Things to do and see around Gödöllő
Gödöllő* (pop.35,000) is located 32 km (20 miles) Northeast of Budapest. This small city is easy to reach by train, bus or car, but do bear in mind if driving, that the main road there has a toll. There are a good handful of attractions, more than enough to fill a normal day, so take care to leave enough time for all, or stay a night and visit more in the morning!
In Gödöllő the 250-year-old Royal Mansion is one of the largest and grandest palaces in the country and is a significant work of Hungarian Baroque architecture.
The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy's ruling couple, Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Queen Elizabeth (known as Sissi) frequently stayed here. Most of the building has been restored to its former glory. Classical concerts and major festivals are organized in the state room and the ceremonial court of the palace. More information and programmes.
If you like horses, then do plan a stop at the Lázár Equestrian Park, run by driving world champions, the Lázár brothers! The stunning complex, located in the rolling hills, has breathtaking views of the Domony Valley where everything is just, well, beautiful. There you'll not only find the competition stables and training ground of the dynamic Lázár duo, but you'll also be able to enjoy the regular special events and great Hungarian cuisine. The Lázár Park has a daily offer that you must take advantage of. Every day, by prior arrangement, a spectacular Horse Show is organized for a minimum of 20 lucky guests.
The beautifully church complex at Máriabesnyő, 3km to the west on the outskirts of Gödöllő, is an important pilgrimage site in Hungary. The biggest attraction here is the Nagyboldogasszony Basilica Minor. And its Shrine to the Virgin Mary. Besnyő was a village destroyed during the Turkish occupation, and much later when Count Antal Grassalkovich was planning a shrine to Our Lady of Loreto he selected the ruins of the 13th century Besnyő church for the site. While clearing the site, one of the masons dreamt of a voice telling him to dig amongst the ruins for a wondrous object. He did so, finding a small, bone statue of the Virgin Mary. This statuette attracted so many pilgrims that the chapel was extended into a two-storey church, one for a statue of the Virgin Mary brought from Loreto, Italy, the other for the miraculous statue found amongst the ruins. The Grassalkovich family crypt is also found here, a stunning and rather creepy Baroque sepulcher.
Some 5km to the south of the castle, the Gödöllő Botanical Garden and Carplove Park make an interesting stop. The gardens date back to 1902, and were a passion of Archduke Joseph, the "most Hungarian Habsburg". The gardens stretch over 860 acres and feature 147 conifer and gymnosperms species and 875 types of leafy trees and bushes, all open to the public all year round. Nearby you will find a great fishing spot at Carplove park and a between the two, a remarkable research centre which is open to the public.
Though we may think of gene technology as an ultra-modern field, the Farm Animal Gene Preservation Centre here was established more than a hundred years ago (1897) and is heavily involved in breeding and preservation of poultry, rabbits and bees. In fact the connected institute of Apiculture (Bee-keeping) a unique institution in Europe, is also highly recommended for anyone who wished to learn all there is to know about the humble bumble bee. More information.
*(this is hard to describe the pronunciation as the vowel sound does not exist in English, but it is something like the vowel sound in "girl", repeated three times, except, to be precise, the last one is sounded a little longer, rather like the way we say the nativity spice Myrrh. practice sayng girl-girl-myrrh and you will be close to the sounds of Gödöllő)