The Hungarian Series, Part 3: Spotlight on Pécs

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When it comes to international travel, I’m a firm believer in getting out of the city, Cousin Larry. Sure, capitals are beautiful, cosmopolitan, and historically-charged, but it’s the smaller towns where you get a richer taste of a country’s culture (think of a capital city as a blend and a smaller town as a single malt).  Nonetheless, I probably would never have even ventured to Pécs – the 5th largest city in Hungary – if I hadn’t been traveling with my friend, V, who calls Pécs home. Even though Pécs is, funnily enough, a twin city with none other than Terracina – the city where I live.

Citrom Utca, with the post office in the background. Photo by Eva Sandoval.

Life’s happy coincidences.

Pécs – near the Croatian border, nestled in the Mecsek mountains – is a rose of a city, known to history by several names but still as sweet. The surrounding territory was first called Sopianæ by its Roman founders in the 2nd century, but the city itself was called Quinque Basilicae (five cathedrals) in the Middle Ages, as well as Quinque Ecclesiae and, in German, Fünfkirchen, both names which mean ‘five churches’ – a nod to the fact that when the city’s churches were first constructed, builders took materials from the remains of five early Christian chapels. Pécs – called such since the 13th century – is also known for its Ottoman influence, still visible in the mosques and minarets dotting the cityscape.

Minaret. Photo by Eva Sandoval

I was in Pécs on Easter weekend, 2012, when the streets were alive with red tulips and softly swept by rain. I walked along the crumbling traces of the city’s Roman past; touched ceramic that looked like bronze; stared at the glassed-in cash registers of antique pharmacies.

I might have developed a schoolgirl crush on Hungary itself, but I fell in total smit with Pécs. Read on for a run down of things to do and see in this beautiful city, and let me spread the love.

Things to Do in Pécs:

  • Take in a concert  Pécs is one of Hungary’s cultural hot spots, regularly attracting top billed musical acts, troupes, and performances.
  • Check out the view from the top Pécs is very hike-able, with trails leading all the way up to the city’s highest heights, revealing a spectacular view, and providing great digestive benefits
  • Mail a postcard Sure, go on, laugh – until you get a look at the city’s main post office.

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