The Lyceum is the main building of Károly Eszterházy College that gives home for several events in summer such as the Agria Plays. Two museums are in the building. One of them is the Diocesan Library with more than 140.000 books (the painting named "Convocation of Trident" can be seen on the ceiling of the library hall), the other one is the astronomical museum where instruments of astronomy (made in the 18th century) can be seen. The Eye of Eger (Camera Obscura) can be found in the top of the tower of Lyceum. The handler of this structure presents the downtown from above. The whole town can be seen from the balcony of the tower (53 metres /170 feet/ high).
The first castle was built on the high hill named Várhegy at Felsõtárkány near Eger. During the Mongol invasion in 1241, this castle was ruined, and the bishop of Eger moved to a rocky hill in the city of Eger. On the hill, a new castle was built, and it developed rapidly. In 1470 a Gothic palace was built. In 1552, a Turkish army of 80,000 soldiers attacked the castle which had 1935 defenders. The siege failed as the defenders killed more than 8000 Turks ( 1700 of the defenders had survived. In 1701, the Austrians exploded half of the castle (the Külsõ vár). Between 1899-1901, Géza Gárdonyi published his novel Eclipse of the Crescent Moon.The archaeological excavation only started in 1925. The castle was used by the army as barracks until 1957.
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Like most castles in Hungary, the castle of Eger is more functional and sprawling, than impressive or beautiful. It's worth visiting for the history and the impressive views, but you'll be hard pressed to find a decent picture of the castle itself. If you visit in the summer months, though, you'll probably find a lot of stuff going on inside the castle, including actors playing guards, putting on puppet theater shows, selling ye olde kebabs in medieval panel tents, and generally trying their best to entertain the (mostly Hungarian) tourists.
The history of the castle is impressive, though. It was from these walls that less than two thousand local militia fended off around a hundred thousand well armed Ottoman Turks. It's here that the legend of Eger's Bull's Blood (Egri Bikaver) started.
The vast sprawling Lyceum was once a school, but is now a teacher training college, with two fascinating museums. On the first floor is the magnificent library, small, but with a jaw dropping fresco on the ceiling. It also has a small collection of fascinating books from centuries past.
On the sixth to ninth floors is the astronomy museum. This is divided into three tours, all in Hungarian but they try. The first is just a set of physics experiments which are fun if you've not seen them before, like the vortex cannon. It's great for kids and you don't need to understand Hungarian to enjoy them.
The second tour is completely useless if you don't understand Hungarian, as it involves you sitting in a darkened room listening to the history of someone or other, for a good 20-30 minutes. Best to skip this and head straight up the stairs for the piece-de-resistance: the Camera Obscura.
You can see the house of the camera obscura from the street - it's by far the tallest structure in the center of Eger. There are fantastic views just from the platform that supports it. But the camera obscura gives you 360 degree views of the city, projected on a white round table in the center of the pitch black room.
Make sure to get close to the table before it starts - don't be shy! You'll regret it if you get stuck behind the gasping heads of others who can't see in the dark that they are blocking your view.
After Esztergom's Basilica, which is the tallest building in Hungary, Eger's saffron yellow Basilica is the second biggest church in the country. To be honest, on the outside, it's more impressive than beautiful, but step inside and it's a whole different story. The frescoes in the basilica are more incredible than any in this already impressive city, but to top it all the delicately balanced distribution of natural light through the many arches of stained glass show it off perfectly.
The pastel pink Minorites Chuch is a very beautiful example of baroque architecture, and something that is quite out of place with this Franciscan Order's oath of poverty. But it gets better inside. The frescoes on the high arches of the church's interior ceiling are surpassed only by those inside Eger's basilica, and they are quite something in themselves.
This 40m high minaret is about all that is left of the Turkish century in Eger. It's also one of only three Ottoman minarets left standing in all of Hungary. More than this it claims to be not only the northernmost Ottoman minaret, but the most northerly building of the Ottoman empire still standing.
You can climb the 97 sandstone spiral steps to its balcony to view the roofs of the city.
On the edge of the city center is the beautiful lemon yellow St. Bernard Church of the Cisterian Order. It was here that I saw the medieval parade start, with soldiers, flag carriers, jesters and stilted acrobats. This probably has something to do with the fact that the first Catholic thanksgiving service that was held in Eger after it was liberated from the Ottomans took place here, on the site of what was then a Mosque. After 91 years of occupation you'd want to celebrate that.
BASILICA of EGER
Very important cathedral, being the second largest in Hungary, which received its rights to be called 'Basilica' by the Pope on 14 March 1970. The foundations were commenced in February 1831 and with great speed, the roof-raising ceremony took place in ctober 1833, with completion five years after starting! As with many great projects, the expense ran higher than anticipated, necessitating several major changes were made, such as colonnaded wings of the facade were eliminated.
The interior decoration was finally completed in 1950. There are many styles inside, due to the many years it took, but include frescoes and fourteen tableaux of the Station of the Cross.
The organ was supplied by the Salzburg Moser Co. at the end of the 19th Century, and there are organ presentations between 15May - 15Oct.
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A very beautiful Baroque church on Dobo' Square. The brochure says it has a unique interior, but unfortunately, due to limited time (and being with 3 males who are not interested in churches) I missed it.
Its bell chimes at 11:00, 15:00 and 18:00 every day.
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WALK THE CASTLE / FORTRESS
The Castle of EGER is the most important site of the area, and little or much time can be spent here, as it is extensive.
The history of the castle began in the 11th century in the era of Saint Istvan, the first Christian King of Hungary. It became involved in the Turkish seige of 1552. Prince Ferenc Rakoczi used the castle as a stronghold of the rebels in the war of independence, 1703 - 1711. In 1783, it became the property of the church. Renovations began in the 1960s.
Opening hrs 1Apr-31Aug 8am-8pm; 1Nov-28Feb 8am-5pm; Mar and Oct 8am-6pm; 1Sep-30Sep 8am-6pm
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The down town area is very small indeed though it is also quite pretty. Especially the cobbled streets leading up to the castle area. You don't need to set aside much time to take a quick walk around. Nevertheless, if you come in the wintertime remember that the sun goes down very early so you should aim to get there as early as possible. In December it gets dark at 4 though it is pretty at night thanks to all the xmas decorations too.
If I were you I would miss out the people's garden which is Egar's park, especially in wintertime as it is nothing special. There is, however, something of interest situated in the park and that is Eger's outdoor thermal baths! So if you remembered your swimsuit give it a go! (I forgot mine).
Bull's Blood and other wine
Eger makes both red and white wines. The famous and traditional varieties of the region are Egri Leányka, Egerszóláti Olaszrizling, Debrői Hárslevelű (whites), and Egri Bikavér (Bull's blood which is a red). You can aslo get some Chardonnay and Pinot noir wines . The region's wines are said to be similar to Burgundy.
We were told the wine cellars are not in the down town area but I think there is one in the castle is you haven't got the time to travel out to the other ones. I am sure there must be lots of wine taverns dotted all over the town too selling the wine produced from the region, not to mention shops selling it to visitors. Unfortunately we missed these sights as a friendly local gave us a tour round the town and she seemed to enjoy the winter park more than the wine!!!! What a pity. Don't end up like me, if you go to Eger make sure you sample the wine, not just the mulled wine in the market.
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If you go at any time of year you will see here the Baroque Church (1758-67) and artefact museum. If you go at Christmas time you can enjoy the Christmas market albeit small it is also a nice place to see local handicraft, eat some sausages and drink Forrtalt Bor (mulled wine) from the small wooden stall huts.
They also put on some plays and other small presentations, however if you don't understand Hungarian it is not always that interesting.
- Wine Tasting
Climbing the Turkish Minaret
This is the best thing to do in the town!!! HONEST and it only costs 200ft (less than a euro). Unfortunately this was the first thing we did in Eger so everything was an anti climax after.
However if you are claustrophobic, scared of heights or prone to panic attacks just admire it from the bottom as it is a harrowing climb up 72 spiral stone steps (it is 40 meters high) and a slow climb down. You must also be very thin to fit comfortably up it.
After I went up 3 spirals I was really to give up, luckily I didn't as the view is stunning from the top and it gives you a great sense of achievement. Though there is not much room to stand on the small 'balcony' circling the top so go up in twos of threes.
This used to be the look out tower to spot oncoming invaders. It was once someone's job to climb up and down it everyday. Lucky them. It was built in the 17th century and it is the most Northern Turkish Minaret in Europe.
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