Its strategic position in the heart of Europe made Hungary an important country in the history of the Old Continent. Conquered by the Turks and subjected to the power of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the country stayed in the shadows during the Communist years before reconnecting with its rich history and opening up to the world again. Tourists certainly have nothing to complain about, and are busy rediscovering the charms of a nation steeped in music and literature. Budapest, the capital, is its flagship city. The “pearl of the Danube” has something of a feel of Eastern Paris, combining the splendour of its royal hill, Buda, with the wheeling and dealing of Pest, a neighbourhood characterised by broad avenues on a Haussmannian scale. Not to mention the charms of the baths, with their exceptional baroque décor.
The west of the country, close to Austria, has its fair share of elegant cities such as Sopron and Köszeg, both of which boast fine examples of Baroque and Gothic architecture. Above all, it is home to Lake Balaton, the vast “inland sea” that attracts millions of tourists every year. To the south, Pecs and the surrounding region have retained their southern accent and, in the mosques, the traces of the Turkish occupation.
But it is perhaps in the east that Hungary’s best secrets are kept: Tokaj and its famous wine-growing region, the Puszta and its mysterious plain, the red wines of Eger, and Nyirseg, with its curious wooden churches... Hungary may not make its mark with grandiose landscapes, but it does so through a magical concoction of tradition and tranquillity.