Interesting Facts About Hungary: An Unlikely Place For A Beach Holiday

Despite the popularity of its capital, from the outside Hungary doesn’t seem like the easiest place through which to travel. For most people, when they think of visiting Hungary, they’re really not sure what to expect. That may be in part because there isn’t a clear, singular cliché to latch onto, be it food, culture or history.
Hungary is a landlocked country in central Europe. The Hungarian grand prince Árpád in the Honfoglalás (“homeland-conquest”) laid the foundation of Hungary in the late 9th century. Hungary is a popular tourist destination, attracting over 10 million tourists a year (2013).
Hungary is a brilliant destination for a quick weekend away or as part of a backpacking trip around Europe. Easily accessed from any of its seven neighbours, Hungary provides something a bit different from the standard Western Europe destinations of Portugal, Spain and France.
The capital, Budapest, is full of great bars and diverse entertainment, as well as abundant cultural and historical attractions.
Here are 10 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Hungary:
1. Hungary is also reputed to host cultural events like Sziget Festival or Budapest Spring Festival. The Sziget Festival is the Hungarian for “Island” and is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. It is held every August in northern Budapest, Hungary, on Óbudai-sziget (“Old Buda Island”), a leafy 108-hectare (266-acre) island on the Danube. The Budapest Spring Festival is one of the country’s oldest festivals and takes place each year in March and attract artists and musicians from around the world.
2. Hungarian language is known as Magyar and is the direct descendent of the language spoken by the Huns. It is not an Indo-European language and has only two related languages in Europe (Finnish and Estonian).
3. Hungarians are mightily inventive. Notable inventions include the Rubik’s Cube (by sculptor and professor Erno Rubik, 1974), the krypton electric bulb (by physicist Imre Brody in 1937), and the biro, patented in 1938 by journalist László Bíró.
4. Hungarians are mightily inventive. Notable inventions include the Rubik’s Cube (by sculptor and professor Erno Rubik, 1974), the krypton electric bulb (by physicist Imre Brody in 1937), and the biro, patented in 1938 by journalist László Bíró.
5. It is home to the world’s first official wine region. Put your glass of Bordeaux aside; King Karoly made official Hungary’s Tokaj region – where wine has been produced since the 5th century – 120 years earlier.
6. The world’s greatest female chess champion is Hungarian. Judit Polgar acquired the title of grandmaster at the tender age of 15 in 1991 – a record. The game is played everywhere in Hungary – including on floating boards in its thermal baths.
7. It has some real railway children. The Gyermekvasut Railway that runs through Buda hills between Széchenyi Hill and Hűvösvölgy stations is run almost exclusively by 10-14 year-olds from local schools who make up the ticket sellers and conductors, man the switch points and sell station memorabilia.
8. The language is very, very tricky. The Hungarian language is part of the Finno-Ugrian language family and thought to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. It is said that English has more in common with Russian.
9. Hungarian names are regulated by law. Parents are subject to a naming law when it comes to choosing what to call their children. Names must come from a pre-approved list – any deviations from which must be approved by application to the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. No Apples or Brooklyns there, then.
10. It’s an unlikely place for a beach holiday. Yes, Hungary is landlocked. However, at almost 600 square kilometres, Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe – so big, in fact, that it’s often referred to as the Hungarian Sea, and sunseekers have flocked to its shores for decades. The nearby sulphuric waters of Heviz, meanwhile, are said to have medicinal qualities, and are believed to cure rheumatic ailments, aches and pains.

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