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Sárvár: so much more than just the spa

Nádasdy castleSárvárBük and Sárvár

Flanking the River Rába, Sárvár is one of the largest and increasingly popular towns in the Western-Transdanubian region. The main attraction is undoubtedly the internationally renowned spa – but it is reasonable to claim that wellness is only one of the many reasons to visit Sárvár. 

Roots goes deep here: Sárvár looks back on a history of over a millennium, leaving the town with many relics and monuments. The historic town centre is an ideal venue for a romantic stroll. Start with the cobblestone Kossuth tér, where you can marvel at the fountain, with its spectacular audio and light show, the town hall built between 1878 and 1882 and the monuments commemorating the heroes of WWI and WWII. Re-opened in 2014, Posta tér is another spectacular location in Sárvár, featuring a fountain that shoots the water through no fewer than 72 nozzles and has LED lighting. What’s more, it is designed so that you can actually walk into it, right to the centre of the fountain. The two squares lie by Nádasdy Castle, as does Hild Park, which was renovated recently and offers a playground for the kids and comfortable benches for everyone. Nobody visits Sárvár and leaves without paying the castle a visit: this is one of the few medieval castles in Hungary to withstand history and be standing to this day.

Sigismund of Luxembourg granted the castle to the Kanizsai family in 1390; later, in 1534, it was passed on to the Nádasdy family as a dowry when Tamás Nádasdy married Dorottya Kanizsai. The Nádasdys’ era was the castle’s heyday, at the end of the Renaissance and the start of the Baroque period. Ferenc Nádasdy, perhaps the most wellknown captain of the castle, also known as the “Black Bey”, is commemorated by a statue that doubles as a sundial, outside the Danubius Thermal Hotel. His widow, Elizabeth Báthory, the notorious “Monster of Csejte” was accused of killing and bleeding young girls to death, however these were most likely false allegations, motivated by a desire to get hold of her estate. In fact, no trial was ever held, let alone a sentence pronounced.

The Renaissance archway, the Baroque ceremonial hall with its beautiful ceiling murals and the salons all make a visit here easily worthwhile, and you will also enjoy the exhibitions. The castle houses the Nádasdy Museum, which has an applied arts exhibition, a map collection, printing and glass-art exhibitions and the only exhibition in Hungary that walks visitors through the history of the Hussar cavalry, drawing considerable international interest. The most prized exhibit is the so-called Nádasdy clock from the family estate. 

The castle is surrounded by the beautiful Castle Park, the perfect venue for a pleasant, leisurely stroll. If you would like to delve deeper into the beauty of nature, you have the Sárvár Botanical Garden right next to the Castle Park, one of the oldest botanical collections in the country, originally created in 1546. Managed by the Őrség National Park, the 9.2hectare area where the botanical garden lies used to belong to the castle, and was designated as a health resort, together with the spa complex. The garden features roughly 300 types of trees and shrubs, 300-year-old oaks, 200-year-old sycamores, black pines, Japanese pagoda trees, century-old magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas and even a fish pond, as well as pleasant paths for a really scenic walk around the garden. Built in 1818 and tucked between the castle park and the botanical garden, stands the onestorey former Korona Hotel, which has always been a hotel, a restaurant and the central hub of the social life of Sárvár, once sporting a thatched roof which gave it the popular nickname of “Hay Pub”. 

Sárvár also abounds in attractions of a spiritual nature. Standing in the market square, the Baroque Saint Ladislaus Church boasts the first public statue in Sárvár, the Column of the Grieving Christ. Saint Nicholas Church may be most famous for its cemetery (now gone) where the renowned medieval Hungarian poet and chronicler of the era, Sebestyén Tinódi, was buried in 1556. Just like Nádasdy Castle, Saint Mark Church is another remnant of early medieval Hungary – archaeologists regard the stone frame of the gate by the southern vestry as one of the most intriguing Romanesque attractions in the whole of Transdanubia. The Classicist Lutheran church stands facing the castle. Just like the town hall, it was designed by local architect Sámuel Geschrey and the church building, with its simple, white facade is a remarkable example of the Classicist church design traditions of Transdanubia.

The Boating Lake is a popular choice among locals looking for some quality leisure time. You can explore the lake – which is really a combination of four smaller lakes – by rowing boat and pedalo, while the beaches offer plenty of shade to just lay back and enjoy the place a little. The walkways that go around the lakes and at places cross them on cosy little bridges are perfect for romantic strolls, even in the winter. For more active leisure, there is nothing better than the Sárvár Adventure Park. 

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