STAFF / EUROPE / Historic/Museums / Interesting Towns / Scenic Wonders

Some Medieval and Natural Gems of Lillafüred, Hungary

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.

The Palace Hotel, Lillafured

The Palace Hotel

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.

Terraced walkway, Lillafured

I fell in love with the terraced walkway

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.

Waterfalls of Lillafured

Can you spot me in one of the collage photos?

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.

Left: No trip is complete without a mind-boggling tree photograph
Right: Caves in the Lillafured area

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.

Anna Cave

So much detail preserved in the Anna Cave

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.

Hámor Lake

Hámor Lake

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 in the Greek Amphitheatre ruins,
Taormina, Sicily

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©.

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  1. So nice to wake up to this article being published 🙂 Thank you, Milli!

    • My pleasure, Estrella.

      Now I have an editor’s beg for you: Please please please take the train next time you visit Lillafüred. Milliver’s Travels wants that story too! 🙂

      • I’m hoping to make it there during winter to see the frozen waterfall (at the end of this year or early 2013). I’ll do my best to take the train that time!

  2. Pingback: Medieval and Natural Gems | Life's a stage – WebBlog

  3. Estrella,
    What a beautiful place!..Thank you for sharing it so descriptively. The tree with all the roots climbing the hillside is awesome. I love trees like this. The caves looks great,but unless there is A LOT of room in them I wouldn’t be able to go in…I am a bit claustrophobic. I can still enjoy them in your wonderful photos tough…So cool!
    Some day I would love to come to your part of the world!
    Thanks again!

    • I also love trees like that, Betsy 🙂
      Sorry you’re claustrophobic, that must be annoying when one wants to see caves and such. You probably wouldn’t like this particular one as it’s small. There is another cave I’ve seen though, the Baradla Cave, which is huge – I think you’d be okay in that one.

      Can’t wait for you to visit this part of the world! 🙂

  4. What a great destination. I like going places where I can hike. This looks beautiful. Another great report from you, Estrella.

  5. This place sounds enchanting in so many ways. I would love to see the palace hotel, but the caves sound fascinating too!

  6. Wow – that is absolutely stunning! What a paradise of a photographer! Thanks for sharing, Estrella1

  7. What a beautiful place!. Amazing shots. Another great post from you, Estrella

  8. What a fairytale location you’ve discovered Estrella! Can’t wait for the winter edition of this report.

    Those caves look fantastic, I’m practically itching for the chance to explore!
    Thanks so much for this!

  9. This was a great read. I found you in a picture (with a red shirt). I so want to go to all these places. Thanks so much for sharing. Patsye

    • Patsye, thank you! Hope you’ll be able to visit all these places someday soon 🙂

      How fun, you spotted me in the picture – my friend was all like “Wait, what? Where are you going? There’s a sign saying you aren’t allowed…”

  10. Aahh! So beautiful. I would like to teleport there right now!

  11. Angellf says:

    Beautiful description of a lovely place, very well written. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  12. Estrella..absolutely wonderful article. I would love to visit the lake and the caves. Thanks for sharing with us. This is a place I would love to visit.

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