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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Esztergom

Esztergom is one of the oldest towns in Hungary. It lies about 60km (37mi.) northwest of Budapest, on the terraces of the right bank of the Danube at the place where the river breaks through the Hungarian Central Uplands ("Hungarian Wachau"). The old residence of the Hungarian Princes and Kings has, since 1715, been the seat of the Catholic Prince Primate of Hungary and, thanks to its many historical buildings, an important tourist center.

Cathedral

A distinct landmark in the skyline of Esztergom, the imposing Cathedral is a striking sight. The entrance way to the Cathedral is marked by two tall towers and several Corinthian Columns.

Christian Museum

Located in the 1882, Palace of the Primate of Hungary is the Christian Museum with a reputation for its works of Hungarian Italian Renaissance artists. The main attraction is the Picture Gallery.

Hungarian Royal Palace

The ruins of the Hungarian Royal Palace date to between the 10th and 12th C. It was destroyed by the Turks but is today open to the public for tours.

Pilis Mountains

An excursion into the Pilis Mountains (Pilis-hegység), which lie between Esztergom and Budapest in the loop formed by the Danube Bend, is recommended. This chain of mountains, an official nature reserve, covers an area of some 23,000ha (90sq.mi.), with the coffin-shaped Pilis teto being its highest point (757m (2485ft). There is little in the way of lakes or other waterways, but there are large numbers of caves with fossils and other signs of life from the geological past. Mountain slopes covered mainly in forests of beech and oak mingle with steep and picturesque chalk cliffs. Because so many wild animals roamed the region and it was close to the royal residences at Esztergom, Visegrad and Buda, it was a favorite hunting-ground with the Hungarian kings, who built a number of hunting lodges (such as that at Pilisszentlászló). Today the beautiful Pilis Mountains, being so near to the town, are a popular spot with day-trippers. Favorite places from which to set out on walks include the villages on the narrow chain of hills between the Pilis Mountains and Visegrad Hills, especially Pilisszentkereszt, where the road leads up Dobogó-ko, which is 700m (2300ft) high and offers a superb view of the Danube Bend. The health resort which is also named Dobogó-ko is popular in both summer and winter (winter sports).

Former Jesuit Church

Close to the Archbishop's Palace stands the pretty Baroque church in which Jesuits worshipped between 1728 and 1738. The towers were not built until the end of the 18th C, the spires being added in the 19th C. The Baroque interior was destroyed in the Second World War. After having been spared the ravages of plague in 1740 the citizens of Esztergom gave thanks by paying for a Lady Column to be erected in the square in front of the church.

Széchenyi tér

Esztergom's former market place, surrounded by a number of 18th and 19th C buildings, is still the very hub of the town's life. The building styles range from Baroque and Late Historicist to colorfully painted more modern houses, all combining to give this wedge-shaped open space its graphic appearance. On the south side of the square stands the arcaded Town Hall (Városháza; 1770) with its particularly fine Rococo façade.

Esztergom Baths

The Esztergom baths have been well known since Roman days. Adjoining the Hotel Fürdo, an imposing early 19th C Classical building, are a thermal bath and outdoor baths, recommended for the treatment of rheumatism and gynecological disorders, etc. They occupy the same site as the country's first public baths, opened by the Knights of St John in the 12th C.

St Anne's Church

St Anne's Church on Hosök tere (Heroes' Square) was built between 1828 and 1835 to plans by János Páckh. The artist had in his mind the great model of the Roman Pantheon. His church served as a model for the new Cathedral of Esztergom. The interior of the main building with dome above is clad in Carrara marble. The Classical church in Balatonfüred and others elsewhere are clearly based on that of St Anne's.

Bálint Balassi Museum

This museum is named after Bálint Balassi, the Hungarian poet who fell while fighting against the Turks near Esztergom in 1594. It houses an interesting collection of archaeological and local historical material illustrating the history of Esztergom, including finds dating from the Middle Ages and the Turkish era.

Danube Island

The island of Alsó-sziget, which is linked to the mainland by three bridges over the Kis-Duna, has in recent years been developed as a recreational park. Landing-stages, sports grounds, an open-air theater and the well-known inn, the Halász-csárda, provide for all kinds of leisure activity.

Diocesan Library

József Hild, the architect who designed the Cathedral, also drew up the plans for the Diocesan Library (1853), which stands near the river not far from the Archbishop's Palace. The valuable collection of books is in two rooms which are open to visitors.

Old Church

Built during the 1760s, the so-called "Old Church" (Öreg templom) (City Parish Church) replaces a 13th C Franciscan church. The reredos of the High Altar by the Hungarian painter János Vaszary (1867-1937) is exceptionally fine.

St Thomas' Hill

From St Thomas' Hill (Szent Tamás-hegy), the second highest hill in the town, there is a fine view of Esztergom and the Danube.
On the hill stands a chapel dating from 1823, which contains a notable "Way of the Cross" with 18th C statues.
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