Culture of Hungary

Culture of Hungary

The culture of Hungary has a distinctive style of its own in Hungary, diverse and varied, starting from the capital city of Budapest on the Danube, to the Great Plain bordering Ukraine. Hungary was formerly (until 1918) one half of Austria-Hungary. Hungary has a rich folk tradition, for example: embroideries, decorated potterys, buildings and carvings. Hungarian music ranges from the rhapsodies of Franz Liszt to folk music and composed folk-music-influenced songs and Roma music. Hungary has a rich and colorful literature, with many poets and writers, although not many are well known abroad due to the limited prevalence of the Hungarian language being a Uralic language. Some noted authors include Sándor Márai and Imre Kertész, who have been gaining acclaim in recent decades. János Kodolányi was more known in the middle of the twentieth century in Italy and Finland. Imre Kertész won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002. Péter Esterházy is known and popular in Austria and Germany, and Magda Szabó has become well known in Europe recently as well.



Hungary is home to the largest synagogue in Europe (Great Synagogue), the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Széchenyi Medicinal Bath), the third largest church in Europe (Esztergom Basilica), the second largest territorial abbey in the world (Pannonhalma Archabbey), the second largest Baroque castle in the world (Gödöllő), and the largest Early Christian Necropolis outside Italy (Pécs).

The biggest cathedrals and most important Hungarian historical architecture located in the surrounding countries.


The music of Hungary consists mainly of traditional Hungarian folk music and music by prominent composers such as Liszt, Franz Schmidt, Dohnányi, Bartók, Kodály, and Rózsa. Hungarian traditional music tends to have a strong dactylic rhythm, as the language is invariably stressed on the first syllable of each word. Hungary also has a number of internationally renowned composers of contemporary classical music, György Ligeti, György Kurtág, Péter Eötvös and Zoltán Jeney among them.

Hungary has made many contributions to the fields of folk, popular and classical music. Hungarian folk music is a prominent part of the national identity and continues to play a major part in Hungarian music. Hungarian folk music has been influential in neighboring areas such as Romania, Slovakia, southern Poland and especially in southern Slovakia and the Romanian region of Transylvania, both home to significant numbers of Hungarians.

Ferenc Liszt

Broughton claims that Hungary's "infectious sound has been surprisingly influential on neighbouring countries (thanks perhaps to the common Austro-Hungarian history) and it's not uncommon to hear Hungarian-sounding tunes in Romania, Slovakia and southern Poland".</ref>[1] It is also strong in the Szabolcs-Szatmár area and in the southwest part of Transdanubia, near the border with Croatia. The Busójárás carnival in Mohács is a major Hungarian folk music event, formerly featuring the long-established and well-regarded Bogyiszló orchestra.[2]

Hungarian classical music has long been an "experiment, made from Hungarian antedecents and on Hungarian soil, to create a conscious musical culture [using the] musical world of the folk song".[3] Although the Hungarian upper class has long had cultural and political connections with the rest of Europe, leading to an influx of European musical ideas, the rural peasants maintained their own traditions such that by the end of the 19th century Hungarian composers could draw on rural peasant music to (re)create a Hungarian classical style.[4] For example, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, two of Hungary's most famous composers, are known for using folk themes in their music. Bartók collected folk songs from across Eastern Europe, including Romania and Slovakia, whilst Kodály was more interested in creating a distinctively Hungarian musical style.

During the era of Communist rule in Hungary (1944–1989) a Song Committee scoured and censored popular music for traces of subversion and ideological impurity. Since then, however, the Hungarian music industry has begun to recover, producing successful performers in the fields of jazz such as trumpeter Rudolf Tomsits, pianist-composer Károly Binder and, in a modernized form of Hungarian folk, Ferenc Sebő and Márta Sebestyén. The three giants of Hungarian rock, Illés, Metró and Omega, remain very popular, especially Omega, which has followings in Germany and beyond as well as in Hungary. Older veteran underground bands such as Beatrice from the 1980s also remain popular.


Ferenc Kölcsey, author of the lyrics of the Hungarian national anthem
The oldest survivng Hungarian (and Uralic) poem, Old Hungarian Laments of Mary

In the earliest times Hungarian language was written in a runic-like script (although it was not used for literature purposes in the modern interpretation). The country switched to the Latin alphabet after being Christianized under the reign of Stephen I of Hungary (1000–1038). There are no existing documents from the pre-11th century era.
The oldest written record in Hungarian is a fragment in the founding document of the Abbey of Tihany (1055) which contains several Hungarian terms, among them the words feheruuaru rea meneh hodu utu rea, "up the military road to Fehérvár" The rest of the document was written in Latin.
The oldest complete text is the Funeral Sermon and Prayer (Halotti beszéd és könyörgés) (1192–1195), a translation of a Latin sermon.
The oldest poem is the Old Hungarian Laments of Mary (Ómagyar Mária-siralom), also a (not very strict) translation from Latin, from the 13th century. It is also the oldest surviving Uralic poem.
Among the first chronicles about Hungarian history were Gesta Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Hungarians") by the unknown author usually called Anonymus, and Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Huns and the Hungarians") by Simon Kézai. Both are in Latin. These chronicles mix history with legends, so historically they are not always authentic. Another chronicle is the Képes krónika (Illustrated Chronicle), which was written for Louis the Great.

Renaissance literature flourished under the reign of King Matthias (1458–1490). Janus Pannonius, although wrote in Latin, counts as one of the most important persons in Hungarian literature, being the only significant Hungarian Humanist poet of the period. The first printing house was also founded during Matthias' reign, by András Hess, in Buda. The first book printed in Hungary was the Chronica Hungarorum. Matthias Corvinus's library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was among Europe's greatest collections of secular historical chronicles and philosophic and scientific works in the fifteenth century. In 1489, Bartolomeo della Fonte of Florence wrote that Lorenzo de Medici founded his own Greek-Latin library encouraged by the example of the Hungarian king. Corvinus's library is part of UNESCO World Heritage. Other important figures of Hungarian Renaissance: Bálint Balassi (poet), Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos (poet).

The most important poets of the period was Bálint Balassi (1554–1594) and Miklós Zrínyi (1620–1664). Balassi's poetry shows Mediaeval influences, his poems can be divided into three sections: love poems, war poems and religious poems. Zrínyi's most significant work, the epic Szigeti veszedelem ("Peril of Sziget", written in 1648/49) is written in a fashion similar to the Iliad, and recounts the heroic Battle of Szigetvár, where his great-grandfather died while defending the castle of Szigetvár. Among the religious literary works the most important is the Bible translation by Gáspár Károli (The second Hungarian translation in the history), the Protestant pastor of Gönc, in 1590. The translation is called the Bible of Vizsoly, after the town where it was first published. (See Hungarian Bible translations for more details.)

The Hungarian enlightenment was delayed about fifty years compared to the Western European enlightenment. The new thoughts arrived to Hungary across Vienna. The first enlightened writers were Maria Theresia's bodyguards (György Bessenyei, János Batsányi and so on). The greatest poets of the time were Mihály Csokonai Vitéz and Dániel Berzsenyi. The greatest figure of the language reform was Ferenc Kazinczy. The Hungarian language became feasible for scientific explanations from this time, and furthermore many new words were coined for describing new inventions.

Hungarian literature has recently gained some renown outside the borders of Hungary (mostly through translations into German, French and English). Some modern Hungarian authors have become increasingly popular in Germany and Italy especially Sándor Márai, Péter Esterházy, Péter Nádas and Imre Kertész. The latter is a contemporary Jewish writer who survived the Holocaust and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002. The older classics of Hungarian literature and Hungarian poetry have remained almost totally unknown outside Hungary. János Arany, a famous nineteenth century Hungarian poet is still much loved in Hungary (especially his collection of Ballads), among several other "true classics" like Sándor Petőfi, the poet of the Revolution of 1848, Endre Ady, Mihály Babits, Dezső Kosztolányi, Attila József and János Pilinszky. Other well-known Hungarian authors are Ferenc Móra, Géza Gárdonyi, Zsigmond Móricz, Gyula Illyés, Albert Wass and Magda Szabó.


A lot of Hungarians have contributed to film art and its technology. Because of historical reasons it was easier to reach success abroad. Hungarians in Hollywood have got more than 136 Academy Award nominations and about 30 Academy awards (until 1996). This is especially impressing considering the relative small 10 million country and might be the highest per capita in the world. The peak was in the decade of the 1940s when there were about 43 nominations to exiled Hungarians.

Hungarians emigrated in big numbers after several disasters after the first world war (1918) when neighbour-countries (Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia) occupied Hungary which lost 2/3 of its territory (1920). In the turmoil there followed a communist takeover with the so called red terror and a reaction against it called the white terror. This also caused worse economy and filmmakers tried their fortunes abroad, first mainly in the German-speaking world like Géza von Bolváry and later also in the English-speaking world. Sound-film was invented (1918)in Germany by Dénes Mihály.With the arrival of racial laws (from 1939) people considered Jewish were forced to leave to get working opportunities. It is ironic that some of the most successful propaganda films during the second world war, on opposing sides, were made by Hungarians: Münchhausen by Josef von Baky and Pimpernel Smith by Leslie Howard. With the communist takeover in 1948 more Hungarians left. After the crushed 1956 revolution, some important filmmakers left, including Vilmos Zsigmond, László Kovács, Jean Badal, Peter Medák. With the amnesty of 1960 the cultural climate somewhat eased.

Nevertheless some Hungarians have despite the hardships of staying at home got the coveted nominations (15 times for 18 persons) and in some cases even the award (Ferenc Rófusz (80), István Szabó (81), Zsuzsa Böszörményi (91) a co-winners Jászberényi, Perlaki and Priskin (2010)). The most well-known Hungarian film to date is Mephisto, by István Szabó. It won an Academy Award in the category Best Foreign Language film. The year before The Fly an animation by Rófusz became the very first Hungarian film awarded. Foreign student Academy Award went to Zsuzsa Böszörményi(1991). In 2010 the trio Márk Jászberényi, Tamás Perlaki and Gyula Priskin got the scientifical and engineering award for Lustre, a software to colorcorrect intermediates in real-time. (First used on the Lord of the Rings). 8 films have been nominated in the category Best Foreign Language Film. 4 nominations to István Szabo (most nomineed person in Hungary), 2 to Zoltán Fábri (69,79) and one each to Imre Gyöngyössy/Barna Kabay and Károly Makk. 3 films have been nominated for Best Short Animation.(Marcell Jankovics, Ferenc Rófusz and Géza M.Toth). Cinematographer Lajos Koltai has been nominated for best cinematography.

Successful Academy-award-nominated people of Hungarian background in Hollywood includes:

  • Producers: Adolph Zukor One honorary award, William Fox 1 nomination, Joe Pasternak One honorary award, Emeric Pressburger One nomination (49), Frank Darabont One nomination; Jules White 4 nominations (Best short subject:35,36,46 and 47).
  • Art Directors: William S. Darling 7 nominations (33,36,37,39,43,44,46)/ 3 wins, Vincent Korda 4 nominatins (40-42,62) / 1 win (40), Joseph Kish 5 nominations (44,48,59,65)/1 win (65), Marcel Vértes 1 nomination, Alexandre Trauner 2 nominations (61,76)/1 win (61).
  • Special effects: George Pal (György Pál) 7 nominations(42-48) plus one Honorary award (44).
  • Technical award: Atilla Szalay (96).
  • Music score. Miklós Rózsa 16 nominations/ 3 wins, Karl Hajós 2 nomination (44, 45) Leo Erdödy one nomination (44).
  • Actors: Leslie Howard (László Steiner) (UK) 2 nominations (34, 39), Cornel Wilde one nom. (46), Paul Lukas one win (43).
  • Screenplaywriters: Lajos Biro one nomination (29), Géza Herczeg one win (first Hungarian to get an Academy Award), Emeric Pressburger(UK) 4 nominations (3 x 43, 49) /one win (43) (most nomineed Hungarian in screenplay), Hans Szekely (as John S.Toldy) one win, Frank Partos one nomination (48), Andre Toth one nomination (50), Melchior Lengyel one nomination (40), Robert Pirosh (US-born) one win (49) and Frank Darabont 2 nominations (94,99).
  • Cinematographers: Rudolph Maté (Polish-born) 5 nominations (40-44), John Alton (born Johann / Jenö Altmann) one win (52), Ernest Laszlo 8 nominations (60,61,63,65,66,68,70,76)/ one win 65), Vilmos Zsigmond 4 nominations (77, 78, 84, 06) /one win (77).
  • Directors: Michael Curtiz (born Mihaly Kertész):6 nominations /2 wins (Casablanca), King Vidor 5 nominations plus one Honorary and George Cukor 5 nominations /one win My Fair Lady.

Other famous Hungarians in Hollywood are cinematographers László Kovacs ASC, Andrew László ASC.Andrew Marton directed the chariot-race in Ben-Hur. Joe Eszterhas (Esterhazy) wrote Basic Instinct and became the highest-paid writer in Hollywood history. He also wrote the Berlin Golden Bear winner "Music Box" and the first Hungarian "blockbuster", Children of Glory. Zoltan Elek won AA-award(86] for make-up. Actors of Hungarian origin are Peter Lorre, Paul Newman (10 AA nominations/one win plus one Honorary award], Tony Curtis (2 AA nominations), Johnny Weissmüller (Tarzan) and Béla Lugosi (Dracula), Franciska Gaal, Ilona Massey, Zsa-Zsa Gabor. Hedi Lamarr was half-Hungarian as was Adrian Brody (1 AA], Goldie Hawn [1 AA], Marton Csokas and Isabelle Huppert.

In Great Britain Alexander Korda founded London films to be able to compete with Hollywood on the same terms. He produced The third man with music of Anton Karas. Producer Gabriel Pascal got one nomination (39) for Pygmalion co-directed and starred by Leslie Howard. In Germany Géza von Radványi made 70-mm films to compete with Hollywood. Ephraim Kishon (b. Ferenc Hoffmann) was Israel's first nominee for best foreign-language film. He got two nominations(64,72). Jan Kadar (b János Kádár) won the first AA for Czechoslovakia (65). In Canada Paul Sarossy is active often as Atom Egoyans cinematographer.

Home in Hungary:Some years after the failed revolution of 1956, against the Soviet-dominated communist dictatorship, the cultural climate eased up a bit and led to more creative freedom. Important films in the 1960s were directed by István Gaál: (The Falcons), András Kovács: Hideg Napok (66), Miklós Jancsó:The Round Up (65) (Screenplay:Hernádi Gyula, DOP: Tamás Somló) and István Szabó ( The Father). Márton Keleti directed: Franz Liszt-Dreams of Love. (70) filmed in 70:mm by István Hildebrandt.Other important filmmakers Sándor Pál, Márta Mészáros (Adoption Golden Bear Berlin 75), Péter Gothár (Golden Lion, Venice): Time Stands Still(Cannes: Award of the Youth, 82) (82). Sunshine and Children of Glory are successful bigger budget movies about Hungary's turbulent past. Recent successful films include: János Szász: ( Witman fiúk, DOP: Tibor Máthé 97), György Pálfi: Hukkle (2002), (Taxidermia)(2006). The first super-studio in Hungary was Korda Studios. The next was Raleigh Studios, Budapest. Partly because of this there has been during the last years an increasing number of foreign films of mainly bigger budgets were shot in Hungary, especially in Budapest. Budapest has been nicknamed "the Hollywood at the Danube" because it is arguably by now the most Hollywood-populated place outside the US. Steven Spielberg's Munich was also partly shot in Budapest. Most of Guillermo del Toros Hell Boy II was shot in Hungary. In 2008 47 foreign films were shot in Hungary. In 2009 52. As a comparison about 20 to 30 Hungarian movies are made annually.


A nicely prepared Hortobágyi palacsinta served in Sopron
A slice from a Dobos Cake

The Hungarian cuisine is a prominent feature of the Hungarian culture, just as much like the art of hospitality. Traditional dishes such as the world famous Goulash (gulyás stew or gulyásleves soup). Dishes are often flavoured with paprika (ground red peppers), a Hungarian innovation.[5] Thick, heavy Hungarian sour cream called tejföl is often used to soften the dishes flavour. The famous Hungarian hot river fish soup called Fisherman's soup or halászlé is usually a rich mixture of several kinds of poached fish. Other dishes are Chicken Paprikash, Foie gras made of goose liver, pörkölt stew, vadas, (game stew with vegetable gravy and dumplings), trout with almonds and salty and sweet dumplings, like túrós csusza, (dumplings with fresh quark cheese and thick sour cream). Desserts include the iconic Dobos Cake, Strudels (rétes), filled with apple, cherry, poppy seed or cheese, Gundel pancake, plum dumplings (szilvás gombóc), somlói dumplings, dessert soups like chilled Sour cherry soup and sweet chestnut puree, gesztenyepüré (cooked chestnuts mashed with sugar and rum and split into crumbs, topped with whipped cream). Perec and kifli are widely popular pastries.

The csárda is the most distinctive type of Hungarian inn, an old-style tavern offering traditional cuisine and beverages. Borozó usually denotes a cozy old-fashioned wine tavern, pince is a beer or wine cellar and a söröző is a pub offering draught beer and sometimes meals. The bisztró is an inexpensive restaurant often with self-service. The büfé is the cheapest place, although one may have to eat standing at a counter. Pastries, cakes and coffee are served at the confectionery called cukrászda, while an eszpresszó is a cafeteria.


A cold bottle of Unicum
Tokaji, "Wine of Kings, King of Wines" ("Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum")—Louis XV of France

Pálinka: is a fruit brandy, distilled from fruit grown in the orchards situated on the Great Hungarian Plain. It is a spirit native to Hungary and comes in a variety of flavours including apricot (barack) and cherry (cseresznye). However, plum (szilva) is the most popular flavour.

Beer: Beer goes well with many traditional Hungarian dishes. The five main Hungarian breweries are: Borsodi, Soproni, Arany Ászok, Kőbányai, and Dreher.

Wine: As Hugh Johnson says in The History of Wine, the territory of Hungary is ideal for wine-making. Since the fall of communism there has been a renaissance of Hungarian wine-making. The choice of good wine is widening from year to year. The country can be divided to six wine regions: North-Transdanubia, Lake Balaton, South-Pannónia, Duna-region or Alföld, Upper-Hungary and Tokaj-Hegyalja. Hungarian wine regions offer a great variety of style: the main products of the country are elegant and full-bodied dry whites with good acidity, although complex sweet whites (Tokaj), elegant (Eger) and full-bodied robust reds (Villány and Szekszárd). The main varieties are: Olaszrizling, Hárslevelű, Furmint, Pinot gris or Szürkebarát, Chardonnay (whites), Kékfrankos (or Blaufrankisch in German), Kadarka, Portugieser, Zweigelt, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot. The most famous wines from Hungary are Tokaji Aszú and Egri Bikavér.

Tokaji: Tokaji, meaning "of Tokaj", or "from Tokaj" in Hungarian, is used to label wines from the wine region of Tokaj-Hegyalja in Hungary. Tokaji wine has received accolades from numerous great writers and composers including Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert and Goethe; Joseph Haydn's favorite wine was a Tokaji. Louis XV and Frederick the Great tried to outdo one another in the excellence of the vintages they stocked when they treated guests like Voltaire to some Tokaji. Napoleon III, the last Emperor of the French, ordered 30–40 barrels of Tokaji for the Court every year. Gustav III, King of Sweden, never had any other wine to drink. In Russia, customers included Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth of Russia.

Zwack Unicum: For over 150 years, a blend of 40 Hungarian herbs has been used to create the liqueur Unicum. Unicum is a bitter, dark-coloured liqueur that can be drunk as an apéritif or after a meal, thus helping the digestion. The recipe is held secret by the Zwack family.

Spa culture

Rudas Baths is a thermal and medicinal bath that was first built by the Ottomans in 1550

Hungary is a land of thermal water. A passion for spa culture and Hungarian history have been connected from the very beginning. It has been shown that Hungarian spa culture is multicultural. The basis of this claim is architecture: Hungarian spas feature Roman, Greek, Turkish, and northern country architectural elements.[citation needed] Due to an advantageous geographical location thermal water can be found with good quality and in great quantities on over 80% of Hungary's territory. The Romans heralded the first age of spa in Hungary, the remains of their bath complexes are still to be seen in Óbuda, to this day. The spa culture was revived during the Turkish Invasion who used the thermal springs of Buda for the construction of a number of bathhouses, some of which are still functioning (Király Baths, Rudas Baths). In the 19th century the advancement in deep drilling and medical science provided the springboard for a further leap in bathing culture. Grand spas such as Gellért Baths, Lukács Baths, Margaret Island, and Széchenyi Medicinal Bath are a reflection of this resurgence in popularity. Approximately 1,500 thermal springs can be found in Hungary. About half of these are used for bathing. The spa culture has a nearly 2,000 year history in Budapest. Budapest has the richest supply of thermal water among the capitals of the world. There are approximately 450 public baths in Hungary. Nowadays the trend shows that bath operators are modernizing their facilities and expanding the services offered. A total of 50 of the 160 public baths are qualified as spas throughout the country. Services are offered for healing purposes. These spas provide every type of balneal and physical therapy.

The thermal lake of Hévíz

The thermal lake of Hévíz is the largest biologically active, natural thermal lake of the world.[citation needed] The oldest and most well-known bath of Hungary, in accordance with records from the Roman era, has a history of 2000 years. The Hévíz treatment, in its present sense, also dates back more than 200 years. The 4.4 ha lake is fed by its spring rushing up at a depth of 38 m, containing sulphur, radium and minerals. Due to the high water output of the spring, the water of the lake is completely changed within 48 hours. The water of the Hévíz Lake is equally rich in dissolved substances and gases, combining the favourable effects of naturally carbonated medicinal waters and those containing sulphur, calcium, magnesium, hydrogen-carbonate, as well as those with a slightly radioactive content. The medicinal Hévíz mud, which is unique of its kind, contains both organic and inorganic substances and the radium-salts and reduced sulphuric solutions in it represent special medicinal factors. The temperature of the water is 23-25 C in winter and 33-36 C in summer.

Folk dance

Romanesque Church in the village of Ócsa
  • Ugrós (Jumping dances): Old style dances dating back to the Middle Ages.

Solo or couple dances accompanied by old style music, shepherd and other solo man's dances from Transylvania, and marching dances along with remnants of medieval weapon dances belong in this group.

  • Karikázó: a circle dance performed by women only accompanied by singing of folksongs.
  • Csárdás: New style dances developed in the 18th and 19th centuries is the Hungarian name for the national dances, with Hungarian embroidered costumes and energetic music. From the men's intricate bootslapping dances to the ancient women's circle dances, Csárdás demonstrates the infectious exuberance of the Hungarian folk dancing still celebrated in the villages.
  • The Legényes: is a men's solo dance done by the ethnic Hungarian people living in the Kalotaszeg region of Transylvania. Although usually danced by young men, it can be also danced by older men. The dance is performed freestyle usually by one dancer at a time in front of the band. Women participate in the dance by standing in lines to the side and sing/shout verses while the men dance. Each lad does a number of points (dance phrases) typically 4 to 8 without repetition. Each point consists of 4 parts, each lasting 4 counts. The first part is usually the same for everyone (there are only a few variations).


Woman's folk Costume
A vőfély in traditional costume, c. 1885

It was in the beginning of the eighteenth century that the present style of Hungarian folk art took shape, incorporating both Renaissance and Baroque elements, depending on the area, as well as Persian Sassanide influences. Flowers and leaves, sometimes a bird or a spiral ornament, are the principal decorative themes. The most frequent ornament is a flower with a centerpiece resembling the eye of a peacock's feather.

Nearly all the manifestations of folk art practiced elsewhere in Europe also flourished among the Magyar peasantry at one time or another, their ceramics and textile being the most highly developed of all.

The finest achievements in their textile arts are the embroideries which vary from region to region. Those of Kalotaszeg in Transylvania are charming products of Oriental design, sewn chiefly in a single color - red, blue, or black. Soft in line, the embroideries are applied on altar cloths, pillow cases and sheets.

In Hungary proper Sárköz in Transdanubia and the Matyóföld in the Great Hungarian Plain produce the finest embroideries. In the Sárköz region the women's caps show black and white designs as delicate as lace and give evidence of the people's wonderfully subtle artistic feeling. The embroidery motifs applied to women's wear have also been transposed to tablecloths and runners suitable for modern use as wall decorations.


Black pottery

These vessels, made of black clay, reflect more than three hundred years of traditional Transdanubian folk patterns and shapes. No two are precisely alike, since all work is done by hand, including both the shaping and the decorating. The imprints are made by the thumb or a finger of the ceramist who makes the piece.

Herend porcelain

Founded in 1826, Herend Porcelain is one of the world's largest ceramic factories, specializing in luxury hand painted and gilded porcelain. In the mid-19th century it was purveyor to the Habsburg Dynasty and aristocratic customers throughout Europe. Many of its classic patterns are still in production. After the fall of communism in Hungary the factory was privatised and is now 75% owned by its management and workers, exporting to over 60 countries of the world.[6]

Hungarian domestic animals

There are special Hungarian species of domestic animals which are seen as national symbols in Hungary.

  • Long-horn Hungarian Grey Cattle - Hungarian breed, traditionally kept in the open full year. Nowadays they are raised for infant food due to natural, healthy meat.
  • Dogs
    A female Vizsla
    • Hungarian Vizsla - one of the oldest hunting dogs of the world. The ancestors of this dog came into the Carpathian Basin with the nomadic Hungarian tribes.
    • Puli - small shepherd dog
    • Komondor - large shepherd dog, was brought to Hungary a thousand years ago by nomadic Magyars.
    • Kuvasz - large shepherd dog.
    • Pumi - small shepherd dog.
    • Magyar Agár (Hungarian Greyhound) is already known in the 8th century, it is as old as the Vizsla.
    • Transylvanian Bloodhound - Hungarian hound.
    • Mudi shepherd dog.
  • Hungarian thoroughbred horses - a mid-19th century mixture of the best Arab and English race horse characteristics.
  • Mangalica, a breed of pigs, characterised by their long curly hair and relatively fatty meat which makes them ideal for making sausages and salami.


Only seven countries (USA, USSR, UK, France, Italy, China and Germany) have won more Summer Olympic gold medals than Hungary. Hungary has the 2nd most Olympic gold medals per capita in the summer games. At the all time total medal count for Olympic Games, Hungary reaches the 9th rank out of 211 participating nations, with a total of 465 medals. This is also despite that Hungary was punished and was not allowed to participate in the Olympics 1920 and 1984. In the summer games Hungary has according to gold-rank always been among the 10 best nations between 1928 to 1996 when they were allowed to comptete. In gold-rank Hungary reached third position: 1936, 1952, 1956 and 1960 !See All-time Olympic Games medal table (2008 data)

One of the most famous Hungarians is the footballer Ferenc Puskás (1927–2006). He scored 84 goals in 85 internationals for Hungary, and 511 goals in 533 matches in the Hungarian and Spanish leagues. Puskás played the 1954 World Cup final against West Germany. In 1958, after the Hungarian Revolution, he emigrated to Spain where he played in the legendary Real Madrid team that also included Alfredo Di Stéfano, and Francisco Gento.

Hungarians are also known for their prowess at water sports, mainly swimming, water polo (See: Water polo at the Summer Olympics) (in which they have defeated the Soviet team in 1956) and canoeing (they have won multiple medals); this can be said to be surprising at first, due to Hungary being landlocked. On the other hand, the presence of two major rivers (the Duna and the Tisza) and a major lake (Balaton) give excellent opportunities to practice these sports. In recent years, a steady rise in the number of golfers has been experienced in the country. The sport has developed much over the past 20 years (after the fall of Socialism), but the economical situation hinders further development of golf courses at the present time. Some of the world's best sabre fencing athletes have historically hailed from Hungary. The Hungarian national ice hockey team have also qualified for their first IIHF World Championship in more than seventy years.

See also


  1. ^ Szalipszki, pg.12
    Refers to the country as "widely considered" to be a "home of music".
  2. ^ Broughton, pg. 159-167
  3. ^ Szabolcsi, The Specific Conditions of Hungarian Musical Development
    "Every experiment, made from Hungarian antedecents and on Hungarian soil, to create a conscious musical culture (music written by composers, as different from folk music), had instinctively or consciously striven to develop widely and universally the musical world of the folk song. Folk poetry and folk music were deeply embedded in the collective Hungarian people’s culture, and this unity did not cease to be effective even when it was given from and expression by individual creative artists, performers and poets."
  4. ^ Szabolcsi
  5. ^ "Sulinet: Magyar növény-e a paprika?". Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  6. ^ Herend Porcelain Manufactory Ltd

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