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Monday, April 6, 2009

Szentendre, l'esprit du sud

Szentendre is a small town about 20km north of Budapest but there is something southern, almost Mediterranean in its atmosphere. It is a charming little place, with cobbled stones and narrow, steep alleys, and many preserved buildings from as late as three centuries ago.

In the 1920s the town became an artist's colony; today, about a hundred artists live and work here. Szentendre probably has the highest number of museums and galleries per capita compared to any other Hungarian town--there are virtually dozens. The same goes for souvenir shops.

The name of the street (Szerb utca, meaning Serbian street) testifies to once very strong Serbian presence in this little town. Szentendre was practically depopulated during the Ottoman occupation of Hungary but then Serbian refugees starting ariving from the south and settling here. They were followed by other Balkan peoples: Bulgarians, Greek, Romanians. Together, they gave Szentendre the Balkan charm that it still has today.

It's not just the souvenirs--Szentendre also has quite a few churches for such a small settlement. At some point in its history, there used to be as many as nine Serbian Orthodox churches but not all of them are preserved. This one, on the hill just above the center, is a Protestant one (I think).

Fancy some red pepper? A shot of palinka? Some goose liver? Szentendre is a mecca for tourists nowadays (it's very easily accessible from Budapest) so lots of shops sell touristy things, like typical local foodstuffs (and did I mention souvenirs?)


I_am_Tulsa said...

The architecture is amazing...oh, I so want to go shopping there!
(Thank you for your kind words! I ma getting much better now!)

Raffael said...

That church, at the top of the hill is catholic one. Other 8 was orthodox. One is destroyed by river (wooden church), two of them are catholics now, and one protestant. Nice blog. Bye.