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Sights of Tapolca (Tapolca)

Tapolca is rich in natural assets. Among its particularly interesting sites are a cave-lake system that may be navigated by small boats and the basalt columns of St George Hill (Szent György-hegy). Also well known for its wine trade, the town has become the cultural centre of the region.

The name of the settlement is of Slavic origin; the word means warm water (toplica). There was a military road passing through the area during Roman times and sections of its remains may still be found throughout the settlement.

Between the 14th and the 16th centuries Tapolca was the centre of the region. In additition to being the place of the noble county assembly, in ecclesiastic terms it was also the seat of the decanate.

In the 18th and 19th centuries the town was one of the largest centres of the Balaton region wine commerce. In 1966 it officially regained city status as the cultural and economic centre of the region. Masters of virtually all arts and crafts may be found in or around Tapolca.

The neighbouring district of Diszel was joined to Tapolca in 1977. Diszel is famous today for its First Hungarian Scenic Collection (Első Magyar Látványtár), an exhibition space for contemporary artists.

Among the natural assets in the area the nearly 4-kilometre long cave-lake stands out. Another attractive sight are the basalt columns lining the side of the 415-metre St George Hill, reminders of former volcanic activity. Old wine cellars are tucked into the side of the hill.




Cave LakeCave Lake Tapolca

An approximately 2.5-kilometre section of this 4-kilometre system of underground waterways in the caves is open for visitors to explore. The largest cave is almost 20 metres long, 3-5 metres wide and 8 metres high.

From the street-level entrance 75 steps lead down to the caves. The largest is called Lóczy Hall - it is nearly 20-metres long, 3-5-metres wide and 8-metres high. These water-made passages can be experienced in their original splendour here, as in the next cave, Batsányi Hall.

The old landing stage is just a few metres away from Batsányi Hall. Visitors can visit the caves by boat, on a lake of crystal-clear water of an average depth of 1 metre. The boats provide access to the Maximum Hall where the most beautiful and largest crystals of the caves are to be found.

The geological history of this region explains the creation of this cave system; the passages were created by the solvent action of deep-layer hot water.

Tickets for the boat ride should be purchased at the ticket booth. In the period between 16th November and 15th March visiting groups (minimum 15 persons) should register in advance.


Szent György Hill

Gigantic basalt columns line the side of the famous, 415-metre high Szent György Hill. The formation of columns can be observed on the surface of a number of volcanic hills in the Tapolca Basin.

The hypothesis as to the formation of the columns is that the lava flows of the volcanic eruptions dispersed, settling as a fine layer which gradually became a hard layer on the surface of the hill. The basalt cover shielded the softer rock below from the destructive forces of the wind and rain. The basalt itself took the primary wear and tear, particularly forcibly on the edges of the cracks that had formed when the cooling lava crusted. The sharp edges were worn round, and the cracks eroded to form the columns seen today.

Walking around the hill also provides an excellent opportunity to have a look here at the old press houses too. The fastest way to get here is from Hegymagas.


City Museum

There is plenty to see here: a local history exhibition, a school museum and archaeological finds that have been discovered in the area as well as the lapidarium.

The museum is one of the oldest public school buildings in Central Europe. According to old documents the Cantor's House already existed here in 1726 built on the ruins of a former border fortress. This was the primary reason why the museum, originally a pedagogic history collection, was eventually supplemented to include archaeological finds as well as historical, ethnographic, industrial history and graphic arts materials related to the city.


First Hungarian Scenic Collection

The Scenic Collection is no ordinary exhibition space or museum, but an experimental effort to redefine how we look at objects.

First Hungarian Scenic Collection TapolcaIn the garden the glass globes of the rose trees live together with the cigarette-sculptures from the 1930's, contemporary paintings with the artefacts of soldiers from World War I; these create an interesting dialogue.

The First Hungarian Scenic Collection Foundation's Exhibition Space is an important exhibition space of both 20th-century and contemporary artists; new exhibitions are arranged annually.



Large Lake, or Mill Lake

In the 1930's the upper stretch of the Tapolca Stream (Tapolca patak) was broadened by retaining and thus Mill Lake was created. It has become a popular place for outings. Homes built on the stonewall around the lake provide an Italian flavour.

Another barrage in the way of the runoff water of Large Lake created the Small Lake (Kistó) whose waters also powered a mill.


MillMill Tapolca

It is possible that the water's flow might already have been dammed by the Romans for the purpose of driving mills. However, it is a fact that a mill stood here in the Árpád Age.

Following several reconstructions it finally attained its present form in the late 17th and early 18th century. The mill was converted into a hotel and restaurant in 1964. Its wheel serves only as a decoration today.



Accommodation in Tapolca:


Map of Tapolca:



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