Hungary

Hungary is a small, but exciting East-Central European nation that won’t fail to delight adventurous visitors. Its capital is one of the most beautiful on the eastern side of its continent. Its language is one of the most unique in the world, only distantly related to Finnish and Estonian, and no other European languages. Its cuisine is without a doubt the finest in Eastern Europe, combining a variety of exciting flavors with the classic central European heartiness. Hungary’s history is that of a unique ethnic group (The Magyars), and the influences they absorbed from East and West.

Travel-worthiness verdict: Well worth visiting, one of the highlights of this region.

Unique Cultural Icons: Goulash, a Unique language, Baroque Buildings, Traditional Folk Music, European Cowboys

Top Destinations: Budapest, Danube Bend, Pecs, Lake Balaton

 

Prices: Not the budget destination it once was, but still cheaper than Western Europe

 

You’ll love: The gorgeous architecture of the capital and other towns; the food; and the rich folk traditions; the fascinating history; the food

 

You’ll hate: The increasing prices; the graffiti in much of the capital; the lack of huge mountains

Language(s): Hungarian

 

Ethnic Makeup: According to the 2001 census,92% of the population is ethnic Hungarian. There are small Roma and Jewish minorities, which have sadly been discriminated against throughout history.

 

Food: This is one area in which Hungary is distinct from some of its neighbors. Unlike that of some of the other small Eastern European countries, Hungarian cuisine is quite highly regarded. It is often quite heavy, and unfortunately can be unhealthy (Hungary has the highest obesity rate in Europe at 28.5% of the adult population) Goulash is a famous dish, and paprika is a common ingredient. There are also many types of soups. As do most European cities nowadays, Budapest has a variety of international cuisine.

 

Literature: Hungarian literature has a rich tradition. Throughout its history, it has produced a lot of great poetry. Hungary’s defeat in 1849 meant that people looked to romanticism for comfort, which led to the creation of a lot of epic, heroic poetry. It is worth noting that due to the uniqueness and complexity of the language, Hungarian literature was, for a long time, not accessible to most of the world.

Visual Arts: Hungary has a very rich tradition of folk art (especially pottery and other ceramics), as well as other European fine art. When King Stephen converted to christianity, Gothic art was introduced to Hungary, and later, the Habsburgs opened the country to Baroque influences. Folk art and other types of art have influenced one another throughout the nation’s history.

Architecture: Hungary is world-renowned for its old-world architecture. Baroque architecture is particularly common. Gothic and romanesque architecture is rarer, but still exists in places. Modern architecture in Hungary is generally dull and not a reason to visit the country.

 

Music: The musical traditions of Hungary are rich and varied. Hungary is well known for its folk and classical traditions throughout Europe. Western pop music is popular among youth, as it is in many parts of the world.

 

Religion: Hungary is generally a more secular nation than many of its neighbors. Around half of the population is Roman Catholic, and 16 percent of the population is protestant. There are also small Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish communities.
Local Customs and Traditions: As do most Eastern European countries, Hungary has its own variations on Christmas and Easter traditions. One example is the sprinkling of girls with water by boys on Easter, where supposedly the prettiest are sprinkled more. Egg painting is another tradition. Numerous villages have their own unique traditions as well.

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