Tomorrow we head to Transylvania from Szilvásvarád. On the way, we will stop in Debrecen to have lunch and to look around this famous city. I guess there is the 2nd or the 3rd most important city in Hungary and for 2 times was the national capital.
Debrecen is very close to the Romanian border and has played a prominent role in the history of Hungary. It has always been an important market and trading town. Once much more isolated from the rest of the country, currently it is so easy to get there by the motorway M3 and its extension.
The two main attractions in Debrecen are the imposing Protestant neo-Classical Great Church, Nagytemplom, and Hungary’s first national park, Hortobagy, protecting what is Europe’s largest continuous natural grasslands and listed by Unesco.
In the city, there are a number of other things to do and worthwhile highlights. Debrecen retained its self-rule when the conquering Turks partitioned Hungary. This made it ripe for Calvinism. Because of this Protestant background, the city was known as “Calvinist Rome” during the period when the rest of the country was almost entirely Catholic. Nagytemplom, the neo-Classical Great Church, is a dominating yellow edifice standing in the main square. As the most important of all attractions in Debrecen it is the city’s symbol, and the panoramic views from atop of its twin towers are quite spectacular. The Deri Museum, built in the 1920s, contains extensive art, archaeological, and ethnographic collections representing the history of Hungary and the region.
Behind the Great Church are the graceful buildings of the Calvinist College campus, and behind that is the Great Forest of Debrecen, a beautiful park and nature conservation area. There is an Aquaticum Medicinal and Bath Centre, which utilizes some of the thermal spas for which the region is known. Also in the forest are an amusement park, the city zoo, and lovely Lake Békás. Because this is such a popular park, the dining here is also quite good as there are a number of restaurants.
Unfortunately this time we don’t have time to visit the park Hortobagy and also winter is not the best time to do so. But next spring we will and I´ll post further information by then. Meanwhile, you can get more details about the park at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hortob%C3%A1gy or http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/474 or still this video about the life in the fields: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/474/video .
Popularly known as the Puszta (meaning deserted or uninhabited), the Great Hungarian Plain is similar to the vast pampas prairies of Argentina. These plains are ideal for grazing and breeding livestock. Here is where you will find the famous “Hungarian cowboys” whose skillful horsemanship is an integral part of the history of Debrecen Hungary – just like the gauchos of Argentina. Among several tough local breeds that thrive in the puszta is the sturdy and powerful Nonius horse, mount of choice for the fearless Hungarian cowboys. And it was horsemen from Debrecen Hungary and the Great Hungarian Plain who became the most respected cavalrymen and sought after horse breeders in the world.
Here in the heartland is where Hungary’s history meets its culture, and the region is a showcase for tradition, folk art, and handcrafts. While shopping in Budapest or its neighboring towns along the Danube, you will find the beautiful embroidery and exquisite lace for which Hungary is so well-known, but travel to Debrecen and you will find embroidered table linens, shawls, peasant blouses, and skirts at genuinely bargain prices – all locally made.
You may not be a bird-fancier now, but if you’re considering Debrecen travel for natural beauty, you soon will be! There are more than 330 species here in the forests, plains, and wetlands.
Sources of information and photos used in this post:
In Portuguese, find more details at: http://europaparainsiders.blogspot.hu/2011/05/o-bale-dos-cavalos-hungaros.html (also used as source)