Telegraph’s 25 amazing things about Hungary
Tourism to Hungary and especially Budapest has been getting more and more significant, and several articles from different points of the world are being written about the country, encouraging tourists to pay a visit. This time the British Telegraph decided to enlighten its readers about the wonderful things related to Hungary.
Travel writer of the Telegraph, Zoe Johnson compiled a list featuring 25 amazing things you probably didn’t know about Hungary. Notably, she did it in order “to mark Hungarian National Day”, that is commemorating March 15. Let’s see the 25 points then, following the original order.
Suitable for a beach holiday
Even though Johnson mentions Hungary as “unlikely place for a beach holiday”, she recommends the Hungarian Sea, that is, Lake Balaton for holiday-goers. Furthermore, tourists shall not miss visiting Hévíz either, for aside being a beautiful place its thermal water can improve medical conditions.
Indoor healing waters
When it’s cold outside but you still would like to go bathing, Hungary offers quite some opportunities to satisfy your needs “thanks to an abundance of natural hot springs”, which makes it possible for the country to have quite a great number of (about 450) spas and baths.
You must have heard of the Rubik’s Cube (Ernő Rubik), the electric bulb (Imre Bródy), and the biro (László Bíró), which are all Hungarian inventions. And there’s plenty more significant things invented by Hungarians.
Numerous Nobel Prize winners
So far, Hungary can be proud to have 13 Nobel laureates, which is “more per capita than the likes of Finland, Spain, Canada and Australia”, excluding the Peace Prize.
The statue of Anonymus
According to the legend, if you touch the pen of Anonymus you will be blessed with great writing abilities. The statue is located in the City Park in Budapest, where many people try their luck in the hope of becoming wondrous at writing.
The first official wine region of the world
The region of Tokaj is not only one of the most significant vineyards of Hungary, but is actually the first one that was made: since the 5th century fine wines have been produced in Tokaj.
One of the world’s most famous illusionists, Harry Houdini was born in Budapest, as Erich Weisz, in 1874, before becoming “the master of escapology”.
Apparently, the Hungarian fruit brandy pálinka is said to have amazing powers, whatever kind of pain you’re suffering from, as it can count as a medicine in small amounts and as a remedy in large amounts.
Clinking your beer glasses is not necessarily a good idea
Based on a legend from 1848, when the Hungarian revolution was defeated the Habsburgs clinked their beer glasses after each of the 13 generals who were executed. Thus, Hungarians weren’t particularly fond of clinking beer glasses for about 150 years. Eye contact and saying egészségedre are not to miss, though.
Water polo as national sport
Johnson mentions the bloody match between Hungary and the USSR at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics as “quite possibly the most famous game of water polo history”, which ended with a 4-0 victory for Hungary. It was then called off in order to avoid a riot. Also, the 2000 Sydney Olympics “introduced a women’s tournament to the sport”.
A Hungarian is the best female chess player in the world
Judit Polgár became a grandmaster in 1991, when she was only 15, thus establishing a record. Moreover, chess in itself is also a really popular game in Hungary and is played pretty much anywhere, including thermal baths.
The number 96 can be found related to several events or things in Hungary. For instance, the crowning of Árpád, the first Magyar king, and the beginning of the Hungarian state was in 896 and the metro of Budapest was built on the millennial anniversary in 1896.
Furthermore, by law, the Budapest-based buildings must not exceed 96 feet and Johnson also writes that, when it’s done properly, the national anthem should be sung in 96 seconds.
It used to be used as a currency some time ago and has become a sort-of trademark of Hungary, a spice that is one of the Hungaricums: more than 1000 tons are produced annually in the country and there are two paprika museums, one in Szeged and the other in Molnár.
Origins of the word ‘coach’
Precisely Kocs shall be mentioned, for it is “the town where the vehicles are said to have first appeared in the 16th century”. Then came the word kocsi…
The oldest metro of continental Europe
The operations of Budapest’s metro line M1 began in 1896, making it “the second oldest electrically operated underground railway in the world, predated only by the London Underground”.
Natural underground labyrinth
Budapest also hosts the largest geothermal cave system of the world, which is situated underneath the city with about 200 subterranean chambers. There are several show caves which area available for visitors, including the Szemlő-hegy and Molnár János.
The second largest synagogue in the world
The Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest has a capacity of 3000 seats, which makes it the largest synagogue in Europe. Moreover, it is part of the Budapest Unesco World Heritage Site.
Budapest has become famous for its ruin bar culture, which are strongly recommended to visit. They were actually “sit inside the many bombed out and bullet marked ruins of buildings [while] many hold farmers’ markets and community gatherings [there] too”.
Contribution to Hollywood
Hungarians majorly contributed to Hollywood: Adolf Zukor, the founder of Paramount Pictures; Vilmos Fried (or William Fox); and Michael Curtiz (Mano Kaminer), the director of Casablance, all have Hungarian origins.
Vlad the Impaler terrorized the formerly Hungarian territory, Wallachia, until he was put to jail by King Matthias. Though, apparently, the acts of this 15th century villain were enough to be the basis of the story of Count Dracula.
Connection to Elvis Presley
One of the most significant cultural icons was awarded with posthumous citizenship of Budapest in 2011 for “his somewhat heroic status after a performance of “Peace in the Valley” on American television brought attention to the 1956 revolution”. He is recognized by the Elvis Presley Boulevard, which is a local landmark.
Pinball as a tourist preference
The Budapest Pinball Museum attracts a great number of tourists, who are so interested in the 130 classic machines. The museum has a higher attraction rating on TripAdvisor than some historic sites, such as Heroes Square, the Liberty Bridge, or the Buda Castle.
Real railway children
The Gyermekvasút Railway should surely be visited, as it “runs through Buda hills between Széchenyi Hill and Hűvösvölgy stations” and almost exclusively 10-14-year-old kids off local schools take the responsibility of being a ticket sellers or conductors. They also deal with the switch points and can be found selling station memorabilia.
Law regulating names
When it comes to choosing the name of a child, parents should bear in mind that the name must be included on the pre-approved list. Should the name deviate from that, the parents must apply for the approval of the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Hungarian belongs to the Finno-Ugrian language family and is “thought to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn”.
Read the original article HERE.
Photo: Balázs Béli