Some Medieval and Natural Gems of Lillafüred, HungarySTAFF — By Estrella Azul on March 13, 2012 at 01:13
By staff writer Estrella Azul. Photos Copyright © Estrella Azul.
From the very first visit I was enchanted by all the beauty Lillafüred’s landscape had to offer. I didn’t think I could like a small place such as this one as instantly and deeply as I did. Especially as it’s only a coin toss away, so to speak, from my city of Kolozsvár, Romania.
Situated in the valley of Szinva Creek in the Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county of Hungary, Lillafüred’s tourism holds a wide appeal. Just outside of Miskolc city, it is one of the country’s best mountain resort locations, with many attractions and unique landscapes. This makes it a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts, families, groups of friends, couples and hunters alike. Not to mention it satisfied my geeky thirst for knowledge with so much history around.
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My friend and I drove there, but we could have gone by train. The forestry-built narrow gauge railway line from 1920, which was mainly for freight transport, is currently being used for tourism. Departing from Miskolc, it runs all the way to Garadna, providing a wonderful ride through the lovely village of Lillafüred.
The Renaissance-style Palace Hotel, a very famous hotel during World War I, was built between 1927 and 1930, during the governorship of Count István Bethlen. During World War II it was used as a field hospital for the military.
Today, its Matthias, Hunyadi and Nagy Lajos halls operate as restaurants. The Matthias room’s stained-glass windows depict the castles of the historical Kingdom of Hungary. Overlooking the Szinva Creek Valley and the Hámor Lake, the building is located next to a large park containing botanical rarities.
The large terraces rising above the main entrance, the tower, the renovated exterior and the hanging gardens around the building pulled us into a medieval atmosphere. I truly got the illusion of being in another world. I actually was in another world, I think.
The Palace Hotel is located on top of a steep hill so, leading up to it, a terraced walkway system was designed as reinforcement. Walking down the terrace paths we had a great view of one of Lillafüred ‘s main attractions: the waterfall.
The Lillafüred Waterfall is Hungary’s tallest, with its water falling from a height of twenty meters. The view is absolutely breathtaking, as if taken from the pages of a fairy tale. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and—ignoring the fence—had to get closer to the water, hiking behind it to take pictures.
In winter, the frozen waterfall unfolds a unique and spectacular landscape. I’ll definitely have to see that for myself one day. And then share it with all of you.
Continuing down the paths one can easily be immersed in the beauty of the old beech tree forest covered mountains. The mountain’s interior hides caves of different beauty and special characteristics—to be admired either on a guided tour or strolling on one’s own, like my friend and I were.
The Anna Cave, a worldwide rarity, is filled with plant specimens wonderfully preserved in limestone. The István Cave is the area’s largest dripstone cave, some of its halls being set up for healing patients with respiratory problems. And the Szeleta Cave is famous because of the findings of hundreds of thousands of year old chipped stone tools.
I love caves and mines, so I was very happy to be able to visit the Anna Cave; it was amazing. Discovered in 1833, this cave is relatively small. It was formed in freshwater limestone and as such is significantly different from the old marine, saltwater-formed limestone caves.
From the rooms’ ceilings, lined up side by side, there are hundreds of thousands of gorgeous, detailed limestone-coated, petrified seaweed, algae, moss, tree roots, imprints of fossilized leaves, grass and even branches hanging as curtains. The forever-preserved memory of millennia of vegetation.
The Hámor Lake was first mentioned in 1319 in a Pauline monastery document as a pond, and had grown to its current size of one-and-a-half kilometers long by the 19th century. Created by the Szinva and Garadna’s streams as a permanent water supply for the iron furnace operating there at the time, it is now fairly deep. In the summer, paddle boating and water cycling is possible, while a picturesque walk along its banks awaits walking/hiking enthusiasts.
My friend and I walked the streets, the paths and took in all the beauty around us. We ate our sandwiches while sitting in the grass in the quiet forest overlooking the village, in the dim light broken by tree branches. We talked girl talk. We rested and relaxed.
It was absolutely wonderful, and I will be going back one day, because there’s still much of Lillafüred I’d like to see . . . and the rest of my heart to fill with it!
Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©.