles.
- After a Turkish conquering army defeated the Hungarian royal army at Mohács in 1526, the country split into three parts around 1541; the Hungarian Kingdom, the Habsburg dominion and the Turkish dominion. It took 150 years before the Hungarians could stand up to this situation, reunite and drive out the Turks. After the Turkish domination, the country became part of the Habsburg dominion, but under the leadership of Ferenc Rákóczi II. Hungarians partly took back their independence, and signed the treaty of peace at Szatmár in 1711.
- In World War I Hungary was ally to Germany and Austria and had to send hundreds of thousands of troops to die for foreign interests. In 1918 the Monarchy broke up, the first government was established and the country became the Republic of Hungary. After losing the war, the allied Atlantic countries overran Hungary and in accordance with the Treaty of Trianon, split up the country. The Hungary of more than 20 million became a small country of less than 8 million. Hungary was now in the shape we know today.
- Magyar kenyér (Hungarian bread) remains very important in the rural and urban cuisine. For the last one hundred fifty years, wheat has been one of the most important crops both for domestic use and exportation.
- Gulyásleves (gulyás is herdsman, leves is soup in Hungarian);is a Hungarian soup, made of beef, vegetables, ground paprika and other spices. It originates from a dish cooked by the cattlemen (gulyás also means herdsman) who tended their herds in the Great Hungarian Plain, known as the Alföld or Puszta in Hungarian.
- Western-style clothes, especially American jeans, are worn by the bulk of the younger population in both urban and rural areas. New clothes are very expensive and brand names such as Levi-Strauss can be bought only by a small segment of the population. Shiny polyester or nylon leisure suits worn with expensive, name-brand sports shoes are signs of new and successful entrepreneurs.
- Hospitality entails an extraordinary effort to feed and care for guests. Guests are always encouraged to step into one’s home first.
- On the streets, it is customary for men to walk on the left side of women, ostensibly because in the past gentlemen kept their swords on the left side and women had to be on the opposite side of the sword. A Hungarian man enters first into a pub, restaurant, coffeehouse, or other public establishment.
- Hungary is also reputed to host cultural events like Sziget Festival or Budapest Spring Festival. The Sziget Festival is the Hungarian for “Island” and is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. It is held every August in northern Budapest, Hungary, on Óbudai-sziget (“Old Buda Island”), a leafy 108-hectare (266-acre) island on the Danube. The Budapest Spring Festival is one of the country’s oldest festivals and takes place each year in March and attract artists and musicians from around the world.
- In addition to traditional in-ground burial, cremation with special places to put funerary urns has been practiced since before World War II. Because of a lack of cemetery space in the cities and the great expense of traditional funerals, cremation is widely practiced.