Eger is a beautiful historical town in northern Hungary.
It’s relatively less known than other Hungarian touristic attractions.
Less than two hours away (both by car and train) from Budapest, it lies on the edge of the crowded tourist routes . Yet it is a pleasant town, with many things to see: baroque buildings and churches, the amazing old town, the spas, the wine cellars.
Many have ruled over Eger, from Mongols to Turks to Austrians. All have left a legacy, one of the biggest being probably the one left by the Ottoman Empire.
If you’ re in Hungary I definitely recommend a visit to this tiny yet beautiful town.
Here are the 5 most notable things to see in Eger among many others. This is my opinion, of course, and you can comment in the space below.
- The old town
It is the Baroque pearl of Eger with its cobblestoned alleys flanked by beautiful buildings and arched passages.
It’s easily explored by walking.
You can also sit at one of the many bar and cellars to get a glass of the famous local red wine. On the north-eastern edge, at the foot of the Castle Hill you can also visit the ruins of the Turkish Bath Valide Sultana.
- Dobó István square
The heart of the old town.
A large, beautiful square with a modern multicolored fountain in its middle and baroque buildings all around:
The Town Hall,
The old Priory building
The beautiful Church of St. Antony of Padua or Minorite Church. Visit its beautiful interior with frescoes and woodworks.
- The castle
Eger’s castle stands on a hill that overlooks the town and the surrounding area.
It has a long and troubled history.
It was built after an earlier one, located North-East of the town, was destroyed by the Mongols in 1241. Reinforced during the reign of King Matthias (1458–1490).
It was the center point of the Hungarian national drama known as the Siege of Eger. In 1552 the Ottoman army laid siege on the town in an attempt to conquer it and guarantee access to the vast pasturelands and a direct route to Budapest. But the defenders, led by István Dobó, were brave enough to withstand the assaults for more than one month until when the invaders withdrew.
After the battle the castle resulted almost completely destroyed. The reconstruction process took place between 1553 and 1596. In 1596 the Ottomans came back. They launched a new siege that this time proved to be successful. The conquer of the town marked the beginning of the almost one century long Ottoman rule over Eger.
You can visit the castle and some buildings more recent than the sieges, like the Gothic Palace.
You can also walk along the walls and enjoy some breathtaking views of the town and surroundings.
- The Minaret is a remnant of the Ottoman rule and still stands proud in the middle of the town with its 40 meters height. It was the northernmost Turkish minaret in Europe.
There’s no mosque anymore so that tall and thin structure looks a bit odd, but fascinating.
Climb to the summit to get a great view over the town and its surroundings.
- Egri Bikaver is the red wine produced from the vineyards around Eger.
It has a good and well-deserved reputation. In recent years the production of the area has been diversified and also white and rosé wines have approached the market.
You can taste a glass or buy some bottles in the wine bars and wine shops of the old town.
Many of the cellars are located in the outskirts of the town in an area that bears the poetic name of Valley of Beautiful Women (Szépasszonyvölgy in Hungarian!).
In autumn you’ll find here the harvested grapes ready to be converted into wine and stored into the cellars cut into the tufa.
There is a park and some restaurants, and you can visit the cellars around.
If you have a car you can also drive through the hills that surround the town, completely covered by vineyards. It’s an interesting detour.
If you are there in autumn, enjoy the beautiful warm colors all around, contrasting with the deep purple hues of the grapes.
The most renowned area is Nagy-Eged Hill (in English Great Eged Hill) that’s Eger’s Grand Cru terroir. It lies North East of the town and you can visit it also by bike, if you’re fit enough.
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