Székesfehérvár

April 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

IMG_0555Exiting the railway station you feel like you’ve stepped back into communist Hungary: uniform, concrete apartments and dreary, grey streets meet the eye. Strolling down the main street (they’re all named Deak Ferenc or Kiraly; there’s not much originality when it comes to street names in Hungary) there was something far more interesting; something I was surprised to find: a Russian war memorial. (I remembered that it was a Hungarian soldier who remarked to his officer during the Siege of Budapest, that if Ivan treated his own men so ruthlessly, how did he deal with the enemy?) The monument; the dates etched on the headstones; my knowledge of the fighting on the Eastern Front; the cold, sharp wind, all had the effect of putting me in a sombre mood.

I dropped off my belongings at the hotel, which was pricier than the other two establishments I’d stayed at but not as quaint. Walking towards the city centre, the dreariness of my arrival soon dissipated as the concrete streets gave way to cobble-stoned alleys and the ghastly buildings to Baroque town halls and cathedrals. There’s a widespread misconception that Budapest has always been the capital. That’s not true: this town served as capital of Hungary during the Middle Ages, housed the crown jewels, and witnessed the coronation and burial of thirty seven kings and thirty nine queens. It’s name literally translates to “white castle of the royal seat.”

How long should you spend in Székesfehérvár? A day or a day and a half at the most.There is a public bath that might interest some, but if you’re heading to Budapest then skip it; the capital has better ones on offer. And for those living in Budapest, a day excursion would be ideal, since it only takes an hour by train.

 

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