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Hortobágy National Park Visitor Centre

Would you like to get away from the noise of the city? Discover Hungary’s most beautiful natural wonders? Then don’t miss the country’s most magnificent micro-region, the Hortobágy, which is also Central Europe’s largest steppe.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee included this sprawling area of thousands of hectares on its list in 1999. Hungary’s first national park was created on these 51,000 hectares in 1973. Today, its area spans 82,000 hectares, making the National Park the country’s largest contiguous conservation area. In addition to the saline grasslands, pastures, loess steppes, floodplain forests and groves, it is made up of swamps and lakes, which are perfect hiding places for endangered ancient Hungarian animal species, while the flora of the landscape is also extremely diverse. If you’d like to learn about the life of Hungarian shepherds, head to the Hortobágy National Park, just over 30 kilometres from Debrecen.

Discover the romanticism of steppe and bandit life on a wagon or bike, on horseback or by train around the fish pond

Choose from a colourful selection of programmes when you arrive in Hortobágy. The sight of the infinite plain unfolds before you, broken only here or there by tumuli built a long time ago by the nomads arriving from the east as guard mounds of sorts, or burial places. The excursion starts at the Hortobágy National Park Visitor Centre, where you can decide which programmes you would like to participate in. You might like to take a peek at water buffalos, a grey cattle wagon or see how one of the characteristic structures of the Hortobágy, the shadoof, works. Believe it or not, in the absence of telephones, these were also used by the people living here to send messages. Watch the impressive horseman show, observe a bluethroat on the Hortobágy fish pond as part of an exclusive tour, go on a crane watch by Jeep or gain insight into the everyday life of local shepherds. In fact, with one of the programmes on offer at the Hortobágy Wildlife Park, you could even take a star walk to observe the night sky. Be sure to inquire before you go, because the stargazing programme is only available at the national park at pre-announced times.

Symbol of the Hortobágy: the Nine-Holed Bridge

The famous 167-metre-long Nine-Holed Bridge, located at the edge of the village of Hortobágy along Route 33, is a must-see. It was completed in 1833, replacing the wooden bridge that stood here earlier. Many legends are associated with its construction: it is said that 400,000 locally fired bricks were used for the Classicist-style bridge, and legend has it they were bound by mortar made with sand wine. On one side of the stone bridge, considered an important symbol of the site, you’ll find the Hortobágy Inn next to the former salt route, while the Shepherd Museum is on the other side. In the former, you can learn about the history of the inn in an exhibition, but while you’re there, don’t miss out on the shepherds’ traditional food either: cool off on the porch and sample the slambuc (a combination of pasta, potatoes and bacon). Only after that should you visit the Shepherd Museum, which presents the active life of shepherds.

Steppe safari and boating on the Hortobágy River

You can take a bus to the wildlife park in Hortobágy–Malomháza, where you can see pelicans, wild horses, wolves, vultures, wild cats, deer, foxes, ferrets, white-tailed eagles, summer geese, great egrets, grey herons, cranes or black and white storks. In fact, you can even go boating on the Hortobágy River, where you can get to know the flora and fauna of the river, and acquaint yourself with fishermen’s tools and equipment of days gone by. If you’d prefer to ride across these plains, there’s a place for renting bikes, and you can also watch a 3D film series about the wildlife and natural treasures of the Hortobágy.

WONDERS OF HUNGARY - HORTOBÁGY NATIONAL PARK - "THE PUSZTA"We have launched a mini-series in 2020 entitled Wonders of Hungary, occasionally presenting our country's beautiful treasures in about a minute to inspire you. Welcome to the next episode, in which we show you Central Europe’s largest steppe, the mythical land of Hortobágy.
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