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Debrecen: Spotlight

Reformed Big Church. Image: Getty

Historical Downtown and Piac Street: Debrecen, the second largest city of Hungary, has served as the nation’s capital twice and witnessed many a dramatic episode of its history. Yet, it exudes the feel of a pleasant provincial town with its colourful piazzas and spacious parks. For centuries, the street served as a marketplace for local craftsmen. Walking along, visitors will surely admire the colourful façades of the merchant buildings constructed at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in an eclectic range of styles, from Art Nouveau to Secessionist.

Reformed Big Church and Debrecen Reformed College: Hungary’s largest Reformed church is Debrecen’s symbol and a building of major historic significance. It was here that Lajos Kossuth read out the Declaration of Independence on April 14, 1849 and was inaugurated as governor. Today’s familiar classicist form was developed after the great fire of 1802. You can enjoy magnificent views of the city from the top of the towers, or the steel bridge behind the tympanum. Behind the church stands Debrecen Reformed College. Having functioned continuously as an educational institution since 1538, the college is the cradle of Hungarian civilisation.

Nagyerdo Park and Aquaticum Health & Spa Centre: All great cities can be identified by famous parks. In the case of Debrecen, this is called Nagyerdo (Big Forest) Park, Hungary’s first conservation area. Close to downtown, the park offers countless entertainment options as well as total peace and quiet in the shade of hundred-year-old trees. The recently redesigned and rejuvenated Nagyerdo Park is ready to welcome visitors with a multi-functional stadium — with a 20,000 seating capacity, an amphitheatre, scenic walkways, a spectacular water park, a sculpture garden, and several hotels and restaurants. The Aquaticum Health & Spa Centre provides a Mediterranean experience with 65’C medicinal water that flows to the surface from a geothermal spring.

20 August Debrecen Flower Parade: Debrecen Flower Parade is one of Europe’s most unique flower festivals held every year on 20 August, a national holiday commemorating the foundation of the Hungarian state. This large-scale festival has recently evolved into a weeklong fiesta. The main parade features spectacular double-decker-sized flower floats decorated with fresh cut flowers, and music and dance ensembles from all over the world, attracting thousands of visitors.

Hortobagy National Park: Central Europe’s largest grassland, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hortobagy National Park is half an hour’s drive from Debrecen. The spectacle of the infinite horizon, the peacefully grazing herds of cattle and horses, the hundred-year-old pastoral traditions, the sweep-pole wells and wayside inns, the water habitats teeming with flocks of wild fowl, the undisturbed wonder of the starlit night sky: all of these make up the phenomenon of Hortobagy, the Hungarian Puszta. Annual celebrations, a summer equestrian festival, and the popular horse-and-carriage ride give visitors further insight into local horse-keeping and pastoral traditions.

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