The Hungarian Puszta and the Lake Tisza
The Alföld is a place of legends, and legendary sights. The bird nature reserves its two counties contain, the Hortobágy and the Tisza lake, have made it onto the UNESCO world heritage list. Three national parks can be found within its boarders.
There isn't a region in Hungary which has as many events and festivals connected with gastronomy.
Hortobágy (The Puszta) is one of Europe's largest expanses of protected prairie, where Hungarian grey cattle, stud horses, Racka sheep with spiral-shaped horns and buffalo herds graze on open pastures. A World Heritage site since 1999, the Hortobagy National Park stretches over an area of 200,000 acre.
In this region the sun shines more hours than any other region in the country and abundantly flowing thermal water helps health-seekers to recuperate.
Smooth water, huge bays, backwaters and islands, rich fish and wild stock-this is Lake Tisza. In the middle of the Great Plain, Lake Tisza is the second largest surface of water in the country.
The Lake is situated on what was a flood-plain, and on the flooded territory of the River Tisza. In between water dams, there are sixteen islands and ten water channels. The shallow water areas, which warm up easily, are suitable for bathing. The deeper parts are for water sports such as sailing, water skiing and surfing. Lake Tisza is also the only Lake in Europe where you can speed around by powerboat and jet-ski. Along the riverbank (approximately 50 miles) there are recreation areas, open-air baths, camp-sites and places to hire equipment.
The Bükk National Park
and the surroundings of Bükkzsérc
The Bükk National Park is situated in the Bükk, Hungary’s highest mountain range – at least in terms of average height. It boasts rich plant and animal life, including a variety of rare butterflies and insects. Some 90 species of migratory birds visit the park every year, among them several endangered species that only nest in the forest and cliff walls of the Bükk. Some of the of the many hundreds of caves and hollows in the range’s karst system (at Szeleta and Istállós-kő and the Suba Hole and Balla Cave, for example) are of great scientific interest as primitive archaeological remains. The forest extends as far as the eye can see, 97 per cent of the central part of the range is wooded.
Why else should you visit? Well, the Bükk National Park provides excellent opportunities for walking and cycling, or simply relaxation. The narrow-gauge trails puffing their way through the forest are not to be missed, and the villages nestling in the interior of the hills will leave you spellbound.
Bükkzsérc - where the Bell House is situated and you are accommodated.
On the peak of Hódos Hill, above the village, some unusual natural formations, the Patkó Rocks (“Horseshoe Rocks”), catch our eyes. According to local legends the rocky formations, in the shape of circle of about 100 meters in diameter, keep the trace of the horseshoe of King St. Ladislaus’s horse.
1,5-2 kilometers south of the village there are two lines of wine cellars carved into the rhyolite tuff: the Alsóhegyi and Baglyosi lines. The Pelyhe Cellar in the Alsóhegyi line (also known as “up- per cellars”) is an outstanding one with carvings of Sándor Soltész master stone carver.
In the village there are about 30 stone-built traditional houses from the first half of the XX. Century, which are under local protection. One of these is the Village Memorial House at 39. Petőfi street with an exhibition of old photographs and personal articles.
The Roman Catholic Church (Title: Mournful Mother) of the village was built in Louis Seize style by Károly Eszterházy, bishop of Eger - it is located just around the corner of the Bell House. The works were probably carried out between 1776 and 1780 by József Franz, an architect from Eger. Now it is a protected monument. The altarpiece is the work of János Lukács Kracker from 1779.
The Reformed Church of the village was built in 1828. Its prayer house was constructed between 1825-28 and the tower is from 1884. The floor of the church was renovated in 1997 with the monetary help of the Dutch Church.
Saint István and Anna Cave (Lillafüred)
If you are still hungry for new experiences after your narrow-gauge train ride and a spot of rowing on the Lillafüred lake, it is time to explore the nearby caves. The Saint István’s Cave network is currently measured at 864 metres and was discovered in the early 20th century by an unfortunate dog, who plummeted to its death through its natural shaft mouth.
The 400-metre Anna Cave is unique in Europe in that it was formed from freshwater limestone. The resulting extraordinary formations are truly amazing.
Village Museum (99-100 Kossuth út, Hollókő)
Oszla Village Museum (Cserépfalu, Hór Valley)
The people of Cserépfalu and the neighbouring villages have joined forces to pass the functional objects of the traditional way of life on to posterity. They have arranged the objects collected into a porch, a Calvinist room, a Catholic room and a tool shed.
Szilvásvárad Kalapati Observation Tower (at the end of the Millennium Trail)
Szarvaskő Geological Study Trail (Szarvaskő)
The main attraction of this 6 kilometre long, circular hike are the attractive and varied basalt formations. Enjoy beautiful views looking up from the settlement and by climbing the impressive ruins of Szarvaskő Castle.
Rejtek Study Trails (Rejteki Kutatóház-Répáshuta)
As you walk along the short, barely 800 metre-long trail, five boards give information about the pine forest, life of people living the Bükk, large game and small carnivores, and the creatures living in and around the forest’s lakes and streams. Along the trail, you pass a wealth of natural, historical and cultural sites of interest, learn about the variety of karst formations and see how they are created by sinkholes (dolines). Find out about paleontological research once carried out here (at Rejteki stone niches I and II) and the discovery of the prehistoric man (Balla Cave). Further down the trail, you will see the remnants of a glassworks in the Gyertyán Valley and the vestiges of the fourth Bükk glassworks. The Répáshuta cemetery in the Hór valley is a memorial to the people that once lived here.
Szalajka Valley Conservation Area Nature Trail (Szilvásvárad)
The 4.2 kilometre path beginning at the popular resort town of Szilvásvárad follows the banks of the Szalajka stream through an area of outstanding natural beauty and cultural wealth, including the Szikla Spring, Fátyol Waterfall, Szalajka Spring and Istállóskő Cave.
You can also combine your trip with a visit to the Open-Air Woodland Museum at the gateway to the Horotna Valley and take a picturesque ride on the narrow-gauge railway.
Millennium Nature and Woodland Study Trail (Szilvásvárad)
Discover the range’s geology, the Bükk karst, the plants, insects, carnivorous mammals and bird life and learn about bird conservation in the national park, forestry and game management. There are a number of covered resting places along the route and magnificent views from the observation point at the end of the trail.
The Devil’s Tower Study Trail (Cserépfalu)
The trail leaflet provides comprehensive information on the formation of the Bükk foothills from rhyolite tuff, producing unique surface structures, beehive stones (known as the Devil’s Tower) and limestone relief formations. The rich wildlife of woodland pastures and mountain meadows, hornbeam and oak woods, forested ravines, temperate oak woods and karst scrubland is well worth exploring. The trial also introduces visitors to Hungary’s most significant example of prehistoric man, the cave known as the Suba Hole.
Felsőtárkány Triple Circuit Study Trail (Felsőtárkány Western Gateway Education and Tourist Center)
The trail begins at Felsőtárkány, or, to be precise, the lakeside at the north-eastern edge of the settlement, and showcases the natural and cultural history of the south-west Bükk.
The Rocky Road: This walk connects the Szikla spring and limestone cliffs rising above it, the Kő-köz rock canyon below it and the nearby lake.
The Barát-rét Meadow Circuit begins at the eastern end of Kő-köz and follows Oldal Valley Delta along the yellow trail, before crossing the surfaced road to the Bujdosó-kőt via a steep path from the Karthauz Abbey ruins along the rocky contours of Lök-bérc.
The Castle Hill Circuit takes you up the ridge of Vár-hegy. The route passes a variety of geological structures, including dolomite mines and radiolite formations, as well as the wildlife of the hornbeam and oak woods, sub-mountainous beech forest, acidophilus oak and Mercuriali-Tilietum woods. There is also a fortified late Bronze Age settlement built from earth by the Kyjatice culture.
Study Trails in the conservation areas managed by the Bükk National Park:
Szomolya Kaptárkövek Trail (Szomolya)
Sár-hegy Nature Trail (Mátrafüred – Gyöngyös)
Ilona Valley Trail (Parádfürdő)
Salgó-Somoskő Castle Trail (Salgóbánya – Eresztvény – Somoskő)
Boszorkány-kő Geological Trail (Salgótarján)
Eresztvény Stone Quarry Path (Eresztvény)
Magyar-bánya Stone Park (Somoskő)
Szilvás-kő Geological Trail (Salgótarján – Rónabánya)
Buda-hegy Geological and Botanical Trail (Sámsonháza)
Szanda – Vár-hegy Geological Trail (Szandaváralja)
Hollókő Castle Tour Pathway and Biological Trail (Hollókő)
“Millstone” Trail (Sárospatak)
Regéc Trail (Mogyoróska – Regéc)
Spa and Thermal baths in the nearest region
Since Roman times, thermal waters in Hungary have been used for their medicinal benefits. Over the ages, bath complexes were erected and today you can find a variety of styles, from traditional Turkish baths to modern establishments. “Taking the water” is said to help combat arthritis, ease blood circulation issues, benefit the joints and more. Budapest has earned the nickname City of Spas, while across Hungary thermal baths complexes can be found with unique qualities and medicinal benefits.
Within a short distance you can reach 5 spectacular thermal baths/health resorts we suggest you as day trips. Or you can visit them day by day if you really like hot spas. Bogács Thermal Spa (1) is just 8 km away, Mezőkövesd Zsóry (2) only 20 km. If you take an other route Eger Strand and Turkish Bath (5) is 20 km too, Egerszalók Salt Hill Spa (4) and Demjén Thermal Bath (3) 30-35 km from the Bell House.
Hungary is a land with a long horse riding tradition, and many options for horse riding vacations. Hidden Trails has assembled some of the most memorable (and reputable) horse trekking and riding operators in Hungary, for a truly memorable Hungarian horse riding holiday.
Horse Riding in Hungary:
Hungary is a country with a well-established riding heritage. The Hungarian Warmblood is a sport horse of particular renown. These elegant horses are considered to be more refined than other warmblood breeds, whilst possessing exceptional intelligence and stamina.
Eger is the county seat of Heves, and the second largest city in Northern Hungary (after Miskolc). Eger is best known for its castle, thermal baths, baroque buildings, the northernmost Ottoman minaret, dishes and red wines. Its population according to the census of 2011 makes it the 19th largest centre of population in Hungary. The town is located on the Eger Stream, on the hills of the Bükk Mountains.
Eger is just 20-25 minutes away from the Bell House.
Click here to find more information about Eger sights, events, experiences, wine-gastronomy.
Wine culture of Eger - More than just Bull's Blood
Today, there is a great feeling of optimism in the Eger wine industry. There are a number of reasons for this:
For the past few years tourist numbers are up and it is the wine producers in particular that are benefiting from this surge.
A new cuvee wine, Egri Csillag has been introduced onto the market and is fast gaining plaudits from the wine world.
The growing recognition in the outside world that the Eger Wine District produces quality wine to rival the best of the `traditional` wine producing countries.
Whatever the reason may be, this optimism is good for the city and the surrounding area. Eger and wine are, and have been since 1006, inseparable; the history of wine making in the city is long and fruitful.
Although best known for its cuvee wine, Egri Bikavér (Bulls`s Blood), Eger has much more to offer visitors be they a committed oenophile or complete amateur.
Don`t leave Eger before tasting these:
Egri Bikavér (Bull`s Blood)
Egri Bikavér or Bulls`s Blood is Eger`s signature wine, it is a cuvée wine variety i.e a blend of grape types. It has a long and illustrious history and legends around its intriguing name abound.
For more on Egri Bikavér, take a look at our Bull`s Blood page and if you`re interested in tasting and/or purchasing some of this fine, dry red then take a look here.
Egri Csillag (Eger Star)
There`s a new star in town and it goes by the name of Egri Csillag (lit. Star of Eger). This is also a cuvée wine variety, but white. Similar to Bikavér its name also has an interesting story to it.
However, unlike its established brother above, Egri Csillag has no history to speak of, it is in fact the creation of a marketing department.
But do not let this sway you when considering what wines to taste/buy when in Eger. There are some outstanding white wines sold under this name and a visit to Eger would not be complete without letting it charm your palate. There are many places in Eger where you can try Egri Csillag and, if it is to your liking, purchase some.
Planning to Buy or Taste Wine in Eger?
One problem you definitely won`t have in Eger is finding somewhere to buy or taste wine.
However, unless a committed oenophile, you will have great difficulty in sifting through the myriad wines on offer.
But do not despair as we have gathered all the information together that will make it easier for you to choose the wine you need.
First things first, an essential requirement when choosing a wine from this area is to be aware of the vintages, the past 10 years or so has seen some good weather for grapes and consequently good wine has been produced, other years have proved less fruitful.
Do you want to taste some of Eger's fine wines in a beautiful setting and with knowledgeable, English speaking winemakers?