In this article, I am taking you to a place, which differs pretty much from average tourist destinations. In Hungary, there is a region, where the traditional countryside lifestyle, that our ancestors had been living for centuries, is still alive and being practiced until this very day. The romance of this countryside place – in contrast to how I started - is one of the most important tourist attractions in my homeland, which has also been part of the World Heritage Sites for almost 20 years now.
This is nothing else, but the Hortobágy National Park. In the 1700 quarter meter Park, which was founded in 1973, you have the chance to observe an exceptional fauna and flora, since countless protected species live and grow in this vast, peaceful area. From legally protected and indigenous cows and horses, through special kind of pigs, there are numerous other reputable representatives of rare species here, just like the white fairy-rose or a particular bird, called Túzok, which is one of the emblematic species of Hungarian nature (its goodwill value is 1.000.000 HUF, more than 3.000 EUR).
The Hortobágy National Park by the way is the very first national park in the country. It’s 45 years old this year. On 30th November 1999, UNESCO put the entire territory of the Park on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. The Park operates the country’s sole fish pond mini train, that transports passengers, and that ends at the largest artificial fish pond in Hungary.
The water habitats of the Park are internationally protected, and hunting of water birds is prohibited throughout the whole year. The surface of Hortobágy was formed into almost perfect plains by the floods of the river Tisza and its tributaries, with only a few low hills rising. From 1846 onwards, the Tisza-river was regulated, which also affected the formation of the landscape, as the works resulted in the region becoming drier than it had been in the past. Watching it from above, it looks like a giant carpet, with the Hortobágy-river meandering in the middle of it, just like a silver band.
The typical image of the landscape though is given by those locals, more exactly shepherds, who look like the cowboys in American western films in their traditional apparels and with their occupation, only in kind of a Hungarian version. With their huge hat and long whip in their hands, as well as in their loosely tailored, black and white clothes, they provide a very interesting and exciting spectacle to the people of the Western world.
Here is also the famous nine-hollowed bridge, which winks back at us from the postcards being sold in the region, and which building has rightfully become a trademark of the landscape. The bridge had originally been built in 1697 – back then only out of wood -, but later with the passing of time it became increasingly necessary to be renovated and was rebuilt in 1825, this time of stone. The construction lasted for 6 years, which was also one of the first public procurements in the country. The nine-hollowed bridge arches over the Hortobágy-river.
The National Park can be found in the eastern part of the country, 40 km from the city of Debrecen and 70 km from the Romanian border. For those hankering for a beach or skyscrapers, I would not recommend this neighbourhood, however, those who love reminiscing about past and love to see wildlife in close proximity will not be disappointed, when taking a visit in this unique countryside environment with its enchanting romance, proved to be a World Heritage Site.
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