Located in the Csongrad County, in the Southern Great Plain region, hardly two hours’ drive from Budapest lies Ópusztaszer National Heritage Park, the repository of many important treasures of Hungarian history. Ópusztaszer National Heritage Park attracts thousands of visitors annually.
A couple of weeks back, the Stipendium Hungaricum Network of Pécs, organized a trip for the international scholarship holders to visit this beautiful place to explore the culture, life-style and of course the Hungarian history. It was indeed an amazing experience to visit this place together with international students hailing from different countries of the world accompanied by their mentors. Being one of the mentors I was also a part of the contingent.
We started our journey from Pécs in the hours of the weekend, passing through Szeged – the third largest city of Hungary, we reached Ópusztaszer after a journey of nearly three hours, but it was of course worth it. The place holds much importance and is known as the historical cradle of the state of Hungary as it bolsters the national ethos of the Hungarian people.
Many native people believe it as a place where the foundation of the country under Árpád’s leadership was laid.
This is the reason why Árpád is considered the “founder of the country” due to his significant role in the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin.
On arrival there, the contingent of students and I were welcomed by the management of the Heritage Park and we were given a general introduction followed with the historical perspective of this iconic monument. It was encouraging to see that like many other tourist spots, the Heritage Park also has English language guides.
With the groups of Stipendium Hungaricum mentors, mentees and the guides, we paid a visit to different parts of the park which feature many important areas including one of Europe’s largest panoramic paintings known as the Feszty-panorama and the medieval monasteries.
Interested in the Panorama, we started our visit by admiring the paintings depicting the beginning of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin. This gigantic panorama artistically portrays the period of history in which such paintings became famous during the 19th century. Today, there are between 40 to 50 of them in this world and of those 50, 18 are in Europe and specifying it further, one of them is in Ópusztaszer.
A note of appreciation is the fact that it took almost two years of hard work to complete the panorama which is 15 meters high, 120 meters long and the diameter of the circle is 38 meters.
This deeply heart-touching and naturalistic painting was first exhibited in Budapest – the capital of Hungary in 1894, just after its completion to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the conquering of Hungary. But alas! During the Second World War, the painting was seriously vandalized and damaged.
It is not only the panorama on the wall which is magnificently painted but the conquest era antiques and alike are shown lying fixed on the ground in a static position next to the panorama making it an adorable scenery.
At times it is even difficult to differentiate the things lying next to the painting on the ground, and objects artistically painted in the panorama.
This makes it simply astonishing!
Strolling the panorama in the clockwise direction, we can see Árpad along with his spouse and followers arriving on wagons. Also, in a valley, groups of Hungarians herding away their cattle in search of a shelter camp are vividly visible. The Hungarians stand anxiously around wondering what future holds for them. Finally, their long wanderings come to an end in the form of the Carpathian Basin, where they found their permanent homeland.
Today, this Heritage Park is more than just a tourist spot where all the Magyars (Hungarians) can visit and reinforce their national identity, it also gives an opportunity for everyone else to step into the past at Opusztaszer.
Source of the photos: opusztaszer.hu
Written by Ali Nasrullah