The Jewel of the South – 10 places to visit in Pécs
There is a city near the Croatian border, which is the home of 146,000 and a well known university, the former center of uranium mining in the country, and the European Capital of Culture in 2010. This is Pécs, Hungary’s fifth greatest city. Let us see the ten greatest attractions the homeland of “Tüke” people may offer.
This spot began as the marketplace of the town in the early medieval times and grew to become the main square of the city. Along with the Town Hall and the County Hall, there are two eye-catchers which have become the symbols of Pécs: one of them is the Zsolnay fountain with its bright green eosin ox heads, which were created by Miklós Zsolnay for the memory of his father, the famous Hungarian ceramic artist Vilmos Zsolnay. The other one is the Mosque of Pasha Quasim, which is Hungary’s greatest mosque, and it preserves the memory of the 150 years long Turkish occupation of the Southern regions. Besides the historical relics, the square is often filled with stands of confectioners, vintners, beekeepers and other craftsmen during festivals.
Located on the very top of the Mecsek, the TV Tower is the tallest building of Hungary with its 197 meters. It offers an about 100 kilometers wide view of Pécs and the surrounding areas – the city seems like a bunch of toy miniatures from that enormous height. If you decide to end your hiking in the forests of Mecsek here, you can take rest in the towers restaurant and have a meal accompanied with a stunning panorama from above. As an addition, you may also visit the permanent exhibition of the oldest dinosaur remains in Hungary.
TV Tower is not the only place to visit once you got up to the peaks of Mecsek. Just five minutes of driving and you may also come across Pécs Zoo, the “greenest” of all zoos in Hungary, which is built entirely among the woods of Mecsek. The complex went through some renovations a couple of years ago, so it awaits visitors with an even wider variety of animals from tigers through birds of prey to hippos. For those who prefer fish and reptiles or just do not want to climb the mountain Pécs Zoo also has a terrarium and aquarium in Ángyán János Street.
Pécs has given Hungary and the world some great artists like Vilmos Zsolnay in ceramic art, Sándor Weöres in literature and Victor Vasarely in visual arts. The latter one has a permanent exhibition in the center of Pécs, where visitors can admire 42 of his original screen prints. His unique use of geometry and optical illusion may stun both art experts and laymen alike.
The old Christian necropolis from the 4th century AD is located near the Cathedral and includes more than 16 tomb chambers. The top halls can be observed near the cathedral through a plexiglass floor, but more adventurous visitors may descend into the catacombs in guided groups. Besides the hundreds of ancient relics, guests can watch short documentaries displayed on screens which tell the history of the tombs from their construction by the ancient Romans to their excavation in the 18th century.
Though there are walls of locks in multiple Hungarian cities nowadays, it was Pécs that started this custom and it still has the most locks in one place. The original iron fences onto which loving couples and tourists put on their personal locks with their initials are situated in Apáca Street. In the 2010s some artistic constructions of steel were made on Szent István Square exclusively for expanding the space for new locks. No journey to Pécs is complete without leaving your own lock here.
The greatest religious building of the city is situated on Szent István Square near the Old Christian Tombs. The church, which was sanctified in 1891 in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph, can be spotted in the cityscape from far away. Besides the regular masses held among Bertalan Székely’s world famous frescoes, visitors may also climb the bell tower via guided tours, or listen to the organ play of one of the largest organs in the country.
The enormous concert and cultural center is one of the newest buildings in Pécs. The construction of this architecturally unique complex was finished in 2010, and it can serve as a host of even three musical events simultaneously. Several jazz, classical and world music concerts are held in the Kodály Center every year: it will soon host the concert of World Youth Choir, for instance.
The new quarter to the city was built as a part of the European Capital of Culture program 2010, and it was declared as a Hungarikum in 2014. It consists of 15 buildings and more than 80 sculptures made by the Zsolnay family, but people can also find calm green parks, libraries, craft shops and cafés here. Children may also find entertainment in the quarter, it is the venue of occasional puppet shows, star observations, painting and ceramic workshops and many more.
Besides the world-famous gloves, beer is the other great exported product of Pécs. Naturally, many of the bars in the city offer some of the finest local beer brands like Pécsi Sör, Pécsi Radler or Szalon. However, Egylet is a rarity among them, as customers might try an incredibly variety of traditional beers with special flavors like sour cherry, dark chocolate or plum.
Source: Daily News Hungary