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Posts Tagged ‘minaret’

We went to Eger this week. Ivan has been before and posted about it last Fall, but I had never been, so he was nice and went back with me. It was something of an adventure.

Somehow we got the wrong train schedule. I think we must have gotten a weekend schedule or something because we thought there were trains every half hour. Turns out they were every hour, which meant we had to wait for a full hour when we missed the 8:00 train. grrr. But that was okay. We made it, Avery was only a little cranky, and Evelyn was just happy to be in her wrap and somewhere new.
Ivan and Avery on the train
Unfortunately the later train meant we just missed the organ concert at the cathedral. We were a little bummed, but came back and took a peak inside the church a little later. It was pretty.

Then it was on to the Lyceum. Apparently the bishop of Eger at one point wanted to build a University in Eger, but the people in charge in Vienna wouldn’t let him. So instead he built a big Lyceum where he trained teachers and stocked it with a nice big library and the best astronomical equipment he could find (so there, Hapsburgs…) We only went to the library, as the astronomical museum was on the fifth floor and we had a stroller and a baby. The library was pretty neat. It’s a big room with two levels. A balcony allows access to the upper level. The tops of the book shelves are arched and they’ve arranged the books so carefully that the books under the arch are done each a little bigger than the last and then a little smaller than the last so they fit the arched contour of the shelf. It was kind of funny. There were some pretty massive books there too. Apparently most of their books are in latin, but they had books in some 30 something languages total and they had an atlas, an anatomy book and some others out for display.

The library had a really cool painted ceiling as well. You’d swear it was 10 or 20 feet high because it’s painted as if it was arched, but apparently it’s really only about a meter.

Then on Dobo Istvan Ter and the castle. Dobo Istvan Ter is named after Istvan Dobo (Hungarians post last names first like the Chinese and Japanese) who was a hero in the battle at Eger that repelled the Turks in spite of ridiculous odds of about 2 to 1. Apparently even the women helped out by pouring hot tar over the castle walls. On the right of Istvan Dobo is a woman with a kettle of tar.

Statue at Dobo Istvan Ter
The castle is just up the hill from Dobo Ter and was interesting. Of course there were cannons and rock walls. There were some ruins of an old church with some graves and high walls to look off of. The view was really pretty spectacular. Eger is a pretty place. I thought the holes in the walls of the castle that they shot cannons out of were cool because it showed you how thick the walls were, but the whole thing was pretty cool.
View from the wall of Eger Castle

Inside there was a wax museum. This is Evelyn and I standing next to Istvan Dobo:
Dobo Istvan in Wax

We also saw the grave of Geza Gardonyi, who wrote the famous book Eclipse of the Crescent Moon which tells the story of the battle in which Eger is saved from the Turks (unfortunately a little later the Turks came back and they were less successful).

Then we went and saw the Minaret that Ivan blogged about last Fall. It’s the most Northern in Europe. I wanted to climb it, but the line was really long and Evelyn was asleep in her wrap, so we decided to go to the Marzipan museum instead.

Can I just say that I hadn’t even heard of marzipan until I was 16 and that I had no idea it was an artistic medium until this year? I was apparently missing out. This museum was kind of mind blowing. It’s not really huge, but it’s ridiculous that everything in there is made out of marzipan (it’s a sugar and almond paste that you make candy out of if you didn’t know…).

There was an entire Baroque style room all made out of marzipan – even the floor panels.
Marzipan Baroque Room

Some Russian style nesting dolls. There were a whole row of them, but the one shows you better detail.

Marzipan Russian Dolls
There was a grandfather style clock that was taller than me, some pillows, recreations of Van Gogh’s sunflower painting and a Picasso painting, a series of comics, shoes, Easter eggs, a record player. The pieces that really got me were the ones with wood. Kosci (the artist) put a grain in the wood that was so realistic, Ivan didn’t believe the first wood piece was marzipan. He thought the museum hadn’t started yet.

After the marzipan museum we went to Palacsintavar, a pancake restaurant near Dobo Ter. It was fabulous. I have to explain here that Hungarians take pancakes very seriously. Their pancakes are more like crepes and they put all sorts of delicious things in them. We had a chicken curry pancake for dinner and a peach and vanilla cream pancake for desert. This is the peach and vanilla cream version:

Peach filled pancakes
Now for the traumatic part of our trip. Because we had the wrong train schedule and because of some general confusion with our ticket (we couldn’t figure out if we’d bought a round trip ticket or just a really expensive one way) we missed the last train out of Eger and found ourselves stranded at the train station with two babies. We were a little stressed. We finally found someone to talk to and she told us that we had indeed bought round trip tickets, and they would be good the next day, so that was a little bit of a relief, but we had to go find somewhere to stay. All the hotels were in Eger proper, a pretty good hike from the station. There was a motel in the same building as the train station. We were really afraid it would be super expensive because it was right there, but we decided to call anyway. It turned out it was actually really cheap – about $15 per person. So we spent about $35 to stay in this pretty nice room with a double and twin bed. The only drawback was that it had community toilets down the hall, but I didn’t really mind. We had a shower and a sink in our room, so we were fine. No towels, though. We had to drip dry.

We spent a nice night there and caught the 8:30 train the next morning. We got home about 11:30 kind of smelly and a little hungry, but we were fine. We even had enough diapers for the munchkins. So if you ever get stuck in Eger, we recommend the Lokomotiv tourist motel. It’s right next to the back entrance of the train station.

Avery at the hotel in the morning. Love the hair :)

Avery's hair in the morning.

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The grave of Gárdonyi Géza

The grave of Gárdonyi Géza

Last Saturday I went with a few fellow CEU students to Eger, a city east north east of Budapest. One cannot visit Eger without getting to know the name of Dobó István (Stephen Dobo). He was the leader of the defenders of Eger castle against the Ottoman Turks in 1552. It was quite a story. About 2000 defenders held the castle against 80,000 soldiers. I’m not sure whether this is a testament to the tenacity of the peasants defending their homeland, the value of fortications, or the difficulty of waging a long-term foreign campaign, but it’s amazing nonetheless.
The seige was made famous by Gárdonyi Géza when he wrote Egri Csillagok the most famous Hungarian novel. He is buried inside the castle, and even the little children know the words on his headstone: „Csak a teste!” which means “Only his body” implying that his spirit is gone.

Cannon and related implements

Cannon and related implements


We took a tour of the castle with a Hungarian guide, but luckily one of my companions speaks Hungarian and was able to translate for us. This picture is one of the many cannons used in the defense. I apologize for the low quality but, as you can imagine, it was very dark inside. We were told that because of the great heat created in firing the cannons they had to be cooled (hence the barrel) and could only be fired every ten minutes. It really made me wonder how useful they were, but apparently they did the job.

The castle provides a good spot for viewing the rest of the city. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the castle from outside since my camera ran out of batteries before I could take any, but here are some photos taken from the castle walls including this lovely festive looking flag.

Hungarian flag

Hungarian flag

There is something I love about churches with statues on top. I wish I had been able to take a picture close up.

A church in Eger with neat statues on top

A church in Eger with neat statues on top

In front of this church is Dobó István Square

In front of this church is Dobó István Square

For some reason this seems extremely European. And very pretty as well.

Cute stream running through Eger

Cute stream running through Eger

Outside the castle is the northernmost Turkish minaret in the world. That’s right, the Turks returned 44 years later and conquered Eger and occupied it for 91 years. You’ll notice on the top is a crescent moon, and on top of that a cross. The cross was placed there after the Turks left, though why it wasn’t destroyed outright I don’t know.

Turkish Minaret from Eger Castle

Turkish Minaret from Eger Castle

Looking up at the minaret

Looking up at the minaret

You can also climb up the spiral staircase inside the tower. If I recall correctly, there are 97 stair. They are definitely not OSHA approved. They are very steep and extremely narrow. It’s quite cramped and if I puffed out my chest I could touch the center column and the side of the tower with my elbows. I think it would be very difficult to fall down the stairs for that reason (though I did not test this hypothesis).

What Turkish pigeons must see

What Turkish pigeons must see

What else? I ate some gulyas (GOO yash a.k.a. goulash) and ice cream; saw bees hanging out at a fountain (I’m not sure what they were doing there); rode a train; looked at some paintings, torture implements and artifacts; restrained myself from going to the weaponry museum where you get to try on a helmet because nobody else wanted to go and I can go with Rachel when she gets here; and pretty much had a grand old time.

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