Holloko On a BudgetLocated in northern Hungary, Holloko is a preserved ethnographic village with a castle and traditional houses which date from the 13th century. The village, castle ruins, and the surrounding area are today designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in a stunning valley of the Cserhat Mountains, surrounded by low peaks.
SightsThe name, Holloko, translates to "raven stone," perhaps inspired by the local legend of the castle's mythological origins. According to the story, the lord of a castle kidnaps a maiden, whose nurse is a witch. The witch makes a pact with the devil to save the girl, and the devil's ravens come to take the stones of the castle away and place them on top of a rock in Holloko where the castle ruins now stand. At the ruins today, there is an exhibition of the remains of weapons and rock carvings found at the site, as well as a beautiful view overlooking part of Bükk National Park and the village below. The town itself has a protected area of medieval structures which have been rebuilt over the centuries due to fire. Most of the buildings are characteristic peasant houses with stepped gable roofs and wooden porches, all situated around a wooden-towered Roman Catholic Church. Many of these structures serve as folk museums which are preserved in their original state, some with craft shops inside as well.
A living ethnic village, Holloko also houses a population of people who are mainly Paloc. During important festivals, the residents still wear traditional folk costumes and engage in age-old customs and crafts. One of the most spectacular celebrations is during Easter, though there is also a Raspberry Festival in July, a Castle Tournament in August, and grape harvest festivities in August at the church and castle.
NeighborhoodsHolloko is generally divided into two parts - the old village and the new village. The preserved, older part of Holloko is confined to an area of more than 50 buildings, mostly traditional medieval homes as well as the church, a post office, and a nursery school. There are also other buildings which showcase traditional folk crafts as well, like the Loom House where textile production of both ancient and recent techniques takes place. Sleeping accommodations and a number of restaurants serving traditional cuisine are located within Holloko village as well.
ActivitiesThe best way to experience Holloko is to explore the village on foot, entering each historic building and taking in the intricate details of another culture's day-to-day life and customs. Each structure serves as a glimpse into the past with its architecture as well as its shops which exhibit and sell locally made crafts. Often, the shops will have demonstrations where visitors can learn about the process of making various folk crafts. Music is also central to Paloc life, folk songs often heard in the evenings played live at taverns and restaurants. For those seeking a deeper immersion into the culture, clothing, music, and dance of the village, the best time to visit would be during one of the festivals mentioned earlier.
Food and DiningCuisine of Hungary is primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, dairy products, and cheeses. Paprika is used generously in cooking and is considered the national spice. Goulash, a soup or stew of meat and vegetables and seasoned with paprika and other spices, is especially popular and common throughout Hungary. Other specialties include stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls, roasted meats, and casseroles, as well as a hot and spicy fish soup called halaszle, a chilled sour cherry soup called hideg meggyleves, and Hungarian crepes called palacsinta which can be stuffed with jam, cheese, raisins, or meat. There are several taverns in Holloko village which serve classic Hungarian and Paloc cuisine. The three most popular are the Muskatli Restaurant, the Katalin Csárda, and the Var Restaurant.
TransportationHungary's main international airports are Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport in Budapest (formerly Budapest Ferihegy International Airport) and Airport Debrecen in Debrecen. The best way to reach Holloko would be to fly into Budapest and take public transportation into the village. The journey by bus will take about two and a half hours from the main bus station in Budapest to Holloko. You can also drive to Holloko by car within an hour from Budapest on motorway M3. Once in the village, everything is reachable on foot. There is one main street lined with museums and craft shops on both sides as well as a path which leads to the castle.
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