Statue of Deák de Kehida Ferenc (1803 – 1876), who was a Hungarian statesman and the Minister of Justice of Hungary for just over ½ of the revolutionary year of 1848, beginning just 8 days after the outbreak on March 15th. He was also called the “Wise Man of the Nation” (A haza bölcse).
Statue of Dankó Pista (1858 – 1903), a Hungarian gypsy composer and band leader. Among his many compositions was the still very popular song at all Hungarian dances called: “Az a szép, az a szép” (That’s the beautiful, that’s the beautiful). As a matter of fact, I danced many a csárdás to that very tune.
This is the Votive Church and Cathedral of Our Lady (Szegedi dóm or Fogadalmi templom), which was completed in 1932. It was dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary following a pledge by the citizens of Szeged after the great flood of 1879. It is the central focus of Dóm Square.
Just in front of the cathedral is Dömötör Tower, which was built in 3 stages beginning in the 11th century and completed in the 13th century. The upper portion was rebuilt in 1926 from the original stones. This is the oldest building in Szeged.
This is just one of the many areas to enjoy a fine pastry in the Virág Cukrászda outdoors in the heart of town.
This text recalls the City’s March 12th, 1879 destructive flood, the rebuilding and flood defense.
The actual Memorial for the great flood of 1879 by the Tisza riverside walkway. That year the flood waters actually covered almost the entire city of Szeged.
I have to begin by saying that I’ve only been to the city of Szeged, Hungary once in my life. This was due to the kindness of my cousin, Dr. Nagy Tibor, who drove me, along with his aunt and uncle. We only stopped there briefly for lunch a little over 20 years ago as we were on the way to seeing the famous Feszty Körkép (the famous cyclorama of the Conquest) located about 19 miles north of there at the National Memorial Park in Ópusztaszer.
Other than my short visit there, the only thing that sticks in my mind is my father telling me that the wisest man he ever met in his life lived in Szeged. My father was an intellectual and had met many very well educated people in his life. But many years ago, when he talked about Dr. Szabó József (Jóska bácsi to me), he compared him to that of 20 of my college professors combined. Jóska bácsi would write letters to my father back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, that reminded me of the ones Thomas Jefferson had written to friends and protégés about such things as books to read to attain proper knowledge. For example, Jóska bácsi once wrote that my father should read Arnold Toynbee’s “A Study of History” in the full 12 volumes because the 2 volume abridgement left out too many important details. Of course, Jóska bácsi had read both.
Dr. Szabó József had been a professor and department chair at the University of Szeged. He was a legal scholar, historian, philosopher, political scientist and linguist among other things. Interestingly enough, he met my father in a Hungarian Communist prison in 1950. They had both been sentenced to 3-year prison terms around the same time for separately trying to flee the country. My father had always maintained that he would not have given up his 3 years in prison because he had gained a lot of wisdom there from some of the most interesting people he had ever met.
Here are a few pictures taken by my MNO colleague, Lengyel Zsuzsa, of the 3rd largest city in Hungary, Szeged. This is just a small glimpse into a city that you should include on your next trip to Hungary. I will certainly plan to make a second visit, but the next time will definitely be for more than just a few hours. Now since the most important spice in Hungarian cooking is paprika and Szeged is in competition with Kalocsa for the title of paprika capital of the world, this may be a good place to visit for the food alone.
Charles Bálintitt Jr. is a working Customs Broker in Lawrence, NY and a member of the Magyar News Online Editorial Board.