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Day trip ideas: the Danube bend – Szentendre

The Danube Bend (aka Dunakanyar) is a huge region starting from Esztergom, where the Danube River starts bending, all the way down to Szentendre and Visegrád. The region also includes the amazing natural endowments of the Börzsöny Hills laying in the north from the Danube, the Pilis and the Visegrád Hills on the south bank, and the Island of Szentendre. You can explore the region in several ways, we recommend you to take an excursion boat from the MAHART Passnave port and drift up the Danube all the way to Szentendre. You can enjoy the postcard ready panoramas on both sides while cruising on the river for around 90 minutes. You can also hop on the H5 HÉV (an overground train) at Batthyány tér and arrive to Szentendre in under one hour.

As Szentendre can be easily reached, it is one of the most frequently visited destination while exploring Budapest for a long weekend. This little town not only has a Mediterranean vibe, but became the home of Serbs who fled from the Turks and settled here in the 14th-17th centuries. The nostalgic cobbled streets will take you back to a vintage atmosphere with its shops, restaurants, trade signs, the ancient buildings of the Main Square, and the house ornaments. Several hidden, tiny jewel-boxes must be explored, such as The Kovács Margit Museum representing more than 300 works by the oeuvre of the ceramic artist Margit Kovács. Most of the objects are figural compositions that reflect the intimate material love of the artist and his faith in human values. The Kossuth Prize-winning ceramic artist gave her lifework to Szentendre in 1973. The exhibition was opened in a 18th-century building transformed into this purpose. After the death of Margit Kovács, in 1977, the entire art estate was also taken to the museum, where almost 400 pieces of art can be seen today. In 2011, after the expansion and upgrading of the building, a permanent exhibition was opened, chronologically reviewing the oeuvre from the beginning of 1929 up to the last period. Most of the works are figurative compositions that reflect the intrinsic material love of the artist and his faith in human values.

The works of the most talented artistic family of 19th century the Ferenczys can be seen in the Ferenczy Museum, which was founded in 1951 and  after the Second World War, was placed in the building of a former Serbian school for teachers. In 1974, the Ferenczy family's permanent exhibition of collections was presented by Károly Ferenczy and his wife, Olga Fialka, and their children, the painter Ferenczy Valer, the sculptor Ferenczy Béni and Noémi Ferenczy, the master of the woven tapestry. The Serbian Orthodox Church was reimbursed and recovered the building in 2010. This was when reconstruction and expansion work began at the Pajor House, resulting in the opening of the new Ferenczy Museum in 2013. In the modernly transformed interiors, the Ferenczy Collection, the permanent exhibition of the Ferenczy family, is in a new order, along with other new permanent exhibitions. 

The Gallery of Szentendre in the former 18th century Serb merchant house and the Gallery of the Artists' Colony exhibit the works of the town's contemporary artists. The Art Mill, built in the 19th century is one of the most interesting and most spectacular exhibitions of our country opened in 1999. The aim of the founders - the artists of Szentendre - was to present a contemporary art center besides presenting contemporary art at temporary exhibitions. In 2012, a renewed and new winged building complex under the EU tender  was established, which is currently the third largest exhibition space in the country. In addition to the yard, a 2000 sqm exhibition space houses temporary exhibitions, presents works by local craftsmen, and is linked to the circulation of contemporary art by organising national and international exhibitions. The closed court yard festivals in the summer hosts theater performances, screenings and concerts.

The open-air Ethnographic Museum (or Skanzen) has the largest ethnographic collection in Hungary with 340 buildings in 10 sections. It was founded on February 1, 1967, presents the folk architecture of the most characteristic parts of Hungary, housing culture and lifestyles of the various layers and groups of rural and agricultural townships in the context of traditional settlements, mostly with original buildings and furnishings from the end of the 18th century, until mid-20th century. Walking through the farmhouses, residential and farm buildings, workshops, temples of the time, the visitor may feel like he/she was returning to the bustling life of the original villages. Within the regions, the structures are integrated into the traditional order of a peasant's march, to which are associated sacral, community and economic structures that were once part of the traditional village. Residential buildings and farm buildings represent the historically established residential type and typical outbuildings of a country. Demonstrations of folk handicrafts are held at the weekends and "notable days" of Hungarian folk culture are celebrated. 

The 13th-14th century Roman Catholic Parish Church stands on the Castle Hill, a sun-dial on its wall tells the time. If you look around the town's scenery from here, four from the seven church tower's belong to the Orthodox Church. The highest, the Blagovesztenszka Church can be found in the main square of the city, which was originally built in 1690 for  the relics of the Brankovics dynasty. Today's church was built in the place of this wooden church in 1752 based on plans by András Mayerhoffer. A patron saint of a town symbolising the city is the Fruit Blessed Virgin. Built on the northern side of the church is the early classicist building of the former Serbian Orthodox school built in 1797, which was received in 2010 by the Serbian Orthodox Church from the Hungarian state. The temple has an east-west axis, in the style of Baroque and Rococo elements. Its facade tower is 28 meters high, on the edges of the arches on its two sides, there is a stone barn and a small obelisk. Special features of stone-framed windows are small, curved stone tiles. Its main entrance is a richly decorated stone gate with oak door wings. At the entrance there is a Greek marble tomb, red marble. The side entrance of stone-framed oakwood is decorated with shells, with a curved frame above the frescoes of St. Constantine and Saint Ilona. The Rococo iconographic wall of the church was made by Mihály Zsivkovics in the 1802s. On top of the crucified Jesus is seen on his left side with the Painful Virgin Mother, on the right side with the image of St. John. More icons, works of gold and silversmiths and other treasures can be found in the Serb Orthodox Church Museum

For those with a sweeter tooth, a visit to the Szabó-Szamos Marzipan Museum is a must! The two great figures of the Hungarian food industry, the workmanship of Mátyás Szamos and Károly Szabó, who worked here in Szentendre with the implementation of the jointly operated business. The Marzipan Museum's top floor awaits visitors with a rich material, on the ground floor the delicacies can be bought. The history starts with a  poor Serbian boy, Szendits Mladen, who was born without a father, was just a trainee boy in the Krisztina Boulevard's well-known Auguszt E. József Confectionery. One day, in the early 1930s, a Danish confectioner was introduced to the company, who showed with his skill, that with attention and lots of practice, candy, almonds and marzipan can be made with pretty roses. The little boy got mesmerised and after a good few hours, days, months, years and decades, and many hundreds of thousands of marzipan roses have passed and gone since then. He also found a woman, of course, from the confectionery business, they had beautiful children, nowadays the grandchildren have all grew up, but all learned to make roses. From these roses the Szamos marzipan manufactory was launched in the mid-nineties. Most of the recipes are reminiscent of Mátyás Szamos's ingenuity. 

Photo credits: No 4. & 15.: Jorge Gobbi / Flickr, No 1. & 2.: Godehard Ruppert / Flickr, No 3.: Ramón Cutanda López / Flickr, No 5 - 11: Pixabay, No 12.: Tord Remme / Flickr, No 13. & 14.: Andrew Moore / Flickr

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