Moving on to Budapest we stopped for a day and night in Gyor. Lying at the confluence of three rivers Gyor is the former Roman town of Arrabona. It was established as a bishopric in the eleventh century and retains a layout of episcopal churches and palaces.
Fortified in the sixteenth century it repelled Turkish invasion, but for four years, from 1594. It holds a special place in Hungarian hearts as the ‘dear guard’ watching over the nation for centuries.
It’s pretty, colourful and baroque streets are named for the doctors and priests who lived in the city. It has a grand cathedral, a Roman basilica, is home to the national ballet and Hungary’s richest collection of sacred objects housed in the Diocesan treasury and library.
Napoleon stayed for a night (his only night in Hungary) in a pretty pink and stone fronted mansion, on his way to celebrate the French army’s victory at the Battle of Raab. We climbed up the steep winding staircase to the top of the Bishop’s Palace watch tower. From here we had panoramic views across the city and south east towards Budapest.
Back on the ground and in 39 degrees it was too hot to do anything other than amble about and admire the architecture, decorative shop signs and cool waters of the many fountains.
A cycle along the banks of the Gyor showed a massive new development of raised river walkways. It looks like a building site now but once the works are completed Gyor is going to shine even more brightly as a delightful river city. We wish it well!
In the city’s main square later that evening we enjoyed an hour at the wine festival. Friends, families and couples all tasted the varieties from Hungary’s wine regions which produce crisp fresh whites and the legendary rich red ‘bull’s blood’. A ‘swing band’ noisily schmoozed their way through classic standards.
Paying the deposit for a wine glass we joined the hundreds ambling around the centre, each with glass in hand (glass!) enjoying the civilised party atmosphere.