A great place to sample Bikaver wine is in Eger's "Valley of the Beautiful Women", or Szepasszony-Volgy. Here a small semi-circle of cellars are cut into the local stone, which allows them to keep barrels of the superb local wine at the perfect temperature. You can just wander from cellar to cellar trying a glass of whatever takes you fancy. Some will even give you free tasters.
Some cellars are for serious wine drinkers, and some of for serious drinking. We ended up in Cellar 31 and quickly found ourselves engulfed in a workers outing from Szechenyi. We gave up our seats so they could all fit in, and they repaid our kindness with endless refills. They wouldn't let us leave until we were properly drunk.
If you are curious, the name doesn't have anything to do with the number of beautiful women in this valley, although I'm sure there are many, but is instead a reference to goddesses or something like that. It's purely a place for wine drinking - there's no funny business going on!
Directions: The valley is just outside the city limits. It's signposted in Hungarian, but it's not difficult to find. Walk to the back of the basilica and take a left down the signposted street. Turn right at the yellow church and keep to your left as you walk along Kiraly utca. Keep walking and walking, across the major road, and walk some more never diverting, and soon you will see the valley and the cellars.
Eger’s Castle is a large complex that is famous for withstanding a siege by the Turkish army. The original Eger Castle was located in a different place and was destroyed by Mongolians, and later it was decided that the castle should be rebuilt within the city. In the 1500s, the Turkish army, which included about 30,000 or 40,000 soldiers, sieged this castle, which was defended by approximately 2,000 Hungarian soldiers as well as their wives. Despite having a smaller army, the Hungarians were victorious. Almost 50 years later the Turks attacked again and were successful. After Ottoman rule, the Habsburgs were in control and ended up destroying much of Eger Castle.
Eger Castle and the city itself is also home to a legend. The city of Eger produces one of the country’s best wines: Egri Bikaver, or Bull’s Blood. Bull’s Blood is a very strong, dry red wine. The legend says that during the first Turkish attack on Eger Castle, the Hungarian army’s strength and victory was due in part to drinking red wine mixed with actual bull’s blood. Although most people knew this wasn’t true, the Turks not only believed it, but were intimidated by it. Since the Hungarian army’s astounding victory, Eger’s strong red wine has been known as Bull’s Blood.
Within the castle complex you can see the Bishop’s Palace, 10th century church ruins, underground passageways, the Ippolito Gate, Dobo Bastion, wax museum, and an art gallery.
If Eger has only one must-visit attraction, then this is it. This minaret is a remnant of Hungary's time under Ottoman rule. A mosque also remained here until the 1840s. Eger's minaret dates from the 1600s and is NOT for people with claustrophobia. To get to the top, you must climb up an extremely narrow spiral staircase with worn, slippery steps and limited head room. Once you reach the top, you can see a nice view of the city, but you must also be careful because there is not much space to walk around and there is only a small metal railing. Only so many people can climb up at one time because there is limited space. Overall, this is a unique experience.
The beautiful Minorite Church can be found in Eger's main square. The building dates from 1773 and is very eye-catching. The exterior appears to have terraces and is painted in soft-pink and white. One of the main "themes" inside the church is St. Anthony from Padova. A visit here is a must if you are in Dobo Istvan Square.
The Basilica in Eger is the second largest in Hungary after the one in Esztergom. It was built from 1831 to -37. It sits majestically on top of some broad stairs which are flanked by statues of the two kings Laszló and István together with the apostles Peter and Paul. The Basilica's cupola is 40 m of height.
During high season, May 15 to October 15, you can listen to organ concerts played upon the biggest organ in Hungary. It takes place between 11.30 and 12.00 Mon - Saturday, 12.45 - 13.15 on Sundays. Its free of charge.
The Minorite Church, situated along the Dobó tér, is regarded as one the most beautiful Baroque churches in Europe. It's building was finished in 1767. You can listen to the bell chimes at 11.00, 15.00 and 18.00, every day.
Dobó István tér is the focal point of Eger - it was the market square from medieval time. It's a pleasant place for a coffee brake since it's more or less surrounded of cafés and restaurants, either directly or indirectly. There is a little green area between the square (= tér) and the cafés and shops on the side opposite the church.
What catches the eye in the square is the statue commemorating the defending power of the ~2.000 citizens in the castle who defeated the enormous Turkish army of 40-50.000 soldiers in the siege 1552. The defenders under the leadership of Captain Dobó István forced the enemy to withdraw themselves after about 40 days.
The minaret is the northenmost minaret from the Turks still standing in Europe.It was built during the occupation which lasted from 1596 to 1687. It is 40 m high, built of carved sandstone. The base has 14 sides. You can take the stairs inside up to the balcony, but it's narrow inside and the 97 spiral steps can easily make anyone dizzy.
It is open from April 1 to October 31, Mon - Sunday, 10.00 - 18.00.
The castle was built a little bit too late - it was built shortly after the Mongol attack in 1241. Luckily it didn't have to come into use until the 1552 Turkish attack, but at that time it wasn't in the best shape. What the Turks didn't manage to do, the Habsburgs did in 1702, (15 years after the Turks left after their occupation 1596 - 1687) when they blew it up to prevent any attempts of opposition from the Hungarians.
The oldest remains inside the castle walls are the ruined foundations of a Romanesque cathedral from the 10th or 11th century. You find it in the eastern part of the area.
There are nowadays a great many different museums in the castle area, such as the Castle Museum (of course), a stonework museum, a prison museum, a waxworks museum and a mint, among others.
April - August 08.00 - 20.00
September 08.00 - 19.00
October - March 08.00 - 17.00
Entrance 700 HUF for adults.
The Hortabágy National Park, south of Eger, has a number of rangers and we were fortunate to secure the assistance of one chap who worked on a special project to protect and study the Great Bustards, large impressive birds and an icon for the Park. For a fee we were taken out in his landrover deep into the Park. By standing on the roof of his vehicle he could scan the horizon. We had several stops before he finally spotted some of our target birds. By going off road and getting out on foot we were able get decent views through the telescope of 16 females striding out through the grassland.
They are spectacular looking birds - turkey sized but much sleeker and considerably shyer. Their strong, sturdy legs suggest they would be able to run fast. Apparently in October the sexes divide into gender groups. I would liked to have seen a male to compare it with the females but maybe that is for a return visit?
The Great Bustard is the representative bird of the National Park and it's very pleasing to see that major efforts are being made to secure its protection. Visitors such as myself encourage further investment into the Park which in turn will secure a strong, brighter future for these wonderful creatures. If you want to see what they look like click on the website below.
My guide took us to a bird ringing centre out in the woodlands where we joined the trained ringer who was demonstrating his activities to a group of college students. It was good to see the care with which he handled the birds. One of the students also recorded assiduously all of the different measurements taken on each of the birds captured. Each bird was also weighed in a small canvas bag before the small metal ring was applied to its leg. Let's hope some are re-captured and the code number recorded. It is by this means that the birding authorities can monitor the movements of individual birds and gain other information on their age and physical condition between capture points.
We were later taken to see the mist nets that had been strung out across a natural corridor in the woods. Birds flying down this open space would fly haplessly into the net and soon become ensnared. It is the task of the ringer to rescue the birds from the net and to then take the measurements before the actual ringing and release.
The photo shows a Goldcrest and the second a female Bullfinch. Both birds flew away happily and unharmed.
If you visit this place you can see how proud is people in Eger about your history.During the Turkish occupation of Hungary, Eger became an important border fortress. The 1552 Siege of Eger was a miraculous defence by Hungarian forces in the face of overwhelming odds. Under the command of Captain István Dobó the defenders of the castle (fewer than 2,100 people, including women and children) successfully fought back a Turkish army of 80,000 soldiers.
In 1596, a bigger army of the Turks attacked Eger, and took the castle after a short siege.
With entry ticket 1200ft you can see the following exhibitions
The history of Eger castle,gothic palace;gallery,dungeons.
In underground passageways you can enter only with group tour.
For weapon exhibition,waxworks and mint(we dident visit this)
you must pay seperate but is very cheap.
Sitting serenely under the castle, and stretching out over the Eger stream, the long narrow Dobo square is the elegant center of the city. Perhaps here, more than anywhere else in the city, they celebrate the victory over the Turks in 1552 with two great statues glorifying Captain Istvan Dobo, and the two thousand men he led, to that incredible victory over the numerically superior Ottoman opponents.
Sitting in the center of the large tiled section of the square is Captain Dobo himself, while off to the side, in front of the town hall, are soldiers of the defence. On the other side of the bridge, in the cozy, shaded snug, are a number of pleasant cafes and, occasionally, market stalls.
One of the biggest churches of Hungary, the Cathedral of Eger was built between 1831 and 36 in classical style. The length of the church is 93 metres, the width 53 metres, while the towers arising next to the sanctuary are 54 metres high. A wide staircase is leading to the main entrance of the Cathedral. On both sides there are stone sculptures of Marco Casagrande: St. Stephen and King László, as well as St. Peter and St Paul. The tympanum and the 8 chorinthos column give the character of the entrance and facade. The church is covered by 3 cupolas. The nave and aisles determine a cross ground shape. The picture of the high altar is the work of a wiener painter József Donhauser from 1835 and illustrates the death of St. John as being lugged to the hot caldron. The cathedral houses the biggest organ of Hungary that was built at the end of the XIX. century by Ludwig Moser from Salzburg.