Known as the cultural capital of Hungary, Szentendre is sited on a bend of the river Danube (known locally as The Bend) and is just a thirty minute drive from the capital city of Budapest. It has a population of around 28,000 and is a common day-trip for travellers to Budapest.
Szentendre (the name is ultimately derived from the Medieval Latin for Sankt Andrae) is home to a major art movement. Currently, over 200 fine and applied artists, authors, poets, musicians and actors live and work in the town. The old town is mediaeval in character and has many beautiful buildings and little back alleys with numerous museums, art galleries, cafés and restaurants.
Being located in the rain shadow of the Pilis Mountains, Szentendre has many sunny days. Hikers take to the Pilis Mountains, which reach 756 metres at Dobogókô. The forested hills and the Danube’s riparian areas are protected by the Duna-Ipoly National Park. Because of the pleasant weather and beautiful landscape, a great number of weekend houses have been built on the hillsides surrounding the town. The population of Szentendre triples during the holiday season due to the large number of vacationers. This contrasts with the fact that the town was largely depopulated during the Ottoman era – one 17th Century census shows that only one family remained there at that time!
Szentendre is a town of arts and museums. It is home to the Skanzen Open Air Museum, which exhibits the folklore, architecture and culture of the Carpathian basin. The most visited museums of the town include the Margit Kovács Museum (pottery), the Serb Clerical Museum, the ArtMill exhibition centre for modern arts and a Public Transport Train Collection (near the HÉV station). There are a further 14 museums and art galleries acquainting visitors with the rich historical past and teeming artistic life of the town.
Owing to its excellent geographical endowments, the town of Szentendre has been populated since the New Stone Age. It has been home to Illyrians, the Celtic Eraviscus tribe, Romans, Lombards, Avars and, of course, Hungarians. In the 17th Century, Serbian settlers came to the town and gave Szentendre its characteristic, Mediterranean – style architecture. The numerous churches in town reflect the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of Szentendre.
As well as Huntingdon & Godmanchester, Gubbio, Salon and Wertheim, Szentendre is twinned with seven other towns across Europe.
Hungary having been a former Eastern European Country under the control of the Soviet Union has brought a whole new aspect to our twinning activities. As a ‘new’ democratic country in Europe, the cultural differences have been challenging, but immensely worthwhile.