10+2 facts about Hungary – you might not have known before
Maria Simon / July 2, 2020
What if you arrived to Hungary with already a little knowledge about the country? There are interesting fun facts about Hungary that might not be mentioned in every guidebook, yet knowing them could simply give you a little insight into our traditions, past and everyday lives.
1. Budapest has the second oldest underground in the World
With the operations beginning in 1896, Metro Line 1 in Budapest is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and is the second oldest underground railway in the world, predated only by the London Underground. Taking a ride on it might feel like time travel.
2. Are Hungarians always angry?
Have you ever had the chance to listen to Hungarians talking to each other? If yes, what was your first thought? Was it strange, funny or did it sound like we are always arguing? Did you think that it is a language you could never learn? Don’t Worry! Sometimes even we get confused! A fun fact about Hungary is, that our language is truly unique and is said to be one of the hardest languages to learn in Europe as there is no other language similar to it. The main reason for this is that the language originates from the steppe of Central Asia and the ancestors of the Hungarian tribes who founded Hungary.
SZERETLEK=I Love You!
3. Here you can become a good writer with a single touch
There is a legend in Budapest which says that if you touch the pen of the statue of an anonymous writer which sits in the City Park near the Heroes' Square, then you could become a great writer. The statue looks a little like the grim reaper, but is said to represent the chronicler of Hungarian King Béla.
4. Hungary has more than 1300 thermal water springs
The following fun fact is for the thermal lovers. The more than 1,300 thermal water springs with 123 of them in Budapest alone bring infinite opportunities for year-round bathing in spas all over Hungary. The Hungarian capital, Budapest, has the world's highest number of thermal springs.
Since Roman times, thermal waters in Hungary have been used not only for relaxation purposes but also for their medical benefits. Over the ages, bath complexes were erected and today you can find a variety of styles, from traditional Turkish baths to modern establishments. Some of our oldest and most beloved baths are Rudas thermal bath, http://www.szechenyibath.hu/ Széchenyi thermal bath, http://www.szechenyifurdo.hu/ and Gellért thermal bath http://www.gellertbath.hu/ .
5. Hungary is home to the world’s first official wine region?
Have you ever been to the World's first wine region? If you ever been to Tokaj, your answer is YES! Wine has been produced in Hungary since the 5th century A.D. In 1737, King Karoly named the Tokaj wine region a national wine area, making it the world’s first official wine region, almost 120 years before France’s Bordeaux. France, Spain, and Italy might be more famous for their wines in general, but in Tokaj, there is something special. Tokaji Aszu is also known as the King of wines. Louis XIV of France said the following about Tokaji Aszu- “Wine of Kings, King of Wines”
6. There is a Hungarian hand behind the discovery of Vitamin-C
Do you take Vitamin-C every day? And do you think of Hungary while doing so? Probably no. One of the most well-known vitamin supplements in the world was discovered by Hungarian physiologist, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, in the 1930s. While working at the University of Szeged in the south of the country, he discovered Vitamin C together with research fellow Joseph Svirbely, and it was this which would earn him his Nobel Prize in 1937.
7. Rubik's Cube was invented by a Hungarian architect
A challenging hobby without technology? YES! We can say that nowadays most intellectual and brain-stretching hobbies are fairly modern and involve technology, except some like the Rubik's Cube. Do you know why it was released for the first time in Budapest? The simple answer is because it was invented by a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture in 1974, Erno Rubik. Since then more then 350 million cubes were sold, competitions are held worldwide and it is something you can always rely on if you need a little challenge.
8. Something in which we are just one place behind New York
Budapest has the second largest synagogue in the world, after New York. With a seating capacity of 3,000 people, the Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest in Europe and part of the Unesco World Heritage Site.
9. Is Pálinka the heal for all pain?
Do you agree with this fun fact? There is no doubt that pálinka is one of the beverages you will be first offered when arriving to Hungary. Hungarian grandmothers swear by its powers. You have a headache? Pálinka. Feeling nervous? Pálinka. Feeling sleepy or uninspired? Pálinka. This beverage is a traditional fruit brandy with Hungarian origins made from fruits such as apricot, plum and apple. As the saying goes: “Pálinka in small amounts is a medicine, in large amounts a remedy”.
10. The magic number in Hungary: 96
In about 896 the Hungarians led by Prince Árpád settled in the area of today's Hungary. Hungary’s millennial was in the year of 1896 and in the same year the first metro was built in Budapest. By law, the highest buildings in Budapest cannot be taller than 96 meters high, and the Hungarian national anthem takes 96 seconds to sing, if done at proper tempo.
11. Is Chess in our genes?
Are you a master in chess? Be careful with calling out a Hungarian for a "chess fight" because chess is in our genes. The world’s greatest female chess champion is Hungarian. Judit Polgar acquired the title of grandmaster at the tender age of 15 in 1991 - a record and so she is the highest rated female chess champion in the world. The game is played everywhere in Hungary - including on floating boards in thermal baths.
12. There are more than 40 varieties of paprika grown in Hungary
Be ready for Hungary, be ready for the PAPRIKA! Paprika is Hungary’s most popular spice and a symbol of its cuisine. Hungarians consume more than 1.10 lbs. (500 g) of paprika each year and there are more than 40 varieties grown in Hungary.
Among the different varieties of paprika, the spice is often divided into three categories—hot paprika, sweet paprika, and smoked paprika.
Due to the favourable climate and geographical conditions, Hungarian paprika has a bright red colour and a distinctive rich flavour that allowed Hungary to became one of the leading producers in the world.
Kalocsa and Szeged in southern Hungary are the hearts of production.
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