People are fascinated by the unknown and try to understand everything around them. But from time to time, people encounter events or phenomena which they cannot explain. When this happens, humankind’s overzealous imagination comes in and creates tales that become myths or embellish stories and create urban legends. Some try to explain some things while others are used to scare children or even adults. In this article, you can read about 5 Hungarian legends that kept the imagination of generations occupied.
There are a lot of similar stories to that of Tarzan from many places around the world. Some are true, some are just to keep children from wandering off into the forest alone. This Hungarian legend has a bit of a twist compared to most abandoned child stories who were then raised by animals. It is the story of Istók Hany.
According to the story, some fishermen from Kapuvár caught a young, 8-10-year-old boy in a lake in Hanság with their nets in 1749. According to the story, the young boy must have been lost and orphaned but somehow managed to survive in the wilderness of the marsh. So much so that it is believed that his skin got thicker, and his body was covered with a lot of hair, and to help him swim better, some sort of web formed between his fingers. According to some witnesses, he was able to catch fish while swimming underwater.
He was baptised the same year he was found and was named István. He was then taken to the Esterházy castle and the castellan took care of him. Istók Hany was unable to speak and he could not be taught to speak – he could only imitate animal sounds. He was a very good swimmer, but he could not really be educated. He was only capable of simple tasks and would only eat grass and raw fish and frogs. He was often mistreated and escaped many times and, in the end, people did not find him anymore.
This story is also connected to a marsh, probably because, for a long time, natural formations like these were mysterious as they were hard to fully map out and were often dangerous as well. This story, however, goes back a little bit further in time – back into the 13th century, during the time of the Mongol invasion of Hungary (tatárjárás), but some legends place it during the Turkish invasion.
There are many variations of this story and many villages believe it to be their own legend. According to one of the stories, when the Mongols attacked, the villagers gathered all of their people and belongings in order to hide from the invaders in the nearby marshland. Before they could leave, the local priest asked the villagers to take the church bell with them as well.
The villagers agreed to do so, but when they were trying to cross the water in boats, the bell capsised and fell into the depth of the swampland. After this, some people believed to hear the tolling of the bell from time to time. According to the legend, whenever something dangerous approached, the tolling of the bell would become audible, warning the villagers. Also, it is believed to be how Harangod (“your bell”) received its name.
This is a much more recent story, and if you are in Budapest, you can even check it out for yourself. There is a strange balcony in the building in the fourteenth district of Budapest under 61 Thököly Street. If you were to visit this place, you would see a walled-in balcony and a statue of a woman looking down to the streets.
The legend around it is quite a sad one; it is a true love story. People say that the building belonged to a young couple around WWI. Unfortunately, when the war broke out, the man had to go to the frontline and the woman was faithfully waiting for her love. One day, people brought bad news and told the maid that her man died in battle.
The maid did not believe the story and felt that her man was still alive. She then proceeded to spend every minute of every day out on the balcony, looking down at the street, scanning every face. Unfortunately, during that time, the Spanish flu reached Hungary and caused many deaths. Eventually, the young maid also got sick, but even with her last breath, she was still waiting for her love to come back.
The saddest part of the story is that a few days after the maid passed away, the man came home from the war. He was mauled by sorrow and in his grief, he erected a statue to commemorate his beloved’s faithfulness and walled in the balcony so that no one could enter it again.
It is true, there is a labyrinth-like place under Buda Castle in the Hungarian capital. It is partly a natural formation and partly man-made. The original cave system had formed naturally thanks to the thermal waters of the capital in ancient times. Over the centuries, local residents dug into the cave system as they built their cellars and basements.
According to some beliefs, the place can be dangerous, and in Medieval times, there was a torture chamber in the cave system. Many say that the spirits of those tortured to death still haunt the tunnels and can even hurt people or get them lost, just like there are legends about the catacombs of Paris that people still get lost in.
Lake Balaton is one of the most beloved tourist attractions for foreigners and Hungarians alike. It is a beautiful area with many natural and man-made sights, as well as good food and kind service. Híradó points out that one of those sights is the Tihany Abbey and the echo, but there is a legend around how the echo came to be.
According to the story, Balaton had a king and the king had a son. The son fell in love with a very vain girl, and the boy eventually ended his life to free himself from the pain of unrequited love. The king got so furious that he decided to curse the girl. Her curse was that for the rest of her life, if anyone were to talk to her, she would have to say that very same thing seven times over.
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Source: Hirado.hu, Youtube, Daily News Hungary