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Hortobágy, the puszta (Hortobágy)

The settlement and its surroundings are an outstanding tourist centre. Most visitors interested in the puszta begin their journey here to discover the natural assets and examples of folk architecture of the Hortobágy.

Sculpture group of water bearers by the Nine Hole Bridge

The Hortobágy Puszta is a geographical definition open to broad interpretation. It was not until the 1820's and 1830's that the collective term of Hortobágy Puszta was used for the properties and meadows along the River Hortobágy that belonged to Debrecen.

The town of Hortobágy is in no way reminiscent of the 'puszta' lifestyle and traditions so typical for the Hungarian plains. For decades employees of the Hortobágy State Farm dwelled here; its homes display the rural style of the 1960's and 1970's arranged along a regular street network complete with infrastructure. However, today it has become one of the tourist centres in the area.

An annual traditional 'puszta' event is the Hortobágy Bridge Fair (Hídivásár) held here from 18th to 20th August on the area opposite the Nagyhortobágy Inn. It has become a tourist spectacle where one may purchase unusual folk art pieces.


Approximately 2 kilometres from the centre of Hortobágy, Máta is the home of the famous Hortobágy studs. Nonius horses have been bred here for over 300 years. On the first weekend of July the Hortobágy Equestrian Days (Lovasnapok) are held here.

Travellers particularly enjoy the horse and cart rides that provide also a great opportunity to discover the natural assets of the Hortobágy. Bicycle tours are another excellent option for exploring the region.

The local inns are traditional stops for visitors of the Hungarian Great Plain, some of them built ages ago along busy roads. In the 19th century some 40 roadside inns were established around the territory of Hortobágy. Along route 33 that crosses the puszta between Tiszafüred and Debrecen, a few of those 'csárda' inns still operate.



Hortobágy National Park

The largest saline puszta in Europe, the Hortobágy was the first national park in Hungary. Founded in 1973 on 81,000 hectares the Hortobágy National Park is a World Heritage Sites.

The Hortobágy is a distinct geographic area. The most extensive grazing land in Hungary, it is home to one of the typical ancient professions, that of animal husbandry which, with its traditional forms, is still preserved here.

Considered part of the World Heritage since 1999 the area encompasses the Hortobágy and most of Greater Cumania (Nagykunság). In addition to the natural landscape the architectural heritage is characteristic of the area. Examples include the Nine Hole Bridge (Kilenclyukú-híd), the Hortobágyi Inn and the Shepherd Museum (Pásztormúzeum) which preserves the memories and traditions of shepherding.

The Hortobágy and its region are the warmest part of Hajdú-Bihar County. The daily temperature fluctuation is great as burningly hot days are made bearable by the refreshingly cool nights.

In addition to the more than ten fish lakes on the Hortobágy, there are three major bodies of water which flow from north to south. The natural River Hortobágy crosses the centre of the region while the East and West Main Channels along the edge of the national park transport the River Tisza's water.

The area is approximately 92 metres above sea level on average. The highest point is Bürök Hill (105 metres). The most obvious visible surface forms are the kurgans and Cumanian mounds.

As the overseer of this world heritage region, the Hortobágy National Park embodies the particular unity between environmental protection, economic management and tourism. The unique bird reserves along with the singular and exemplary environmental protection areas are part of the Natura 2000 network initiated by the European Union.

This region is significant not only for Hungary but for Europe as a whole as this protected environment is a habitat of both unique and protected species. Exhibits and expert presentations provide information about the flora and fauna found here. There are four areas where visitors may gain an insight into the preserved natural and cultural assets: Nyírőlapos-Nyárijárás Puszta, the Hortobágy Fish Lake (halastó), the swamps of Egyek-Pusztakócs (mocsarak) and Tisza Lake. Signs and study trails within the conservation areas help hikers orient themselves.

Access to areas of the park open to the public is only with an entrance card. Cards may be purchased at information points or at the Hortobágy National Park centre.


The Nine Hole BridgeHortobágy the nine hole bridge

The symbol of Hortobágy, this is the longest road stone bridge in historic Hungary prior to 1921 when the country was reduced to one third of its former territory. The bridge was built between 1827 and 1833 in a Classical style.

The distance between the two abutments standing on either side of the river is 92.13 metres while the entire length of the stone bridge measures 167.3 metres.

The clever design served to make the life of the herdsman easier by making the entrance to the bridge broader. This way the approaching animals could walk on to the bridge as if into open arms, making it much easier to herd the sheep, horses and cows across the bridge.

The predecessor of the Nine Hole Bridge was a wooden structure built in 1697 which finally no longer corresponded to requirements due to the heavy traffic and deterioration over time. Increasingly frequent repairs made maintenance more and more expensive and thus, in 1825, the city of Debrecen decided to dismantle the wooden bridge and build a new stone bridge in its place. After a review of several designs, the plan of Ferenc Povolny was accepted. Construction of the new bridge began in 1827 and after its completion in 1833 the wooden bridge was dismantled.


Great Hortobágy Inn

The Great Hortobágy Inn and its surroundings are the natural centre of the Hortobágy. The first inn was built here in 1699, then came a new Baroque inn that subsequently gained a Classical exterior. It functions as an inn to this day.

In the summer of 1699, the town of Debrecen had a public house built beside the post station at the bridge near Máta (Máta is now a part of the town of Hortobágy), where the innkeeper was also charged with collecting the toll. That was the predecessor to the current Hortobágy Inn. The increasingly busy inn was first expanded and then, in 1781, the building of a completely new and more spacious inn was decided upon.


There were two rows of rooms in the new Baroque-style building, with three rooms to the north and two to the south. In the middle was the open-fired kitchen. The entire interior was built in a Baroque style with a gently arching coved vault. That building, again due to the rapid increase in traffic, soon required expansion. In the 1830s, it was enlarged in the Classical style that was prevalent in the Debrecen of the day. The southern facade of the enlarged inn was ornamented with an arcaded corridor with 15 arches, two of which were subsequently walled up.


It was in this building that the visiting poet Sándor Petőfi wrote a poem to the innkeeper's wife in 1842. His visit is commemorated with a memorial plaque. The Hortobágy Inn organises traditional events based on folk traditions on request.


Shepherd Museum

Arranged in a former cart shed, this museum introduces visitors to life in the Hortobágy in the past, including various wagon types, and to the activities of a shepherd.

The exhibition entitled 'Shepherd Life in the Hortobágy' (Hortobágyi pásztorélet) is furnished from the collection of the Déri Museum of Debrecen. It aims to familiarise visitors with the history of the puszta, the development of animal husbandry here and memories of days gone by. The original function of the building is evoked by the wagons and carriages on display.


Hortobágy Gallery

The gallery holds temporary exhibitions of folk and fine art inspired by the Hortobágy and the Great Plain, as well as a permanent exhibition from the works of the Munkácsy Award winning sculptor Árpád Somogyi and the Hortobágy Artist Camp.

The exhibition entitled 'The depiction of the Great Plain and the Puszta in Hungarian fine arts' contains the works of several significant Hungarian painters such as László Holló, Miklós Barabás, Miklós Káplár, Károly Lotz, Károly Markó Sr, Ferenc Medgyessy, Mihály Munkácsy, János Pásztor, Vladimir Szabó and Mór Than.

Gyula Kállai povided the basis for the gallery collection by his donation of ten paintings by László Holló. The collection was supplemented by works from the Debrecen Déri Museum and placed in the former building of the town hall in 1980.



The presentation about the Hortobágy National Park is set up in the Körszín exhibition room, while the 'Protection of birds of prey' material is held in the gallery.

Formerly displayed in the Darassa Gate House, the exhibition in the Kőrszín (round coach-house) introduces the gallery forests along the River Tisza and the relict oak forests of Ohat and Újszentmargita. Become acquainted with the flora and the fauna of the oak forests, in particular the local birds of prey, with the aid of a diorama.

The Körszín was opened in 1999 in honour of the designation of the Hortobágy National Park as a World Heritage Site.


"Puszta" Zoo

Opened in 1997, the animal park presents typical domesticated animals of the Great Plain as well as traditional Hungarian breeds together with the methods and tools of animal husbandry.

Between October and March it can be visited upon appointment.


Hortobágy Fishing Lake Study Trail

This signposted study trail and bird watching hide at one of Europe's largest waterfowl habitats can be accessed on route 33 between the 64 and 65 kilometre posts. The trail extends for 10 kilometres.

Covering around 2000 hectares, the Hortobágy Old Fishing Lake (Öreg-halastó) was created in order to exploit the Hortobágy alkaline plains. Together with the other Hortobágy fishing lakes it forms one of the largest fishing lake systems in the world. Of the 17 original beds today only 10 operate. Due to the area's outstanding importance for waterfowl, it is one of the prime habitats not only in Hungary but in Europe and is recognised under the international Ramsar Agreement.

The pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus) is breeding here in ever increasing numbers and the glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) also nests here regularly. The spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) colony of between 200 and 250 pairs is the largest in Central Europe. One of the spectacular elements of the bird world here is the spring migration of the wild geese and this area also serves as one of the most important transit places for the European stock of the endangered lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus). At the time of the crane migration it is a significant overnight resting site for these birds; the largest number of cranes recorded is 55,000.

The area is equipped with signposted bird watching hides and can be visited on possession of an entrance ticket.



Accommodation in Hortobágy:


Map of Hortobágy:



Szállás Hortobágy és környékén

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