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Kecskemét

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Welcome to Kecskemét!

You will find a wide range of programmes, art and cultural events, and traditional programmes all the year round in Kecskemét. This variety is our heritage from the past, since the ‘Town of the Golden Sand’ has been the meeting point of merchants, different religions and cultures for centuries. Kecskemét lies in the middle of Hungary, in the region of the sand dunes between the Danube and the Tisza Rivers, 86 kilometres south of Budapest.The settlement was established at the cross-roads of ancient trading routes, and its location and favourable geographical characteristics brought the town into the limelight from among the neighbouring villages. The charter of 1368 by King Louis the Great mentions it as a market-town. It preserved its market-town character for centuries, and the extensive farming, the trade of cattle, and later on the special vine- and fruit-growing culture resulted in the growth of the town. The results of the plant breeders’ work are the famous apricot of Kecskemét, as well as the ‘whistling’ apricot brandy of unique taste.In the second half of the 19th century the immense development of the town made it possible for the market-place of the former market-town to be transformed into a splendid main square with buildings constructed in the style of Art Nouveau. Kecskemét is still the ‘capital’ of the Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture: the central area boasts of the most splendid masterpieces of this style (The Town Hall, the Ornamented Palace, and the Youth Centre). The characteristic feature of the Main Square is the presence of churches of different denominations.Kecskemét has been the seat of Bács-Kiskun County since 1950. It has got more than 110 thousand inhabitants, and it is a dynamically developing industrial, commercial and cultural centre. The town hosts workshops and unique collections of music, fine arts and animations of international fame, and recognised scientific institutions. In addition to these events, Kecskemét welcomes visitors with a whole range of recurring programmes year by year, of which the most outstanding events are the Kecskemét Spring Festival, the Kodály Music Festival, the Kecskemét Wine and Palinka Festival, the Future of Europe International Children Meeting Festival, and the ‘Famous Week’ Festival.

 

 Walk in the main square

Let's start our walk in the main square of the ‘Famous Town’ that used to be the market-place for centuries. Here you can find the Big Catholic Church which is the largest cathedral in the Great Hungarian Plain built in the style of the age of Louis XVI of France. Looking down from the 73 meter tall tower you can see the panorama of the town.The neighbouring building is the Town Hall built by the plans of Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos. The 150-year-old building of the City Hall was demolished in 1892. József Katona, the writer of our national drama worked there for 10 years. He collapsed and died at the entrance. The cracked stone monument set up at the scene of his heart attack in front of the building reminds us of this tragic event. The notice on this monument says: ‘The heart of the son of Kecskemét broke here.’ In 1895 the offices moved into the building of which area is 5534 m2 and has 174 rooms. On the 8th July, 1911 there was a huge earthquake in the city which did not spare the City Hall either. Its collapsed chimneys and cracked walls were soon reconstructed under the direction of Ödön Lechner. The style of the building with its nearly rectangle-shaped ground-plan mixes the forms of the French Renaissance architecture and the elements of our popular art. The Ceremonial Hall is the venue of the General Assembly meetings of the city, national and international conferences, wedding ceremonies and ceremonial receptions. 

 

 

The name of the city originates from the word “kecske’ (meaning ‘goat’), and ‘mét’ means district. The goat can be seen in our coat of arms as well above the platform with the motto of our city beneath it: ‘Neither height, nor depth frightens us.’ You can see the coat of arms in several important places inside and outside the building.  

 

Opposite the Town Hall you can find the oldest architectural relic of Kecskemét, the Franciscan Church built in the 14th century. The locals call it the Church of Friars. Originally it was built in Romanesque style and after several reconstructions it has gained its current Baroque character. From the point of view of religious history it is important to note that it was used both by Catholics and Protestants until 1564. 


 

 

Going on along the ring road we arrive at Kéttemplomköz Street. On the left side of the street you can find the Zoltán Kodály Institute of Music Pedagogy in the building of a one-time Franciscan monastery. Here you can see an exhibition showing the life story of the famous composer and music educator, Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967). The institute was established in 1975, and it aims at teaching the theory and the practice of Kodály's conception of music education. 


Near here we can find the Calvinist Church built in early Baroque style in the 1680s, the only stone church in the region during the Turkish occupation. 

  

Opposite the Calvinist Church is the New College erected in 1912. The palace was built in the style of Art Nouveau, decorated with Transylvanian motives. It is used as the Primary and Secondary Grammar School of the Calvinist College. 

 

On the right of the New College there is the famous Cifrapalota (Ornamented Palace), a unique piece of architecture, known as the masterpiece of Art Nouveau with its wonderful ’waving’ walls, shining roof tiles and ceramic ornaments of plants and animals. It hosts the Kecskemét Art Gallery today. 


If you are in Kecskemét, you should not miss the opportunity to visit the following places.

 

 

  Leskowsky Musical Instrument Collection

This private collection traces the development of music-making over the centuries. Of the 150 instruments on display from five continents most are stringed, but there are also flutes and accordions. All instruments can be played.  




House of Science & Technology

A Moorish-looking structure dating from 1871, this was once a synagogue and is now used for conferences and both temporary and permanent exhibitions, including one of plaster copies of 15 statues by Michelangelo.  

 

 

 

 Otthon Cinema

The restored Otthon Cinema is a beautiful example of art nouveau and Secessionist architecture mixed with folkloric elements.  

 

 

Toy Museum & Workshop

This museum has a large collection of rather spooky 19th- and early-20th-century dolls. Also in the rows of glass cases are wooden trains and board games.

 

Zwack Fruit Brandy Distillery and Exhibition

In the factory of the Zwack Unicum company in Kecskemét an exhibition of the distillery and the family history can be seen. For groups it can be visited by previous registration.

  

Market

 One of the liveliest on the Great Plain, Kecskemét's market to the north of the centre is worth a trip, but get there as early as you can to see it at its animated best.

  

Basic information about Hungary 

Official name: Hungary

Time zone: CET (GMT+1)

Area: 93,030 km(divided into 19 counties)

Major rivers: River Danube (417km) River Tisza (597km)

Population: 9,830,485

Largest lake: Lake Balaton (598 km2)

Official language: Hungarian

Highest point above sea level: Kékes (1014 m) in the Mátra Hills

Form of state: Republic

Member of: OECD, NATO, EU, Schengen Convention

Capital city: Budapest (population 1,700,000)

National Parks: 10

Currency: Forint (HUF)

World Heritage Sites: 8

 

Climate and Weather

Hungary is located in Central Europe and it is protected from extreme weather conditions by the surrounding mountain ranges, the Alps and the Carpathians. Hungary has a relatively dry continental climate. The yearly precipitation is 495 mm on average. The most rainy months are May and June with almost double precipitation than in January, February, and March. Average temperatures range from -1°C in January to 21°C in July. The number of sunny hours is around 2025 a year but can show great fluctuation each year.

Language

The official language of the country is Hungarian (magyar), which forms part of the Finno-Ugric language family. Like Finnish and Estonian, it belongs to the Uralic language family, with its closest relatives being Mansi and Khanty. It is one of the few languages of Europe that are not part of the Indo-European family so it is not easy to be familiar with at the first time.Hungarian is spoken by 10 million people in Hungary but there are significant number of Hungarian speakers in Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Israel, the U.S., and Australia.

’Hungaricums’

Special Hungarian things: Hungarian Paprika, Makó Onion, Wintersalami, Pálinka, Tokaji Aszú (wine), Porcelain of Herend, Folk Art of the Matyó, Busó Festival, Táncház Method.

Electricity

Electricity is the standard European 220 volts in Hungary. We have a plug with two round prongs and recessed sockets in general.

Religion

Hungary is a historically Christian country but everyone is free to practise their own religion.

The cost of living

It depends partly on your own spending habits how much money you will need during your stay in Hungary. In general, living expenses are reasonable in Hungary especially in comparison with Western European countries. BanksBanks are usually open Mon. to Fri. 9.00-16.00. You can exchange money at any banks, travel agents and larger post offices. They may offer different deals concerning the rate of exchange and the fees charged, so you are advised to look around in the city before exchanging foreign currency. EuroCard, Master- Card and Visa Electron are the most popular bank/credit cards in Hungary, and you can easily find ATM machines in Kecskemét to withdraw money from your home account. 

Public transport

Bus tickets can be purchased at any tobacconist’s or newsstand. Season tickets are also available and highly reccomended. 

Shops

Most shops are open Mon. to Fri., 9.00- 18.00, and Sat., 9.00-13.00. Large shopping centres have extended hours of operation or are open non-stop.In bigger shops you can pay with your bank card.Market: The biggest market in Kecskemét is in Budai utca by the Teacher Training Faculty where you can purchase local produce every day of the week.

Traditional Hungarian cuisine

Traditional Hungarian food is often spicy since hot paprika, which gives a unique taste and a fiery colour to our dishes, is commonly used. Other essential ingredients accounting for a special flavour are sweet paprika, ground black and white pepper, onion, garlic, sour cream, cottage cheese (sometimes sweetened), smoked bacon and a variety of herbs. Though most authentic Hungarian dishes require lard, nowadays most restaurants and housewives use vegetable oil instead of pork fat.Some must-try Hungarian specialties are halászlé (fisherman’s soup), ’Jókai’ bableves (Jókai bean soup), Újházi tyúkhúsleves (’Újházi’ chicken broth), pörkölt (a ragout made from pork, beef, mutton or chicken with onions and paprika powder), paprikás (made in the same way as pörkölt but sour cream is mixed in the paprika and onion sauce), nokedli (small dumplings), goulash (a soup of thick consistency eaten asa main dish), túrógomboc (cottage cheese dumplings), szilvásgombóc (plum dumplings), palacsinta (pancake either with sweet filling e.g. sugared cottage cheese, jam, sugared cocoa or cinnamon powder or stuffed with meat ’Hortobágyi’ pancake), rétes (strudel with various fillings e.g. cottage cheese, apple, poppy-seed and sour cherry) and Somlói galuska (sponge  dumplings with chocolate sauce, rum and whipped cream) etc.Sports facilities in KecskemétSwimming Pools Kecskeméti fürdő(Csabay Géza krt. 5.) Református Gimnázium tanuszoda (Csányi János körút 8.)Ice-skating Skating Rink (Műjégpálya), Szent László krt. 64.Different squash clubs and fitness centers in the city.