Although the territory of Hungary barely exceeds the 93.000 square kilometres she can boast with 8 locations on the World Heritage List including the picturesque built heritage of Danube Bank view with the Buda Castle District, the natural environment of Aggtelek and Hortobágy and the cultural heritage of Busó festivities just to mention a few.
Budapest: Danube Bank View, Buda Castle District and Andrássy Avenue
This quarter encompasses the area on the Buda side, which stretches from the Buda abutment of Petőfi Bridge across Gellért Hill and Tabán up to Castle Hill (Várhegy) and Water Town (Víziváros), and on the Pest side it extends from the Pest abutment of Margaret Bridge to Petőfi Bridge. Andrássy Avenue was added to the list as it presents a uniform architectural image of Budapest, connecting Elizabeth Square in the capital’s innermost area with Heroes’ Square.
The old village of Hollókő and its surroundings
The old part of the village Hollókő, a settlement nestling in the Cserhát Hills, has preserved its distinctive traditions to this day. Hollókő was the first village to be declared a World Heritage Site. The history of the village goes back to the 13th century, when after the Mongol invasion a castle was built on Szár Hill. The name (holló=raven, kő=stone) perhaps comes from the legend according to which the lord of a castle kidnapped a pretty maiden, whose nurse was a witch, and closed her into a room of the castle. The nurse made a pact with the devil to rescue the girl: the devil’s minions, disguised as ravens, took the stones of the castle away.
The village is not just an open-air museum, which exhibits folk traditions, but also a living village where traditions and everyday life go hand in hand. (www.hollokotourism.hu)
Aggtelek National Park
This area, which stretches across the Hungarian-Slovakian border, is extremely rich in caves. There is a spectacular 22-kilometre-long system of caves in the region. Dazzling rock and crystal formations with names including Dragon’s Head, Tiger, Mother in Law’s Tongue and the Hall of Giants, as well as dozens of underground lakes and winding passages can be explored on a different range of guided tours. (http://anp.nemzetipark.gov.hu)
The Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma and its natural environment
The Archabbey is one of the oldest historical monuments in Hungary. The first Benedictine monks settled here in 996. The 1000-year-long history of the Archabbey is detectable in the succession of architectural styles of the monastic buildings (the oldest dating from 1224), which house a school and a monastic community even today. (www.bences.hu)
Hortobágy National Park
The area became a national park in 1973, making it the first of its kind in Hungary.
The area of the Park is over 800 km². Hortobágy is similar to a steppe: it is a grassy plain with cattle, sheep, oxen and horses tended by herdsmen, and it provides a habitat for various species (342 bird species have been registered). Its emblematic sight is the Nine-holed Bridge; and apart from this, the Park is characterised by traditional sweep-wells. Hortobágy is Hungary’s largest protected area and the largest natural grassland in Europe at the same time. (www.hnp.hu)
Early Christian Necropolis in Pécs
In the centre of the town of Pécs, beneath Cathedral Square (Dóm tér) and St Stephan’s Square (Szent István tér), there is a Christian cemetery dating back to the 4th-6th centuries. Research and excavations so far have uncovered various burial constructions and over a hundred burial sites around a tomb chapel, a cemetery building and a mausoleum. The first painted crypts were discovered in 1780. They are ornamented with Biblical scenes, images of the apostles Peter and Paul, as well as floral and animal motifs. Parts of the heritage site are open to the public. (www.pecs.hu)
Cultural landscape of Lake Fertő
Lake Fertő is the second largest lake in Central Europe, and it is located at the Austrian–Hungarian border. The lake covers 315 km²: 240 km² is on the Austrian side, while 75 km² is on the Hungarian side. The special habitats and the rural architecture surrounding Lake Fertő, on both the Hungarian and the Austrian sides, provide the Heritage Site with a unique image. The territory, which has survived of the originally enormous area of marsh and wetland, has preserved a unique flora and fauna, as well as an invaluable array of landscape with its ethnographic and cultural historic assets.
Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region
Tokaj-Hegyalja is a historic wine region located in North-eastern Hungary. The region consists of 28 villages and 7 000 hectares of classified vineyards. It is the home of the world famous wine Tokaji Aszú, which French King Louis XIV called the ‘king of wines and the wine of kings’. (www.tokaj.hu)
Intangible Cultural Heritage
Folk art of the Matyó: embroidery of a traditional community
The Matyó community lives in and around the town of Mezőkövesd in the north-eastern part of Hungary. The heritage of the community consists of the ethnographic group’s living traditional culture, which is embodied by their characteristic style, colourful folk art and unique costumes, as well as a cultural identity imbued with strong Catholic religiosity. This folk art is characterised by special floral embroidery filling on textile and ornamented objects.
Táncház method: a Hungarian model for preserving intangible cultural heritage
The Táncház (dance-house) model is a special method of teaching folk dance: participants learn dances from tradition bearers by observation and imitation, with the accompaniment of live music.
Busó festivities at Mohács: masked end-of-winter carnival
The Busó festivity at Mohács celebrates the end of winter. The name of the festivity comes from the busós, who are awesome-looking costumed people wearing wooden masks and big woolly cloaks. The festival’s biggest attraction is the appearance of the ‘fleet’ of several hundreds of busós in boats on the River Danube, which is followed by the burning of a coffin, which symbolizes winter.