Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pécs, the cultural capital

One interesting city guide from the Funzine Magazine:

Is Pécs a perfect place? Let’s see: Historical monuments? More than enough. Beautiful architecture? Yup. Nice climate? Indeedy. Young culturally astute people? Loads. Exciting programs? More than you can shake a stick at.
So why haven’t you been there? Very soon the place is going to be chock-a-block with sight-hungry tourists when Pécs takes the crown of European Capital of Culture 2010, so we thought we’d let you know about the place now, before every tour guide and their mum is banging on about the place.

Obligatory History Part
Pécs gets its name from the Slavic derivative of five, as builders used stones from five different cathedrals to build to the city’s churches, hence the name Quinque Ecclesiae in Latin, Pečuh in Croatian, Fünfkirchen in German, Pečuj in Serbian, Peçuy in Turkish and Päťkostolie in Slovak. (Hooray, here’s a rare case where the Hungarian is easiest to pronounce – say Pay-ch).Anyway, the Hungarian tribes arrived and conquered the region and the town became an important religious center. King Louis the Great founded a university in Pécs in 1367, the first in the country and the tax-dodging soap-phobics are still an important part of the town today.

The Ottomans took the town in 1526 and built many beautiful buildings; some can still be seen today, only most were destroyed by both the Hungarian Miklós Zrínyi’s pillaging army and then the Ottomans as they retreated a couple of hundred years later. In the 1700s the town flourished, stunning buildings were erected, most wars missed it and after losing Bratislava in the Treaty of Trianon, universities moved to it, making it the pearl in the pouch of southern Hungary.

What to See, What to See?

This Ottoman-era mosque was transformed into a church once the invaders left and is a beautiful building which still has original Arabic inscriptions inside the mihrab (the prayer niche pointing to Mecca).

Pécs Cathedral
The most stunning (and biggest) religious building in the area, which includes UNESCO World Heritage-listed 6th century Christian tombs, replete with their magnificent wall paintings.

Television Tower
Go to the top, think about spitting on the tourists down below but stop as you gaze in awe at the wonderful panorama of the city and the nearby Mecsek Mountains.

Vasarely Museum
Victor Vasarely, the founder of op-art, has this fascinating museum dedicated to his works.

Would you like to take an escorted tour from Budapest to Pécs? You can book it here: Pécs, the cultural capital

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