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“A hidden gem of Hungary – Pécs, where regional heritages are flowing next to Danube”
Founded as Sopianae 2000 years ago by the Romans and known as Fünfkirchen by the Germans, today’s Pécs is a pleasant small (but still one of the largest in Hungary) university town that has largely escaped the ravages of both communist-era architecture and modern-day mass tourism. In 2000, the Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2010. The followings are top 5 tourist attractions in the city.
- Early Christian monuments: Remains of Sopianae, the Roman city of some 8-10,000 people in Pannonia Province, are found at several points below the inner city. The most important one is the Early Christian Necropolis, a World Heritage site dating back to the 4th century and the largest necropolis remaining in the European provinces. Currently, seven of the burial chambers are open to the public under the name Cella Septichora; the main visitors’ complex includes Cella Septichora, the Peter-Paul Chamber, the Chamber of Jugs, a baptismal chapel converted into a burial site and chambers III, IV, XIX and XX. Many of the chambers are unadorned; some have surviving figurative and geometric frescoes dating back to the date of their construction and similar to Roman catacomb paintings in their style and symbology, including the St. Peter and Paul Chamber with one of the earliest depictions of Virgin Mary. A unique feature of the site is the presence of two-level chambers, which originally served a dual role for both burial site (cubiculum) and ceremonies (memoria).
(commons.wikimedia.org ⓒ 2017)
- The Mosque of Pasha Quasim: Located on the main square. Built on site and from the stones of Saint Berthold’s gothic church by Pasha Quasim the Victorious, the Turkish character of the church was restored during the most recent, early 1940s renovations. Inside the building, which functions as a Catholic church, frescoes depicting quotes from the Qur’an from the 16th century are visible. The other mosque in the city, built by Yakovali Hassan, is located at Kórház Square at the western terminus of the main pedestrian street, and is also open for visit when not in religious use by the city’s Muslim community.
(CsabaKiss Photoblog ⓒ 2017)
- The Cathedral (Székesegyház). The Cathedral of Pécs dates back to the 11th century and the times of Peter Orseolo, second king of Hungary. Bearing the traces of the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance periods as well as the Turkish conquest when it was partially used for storage. It was renovated in Rococo and Classicist styles, but gained its modern form in the 1880s, when it was mostly restored to its imagined Romanesque origins, destroying much of the subsequent decorations. On John Paul II’s papal visit in 1990, the Cathedral gained the rank of Basilica Minor.
(CsabaKiss Photoblog ⓒ 2017)
- Csontváry Museum: This museum houses the largest collection of visionary painter Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry. A pharmacist by trade, Csontváry became a self-educated painter after receiving a vision at the age of 27 with a voice announcing “you will be the greatest sunway painter, greater than Raphael!” Gradually abandoning his civilian profession, he travelled the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East as well as the Dual Monarchy for inspiration, and painted strange vistas of vivid colour in a unique style that has traces of post-impressionism and expressionism, but ultimately defies classification. Csontváry has been praised by Dalí as the second greatest painter of the century after himself. A must-see.
(weepingredorger.wordpress.com ⓒ 2017)
- Zsolnay Museum: An exhibit on the life, times and decorative ceramics of Vilmos Zsolnay and the Zsolnay Ceramic Factory. The lustrous eosin glaze and colourful pyrogranite developed in the 1870s has given the Manufacture its fame and a Grand Prize at the 1878 Paris World Exhibition. Eosin had gained particular significance in Hungarian Art Nouveau, and became a popular material for public and private buildings as well as art objects. Although the fortunes of the company have been uneven, with world wars, family troubles, nationalisation in 1948 and the mass production of industrial ceramics, the hand-painted charm of the brand survives. The museum collects the lustrous ceramics of the Zsolnay legacy in chronological order in addition to plans, documents and other relics of this cornerstone of the city’s industrial heritage.
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(Expoza Travel ⓒ 2017)