Gemenc (F8) situated at the confluence of the rivers Sió and Danube in the
most beautiful forests of the flood region along the Danube. Here the rivers
divide into branches around tiny islands, and small ox-bow lakes have also
been formed; we are in a kind of aquatic wilderness. Unusual plants grow
in the enclosed areas of forest, and a veritable bird reserve has developed.
The Gemenc Forest wild boar and stock of deer are world famous. There is
a narrow-gauge railway, which takes visitors into the forest between May
and October starting from Bárányfok, the focus of the region for hiking. The
only way to visit the protected area is to take either the train or a small boat
from the Sió lock. A nature trail has been constructed at Bárányfok, and a
walk along its length will enable you to learn about the flora and fauna and
the traditions of the Gemenc.
Gemenc is part of the famous Duna–Dráva National Park. The protected
stretches of the two rivers form two long ribbon-like areas. The national park
was established in 1996 with the aim of protecting natural treasures and
natural resources. The Danube divides Pannonia from the Hungarian plain,
the Alföld. Part of the Dráva forms the border between Croatia and Hungary.
It is home to protected plant and animal species and an unspoilt area of
incomparable beauty. The whole of the nearly 200 km-long stretch of the
Dráva which falls within Hungary can be explored by bicycle or by taking an
organised canoe tour.
Of particular interest is the Basa garden on the border of Babócsa (C8): here,
in April and May, around 30 acres of meadow are covered by a white carpet
as the narcissus angustifoliate blooms in the wild.
Harkány (E9) This has been internationally famous as a spa for some two hundred
years, thanks to the sulphurous water which gushes out of the ground here. It was the
labourers digging drains in the town (which lies close to Pécs and Mohács) who discovered
the miraculous effects of the water. After days of working in the boggy area they realised
that their arthritic limbs were no longer painful. The construction of the spa itself was begun
in 1820 in the middle of an enormous park by the aristocratic family which owned the land.
Today Harkány offers treatment in the form of mud packs, bathing and drinking cures.
Villány (F9) As early as Roman times there was viticulture on the sunny slopes of the Villány Hills.
Today this is one of the most famous wine growing regions in the country, and outstanding red
and white wines can be sampled on the wine tour, which takes you through 11 villages. A wine
museum has been set up in the community of Villány – where a red wine festival is organised in
October of every odd year – to familiarise the visitor with the region’s wine culture.
Villánykövesd, Palkonya (E9) Travelling south from Pécs you reach the unique sight of the cellar villages.
In Villánykövesd, on the side of the hill, there are two levels of cellar streets, and even three
in places. The small houses, which accommodate cellars, are huddled close together. A folklore event
is often held in front of these groups of listed monuments. In nearby Palkonya there is a line of cellars
built in the 19th century, another listed monument. Another point of interest in the village is one
of the finest round churches in Hungary, the red-domed church of St. Elizabeth.
Siklós (E9) Unlike the rest of Hungary’s fortifications from the Middle Ages, the castle of Siklós survived
the Turkish occupation intact and was not blown up by the Austrian Imperial soldiers. Starting
in the 13th century, every historically recognised architectural style left its mark on the castle. We
can see windows from Roman times, a Gothic chapel, an 18th-century Baroque fortified castle and
a Renaissance fortified gateway. There is a prison museum and a museum of stonework relics in
the castle. The other noteworthy feature of the town is a relic of the Turkish era, the pentagonal
mosque of Malkocs bey. This was so superbly restored that in 1992 Siklós won the Europa Nostra
|Line of cellars, Villánykövesd
|The Duna–Dráva National Park
|The castle of Siklós