Monday, February 13, 2012

Székesfehérvár, Hungary

Claudia's boyfriend Norbert was invited to speak at a Hungarian writer's conference this past weekend in Székesfehérvár.  Since Claudia can't speak Hungarian, Mohamed and I tagged along to keep her company in town while Norbert was doing his thing.

Székesfehérvár (Sey-cash-fey-heyr-vahr) means "seat of the white castle".  The city is about 65 km (40 miles) southwest of Budapest.  With around 130,000 people it is the 9th largest city in Hungary.  When it was known as Alba Regia it was the country's first capital city.  During the Middle Ages the first Hungarian kings were crowned and buried here.  The town was destroyed during the Ottoman Turk occupation that lasted 145 years.  It was rebuilt in the 18th century when it was again under the Habsburg Empire.

The plan was to do a bit of sightseeing and watch Norbert give his speech.  Well the sightseeing part didn't really pan out because it was super cold.  We did walk around the historic town center but most of our time was spent in various cafes trying to stay warm which wasn't always easy considering it was -15 °C (5 °F).

The orb in the town center reminds people of the 37 kings and 39 queen consorts who were crowned in Székesfehérvár.  István, the first Christian king, received his crown here from the Pope in 1000 AD.

The WWI memorial is at the crypt of the St. Stephan's basilica.

The WWII memorial was a hit harder to see due to the snow.

We didn't do so well at the Garden of Medieval Ruins either.  Here are the remains of an 11th century basilica.  Again, the snow got in the way.

The Episcopal Palace was built from 1780-1803.  It was built using stones from the former basilica.  I'm sure it would have been nice to check out but it was closed on the weekend. 

We had much better luck with the Ecclesiastical Museum.  It was quite interesting and it kept us out of the cold.

We wanted to visit Bory Castle which was built in the 1920s.  Unfortunately, we were too early and it doesn't open for tourists until Spring.

Székesfehérvár was a cute, little town to visit for a weekend but not one that I'm in a hurry to go back to again soon.  I'm sure that it's much nicer in the Spring or Summer but I'm not so sure it would be worth another four-hour drive.

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