Southwest Hungary

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Southwest Hungary

to travel

Southwest Hungary

Southwest Hungary
Where silence can be heard

The Hungarian motorcycle journalist János Mezo discovered an almost forgotten area in his homeland, Orseg ?? the guard hat. And made it his extra tour tip for all Southeast vacationers.

Janos Mezo


I have often pondered what I would show a visitor from Hungary. And would probably have done it for years like everyone else, showing Budapest, Lake Balaton and the Puszta. But then I know something
learned that it has more to offer than Balaton and Puszta together: Orseg ?? the guard hat. Ten years ago the news circulated that in southwest Hungary half villages were empty and entire properties were for sale for a sandwich. That aroused curiosity. Although neither extremely distinctive nor geographically very memorable, the guard hat is a specialty. To the north and east it is more pragmatically bounded by highways 8 and 86 (Kormend ?? Zalalovo), to the west and south by the state borders of Austria and Slovenia, it made a name for itself through its historical role. Because the residents of the guard once formed the bulwark against attacks from the west. They lived tax-free, but had to commit to national defense. For this purpose, mostly Slavic groups settled in large parts of the region, dispensed with large village structures and instead formed small settlements scattered on the hills. Built in a self-contained manner for optimal defense, in between wide, airy spaces for meadows, floodplains and forests, which today characterize the character of the guard. Nothing spectacular, no breathtaking waterfalls or mighty mountains, but a fairytale peaceful landscape that reminds a bit of the settlement of the hobbits from the Lord of the Rings. The few remaining residents, who came from a mixture of peoples, look after their old mother-
spoke and sometimes still dress in their original national costumes.
I’m approaching from the north on Landstrasse 86. Of course not without first visiting the Esterházy Palace in Fertod, the seat of the most influential family in Hungarian history. Meanwhile in need of renovation, but hardly less charismatic. I turn on that
8, and not far behind Kormend a sign points to Óriszentpeter and into the guard. The houses are becoming rarer, the road winds through fields and forests,
past a few old farms to the Raab, the largest river in the region. Behind it begins a thick forest and a sign informs about the guard hat.
Shortly afterwards, Óriszentpeter, the 1,300-strong center of the region, welcomes me. A large community whose residents live in widely distributed small towns. Every corner of the guard is within easy reach from here. In the middle of the center is the oldest building in the community, the Romanesque Saint Peters Church. In the cemetery garden, the weathered tombstones show a piece of history.
Some tilted to one side, half sunk in the ground and forgotten the others. Chiseled Slavic, Hungarian and Swabian names in the mixture so typical of the Carpathian Basin.
I continue on the winding road towards Szalafó and choose the turnoff to Pityeszer. The undulating strip of asphalt seduces on the one hand to enjoy the curves, but the atmosphere of the area prevents any urge to speed. I drive on as quietly as possible, avoiding any excessive engine roar. And promptly discover a huge fox! Completely relaxed, he laces across the field next to the road, looks over and does not let himself go in the min-
least of all confused. Woods are increasingly mixing in again
the fields, and wooden signs point to the settlements
Remember open-air museums. A little later I discover Pityeszer
actually a real village museum with three historically correct farms from previous centuries.
After Szalafó I leave the street, jerk carefully over
a dirt road to the edge of the forest. In the meter-high, silky grass, I turn off the engine, pitch the tent and set about exploring the area
explore. Dusk is falling and slowly a layer of haze settles on the meadows. Suddenly
heads and horns appear above the mist. A group of deer approaches. I remain completely still until they pause carefully and at a safe distance
remain. I stalk up on my stomach,
to photograph them.
Gradually the darkness descends and I light a small campfire while the sounds of night life come from the forest. Sometimes a twig cracks, then a bird screams, small animals rustle through the undergrowth.
The next morning I wake up to a foggy and yet already warming sunlight. Dew pearls glitter in it
Web around the rearview mirror that a spider has woven overnight. Hardly on the motorcycle again, a man asks me whether I would like to see his house. Beautifully prepared, works
it is also like a museum. But here everything still serves daily life. In the barn there is an ancient stationary engine next to a pumpkin seed threshing made of wood plus all the utensils for oil production. As a gift, he hands out homemade and in
Pumpkin seed oil dipped bread. I am completely overwhelmed.
Finally, I would like to see the symbols of the guard: the bell towers. The most beautiful can be found at the church of Pankasz. Elaborately built in 1755, it towers into the pale blue sky on a freshly mown meadow. How much is there still to be
would discover! Despite several visits in the meantime, I have still not been to the peat moss-covered valley of the Szoce brook, have only spent two nights on the shores of Lake Vadása and still haven’t visited the Turkish monument in Gasztony. But finally the nice potters from Magyarszombatfa, who are happy about every interested party. I often think of the thunderstorm night when a school principal opened his gym as a refuge for our motorcycle group. And to the Slavic family who invited the entire group of fifteen to breakfast the next morning. To whom we could only thank by unloading a horse-drawn cart full of fodder beets. Many such dear memories, the nights at the edge of the forest, the fox,
the deer and the feeling of being part of nature ?? so now I know what motorcyclists think of
Hungary would show. And I would receive them with the words that
on the old wooden plaque of a Slavic settlement read: »Bog daj pri nas« ?? Greetings God with us!

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