Szentendre Tourist Attractions
This small town on the hilly right bank of the Danube about 20km (12mi.) north of Budapest is one of the most popular destinations for people from the capital.
The individual character of this lovingly restored Old Town with its narrow streets and picturesque views of the Danube was shaped in the 18th C by the immigrant Serbs whose culture, religion, traditions and above all building methods left their mark on the town. At the beginning of the 20th C numerous artists were attracted to this charming little town by the river and many still are today. Small museums and galleries invite the visitor to inspect their work and there is no shortage of souvenir shops selling folk art. During the summer months the town is full of countless tourists.TransportSzentendre is linked to Budapest by the suburban train HÉV. In summer boats operate between the Budapest mooring post Vigadó tér and Szentendre. The center of the town is closed to traffic and the sights can easily be reached on foot.HistoryThe origins of this settlement go back to the 4th C when the Celts were present here. The Romans established a military camp on the banks of the Bükkös stream in the 1st C and called it Ulcisia Castra (Wolfsburg). The conquering Magyars were also taken with the location and settled here. The settlement was first officially documented as "Sanctus Andreas" in 1146 under possession of the bishop of Veszprém. From the 14th C several waves of Greek Orthodox Serbs came to Szentendre, fleeing to escape the Turks. For Szentendre Turkish rule was also synonymous with population losses, migration and devastation. As the Turks had withdrawn from Hungary, but not from the Balkans, at the end of the 17th C many Serbs, who had fought on the side of the Habsburgs, fled to the Hungarian lands. In Szentendre 6000 refugees alone settled, most of them craftsmen and merchants. Through their busy trade the town flourished in the 18th C. Outward signs of this prosperity are the Baroque churches (seven in total), instead of wooden ones, dominating the skyline with their silhouettes. The town became the religious and cultural center of the Hungarian Serbs and seat of the Greek Orthodox bishopric. Epidemics, including the devastating vine pest in 1880, and floods retarded the development of Szentendre in the 19th C. At the beginning of the 20th C painters, sculptors and designers discovered this small town, untouched by industrialization, thereby encouraging tourist development in Szentendre.
On the Danube side of Fo tér towers the beautiful Serbian Orthodox Blagovescenska church which was built in 1752/54 according to plans by Andreas Mayerhoffer (1690-1771) and is dedicated to the Annunciation.The façade of the church is formed by lisières which lead along the narrow entrance hall out over the main ledge to the helm roof of the integrated façade tower. Focal point of the simple entrance side is the doorway with a Baroque curved balcony above it. On the fresco above the side entrance is the expansive representation of Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena with the cross of Christ. The iconostasis within the church is the work of the Serbian artist Michael Zéivkovicé.
Fo tér is the main square in Szentendre, although in actual fact it is triangular. The "Merchants' Cross" in the middle was built following a plague.
The walled Templom tér on the top of the castle hill was the focal point of the settlement in the Middle Ages. In the 18th C Catholic Croats from Dalmatia settled here around the church. Nowadays it is chiefly tourists who come to enjoy the splendid view over the rooftops. In summer the church square is bustling with market stalls offering a wide choice of souvenirs.This Catholic church dedicated to John the Baptist on Templom tér is thought to originate from the beginning of the 14th C, with 15th C additions, and to be built on the site of an older small church. The Gothic period resulted in a Romanesque and a Gothic tower window and a sun dial on the southwest buttress. In the 18th C Catholic immigrants from Dalmatia took over the church which had been abandoned and damaged by the Turks, restoring it in 1710 and again in 1780 in Baroque style. Modern frescos can be found inside the church. In the house opposite the church (Templom tér 1) the artistic heritage of the Hungarian painter Béla Czóbel (1883-1976) is on show.
The most elegant of the seven Baroque churches in Szentendre is the one north of the castle hill, the Episcopal Church consecrated in 1764 (Görög-keleti székesegyház; known as the "Belgrade" church), recognizable by its red and yellow façade. A wrought-iron gate (1771/72) from the workshop of the local artistic locksmith Márton Ginesser leads into the church garden. As with the Blagovescenska church on Fo tér the nave wall on the entrance side merges with the soaring tower to make it vertically dynamic. The most imposing part is the gilded iconostasis carved from limewood.
Museum of Folk Art
Returning to Fo tér a short walk through Rákóczi utca is recommended. On the right side facing the castle hill the old building of the Museum of Folk Art still provides a reminder of traditional building methods. The cellar (still in use) was at street level, a steep covered stairway leads up to the entrance of the house. The exhibition only consists of two rooms of ethnographical collections and curiosities of folk art, so after a short look the visitor can proceed up to the castle hill, on which lies Templom tér (church square).
The Greek Orthodox church was built by immigrants from the region around PoÏarevac (southeast of Belgrade) on the site of a wooden church from 1690. According to the Orthodox faith the choir had to face east which is why the rear of the church faces the street. The iconostasis was probably brought by the refugees from their homeland. The central part has a double winged entrance known as the Tsars' Gate which is very beautiful.
Serbian Church Art Collection
Diagonally opposite the Episcopal Church in the former Bishop's Palace the Serbian Collection of Church Art comprises valuable sacral objects belonging to the Orthodox church. Together with other older works of art brought by the Serbs from their homeland the collection contains liturgical requisites, chasubles, icons, etc. from the 17th-19th C.
The Hungarian Open Air Museum creates 18th and 19th C settlements with original structures which have been relocated to this one site. These villages are connected by walkways.
The Greek Orthodox church is at the foot of the Szatmár hill, one of the finest Pravoslavic churches in Szentendre, was built by tobacco farmers and tanners in Baroque style. Women were only allowed to enter the rear of the church. Focal point of the interior is the dark green iconostasis with five overlapping rows of pictures and gilded Corinthian columns. Particularly beautiful is the gilded wood carving of the Tsar's Gate in the center and the eight icons which surround it. Further north of the church, at Vîrîs Hadsberg útja 51, is the artists' colony founded in 1928 with several artists still working there. Exhibitions are held in the gallery.
The museum at Hunyadi utca 1 is dedicated to the picturesque work of the Surrealist Lajos Vajda (1908-41). The artist couple Imre (1907-44) and Anna Margit (1913-91) Amos are commemorated in the single-story Baroque house at Bogdányi út 10. Imre Amos was a victim of the holocaust. A small glass pavilion at Ady Endre utca 5 houses sculpture and small models by Jeno Kerényi (1908-75).
Opposite the town there is an island in the Danube, 31km (19mi.) long and 2.3km (1 1/2mi.) wide, which stretches as far as the city of Budapest. A bridge at the village of Tahitótfalu, 10km (6mi.) away, connects the island, which consists mainly of arable land, vegetable fields and allotments, to the mainland. Horány and Surány are holiday resorts.
2km (1 mile) north of Szentendre is the resort of Leányfalu with holiday homes, a swimming pool and a campsite by the Danube.
Map of Szentendre Attractions