Kalocsa Travel Guide

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Baroque Church in Kalocsa

Baroque Church in Kalocsa

Tamás Csapai

Kalocsa is a one thousand year old picturesque little town. It lies along the Danube 120 kilometers south of Budapest . Its magnificent baroque monuments, its flourishing folk art and its “red gold”, Hungarian red paprika, are well-known all over the world. 

The history of this town is almost as old as that of Hungary . Astrik, the prelate who brought the crown for Stephen, the first king of Hungary , bore the title of “Archiepiscopus Colocae”, archbishop of Kalocsa. Over the course of centuries the town was not much afflicted by the calamities of history. As the geographical and administrative center of the region, Kalocsa preserved its values without being disturbed. For the tourists, it’s a lovely place worth seeing. For its inhabitants, it is a growing developing town which protects the relics of the past, and has new prospects for the future.

The environments of Kalocsa show all the splendour of a low-land landscape. The green fields of wheat, hundreds of flowers in the fields, the forests of the Danube valley with their rusting leaves, the white farmhouses typical to this region have inspired many artists. Moreover, this lowland world is an inexhaustible source of Kalocsa’s folk art. Art admired not only in Hungary but all over the world.

Kalocsa may be approached from any direction. You know you are close when you first catch sight of cathedral with the two towers. This monumental church was built between the years 1735 and 1754. It is the most prominent of all the other baroque buildings in the dramatic Holy Trinity Square . The stuccos of the church, the two marvelous reliefs by Miklós Izsó, and the famous organ of the firm Angster of Pécs arouse the interest of many visitors. From time to time, skilled musicians play the organ with its three keyboards and more than four thousand pipes.

The library of the Archbishop’s Castle is a treasury of universal culture. “Compendium Medicinae” by Langfrancus, a Parisian physician, Martin Luther’s bible, bearing the autograph of Luther himself, the “Beard-Codex” by Beck Konrad, the Singalesian Bible written on palm leaves – these are only a few samples of the library’s treasures. The ceremonial hall of the library is also worth seeing. Its walls are covered with Maulbretsch-frescos. The magnificent gilt bindings of the volumes were made by the Viennese family of book-binders. Among the books there are interesting medieval astronomical instruments and maps. The first authentic duplicate of the Hungarian royal crown is also to be seen here. 

The main street of the town, beginning at the Holy Trinity Square , is named after St. Stephen. Like the square, it has a baroque character. Here one can see the building of the former seminary which now is the site for Pál Tomori College . The Károly Visky Museum is also located on this street. This Museum displays a rich collection of peasant craft products. Through these objects we may get an insight into traditional culture of the ancient inhabitants of Kalocsa and its surrounding environments called Great Kalocsa.

There is a difference of several centuries between the collection of the ethnographical museum and other attractions of the town - For example the Nicholas Schöffer House. This artist, who lived in Paris , was born in Kalocsa. The exhibition arranged in his house of birth anticipates the art of the future. These works are unique in Hungary . The combination of light-and space-dynamism, of kinematics, and cybernetics outline an entirely new conception of art. The exhibition also provides evidence of the artist’s attachment to his place of birth.

The colorful flowers in the fields, the golden-yellow color of the sun, the dark green of the forests – these are the colors and motives of Kalocsa’s folk art which is growing richer and richer by the work of skillful artists. The folk art of Kalocsa is reviving. Once again people are taking up painting folk motifs on walls and furniture. They are making and occasionally wearing traditional costumes. Many citizens of Kalocsa can dance folkdances and sing folk songs. Thousands and thousands of visitors take delight in the whirling of colors and forms found in various objects and embroideries. The peasant artists who hand-craft these are the real ambassadors of Hungarian folk culture abroad: Their work is well-known all over the world. The famous spice of Kalocsa is paprika, the Hungarian red pepper. It is rightly called the “red gold”. In autumn, when paprika ripens, the fields around Kalocsa are fiery red. Then all the surrounding houses put on red garments - paprika strung in garlands to dry and later to be ground to powder. This is the indispensable spice of Hungarian cuisine: A fact that what every cook can attest to.

The Paprika Museum presents the past and present of paprika-growing and paprika-preparing. One can even find out some secrets of preparing the famous spice. But those who really know every secret of it are the people for whom the paprika is more than a common plant: it is their work, their means of getting along, their life.

The entertainment offered by the horse-shows in the region of Kalocsa has become very popular recently. At various farms in the region, visitors can get acquainted with the traditions Hungarians have with of horses. At these farms, visitors will discover some little known relationships between man and horse. They can also try to drive a carriage – It isn’t all that hard and can be quite delightful.

Szelid

In the middle of the last century there were only a few people from the neighboring villages who knew about this place. Today thousands of people   come to spend their holidays by the “blue pearl” of the region. “Nomen est omen” (Szelid=gentle): Soft, silky water, whispering rushes, swaying forests - this is Szelid. The sandy beach is ideal for young children and the quiet bays are marvelous for fisherman.

Hajós

The traditional culture of the Serbian population, the delicious wine, villages of wine-cellars unique in Europe , all hold the promises of good entertainment. The Serbian population settled here during the reign of Maria Theresa. This group built a group of over one thousand five hundred cellars, most just outside the village. This village of cellars has become part of their lives, the symbol of their way of life and their work. Today the wine-cellars are like small museums were the wine-growers have preserved the old implements of wine-culture.

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December 07, 2006 change by giorgio

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