Friday, 31 July 2015

4 Towns and Palinka

A few days left before returning home, just enough time to make a small circle South-East of Budapest and visit four Towns of special interest.

RACKEVE 46km. South of Budapest, a small town founded by Serbian refugees fleeing the Ottoman Turks. The Serbian Orthodox Church they built in 1487 is the oldest Orthodox church in Hungary, with icons of the apostles and scenes from the life of Christ. Unfortunately the new settlers could not enjoy their new home and church for very long as Hungary also fell to the Turks in 1526.
Serbian Orthodox Church
Columbus did Hungary a great favor when he discovered the New World, paprika originates from Mexico but obviously "perfected" in Hungary and the paprika capital of Hungary is KALOCSA.

The fields surrounding the town turn from green to red in September and the produce is a big export earner for the country. Many tourists also come to admire the flowery embroidery of the region or to visit the Baroque Cathedral built in the 18th century with its altar carved from Carrera marble or the Archbishop's Palace built at the same time and containing a 120 000 volume library with medieval illuminated manuscripts and a Bible signed by Luther.

Fancy Palace
In an interesting move, the powers to be decided to move the Paprika Museum together with the Archbishop's Treasury (museum), presumably so you can check out an eight centimeter high 16th. century reliquary and a 12th. century processional cross while enjoying the aroma of Kalocsa Paprika.

Anyone spending a few days in Hungary cannot miss seeing the name of Petofi Sandor. Just a bit North-East of Kalocsa is KISKOROS birth place of Sandor Petofi revolutionary, poet and actor, his Nemzeti Dal (National Song) was declaimed from the steps of the National Museum  on the first day of the 1848 Revolution and is the Call to Arms for freedom ever since. His death at the battle of Segesvar in July 1849 at the age of 26 holds him in a class of his own.
Petofi House
Thinking of the short but remarkable life of Petofi can drive anyone to drink and there is no better place to do that than KECSKEMET the Apricot Palinka(brandy?) capital of Hungary. The orchards surrounding the city are being harvested now (July) and the Palinka Festival had its closing ceremony with tasting,toasting and fireworks.

Palinka has a special place in Hungarian country life, it can be made of anything apples, apricot, corn, poppy seed, etc. etc. etc. folks are proud of their own brew and gift it to family, friends and guests. Many a Guesthouse I visited welcomed me with a home brew and after the 2nd or 3rd glass we were old friends.
Barack Palinka
The E.U. tried to force the government to tax home brewing, fortunately they rejected the paternalistic demand and at this point the allowance is 50 litres per household. Keep it up..

Law Court
Town Hall
Kecskemet has a lot more to offer than Palinka, it is ranked number 3 outside of Budapest for education and the arts and boasts some of the most spectacular buildings in the country, it is also the birthplace of Zoltan Kodaly composer and inventor of the "Kodaly method" of teaching music, now used all around the world.

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