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Szentendre


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Szentendre, the place where time has stopped

Published by Dóra Csatári — 3 years ago

Hello all!

It took me 3 years living in Budapest, when I once decided to visit Szentenre and its Christmas Market. Just like in the case of Rómaipart (link), I absolutely regret that I’ve been too late, and I discovered it only by the end of my life at Budapest. So I couldn’t enjoy it for a long time. Szentendre was another destination I knew I will have to visit in the future, but I always procrastinated, and visited it in my last semester spent at Budapest.

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To tell the truth, if I had visited it earlier, I would have traveled there more often. As often as possible. Because at Szentendre I feel right like a persona in a fabled tale or knight-legend. The surroundings look like the court of a castle of a medieval municipality. The entire little city looks like a mini-maquette of a story. At least its central part, including the old town. Several times some of my friends and family members recommended me visiting Szentendre, but I always devalued it, and chose staying at home. I was mistaken, Szentendre is a city absolutely different from Budapest and from other Hungarian cities. Even if it lies only on 40 square kilometres, its character and personality is amazingly unique and special.

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All you have to do to reach Szentendre is getting on suburban railway line H5 at Batthyány tér, or Margit híd-Budai hídfő, and keep calm, till You arrive to the end station. The average BKK monthpass is sufficient till Budakalász station, and from there on You’ll have to pay around 400 HUF to the conductor for a completary ticket. When You leave the city behind by H5 trees, hills, forests, fruit trees, farms start to appear in the horizon. The journey to Szentendre reminded me of traveling to country-region to my grandparents, or traveling home to Cluj-Napoca. I would lie if I said life at Szentendre is like being at province, because there are a few block of flats, there’s a hospital, there are a few colleges like the Officer Academy of Hungarian National Defence, Kossuth Lajos college and buildings of Budapest Business School as well. Szentendre has a Cultural Centre including a theatre too. Regardless of these facts, I won’t say Szentendre’s got influenced by Western-European trends, or that it’s getting modernized. The city is of course under progression and development, but still the old and more valuable aspects dominate it. Time has somehow stopped in the city-centre somewhere around the 18th century. And I could easily fall in love with cobble-stones and majestic old buildings.

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The city-centre is just a few minute walk from the suburban railway station. Imagine it like an aggregation of pedestrian streets. No car traffic, no public means of transportation in the city centre. The old town consist of seven churches, (most of them are Roman-catholic, Greco-catholic and orthodox), three theatres and at least ten museums. Small city, but very rich and ‘concentrated’ if we talk about its art and cultural history. I couldn’t compare Szentendre with any other city I’ve been at in my life, because the houses, the squares, merchandors’ stands are completely different and unique. Each house and fence has other colors. There is geranium in every window. Most people travel by bike.

Of course many citizens leave Szentendre and travel to Budapest for working or studying, but still coming home for them is like a remedy. Szentendre slowers everything and everybody down.

I’ve read a bit about the city, because it had interested me what kind of influences meet in the architecture and history of Szentendre, and I found out that in fact at the beginning of time Szentendre was a completely Serbian civil town. That’s why it has its orthodox churches as well. Hungarian, German and Slovakian inhabitants settled in Szentendre only at the beginning of the 19th century.

Szentendre is the city which has ‘7 columns’ due to its 7 churches. The dominating styles in architecture are baroque and rococo.

I was visiting Szentendre in the Winter, in the period of Advent. The old town was more special as usually due to colourful light bulbs, Christmas decorations, the live and mesmerizing sound of carols sung by choirs and the smell of mulled wine and cinammon. The first stop during my special afternoon-walk was at Szamos marzipan factory and manufacture. There I could watch the technique how marzipan is produced, how chocolates are filled with marzipan, and of course I could taste different sorts of this sweet. There is also a confiture incorporated in the museum, where several types of desserts are prepared and can be tasted. All of them are handcrafted goods. Szamos was actually a Serbian chocolate and marzipan manufacture combined with a Danish marzipan specialist’s work. Later the recipes were a bit changed by a Hungarian confectioner, and his recipes are used nowadays as well. Among lemon, coconut, pistachio, walnut, nut, orange, vanilla, strawberry-flavored marzipans I could hardly choose what to taste or buy. I bought marzipan candies, Christmas candies for decorating Christmas tree and chocolates for my friends and family as souvenirs, and I reached an absolute success with my presents.

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Szamos museum of chocolate and marzipan was the number one attraction for me at Szentendre, but of course I entered the butcher’s meat speciality store and visited the dairy-product stand too. Cottage cheese, smoked bacon, and smoked hams for quite high-price. But at least, representing good quality.

If You want to gain deeper inside the cultural heritages of Szentendre, You can visit Painting museums, ceramics manufactures, the Museum of Serbians or the public transportation museum.

Then I took a walk around the mulled wine, hot chocolate and cookies stands and the ‘wooden store’, the carver’s shop, who trims and carves any kind of decoration, tool, household object of wood. Wool accessories were popular too, many boutiques were selling nice and unique styled beautiful earrings, bracelets, necklaces made of wool.

After the old town walk, I decided to walk at the bank of Danube river and there I should say goodbye to Szentendre.. From the city centre, reaching the beautiful pedestrian alley by the river didn’t took more than 2-3 minutes by walk. It was a calm and silent evening walk. Interestingly, the Danube here is cleaner and narrower than in Budapest. Thus, much friendlier. It's called in fact, the Promenade of the Danube by Szentendre citizens.

Thanks for reading, Dora

If You’re interested about other writings of mine, click on the following link.

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