A few blocks away from the Matra Museum, we reached Fö Ter, the central square. A sleepy, tranquil square of a sleepy. tranquil town with 34,000 inhabitants.
The tourist information office on the square is excellent. The lady who attended to us was very nice, spoke English fluently, and gave us valuable information and material about Gyöngyös, the Matra mountain region and beyond. The few shops were already closed, and so was the church: St. Bertalan templom, a 14th century church rebuilt in Baroque style.
Jews were already living in Gyöngyös in the 15th century. In 1941 the Gyöngyös Jewish community numbered 2,429. During the Holocaust, in June 1944, they were deported to Auschwitz and murdered there; only 461 of them survived.
An old synagogue, built in the 18th century, was burnt during a great fire in the city in 1917. The building you can see today was built in 1930 according to plan by Lipót Baumhorn and György Somogyi. It does not function as a house of worship any more today, but the exterior still bears testimony to the glorious Hungarian Jewry which was all but wiped out during the Holocaust.
It took us some time to find the Mátra Museum. The entrance to the grounds is impressive, with a stone lion watching us on each side of the entrance. We realized the time was 45 minutes before closing time. The employees were very friendly, very proud of their local museum, and although they did not speak any English they were very eager to make sure that we use our time wisely and see all the important displays.
First of all we were welcome by the mammoth skeleton in the courtyard, very impressive! Then we got a flavor of the local history, with period furniture and items from times long gone (I liked the doctor's office); a display dedicated to the hunting history of the Mátra mountains; items associated with the old Jewish community; anf then some amazing minerals and fossils.
Our guidebook mentioned an impressive butterfly collection, and we asked the staff's help to find it. We exhausted our langauage skills ("Butterflies? papillons? Schmetterling? parparim?"...) and our pantomime skills trying to make ourselves understood. Suddenly one old lady had a beaming smile and exclaimed: "Pillango! Come! Come!" and we were led to the butterfly display.
This museum is a nice introduction to the Mátra region, and when you pass Gyöngyös it is certainly worth a visit.
Most of the wine cellars in Farkasmaly close earlier in the evenings than you would expect or want them to. Not really a nightlife.
But the wines are great, especially the whites there.
Some of the wine cellars got converted to csarda type restaurants, so you can also eat there. Good hungarian cuisine.
With the narrowgauge train you can get from Gyongyos through the vineyards up to the Matra mountains (to Matrafured resort ) and back.
This train journey is slow but a pleasant alternative
The only problem is that it's not very frequent and does not operate later in the evening.
There are nice wine cellars not far from one of the stations and Matra museum in Orczy palace next to the end station in Gyongyos.
Fondest memory: I was trying take one picture to the girl of the right, but she was see me, latter see my flash in few second she's cover their face, she was ruburized, for my guilty... :s