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  • The Danube Bend

    The Danube Bend travel guide

    Overview

    The Danube is the second longest river in Europe after the Volga, flowing for 1,771 miles (2,857km) through nine different countries. Before reaching Budapest, it is forced through a narrow twisting valley in the pretty Carpathian Basin, known as the Danube Bend, eight miles (13km) from Budapest.

    The cluster of towns on this bend offers an amazing collection of history, culture, and architecture, particularly the small Baroque towns of Szentendre, Visegrad, and Esztergom. The Danube River has been a main artery for trade and transport through Europe for centuries and is one of the reasons Hungary has always been such a sought after territory. Numerous invaders have left their mark on the riverside settlements, from the Romans to the Soviets.

    The Danube Bend is an extremely scenic area with green valleys and hills rising up from the river, picturesque little towns with market squares, and commanding fortresses with sweeping views. Many visitors choose to do a boat cruise on the Danube from Budapest, stopping at the little towns along the way.

    Because of its close proximity to the capital, many people on holiday in Hungary choose to use Budapest as their base and take day trips to the Danube Bend. Combined with good facilities and easy accessibility, it is one of the more popular destinations in Hungary.

    Szentendre

    Szentendre is a quaint old market town situated on the slopes of the Pilis Mountains. Meandering cobbled lanes, red-tiled roofs and brightly painted houses, along with small town squares and Orthodox churches give it a charming and picturesque setting. Serbian refugees inhabited the town in medieval times and built numerous churches, with their style contributing to the town's haphazard charisma and Balkan flavour. In the 1900s, the town became a favourite retreat for painters and sculptors, resulting in a wealth of museums, galleries and art collections. Being close to Budapest, the town is a popular excursion and summer weekends can get rather crowded.

    Szentendre main square Szentendre main square Stako
    Visegrad

    Situated on the loop of the Danube beneath steep hills, Visegrad was once a Roman stronghold on the border of the Roman Empire and the second home to Hungarian royalty in the 14th and 15th centuries. On the banks are ruins of the magnificent palace, one of the finest ever built in the country and now the open air King Matthias Museum. As this intriguing history suggests, the village is a delight for history buffs and retains an old-world feel. Visegrad is also a good base for outdoor activities in the lovely surrounding countryside and there is an excursion centre behind Castle Hill which organises activities such as hiking, canopy trails and cycling.

    Visegrad Visegrad Bence Tvarusko
    Esztergom

    Esztergom combines captivating history with riverside charm. One of Hungary's most historically important towns, it was the capital for over 250 years and the birthplace of their beloved first king and saint, Stephen, who was crowned here in the 11th century. It remains the religious centre of the country, with Hungary's largest church dominating the hill next to the ruins of the medieval royal palace. The colossal basilica was the first cathedral in the country, offering wonderful views from its enormous dome and contains a crypt and priceless treasures. Below is the pretty Watertown District, with its uneven cobbled streets winding up the hill towards the castle.

    Website: www.esztergom.hu
    Esztergom Basilica Esztergom Basilica zolakoma
    Vác

    Vác is a pretty Baroque town on the east bank of the Danube Bend. Despite its many attractions and charms, it's wonderfully less crowded than some of the other famous towns along the river. The stunning cathedral founded by the first Hungarian King is its most popular attraction, while a more macabre attraction awaits in the Memento Mori Crypt, housing a number of naturally mummified corpses and their well-preserved clothes and decorated coffins. This World Heritage Site is a significant archaeological discovery, enabling several breakthroughs in science and ethnography. Vác also has a wonderful pedestrianised town square, surrounded by colourful buildings and a splendid promenade along the Danube River.

    Vac Vac beta.robot

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    The Danube Bend is a particularly scenic part of the river and its banks are home to a number of charming villages with plenty of attractions of their own. There are also a few impressive fortresses along the river, courtesy of the many invaders who valued the Danube as a trade and transport artery in Europe. The Danube Bend is close enough to Budapest to be a popular excursion from the city and bus and boat tours from Budapest are common.

    Esztergom is one of Hungary's most historically important towns; in fact, it was the capital of the country for more than 250 years. The ruins of the medieval Royal Palace and the Castle Museum are a must-see for visitors, and Hungary's largest church and first cathedral dominates the town and offers breath-taking views over the river.

    Visegrad was once a Roman stronghold and a popular haunt for Hungarian royalty in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Roman Citadel is still formidably well-preserved and the ruins of what was once Hungary's most magnificent palace are now the site of the open air King Matthias Museum.

    Vac is often less crowded with tourists than some other gems along the Danue. It is pretty, with wonderful Baroque architecture. The 11th-century cathedral and UNESCO-listed Memento Mori Crypt are the main attractions.

    Szentendre is a quaint old market town and is one of the most beautiful villages in the region. It has meandering cobbled lanes, brightly painted old buildings, and a number of charming Orthodox churches. The village was a favourite with artists in the 1900s and has many museums and galleries to prove it.

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