Pecs On a BudgetLocated in southwest Hungary, Pecs is a pleasant university town with a history that dates back to Roman times - a history evident in its ancient architecture. Some of the most sought after sites include the Early Christian Necropolis, the Mosque of Pasha Quasim, and the Cathedral of Pecs.
SightsAs a Roman city, Pecs was once called Sopianae. Remains from this ancient city are suggested in its early Christian monuments like the Early Christian Necropolis which was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The site dates back to the 4th century and is the largest necropolis remaining in the European provinces. Seven of the burial chambers are open to the public and are known collectively as Cella Septichora.
The Mosque of Pasha Quasim, located on the main square, is another important landmark to the town. Today the 16th-century structure serves as a Catholic Church, drawing visitors interested in the service as well as to see the decorative frescoes and iconic domed roof.
Additionally, there is the Cathedral of Pecs, which dates back to the 11th century during the time of Peter Orseolo, the second king of Hungary. The design of the building is evident of the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods as well as the Turkish conquest when it was in part used for storage. At some point, the church was renovated in Rococo and Classicist styles, but was mostly restored to its envisioned Romanesque origins in the 1880s.
A number of museums also call Pecs home including the Vasarely Museum which is dedicated to the works of Victor Vasarely - founder of the op-art movement, Csontváry Museum which houses the largest collection of self-educated painter Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry, and the Zsolnay Museum which exhibits the history and ceramics of Vilmos Zsolnay and the Zsolnay Ceramic Factory.
NeighborhoodsDowntown Pecs is the oldest part of the town with houses which date back to the Middle Ages as well as others designed in the Art Nouveau style. Király street marks the center of activity as it is the main pedestrian area with plenty of opportunities for dining, shopping, sight-seeing, and entertainment. The main square of the downtown is centered on the domed 16th-century Mosque of Pasha Gazi Quasim. This square is called Széchenyi square and once served as the market place of the town with the city hall and the parish church during the Middle Ages. From here most of the town's historic and cultural sites can be seen on foot or via the local bus service.
ActivitiesBeyond sight-seeing and exploring the town's pedestrian areas, there are also opportunities to shop for handmade gifts and souvenirs unique to the area. Zsolnay Porcelain is one such thing not to miss - usually designed in an Art Nouveau style with vibrant glazes like the green-gold glaze called eosin. Wines from the Villány wine region offer another great sampling to take home from Hungary, perhaps best known for their reds as well as their lesser known Kadarka and Zweigelt varieties. In and around the main square, visitors will find plenty of opportunity to find local craft goods, meander through art galleries, and explore antique stores.
Other activities outside of history and culture include a visit to the Botanical Garden located at the University of Pecs, or a stop at the Zoo which was established in 1960. Additionally, the Pecs TV Tower offers great views of the town and surrounding area from an observation deck.
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. In Pecs, visitors can find plenty of restaurants along Király street, which is the main pedestrian area.
TransportationHungary's main international airports are Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport in Budapest (formerly Budapest Ferihegy International Airport) and Airport Debrecen in Debrecen. To reach Pecs, travelers can fly into Budapest and then take the train from the Deli or Keleti stations. There is also a daily train to and from Osijek in Croatia and Sarajevo in Bosnia as well as a daily train to the city from Vienna. Buses are also plentiful and have many routes.
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