Székesfehérvár: A City Full of Surprises

Székesfehérvár is with its rich past and wealthy future one of the most iconic cities in the Central Transdanubia region. Ideally situated between Budapest and Lake Balaton, with Lake Velence as its neighbor, this city is a cultural haven amidst lakes and glory.

Once it was the capitol of the Hungarian Kingdom, the city of coronation and royal quarters, a time period that left a beautiful stamp on the city.  The heart of Székesfehérvár beats in the city’s old baroque center, an internationally known center full of historical monuments and sights. Its upstanding character, symbolized by features such as the Episcopal Palace, the Cistercian Church and the Cathedral, shows backbone with whimsical details that could be lost to the incurious eye.

Discover those hidden details for example in the Lépcsőház, the smallest alley consisting of merely one staircase, or by following the footsteps of the legendary Kati néni, eternalized in a statue bringing around milk, or by listening carefully to the colorful clocks (órajáték) on the corner. Don’t forget to look up, as you might miss the statues dangling above your head and the old-fashioned signboards that give Székesfehérvár its irresistible charm. 

In the main street of the city, close to the Town Hall square, you can find countless of trendy bistro’s such as Perte and Sufni, but just a little outside the center you can also find Hamburkert, a perfect place for a lunchbreak after visiting the Palotavárosi Skanzen. In the most unexpected place, at the foot of ten-story high panel houses, the traditional city block called Palotaváros has been preserved since the 1980s as an open-air museum with a Serbian Orthodox church in the middle. Only in Székesfehérvár you can have the odd experience of walking across a cold grey neighborhood, and by just walking around the corner jumping back in time to the picturesque 1980.

One of main highlights of Székesfehérvár can also be found in the outskirts of the city, namely the Bory Vár. This magnificent building is a 20st century castle designed by Jenő Bory, a talented artist who dedicated this architecture to the love of his life. Being both a sculptor and painter himself, Bory considered the building rather as a statue than a house, and sculpted it into an unparalleled work of art.

He filled the place with paintings, one even more beautiful than the other, and hundreds of sculptures made with the most varied techniques. Not a single spot on the wall has been left untouched by his brush, and every single corner and niche has been decorated with mosaics, glass paintings and ornamental wells that appear in the most surprising places. Year after year, he kept building, expanding, decorating, without any concrete plan, solely enriching this wonderful creation. The romantic as he was, one of the corner stones of the mansion is the love chapel, dedicated to his wife, which is why the Bory Vár is also known as the Castle of Love.

The castle is with its 30 meters high and 7 towers tall an imposing mansion like you have never seen before. It has a beautiful courtyard with hundred columns, hidden passages, 30 rooms and last but not least; the great corridors of Hungarian history, filled with heroes, singers and kings side by side. This place has everything you can imagine and more, and it might even be the most impressive artworks in Hungary.

I would say that only to see Bory Vár it is already worth it to pay a visit to Székesfehérvár, but this city has so much more to offer. Not only the characteristic baroque center with its unique quirks but also the picturesque Skanzen on the most unpredicted place; if you know where to go, this city is a diamond in the rough. I came to Székesfehérvár expecting nothing, and went home with a pocket full of surprises. You should do the same!

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