Vac Tourist Attractions
Vác, situated on the left bank of the Danube Bend 34km (21mi.) north of Budapest, has retained the charm of an attractive small Baroque town despite the industrial development on the outskirts.
The best view of the town's silhouette with its characteristic church towers is from the Danube Island which is accessible from Vác by car ferry.HistoryThere were already settlements here dating back to prehistoric and Roman times. At the beginning of the 11th C. St Stephan founded a bishopric here and it was officially documented for the first time in 1075. Favorably situated at a crossing point on the Danube, the town was a regional trading center in the High Middle Ages under the protection of a royal castle. Around the middle of the 13th C on the site of the present day town center stood the walled German town. The Turkish wars in the 16th and 17th c, brought devastation to the town and the population migrated elsewhere. Not until the end of the 17th C when the bishops settled back in Vác, was the Baroque town established north of the medieval castle, undergoing economic revival in the 18th C. This development continued into the 19th C with the first Hungarian railroad line being opened from Pest to Vác in 1846. After the Second World War various industries were established on the periphery of the town (chemicals, chalk and cement works, docks, etc).The historic center of Vác stretches primarily between the eastern bank of the Danube between Konstantin tér, dominated by the cathedral, and Március 15 tér (March 15th Square) to the north, lined by fine patricians' houses. The road approaching the town from Budapest crosses the twin-arched bridge from 1757 with its statues which spans the Gombás river. Following Mártirok útja the visitor will reach Géza király tér (King Géza Square) with its Franciscan church.
Cathedral of Mary's Ascension and St Michael
This huge on cathedral on Konstantin tér became the forerunner to other post-Baroque style cathedrals in Hungary.
March 15th Square
This Baroque square was redesigned in 1951. It is surrounded by lovely Baroque houses and the town hall.
The dominant building on Szentháromság tér (Holy Trinity Square) is the former piarist church of St Anna (completed in 1745 after 20 years), recognizable by its narrow towers with pointed spires. The Piarist order house adjoins the church. The Baroque Trinity Column (1755) in the center of the square is a prime example of this type of sculpture, which is prevalent in Hungary.Opposite the piarist church is one of the entrances to the thermal baths in Vác (the other entrance is at Ady Endre sétány 11). There is a park between the baths and the banks of the Danube with an avenue of planes fenced off by a wrought-iron railings by the Hungarian architect and craftsman Frigyes Feszi (1821-84).
King Géza Square
On the southwest side of the King Géza Square stands the Baroque triple-naved Franciscan church built in 1721-66 using stone from the medieval cathedral. The gable wall is decorated by a sculpture of the order's founder and Franciscan emblems. Also on Géza király tér, in the grounds of a new school, are a few ruins of the walls of the former royal castle. Only a stump remains of the ten-sided gate tower. Among the ruins is the figure of the "Happy settler of Vácz", from where, according to legend, the town takes its name.
While the cathedral was still under construction Bishop Magazzi commissioned a two-story palace with a central ressaut on the opposite side of Konstantin tér from the Viennese architect Josef Meissl (1768-75). West of the building the rather overgrown palace gardens run down to the banks of the Danube.
Vak Bottyán Museum
Only a short distance from Géza király tér, in the Vak Bottyán Museum at Múzeum utca 4, the sculpture from the old episcopal church has been preserved and the town's history is documented. The municipal museum is named after the one-eyed general who campaigned against the Habsburgs in the Independence War under Prince Rákóczi.
For nature lovers a trip into the unspoiled countryside of the Börzsöny Mountains is recommended, of which the on average 300-400m (984-1312ft) high volcanic peaks form the western foothills of the North Hungarian Central Uplands. In the south, west and north they extend as far as the Danube and Ipoly, in the east they descend into the Nógrád Basin. Around the Csóványos, the highest peak at 938m (3077ft), lies the 18,000ha (44,478ac) conservation area of Magas-Börzsöny. The varied landscape is characterized by wooded slopes, deeply incised valleys with numerous springs and river courses. In the lower regions the vegetation is mainly oak woods, with beech woods on the higher slopes. On a walk through this untouched, restful countryside it is quite possible to encounter stags, wild boar and moufflon.Nógrád or Diósjeno (about 20km (12mi.) north of Vác) are ideal starting points for walks of one day or more. For the less energetic there is the narrow gauge railroad which crosses the Börszöny Mountains from Veroce (5km (3mi.) west of Vác).
Botanical Garden, Vacratot, Hungary
Vácrátót, situated about 10km southeast of Vác, has one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Hungary, laid out by Count Sándor Vigyázó in 1872 in the style of an English country garden. Laid out with rocks, a waterfall, artificial ruins and other romantic details the gardens are looked after by the Academy of Science which also tends the arboretum with its 15,000 varieties of plants. Some of the best features of the botanical garden are the bushes and deciduous cypresses growing around the man-made pond. On the estate is a country house with a park where concerts of Mozart's works are held throughout the year.
More on PlanetWare