Another page in the guide book to the Mecsek Mountains. What has the jewelry box of the Mecsek in store for us this time? After Óbánya, Lake Orfű, Lake Dombay, our next destination is known for its legends and the legendary garden! Püspökszentlászló has a name that is impossible to pronounce but the cutest little village in the middle of nowhere and an imposing castle that you simply cannot miss when visiting the area.
Once upon a time, according to the storybooks, King László I was hunting in the Mecsek mountains. He regularly visited the mountains, but one day, storm hit unexpectedly and the king sought safety in a cave, not far from the place that later would become a village. King László I, sitting on the throne of Hungary (1077-1095) and Croatia (1091-1095), was known for his exceptional physique and therefore nicknamed as God’s athlete. After his death, King László I was canonized, and became Saint László (Szent László). Centuries later, this exact same little village ended up in the hands of the bishops of Pécs. In 1797, a bishop named Esterházy László Pál decided to build a summer residence in the village, and extended the propriety with a botanical garden. Due to these two, seemingly unconnected events, the village gained its unpronounceable name; Püspök, referring to the bishops who found home in the village, and szentlászló, named after the king who once sought hiding in the storm.
After getting its place in the history books, Püspökszentlászló slowly got abandoned over the years, the faith that many small villages in Hungary suffered during the time of World War 1 and 2, especially those without a proper road leading into the place. However, not long ago, this deserted village was rediscovered. A few opportunists saw the value of this little gem, and decided to build a guest house. That was the unexpected kickstart of Püspökszentlászló. In 2015, the bishopric was completely renovated and revived from its forgotten glory. Nowadays, according to www.szallas.hu there is a total of 494 guesthouses, apartments, B&B’s and summer houses in Püspökszentlászló, and it is needless to say that the village was totally brought back to life and is now reliving its glory days.
Despite the fact that business is booming in Püspökszentlászló, this doesn’t hurt the image of the adorable village. On the contrary, all the traditional Hungarian houses are beautifully renovated and together they lift the spirit of the entire area. The village is only reachable via an adventurous off-the-road track straight through the Mecsek forest. With a good car, it is doable, otherwise I would recommend to park before the track begins and enter the village by foot. If you head to Püspökszentlászló by car, you have another chance to park your car at the beginning of the street. From there on, you can walk through the main street towards the bishopric.
The summer residence is situated in one of the countless golden valleys of the Mecsek, and the view in itself is already magnificent, but the botanical garden in front of it just elevates it to a whole other level. You might be surprised to hear that botanical gardens are actually quite popular and often visited by Hungarians. It doesn’t have a dusty old imago like elsewhere, and why would it; it is simply a beautifully planned, blooming and colorful garden which is perfect for a family day or a romantic walk. It has little hidden corners and fragrant surprises, winding pathways and a cute pond with benches around to enjoy the view. Püspökszentlászló’s arboretum has it all and more, because the backdrop to this peaceful landscape is the impressive castle a.k.a summer residence of the bishop. After the renovation, the residence is also completely open for visitors, and there are guided tours through the classicist late baroque style building. You have to pay an entrance fee to visit the residence, however the botanical garden is free of charge.
Püspökszentlászló is, just like its legendary name reveals, a unique place full of history, charming buildings and characteristic vibes. From the beginning of the trip, the off-the-road experience, till the walk around the alluring garden, the village holds up its enchantment every single minute. It is an ideal place for an afternoon walk, a fascinating trip down history lane or a romantic weekend getaway in the embrace of the Mecsek Mountains. Visit Püspökszentlászló, and charge up in the nature and glory of this enchanting place.