The cultural riches of Debrecen (pr. deb-reh-tsen) and Hortobágy are unique and iconic in their own right. The streets of the cívis town and its buildings representing a medley of architectural styles set up a pleasant atmosphere. Leisurely walks in museums and galleries will lead to close encounters with artistic treasure troves of past and present. Get to know the centuries-old artistic and folklore traditions of Debrecen and Hortobágy that live on today.
Woods and hills – you are forgiven if you don't expect to come across these geographical features on Alföld [the Great Plain]. Interestingly, it may still be worth your while to look, given that the "shack of the vákáncsos" (poor abode dug in the ground), "Devil's Trench," the hills of the puszta as well as "Lake Balaton Minor" (affectionately dubbed ma-chee bal-chee by locals) are all found in the regions of Hajdúság and Debrecen's Erdőspuszta. Explore the lush woodland surrounding the city by following the National Blue Trail on foot, bike, or horseback. The less adventurous might choose chugging along aboard one of the trains of "Zsuzsi" [Susie], the 130-year-old narrow-gauge train.
Debrecen's Top 5 Attractions
1. Kossuth Square and Big Reformed Church
The square and the church have always been the scene, oftentimes the very center, of important events through our history. The church was the hub of the Reformation movement in Hungary. Not only is it size that is testament to its greatness. The sound of the 56-ton Rákóczi Bell, housed in its massive twin towers, can even be heard in Hortobágy in clear weather.
2. Reformed College
The "school of the country" has been an establishment of order and rigor for over 450 years. The fate of the nation has been settled within its walls several times. It has been the alma mater of scores of the greatest figures of Hungarian letters, which has greatly contributed to the development of cívis [civic] culture. Their memorabilia are displayed at the Oratorium, the Big Library, and the Exhibition of School History and Religious Art.
3. Déri Museum
This museum is best known for the monumental paintings of the Christ Trilogy. But by passing through time gates and traversing historical eras, you can also get insights into the ethnography of the region. Climbing on top of the tree of life will help you encounter the "denizens of the celestial world" and enter the afterlife of the ancient Egyptians. You can also visit exotic places of the Far East, or fuel up by sampling long-forgotten flavors and aromas at the Déri Café.
4. Big Forest and Aquaticum Mediterranean Spa & Water Park
Debrecen is a livable city which provides easy access to the solitude and healing power of nature. The first nature reserve of the country, Nagyerdő is the spot where 65˚C medicinal water gushes to the surface from a geothermal spring providing the lifeblood of the sparkling atmosphere of the water park. You can relax and have good fun here, no matter what generation you belong to.
5. Main building of the University of Debrecen
Proudly cherishing a tradition of 100 years, UD is a city within the city. The interior of the imposing edifice is always busy with the hustle a bustle of nearly 60,000 students. You may very easily be part of the action if you take one of the various Hungarian language courses offered by Debrecen Summer School. Oh, and don't miss out the Botanical Garden of the University.
Other places to see in Debrecen:
St. Anna's Cathedral:
There was a time when the Catholic faithful in Debrecen numbered no more than the members of a single family. Yet, it has become an Episcopal see the history of which is presented in the exhibition in the Cathedral. An authenticated replica of the Shroud of Turin has also been on display since 2011.
Garden of Ruins and Memorial Garden
Get your daily fix of caffeine in a uniquely special locale enshrouded in past memories of history.
Hal [fish] Lane
With its cafés, exhibitions, and concerts, this small piazza will have an effect on all your senses.
The old-world promenade atmosphere is accentuated by creative store windows and mouth-watering displays of confectionery.
Surrounded by greenery and inspired by culture, this serene place is the perfect haven in the commotion of city life.
Piac [market] Street - Kossuth Square
Although no longer an actual market bustling with shoppers, this quarter is always full of life and public events of entertainment.
Baltazár Dezső Square
The youngest square of the city, but not only for the youth.
Csapó Street Promenade
A fascinating blend of the sweet smells of 19th-century cafés and the noises of a busy mall.
Fórum Shopping Center & Debrecen Mall
Shops, fashion stores, fittness center, pharmacy, fast food, banks, telecom, cinema, bookstore, gameshop, dry cleaner's, exhibitions, programs.
MODEM Center of Modenr and Contemporary Art
The biggest art gallery of the region situated in the historical downtown of Debrecen.
The exhibitions present to the public the works of art of the craftsmen of the region.
Top 5 greatest events in Debrecen 2013
Debreczen Aromatic Pálinka and Double Sausage Festival
Kossuth Square, downtown promenade
National Fair of Organic Products on St György's Day
Hortobágy – Water Stage
Kossuth Square, downtown promenade
10th Debrecen Turkey Days
Kossuth Square, downtown promenade
More info, contact and help about Debrecen:
Day-trip to the Puszta (Hortobágy National Park)
Hortobágy National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site
The spectacle of the infinite horizon, the heat mirages, the peacefully grazing herds of cattle and horses, the sweep-pole wells, the water habitats teeming with flocks of wild fowl, and the undisturbed wonder of the starlit night sky; the sweet scent of the gently undulating sees of camomile, mint, and artemisia: all of them are still important ingredients of the phenomenon called Hortobágy. Let them set you free in the largest flat grassland of Central Europe.
Typical watering holes and eateries of Hortobágy, the inns (csárda) offer a unique kind of hospitality. Their interior and the traditional local fare on their menus invoke the world of herdsman-turned outlaws (betyár) who roamed the puszta in bygone eras. Parts of the thematic "trail of inns," Kadarcsi, Meggyes and Hortobágy Big Inns also function as museums.
Hortobágy "Nine-Hole" Bridge
The symbol of Hortobágy, the 167-m-long bridge spanning the river by the same name is supported by nine arches. Legend has it that it came into being when the nine lovers of an infamous betyár (with the local gendarmes closing in on him) held hands and helped their beau cross the river on their shoulders and arms. It is the venue of the renowned fair and open-air market of handicraft traditionally held on August 20.
Hortobágy Wildlife Park – Puszta Zoo
Endless grasslands, exhilarating close-ups of wildlife (wild horses and oxen, wolves, jackals, eagles, vultures, and flocks of waterfowl): Hortobágy Wildlife Park offers all these and more. Old Hungarian breeds of domestic animals are on display in their original environment. Courageous enough? You might even touch or stroke these critters.
More info, contact and help about Hortobágy:
HNP Visitors' Center & Yard of Handicraft
4071 Hortobágy, Petőfi tér 13.
Call: +36 52/589-321, +36 52/589-000, +36 52/369-140
E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Association for the Tourism of Debrecen and Hortobágy