Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beautiful Towns # 6 - Gyor, Hungary

Gyor is a small city in the north-west of Hungary which is known mostly for its production of industrial goods rather than as a tourist hotspot. It receives few foreign visitors apart from Austrian day-trippers, which is surprising given what the historic centre of the city has to offer. Baroque churches, a fortified castle and a broad web of cobbled streets to wander through provide ample surroundings for an enjoyable daytrip from Budapest.
The neo-classical town hall opposite the train station offers an imposing introduction to the city for visitors, and from there it is a short walk to Baross Gabor street, which leads into the heart of the old town. The lovely yellow Carmelite church stands near the river Raba (this body of water was in the news this autumn when the red sludge spill in the village of Kolontar reached as far as Gyor). A short distance along the riverfront is the Bishop's castle, featuring extensive fortifications built in the 16th century to stop the advancing Ottoman Turkish armies. An interesting sight near the town market is the Frigylada statue, which is topped by The Ark of the Covenant (I suppose Indiana Jones wasn't aware that the Ark is in Hungary). :)
Many fine restaurants serving spicy Hungarian specialties can be found around Szechenyi Ter, and a number of trendy pensions have recently opened in the old town to provide scenically-located accommodation.
Gyor is 90 minutes by train from Budapest, making it a suitable full-day trip from the capital. Trains run frequently to Vienna, also 90 minutes away by train, which makes Gyor a suitable stopover while travelling between the two capitals.

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