Mesmerizing Pecs :)
Thru travel we were able to escape the oncoming heat wave in California last year. Months before the sizzling summer in October came I have already made an advanced booking for a tour in Pecs, Hungary. My girlfriend and I can’t stand the unbearable heat during such months it is why I planned ahead for our summer getaway adventure and enjoy the cool climate in Central Europe. We stayed for a month to explore Pecs the land of plains, gentle hills and low mountains. It is a beautiful city and we loved it!
I knew we were heading for an exciting adventure the minute we landed at the Budapest Airport. Inside the airport we hailed the Airport Minibus that took us to the Deli Palyaudvar Railway Station, an Inter City Railways service to reach Pecs. The cool breeze of fresh air that welcomed us was enough to please our weary souls after hours of travelling. After a brief rest in our hotel, later in the afternoon we started our tour by learning about the illustrious history of Pecs at the Zsolnay Museum. It is an interesting museum and factory showcasing the ceramic art and creativity of the Hungarian artist Miklos Zsolnay. The museum holds an extensive collection giving an overview of the history of the factory and the era of the products. My girlfriend bought a book on their shop detailing the facts for each piece. Across from this museum stands an equally magnificent architecture, the Pecs Cathedral. This cathedral is the perfect example of a basilica in Romanesque Revival style. The imposing size, the beautiful interior paintings, Episcopal treasury, the interesting lower church with biblical reliefs, the century old organ still acoustically good, proved all the beauty of this church. The four towers gave an elegant image of the temple. Inside we had access to a small canopy covered altar and an underground crypt, it looked more impressive especially at night. The architectural details on the door were pretty exceptional. I admire the paintings on the ceilings and walls, it was totally eye catching!
The following day was started with a visit to the Pecs Synagogue. With a splendid façade and interesting interior, this attraction draws the tourists more once the Jewish gentleman who works there appears. He welcomes everyone with fact sheets about the history and interesting anecdotes about the synagogue. The unusually large size of the building suggests that a very large Jewish community has lived here once. The wooden synagogue fronting the market has a romantic aura about it, great photo opportunities and a nice place to shop for souvenirs. The synagogue is located right next to a new parking garage. It has its innate charm and the details at the façade serve as a good backdrop for a romantic stroll along the city. It is definitely one of the most beautiful synagogues in modern Europe. Before the day ended we were so thrilled to check out the cemetery ruins at the Early Christian Burial Tombs. It is an outstanding collection of old Christian burial chambers. Remnants of an ancient sepulcher and the frescoes of the St. Peter Paul Chamber was great testaments to an old tradition of burying the dead. The site was above our expectations; it feels amazing that the city has maintained its structure and fine decorations. An attraction that has survived time and modernization, it is a must see attraction in Pecs. Around this area we even found a Mc Donald’s branch.
On our third day in Pecs we had a great time strolling around the pedestrian zones of Kiraly Utca. The heart of Pecs has beautiful town houses from the early century. A good selection of bars, restaurants and cafes line the piazza square. Each attraction lies just fifteen minutes away from each other, like the National theater, churches and parks. After satisfying our appetites for the traditional goulash on one of the cafes, we head to the next attraction called the Tivadar Csontvary Museum. We dare not miss the opportunity of seeing this fascinating painter’s works. Done in the sophisticated style, most of his works are very large with biblical themes and often in doll–like figures with vibrant colors. His vivid impressions of 18th century Hungary and oil paintings succeed in conveying the message of how beautiful his country is during his time. Naïve and at the same time surreal, it was interesting to discover the works of this one great artist.
We started our day the next morning with a quick visit to the Jakawali Hassan (Jakovali Hassan) Mosque and Museum. This former mosque is slightly outside the main square but still easily accessible. It is small in size and has simple decorations inside. The 22 meter minaret is still present here. After its renovation it was opened to the public. The caretaker shared so much information about the conversion of the church/mosque. He even showed us old books about the history of the Turkish whirling dervishes. While in contrast we visited the Mosque of Pasha Gazim, a mosque that lies within the city square. This former mosque has been converted into a church after the Turkish occupation. Various elements of the mosque and the Islam faith are still visible inside this attraction. Today it fully functions as a Christian church with addition of twentieth century church features. Entrance is free but donations are required on every tourist who visits the place. Postcards and prayer books are openly sold at the entrance.
The next day we rented a cab to take us to the TV Tower. A lift took us way up to the observation deck where we had an amazing view of the mountains, surrounding vineyards, and the whole city. The views are best appreciated on a clear day. The café on top was equally fascinating as they serve traditional meals and great coffee while we enjoy the view of the city. Upon our descent we head next to admire the contemporary art works in the Victor Vasarely Museum. His classic OP-art dominates the walls of the exhibit. The small art museum also boasts of great sculptures and art works done by his wife and son. After lunch we checked out the ancient burial grounds inside the Pecs Sopianae Cemetery. The site was interesting and well maintained, with good illustration panels and details in Italian. This Roman Christian cemetery can be found within the city. Many Christian symbols such as the dove, jug, cup, and the monogram of Christ can be seen in their well preserved state in the form of murals. The tour can be enjoyed even without a guide. It is a unique memorial of a bygone era that should not be missed during a stay in Pecs.
The next day was a good time to hit the greens at the Pecs Golf Club. It is nicely situated along the hilly side of Pecs, with challenging tracks and courses. The first nine holes of the course looked beautiful but gets intensive once we hit the water passages. I beat my girlfriend many times but she was pretty much forgiving. It was quite difficult to play but the views of the well maintained green on the fairways were such a relief after a tiring game. The food and the service at the clubhouse were impeccable. The greens were very fast and the ground was pretty hard. It was also great to know that most of the staff were friendly and assists us in all our needs. A beautiful track, gorgeous scenery, and exciting challenge, it was the best part of our tour.
Having a tour of Pecs was an enjoyable summer getaway for us. Each day was filled with beautiful memories of the fabulous attractions we loved. I look forward to spending our summer vacation again on Pecs.