HUNGARY  |  Eastern Bank of the Danube, Hungary Travel Guide
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Route 12 - The Unknown Danube Bend

Route 12 - The Unknown Danube Bend

The rolling hills of Verõce, Kismaros, Nagymaros, Zebegény and Szob sprouted vineyards, next to chestnut orchards, in the 15th century. The wine produced here joined other renowned Hungarian wines in the Middle Ages. These were called Ezerjó, Mézes fehér and Budai zöld. Today the wines produced are varieties of Italian Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the 19th century an infestation of phylloxera, a serious vine pest, wiped out the grapes. The disaster was less serious than in some areas of the world, where the climate and soil were not so resilient. The local farmers turned to raspberries and currants, while they worked to bring the vineyards back. Today, raspberries and currants are still significant crops here.

Verõce

Continuing above Vác, the next community to catch our attention is Verõce. At the beginning of the 20th century, the town was filled with writers, poets, and musicians. Many of the villas that look out on the Danube from the shoreline were built then. The house of Géza Gorka, Verõce 2621, Szamos út 22, one of Hungary’s most significant ceramic artists in the 20th century has been made a museum, where the collected works of Géza and his daughter are on display, joined by other contemporary exhibits from the area.

Kismaros

Kismaros is almost a part of Verõce, and among its highly regarded historical buildings are the Roman Catholic Church and a village museum, which has recordings from the old Swabian era. The town also preserves and nurtures its tradition through its Marus Days. These are a celebration of rural farming and culture that now emphasizes preservation of the ecology and history of the Danube Bend as well.

Szokolya

From Kismaros, walking toward Szokolya, the onion-shaped steeple of the Calvinist Church rises up in the distance. Ádám Mányoki, one of the most important painters of the 18th century and court painter to Ferenc Rákóczi II and to Ágost Erõs, Saxon Prince-elect, was born here in the Calvinist rectory.

Nagymaros

In 1709 a plague practically wiped out the population of Nagymaros. The population today is made up in part of Germans who were relocated here in 1715. The Roman Catholic Church is a reconstructed edifice from its days of glory, but the tower has retained its 13th-century Gothic form to this day. The town also celebrates the memory of Kálmán Kittenberger, the great African hunter and writer (See Gödöllõ). Every year they hold a two-day Kittenberger, Kálmán Days festival, which features African booths and contests, and workshops, taking place at Nagymaros 2626, Nagymaros város Önkormányzat, Fö tér út 5.

Zebegény

The railroad and the road hardly leave enough space along the riverbank for the lovely town of Zebegény. The picturesque Parish Church in the village was built in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style. The two renowned architects, the Transylvanian Károly Kós and Béla Jánsky, designed it in 1908. The Art Nouveau wall paintings in the church were done by students under the direction of Aladár Körösfõi-Kriesch, the founder of the Gödöllõ Art Community. The church has concerts every summer. Nearby, the Nine Stations of the Cross lead up Calvary Hill to the classical Calvary Chapel (1853). The Trianon Memorial (mid-1930s), designed by Géza Maróty, sits next to the chapel. A lookout with a wide-ranging panoramic view of the Danube Valley sits near it.

One of Hungary’s most notable figures of modern art, István Szõnyi, immortalizes the landscape and the people of Zebegény in his works. Although he was born in Budapest in 1894, he later settled in Zebegény. He exhibited the resistance to oppression that has been so much a part of Hungarian culture. During WWII, he put his talents to work, and in partnership with his son, forged documents for those seeking to escape the Third Reich. He was awarded the Bronze Medal of Liberty in 1946. His memorabilia, paintings and etchings are preserved in the house where he once lived (now a museum).

Ironically, here in the mountains, far from the sea, the Shipping History Collection features the lifework of retired Captain Vince Farkas. The old windmill, built in the 18th century, brings you closer to the transition into the mechanical age, highlighted by the historic seven-arch railway viaduct (1851). Marked hiking trails lead from Zebegény to a series of interconnected trails that will take you to the more distant peaks of the Börzsöny. The annual Dunakanyar Art Week, 2627, Zebegény, Dunakanya Kulturális Alapitvány, Dózsa György út 26, attracts classical music groups, singers and folk dancers, and has exhibits from throughout the region.

Szob

Szob is on the border between Slovakia and Hungary, but forget about crossing here, as it is not open to cross-border traffic. For that reason, few tourists venture this far north on the Danube routes. As a result, the area gives you a taste of untainted Hungary. If you want a quick tour without visiting villages, try The Börzsöny Museum, Haman utca 14. Folk costumes and tombstones are displayed here, as well as samples of petrified trees from the region. But don’t come only for this museum. Here in the mountains and lower hills of the northern Danube Bend, you will find treasures, both geological and man-made. And Szob, like Zebegény, offers a number of programs, including the Danube Bend Art Days, where the villages of the area, with their extraordinary wealth of folk culture, join with the artists who come here. 

Last updated February 5, 2008
Posted in   Hungary  |  Eastern Bank of the Danube
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