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Some Ancient Trees with a Story
Some Ancient Trees with a Story

Top:Budafok,Tree of Ancestors; Felsőmocsolád, 400 year old linden tree; Bottom: Szőkedencs, 700 year old linden tree; Gödöllő, a field pear tree

Some 114 miles southwest of Budapest, along Route 7 at Szőkedencs, (Somogy County) near the town of Marcali, there is an old linden tree in the Lutheran cemetery estimated to be 700 years old.  With a circumference of 11 meters (about 33 feet), it is one of the largest in Hungary.

When a  retaining wall was built several years ago to support it,  the ruins of a church from the time of the Árpáds (9th to 14th century) were discovered beneath it.

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An oak tree at Nagykőrös is not quite that old, but is also estimated to be 400-500 years of age.  Known as Basafa, there is an interesting story dating back to the Turkish occupation attached to it. 

It seems every year, the Turkish pasha had 200 wagon loads of oak wood taken from the forest here for his fortress in Buda.  Around 1653, when the pasha’s representative was on his way home, he was thrown from his horse which had stumbled and fell on top of him.  He was taken to the nearest farm, where the farmer’s beautiful daughter Juci nursed him back to health.  The man took a great liking to her, and said he would return and make her his wife.  Juci became very frightened, and she and her whole family wondered how she could be spared this fate. 

When the representative was due to return the following year, Juci’s father dressed as a beggar and sat under the oak tree. As he saw the Turk approach with his troops, he began to lament loudly.  He asked for help  in the name of Allah.  A rascal, he said, had thrown his crutch up into the tree and he begged the Turk to bring it down for him.  The man could not refuse this request.  He climbed the tree, and was already on the way down, when a branch broke under the rather heavy official and he fell and broke his neck.  He was buried under the oak tree, which since then has become known as the Basafa, or Pasha tree.

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Another linden tree, this one near the town of Felsőmocsolád (Somogy County), is 400 years old. According to legend, lightning struck the area, and the whole forest burned.  Only this one linden tree survived.  Its seeds were spread by ravens, giving rise to the present forest. 

In 2011, it was the Hungarian Tree of the year, and in 2012, the European Tree of the Year. It stands on the property of the Bánó-Kaskovics family, and it is their tradition to introduce the youngest member of the family to it.

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A field pear tree in Gödöllő is estimated to be at least 280 years old. Supposedly planted by Count Grassalkovich Antal after he found refuge in a field pear tree when a wounded wild boar chased him.  In gratitude, he ordered that a thousand field pear trees be planted on his estate. Of those, this is the only one still surviving.

It is said that it was under this tree that Kossuth Lajos composed the declaration of independence following the victorious battle of Isaszeg.

The well-beloved consort of Emperor Francis Joseph, Queen Elizabeth, loved to rest in its shade. Supposedly, this is where she met Count Andrássy Gyula, Hungarian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Austria-Hungary.

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When the plague swept through the country in 1739-40, the owner of a brewery in Budafok by the name of Knoll János made a vow that if his family survived the epidemic, he would build a chapel in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul.  He and his wife did not survive, but their daughter had the chapel built the following year.  In front of it is the cemetery, where Knoll and his wife were buried, and a field maple called the ”Tree of Ancestors” (Ősök fája) stands guard. It is over 250 years old. The inhabitants place a wreath at the kopjafa (carved grave marker) located next to the tree every June 29th, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

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 These are just a few ancient trees with a history.

 


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