FALL 2016, ISSUE II
Greetings from Budapest!
We send you warm greetings from Budapest where it is becoming much colder and the leaves are falling fast. Students are done with their midterm exams and it is hard to believe that half of the semester is already gone.
We begin this newsletter with our first overnight excursion – a special theme based one – which combined history, art, nature, heritage, and fun.
The „Kids of Budapest 1956” Pilgrimage
Standing in front of the 1956 Memorial inside the ‘Small prison’ with the flag of ’Kids of Pest’
We joined a memorial excursion organized by a foundation called Pesti Srác (Kids of Budapest), which was founded for the commemoration of the youth who fought for freedom in the revolution of 1956. The 1956 Revolution broke out on October 23 – now a national holiday in Hungary – so learning about it on its 60th anniversary with the help of this excursion was especially appropriate for the fall group. This was a memorable live history lesson as we visited sights of the freedom fight, including the prison cells and execution room – now a museum – of revolutionaries. We heard recollections from a participant of the Revolution, traveled to the 1956 Museum in Kiskunmajsa and then to the National Historical Memorial Park in Ópusztaszer. The excursion was especially enjoyable as we traveled with a group of Hungarian students from Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Secondary School.
Solemn moments for students with pictures of those freedom fighters who were kept in this prison
We closed the first day on a lighter note: students enjoyed the thermal bath in Lakitelek after a rather rigorous workout of learning traditional Hungarian folk dance. Everybody was delighted.
On the second day, we traveled to a small town, Bócsa to join the community’s harvest festival. The CIEE students were officially greeted by the Major of the town, and the band played “Born in the USA” and everybody joined in the singing. The community’s harvest celebration is not a tourist attraction, so our visit there was received warmly and with special interest. Students feasted on refreshments and home-made sweets.
The next day we traveled to Ópusztaszer, to the National Heritage Park and Open Air Museum.
The Feszty Cyclorama is located here depicting the arrival of the Hungarians to the Carpathian Basin in 896. The huge, circular panorama painting recalls the events of the Conquest of Hungary. Árpád Feszty, with the help of several contemporary artists, completed the painting between 1892 and 1894.
We enjoyed a beautiful fall day strolling around the park which also holds a large collection of traditional houses from the various parts of the country.
Danube Bend: Esztergom and Visegrád
On our very first group excursion we visited two beautiful and historically significant cities, Esztergom and Visegrád, north of Budapest. First, we travelled to Esztergom, which is the birthplace of Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen and a former medieval capital of Hungary, and also the seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church. The Esztergom Basilica is the country’s first, Europe's third largest, and the world’s 18th largest church. Esztergom coincides with Hungary’s historical beginning as a state and students enjoyed having a history class in situ.
Fall 2016 group in front of the Basilica in Esztergom
We also visited the historic and picturesque town of Visegrád which is located in the Danube bend region. The city has always had an important strategic role in Hungarian history. It used to be one of Hungary’s medieval capitas and an important diplomatic center: The first royal summit of the central European countries was held here in the 14th century, and a new Visegrád Treaty was signed here again in 1990. We visited the 12th century fort on top of the hill overlooking the Danube.
Our group lunch was held in a renaissance-style restaurant fitting for the town’s history.
Elizabeth Simon, Resident Director
Judit Fekete, Resident Coordinator