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Posts tagged ‘Hungary’

A Concert in the Beautiful Hungarian State Opera House

It’s nice to tour gorgeous, historic music venues, but it’s even more enjoyable to appreciate the interior while taking in a concert!  The Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest is a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece from the late 19th century (like many other architectural wonders in the city).  With nearly nightly performances and very reasonable ticket prices, the Opera is a great way to spend an evening.  Just make sure you leave plenty of time before and after the show to wander the elegant lobbies and corridors.

Hungarian State Opera House interior

Empty seats and dimmed house lights in the Hungarian State Opera House after the concert.

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The Best Early Christian Tomb Frescoes (Not in Rome)

I love the early Christian catacombs of Rome.  But since you can only enter as part of a guided tour, visits feel rushed.  The frescoes in these maze-like tomb complexes reveal the first Christian images and thus the stories, priorities, and spiritual direction of the early church.  Even more importantly, here’s where artists started to lay out the visual language, or iconography, of the religion which had a huge effect on the history of Western Art.  But early Christian images aren’t all in Rome.  There is a pocket of fantastic early Christian tomb frescoes in the city of Pécs in southwestern Hungary.  It’s an incredible treasure in a very unexpected place.

Burial Chamber of Saint Peter and Paul, Early Christian burial tombs, Pecs, Hungary

“Mary and Child fresco” in the Burial Chamber of Saint Peter and Paul, 4th century early Christian burial tombs, Pecs, Hungary

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How to (Legally) Bring Home a Piece of a UNESCO Site

Recently I wrote about the incredible Matthias Church in Budapest which along with Castle Hill has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Given the astounding decorations inside the church, I was definitely going to pick up something from their gift shop.  I thought maybe some note cards or a bag or a book, but I found something way better.  Half-hidden on a shelf at knee level was the most random but also the most incredible “souvenir” I have ever encountered in all my travels.  You better believe I bought one which is how I managed (legally) to bring home a piece of the church itself.

Budapest, Matthias Church tile roof

The Matthias Church from the exterior (Photo: adapted from Wikipedia)

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Including Local Celebrations in Your Travels

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing Festivals!  Take a look at all the great stories at the bottom of the page.

Hungarian Day decorations by children

Hand-made items by children decorate the 1849 Hungarian Army memorial.  The soldiers honored with this monument died during the 1849 Revolution which is celebrated on Hungarian National Day on March 15.

I’ve seen some amazing places in my travels and have always had excellent timing.  I’ve met the right person and ended up getting a private castle tour or been in the right place and got swept up in religious procession.  Somehow recently I just happened to be in town during a national holiday or religious celebration.  But unlike Carnival in Rio, Venice or New Orleans which are internationally know parties, the festivals I found were mainly for the locals.  Seeing how a community celebrates with their own customs, foods, and crafts makes for an incredible cultural experience.  It has convinced me that if you really want genuine travel, then you have to include local celebrations in your travel plans.

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Exuberant Hungarian: The Art of Matthias Church, Budapest

Art Historians are very good about categorizing art.  Everything gets organized into bucket of a particular period or movement, but throughout Hungary, I just found the usual labels to be lacking.  While Magyar art and design of the late 19th century draws from several sources, the result is so much more than simple Historicism repeating old designs.  They created something unique and truly amazing.  It just really resonated with me and so I had to give this style its own name: Exuberant Hungarian.  I absolute fell for the Matthias Church in Budapest, with its wild but totally coherent decorative scheme.  Take a look and tell me if you’ve ever seen anything like this before, and whether or not you think the “Exuberant Hungarian” moniker fits.

Arts & Crafts lamb door

An incredible mix of color and pattern at the Matthias Church, Budapest.

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