Sunday, January 15, 2012


A day trip from Budapest is one of the oldest cities in Hungary. People first settled there about 350 B.C. Birth place of King Stephen, the man who founded Hungary. Home of the largest basilica in the country. Religious and political center for centuries. Captured by everyone (Turks, Habsburgs, this king, that king), except the Mongols. Castle built in 1009. The city is rich in history.

We decided to go there after seeing the towering basilica on our way home from Slovakia two weeks ago. It looked so strange from the train seeing this HUGE domed building in the middle of nowhere. After a little research Will found it was Esztergom. So off we went on Saturday with some friends.

One of the wonderful things about Europe is public transportation! We hopped the train for $6 round trip, traveled a little over an hour through small towns and farms to get to this:
A beautiful church. "The St. Peter's Basilica of Hungary." And it does compare to Rome. It's situated on a hill overlooking the Danube. When we arrived in Esztergom, we meandered through the town's streets making our way toward the towering basilica.
It is a quaint town that was quite sleepy on a Saturday. Walking over cobble stone streets, we noticed a narrow alley that went up the hill. We turned onto the street and began walking up. Up stairs. Through doors. Up more stairs. Through some more castle doors.
And we came to the top to see a spectacular view.
At this bend in the Danube River, Hungary sits on one side (left) and Slovakia (right) on the other. A bridge connects two countries with completely different cultures and drastically different languages. It still baffles me that Europe has maintained such distinct cultures and languages in such a small area of the world.

Castle Hill had much to see when we arrived. The castle. The basilica. The view. Some artwork.
But the most interesting to me was the crypt.
We went under the church to the vast crypt. Parts of it were beautiful with high vaulted ceilings and pictures of Pope John Paul II's visit there. Other parts were creepy, dark halls that went to the gated unknown. I got a little freaked out. But it was amazing to see graves that had been there since the 1400's (like the picture above).

A little history. Beautiful church. Some snow. Some sun. A fun day trip in Hungary.
Is this convincing anyone to come to Hungary in 2012?

1 comment:

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