Southern Transdanubia, Hungary Attractions
Located south of Lake Balaton, Southern Transdanubia is bordered by the Danube and the river Drava. This region offers hiking opportunities, natural beauty and historic memorials.
This small town, situated about 30km (19mi.) south of Pécs close to the border, is renowned for its famous castle, which is in a better state of preservation than most Hungarian fortifications.There are a few listed buildings in the town and a mosque on the Kossuth tér which was destroyed following the Turkish withdrawal and rebuilt in this century.
Villány is a village in the centre of this region.The village is bordered by three large geographical regions: the Great Hungarian Plain from the south, Baranya Hills from the north, and Villány Mountains from the west.
Szigetvár is a provincial town of 12,000 inhabitants, situated 34km (21mi.) west of Pécs. The legendary defense of its castle against overwhelming Turkish odds has won this little town a permanent place in Hungarian history. In the summer of 1566 the 2400-strong garrison of this marshland town (Szigetvár means "island castle") held out for a whole month against a besieging force of 100,000 Turks before finally succumbing. In the course of the siege the Turkish army, led by Sultan Suleiman II, lost more than 20,000 men; the commander of the castle, Count Miklós Zrinyi (1508-66) and all his men were killed. A great-grandson of the Count, the poet and army commander Miklós Zrinyi the Younger (1620-64), who also fought against the Turks, composed a literary monument to this heroic deed in the form of his epic poem "The Siege of Sziget".
To the north of Pécs the Mecsek Mountains (Mecsek hegység) rise to a height of 680m (2232ft). The oldest traces of human settlement in Baranya (c 60,000 BC) were found in caves in this central mountain range; these finds are now in the Janus Pannonius Museum in Pécs. The mild climate encourages the growing of grape-vines and even Mediterranean-type fruits on the southern slopes. The thick deciduous forests, criss-crossed with paths and well provided with resting-places and shelters, are very popular with hikers. From the terrace of the television tower on the Misina Peak (534m (1752ft)) there are fine views of Pécs and of the Dráva beyond. On the way up to the peak there is a zoo and a leisure park.
About 12km (7mi.) east of Szekszárd the Gemenc Forest, 500sq.km (193sq.mi.) of protected countryside, stretches along the right bank of the Danube. The unspoiled meadowland with dead river tributaries provides a habitat for many rare species such as the river eagle and the black stork. The reserve is only accessible from Gemenc (bus to Szekszárd) by narrow gauge railroad or boat. Trips are organized by Tolna Tourist (Szekszárd, Széchenyi utca 38). The train runs all year round, the boats only operate May-October.
Decs (9km (6mi.) southeast of Szekszárd) with 4300 inhabitants is the largest district in the Sárköz and a center of folk art. The "Folk Craft Museum of the Sárköz Region" contains displays of costumes, furniture" and other craft products. Every two years in Decs the "Sárköz Wedding" is celebrated when the wedding couple and all the guests wear traditional 19th C costumes. The Gothic reformed church (15th C) underwent Baroque decoration in the 18th C.
Traveling by car from Pécs to Siklós it is impossible to miss the small spa town of Harkány (alt. 101m (331ft); 3230 pop.) 5km (3mi.) west of Siklós. As early as the 18th C it was known for its sulfur springs which feed the thermal baths today which stand in a 12ha (30 acre) park. The open air pool has five large hot water pools and a sports pool.
Szenna, southwest of Kaposvár, has an open-air museum with several farmhouses and the outbuildings from surrounding regions. A unique feature is the 18th C Reformed Church with a crowned pulpit, coffered and painted ceiling, loft and pews that still functions as a house of worship.
A village north-west of Pécs, in Abaliget there are guided tours of the 600m (1980ft) long dripstone cave.
An excursion to Orfuo northwest of Pécs will be found rewarding. In Orfuo the lakes will prove attractive to bathers and anglers.