Keszthely - Festetics Castle
The foundation of the Festetics Castle was laid by Kristóf Festetics in 1745. The 34 room mansion was enlarged three times during the 18th and 19th centuries. Today with its' 101 rooms is one of the three largest baroque style castle in Hungary.
The Castle's astonishing beauty brought kings and queens, royal families, diplomats and famous people to its doorsteps. In the last two decades the Belgian Royal Family, Hungary's ex President Árpád Göncz, current President Ferenc Mádl visited the Castle along with Presidents of Portugal, Germany, the Czeck Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Poland, Italy, China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Today the Festetics Castle houses a Museum and functions as a Conference Center. Two hundred thousand visitors come each year to view the permanent and temporary exhibits. Close to one hundred concerts and musical events are held in a season.
Entrance to the grounds is thru a wrought iron gate. Each year the gardeners plant seventy thousand annuals in the park. The foregrounds have magnificent buckeyes, Turkish hazelnuts, black pines, lilacs and other trees and shrubs along with two classical Japanese acacia trees.
The large fountain and the bronze statue of György Festetics completes the picture before entering the building.
In the park behind the castle you can sit under the century old trees in summer evenings to watch classical theatre or go inside for an enchanted evening tour with candlelight and baroque music.
As per your request we provide tour guides in English, French, German, Italian, Russian and of course in Hungarian.
The western façade with its' statues overlook the French garden and two fountains. The walkways then turn into the ten acre English garden with ancient trees, a pond with a rock garden and beautiful greenery. The Festetics family purposely beautified and enriched the gardens with unique flora. There are more than 50 varieties of trees and shrubs. The Lion's fountain can relieve the thirsty visitor with fresh water in the summertime. Further, the beautiful building houses the Coach Museum that previously was used as a stable and coach house by the Festetics family.
For a well worth visit please set a few hours aside. The Helikon Castle Museum awaits you!
The village of Cserszegtomaj is situated in picturesque surroundings on the north-western shore of Lake Balaton, at the foot of the Keszthely hills. It is almost built together with the three neighbouring settlements: Hévíz - famous for its spa bath, Keszthely - famous for its palace and Rezi, where you can find beautiful castle ruins.
One of its famous sights is the Margit look-out tower, in which an elevator is available for visitors. Next to the tower you can visit the nationally famous botanical garden established by Jenő Horváth, who also built the tower. In the garden you can see several hundred pine species from different countries of the world. Another sight, which is unique even in Europe, is the 52 m deep and 3 km long well cave, which can be visited only with a guide.
The wine called "Cserszegi Fűszeres" (Spicy wine from Cserszeg) was named after the village and it was awarded "The Wine of the World" in London in 1988. The local wine route association was named after the wine, too.
The Castle Theatre with its impressive building is also worth visiting. Next to it you can find a little open-air museum presenting log buildings. In the former school building you can see the memorial hall of Ferenc Paraczky with an exhibition on the knowledge of Hungary and school history. Apart from its sights the sports ground opened in 2006 offers sport facilities.
Outstanding programmes of the village include the international Free Arts Camp in summer, the Village day and the wine competition on St. Urban's day in May, the Wine Festival held at the first weekend of July and the Vintage Days in September.
Ruins of Rezi Castle
A castle used to stand on the 418-m high dolomite rock near the village. It was first mentioned in a document in 1378, when the castle belonged to István Lackfi, who owned Keszthely as well. Initially a square living tower must have been built in the northern part, then the castle was extended towards the south.
In the 14th century the castle was rather dilapidated, and by the end of the 18th century it had completely collapsed. Today, there are only a few parts of walls, and a part of the pediment for hikers to find.
The Roman Catholic church dedicated to St Kozma and St Damian, now a listed building, was first mentioned in 1236. In the 13th century, a bigger, Romanesque church was built. It was reconstructed several times, last in the 18th century. It was renovated in 1957.
The Tátika castle ruins stand on a 417-m high volcanic cone. The Bishop of Veszprém had it built in the 13th century. It was a castle with an irregular shape and internal towers. Later it became a royal property, then different families owned it. In the 16th century, the Turks raided it and subsequently fell into ruins.
Tátika virgin beech forest. The castle is surrounded by a 74-hectare virgin beech forest, protected since 1953. This nature conservation area is part of the Balaton National Park established in 1997.
The Stupa, the Buddhist shrine was built on the hill near the village in 1992-93. It is a 30-m high, snow-white building, 34 metres in diameter, with a 24- m tall life tree and some relics of Buddha inside. The gold-plated statue of Buddha came from South Korea.
Ruins of Sümeg Castle
Hungary's best-preserved fortress presumably was built before the mid 13th century since King Béla IV lived here for a while during the Mongolian invasion (1241-1242). It was extended several times during successive centuries.
There is a beautiful footpath leading up to the fortress, the main tourist attraction in Sümeg. Castle Hill (Vár-hegy) itself is also a special sight as it rises out of the plain. This position made it an excellent site to defend and thus a strong border fortress.
The castle also has a museum presenting its 125 metres long and 80 metres wide, the castle is oriented north to south and has an irregular polygonal shape. After entering the outer castle gates, the walled path leads to the internal gatehouse that opens onto the courtyard.
Outside the gate of the keep is a wolf pit which once had a drawbridge over it. Some of the buildings, such as the Köves Bastion in the north (built by Bishop Köves in 1554) and the Old Tower, have been covered over. Looking down towards Court Magistrate Square (Udvarbíró tér) from the gatehouse, see the ruins of the strangely named Fort Haversack (Tarisznya-vár). This was not a separate fortress but a tower that probably protected the entrance to the town.
The castle also has a museum presenting its history, next to ancient methods and instruments of punishment, and a collections of sabres and coaches.
The fortress is today the venue for spectacular shows and tournaments. Since 1994 the artists of the Sándor Petőfi Theatre of Veszprém stage plays within the framwork of "Sümeg Castle Theatre" (Sümegi Várszínház) during the summer tourist season.
The village of 1,000 inhabitants located in the neighbourhood of Badacsony was an island at the time when the level of water of Balaton was higher. Nowadays its area is a peninsula jutting out far into the lake. There are only a few places in Hungary presented with so much natural beauty as Szigliget.
On its rocks you can see the more than 730-year-old castle built by the abbey of Pannonhalma in 1262. The houses of the village with thatched roofs are located downwards from the Castle, graded one under each other, in a semicircular order. New streets down in the valley hidden at the foot of Majális Hill, Kámon Stone, Soponya Top, "Queen's Skirt" and Akasztó Hill, getting down to the lake-shore.
A small village with a church had been developed under the Castle belonging to it as usual in the life of a border fortress. The Castle passed into royal proprietorship and then from 1521 for centuries it became the property of Tóti-Lengyel family.
The Turkish tried to take the Castle on the top of the steep hill several times but they always failed, however, they burned down all the villages around it. At that time the Castle was the strongest point of the system of border fortresses at North-Balaton; it served the purpose of a harbour for the Hungarian "fleet". Upon the order of Emperor Leopold issued in 1702 the Castle was blown up.
The characteristic structure of the village has been saved, the whole internal territory of the village is protected. The Tóti-Lengyel mansion under the Castle was built in baroque style, currently it operates as a restaurant.
The neoclassical Esterházy mansion in the centre of the village is a rest-house for writers today. Its 12 ha park is a protected botanical garden (e.g. 150 species of pine-trees grow here). The remained tower of Avar church of Árpád-age (Broken Tower) is situated eastward of the village, above the former port.
A new sight of Szigliget is the sailing port which is connected harmoniously to the old port. Szigliget Gallery in the building of the former elementary school with a thatched roof is next to the Catholic church. Exhibitions are free of charge. The professional show of three craftsmen (glass-engraver, potter, textile manufacturer) can also be seen.
In summer mediaeval fighting show with horses and knights is organized in the evenings. An outstanding event of the various high-standard programmes offered all year round is the Szigliget Summer Days (folk dance, concerts of brass bands, sports and pop music programmes), which is held in the first weeks of August. The autumn programmes include the Vintage festival and the Pike-perch Festival. There are exhibitions from July to the end of August in the gallery.
The natural beauties of Szigliget offer opportunities for walking and riding a bicycle all year round. Walking along the Kamon-kő study trail opened last year, you can get to know the traditions and the natural beauties of the settlement.
Badacsony and its surroundings is one of the most charac- teristic regions of the Balaton Highlands. With its uncom- parable, unforgettable beauty Badacsony is perfectly suitable for summer holidays, bathing, and wine-tasting. Not only are the basalt mountains of Badacsony, Gulács, Csobánc and Szent György mountain uniquely interesting and picturesque geolo- gical memories, but also home to numerous rare plant-and animal species.
The 440-metre-high Badacsony, which was declared a
protected area in 1956 is part of the Balaton-Highlands National Park. On its slopes vine grows, which gives the excellent wines of the Badacsony wine-growing region, while on its sides special geological formations, the so called "basalt organs" can be found.
The top of Badacsony can be reached easily ba following the footpaths and the 379 steps of the "stairs of exiles". From a hight of 438 m a marvellous view opens onto the Badacsony area, the southern coast of Lake Balaton, the surrounding mountains, and the bay of Szigliget.
The town of Badacsony, which lies at the foot of the volcanic mountains is famous for its oenology and its special wine, the Szürkebarát. Mainly such types of vine are grown here which give white wines, for instance: Olaszrizling, Tramini, Kéknyelu, Chardonnay, etc...
Badacsony and its surroundings offer a great number of sights for tourists. The most characteristic chuch of the settlement is Saint Emery's Church. One of the most beautiful wine-press houses of the region is that of Róza Szegedy.
There are a number of programmes offered, that take place in the summer and autumn. A prominent occasion, the Badacsony Festival and Folklore Art Fair, and the Harvest is organised at the first weekend of August.
Tapolca - the cave
It is the only cave in Hungary, which can be visited on boats. The cave was discovered during digging a well in 1903, its passages in the 13,7 million year old rock were created by the emerging thermal water. In the dry section of the cave halls of a size of small rooms can be seen. A 200 m long part of the water section, which can be visited on boats in a circular way, are lit with underwater lights. The temperature of the water is 18-20 °C, the rowing part of the water is 70-120 cm, the air temperature is 20 °C throughout the whole year.
It used to be an open-water bay of Lake Balaton, but was gradually filled up with sediments, becoming a marshy flood plain and reed swamp. Following the 1922 draining there was only half a square kilometre of open water remaining, which almost destroyed this sanctuary for birds.
The situation has changed since the mid-80's, when the 1,870- hectare, 28 million cubic-metre reservoir was built. The River Zala flows along the 22-km-long artificial lake, then turns before returning to its original bed. The bird-life can best be studied from the island of Kányavár.
The following birds live here: heron, common heron, squacco heron, cormorant, spoonbill, great crested grebe, coot, great reed-warbler, warbler, and owl. So far some 232 species of birds have been identified in the area, nearly one hundred of which actually nest here.
The Kányavári Island is a protected wetland habitat of the Small-Balaton, which can be visited without a guide. It has an excellent approach from the road between Sármellék and Balatonmagyaród. It has a well-built road and car park. The island is a landscape feature of outstanding beauty, and can be approached via a special feature wooden bridge which was renovated in 2005. The prime objective of the 1-1,5 km long trail is to show the diverse birdworld of the Small-Balaton, it consists of 13 stations and loops back onto itself, it is enhanced by information boards (in Hungarian, Names of species in German and Latin) and bat holes set up to encourage breeding.