Connect Earth and Sky - Church of St. Michael’s Struggle
“During the Second World War, in the area of Upper Christina Town parish in Budapest, they began the construction of a church but it had to be abandoned because of the war. They got as far as the ground floor and the reinforced concrete pillars stretching toward the sky. The Rákosi era deprived the Church of the area and the unfinished edifice, too, and in the late 70’s the unfinished church was converted into a disco. The sanctuary was taken over by music and dance. I have now designed a church from this physical and spiritual distortion by honoring the original ground plan.
As I approach the end of my life, the strength that can vanquish the “dragon”, the distortion, the clever and selfish distortion, the temptation to modify one’s vital energies, becomes more and more important. The elegance which creates balance by keeping the forces of darkness at bay and which is a precondition of inner peace and is thus of the goal of Creation, the free individual, becomes increasingly important.
This is why the church I have designed is the church of St. Michael, this is why it is the church of the saints and the damned alike. The towers of the church are as alive as poplars. The nave is topped by arched wooden beams, and about two-thirds of it is also designed to tend inward and appear upside down. The upper and lower churches are divided by a glass floor.
What are we to make of this? That I am making visible the invisible contrast of visible reality, that the person standing on the glass floor who wishes to live together with and to draw strength from the Eucharist should realize that he is standing perched on the borderline between heaven and earth, that despite the dragon-world, the gate to salvation is open to him, too, but that the world — and within it he, too — was created so that damnation is also a realistic alternative.
But in this milieu, the drama taking place in the church can also serve as proof that if he partakes of the sacrament of the wine and bread, he will be saved. St. Michael vanquished the dragon, but he thrust him down into our world. We need protection and fortification against the temptations of Satan. For this we need the strength of the Creator, for which — shaken by the battle raging in and around us — we can pray in this church.
Above the head of the churchgoer, on the bridges sinking and rearing toward the sky, there is a procession of statues of saints and of humans who tend toward damnation, and the churchgoer sees the same thing in the world beneath the glass floor.
This is the scene of the duality of what has transpired and what might have transpired, of actions and missed opportunities, united in the House of God.
On the towers are the eyes of accumulated suffering that can nevertheless see into the distance, just like the eyes of men who have suffered at the hands of fate.
The new church is the scene of belabored man, of man capable of losing himself in temptation as well as of finding redemption. It is the scene of St. Michael’s own struggle.
The birth of all creative work involves a sequence. First appears a vision, and along with it a “mood” that involves all the details. Only then comes the rough sketch for the structure, regardless of whether we are dealing with music or architecture. The elaboration of the vision and the mood become one with matter. The departing or destruction of a work of creation keeps to the sequence of its creation, except in reverse order. When its material is annihilated, the vision and the mood remain. Where are they located, and can they be accessed? This is a question involving one’s world view. Whether we believe that the alpha of all beginnings is the Word.
If this is not clarified but mixed and muddled, it is no use continuing the search; it is no use trying to understand. It is time to decide.
Why? Because if it is true that the Word, the idea, the vision of the Word comes first, then God created the world in six days and there is no linear development, only a cyclical space-time — maybe — in curved space, in which case the drama of creation lies in time as time-space-location, etc.
If it is not true, then we’re left with the interminable eras of uncertainty, the numbers 6 or 666, the Demiurgos* of false creation as based on one of the principles of the Satanic threesome which is in turn based on the Trinity, etc. Even surnaturalism is better than this unappetizing brew, and so is the wonder mixed with fear; it is better to look Awe in the eye, and it is better to accept the inconceivable, the unacceptable reality of things.
It is better to accept that we come from somewhere and must go somewhere, that we are born and that we must die, that birth and death are not the beginning and the end. However, this must not relieve or circumvent the drastic and unacceptable reality of facts.
The disconsolate wailing, the delirious pleading for life in the face of death is justified and sacred, and the world of pain and blood into which we are born is terrifying. It is not for the faint at heart to confront the Almighty.
* Plato’s name for the Creative principle.”
Home of the Devil Rider - Sándor - Metternich Castle of Bajna
The baroque castle was started to be built in 1722, and was enlarged and finished by 1835 to the order of Count Sándor Móric, the famous Hungarina “Devil Rider” by the plans of József Hild.
The count was born in Buda in 1805, as last male member of the family. He married Leontine Metternich in 1831, and the couple settled down in Bajna. According to the chronicles Sándor started to ride relatively late, at age of 17, and from this time lived his life word by word on horseback. He was famous for his riding virtuosity all over Europe. Once the count rode from Vienna to Buda within 31 hours without changing horses. Another time he jumped over the 7-metre-wide ditch of Bajna on his horse. Once when a ball was held in the White Swan Hostel of Buda, he rode up the stairs into the banquet hall on his horse. He jumped from the portico of the mansion of Bia on his horse over the rose-trees into the carriage entrance. He crossed the Danube at Bratislava and at Pest when the ice on the river was breaking up. Once the Pest-Solt-Kiskun county forbade the count to put three horses to his carriage in the first line, as it was the privilege of the royal family. At this the count put four horses to his carriage in the first line and went to the county hall to appeal against the decision.
His nickname originates from an English lord, who’s bronco the count quicly regulated, moreover won even a race with it! The lord dry remark on the notable event was: “He is not a human, he is the devil himself!” And the legend started to spread…
Count Móric Sándor finished his life in the mental hospital of Döbling, after falling down from horseback and - beside all his bones fractured - he bumped his head into an iron stuck.
Hungarian Pavilion of Expo ‘92 Sevilla
Imre Makovecz’s Hungarian pavilion was widely regarded as the most inventive structure at Expo ‘92 in Sevilla, soars free from the fair’s architectural cacophony like some dizzy fantasy.
"Built from wood carved in folk styles and bearing a gray slate roof, it seems inspired by village churches but leaps beyond any one model with an exuberance that recalls the Catalan Antonio Gaudi. Inside, the building’s conceptual basis becomes clearer, with no loss of wit and style. The interior is divided, one portion symbolizing Hungary facing the West, with a simplified Baroque church front. Pass through that facade and one finds Hungary facing East, the wall exploding with undulating Slavic-style facades (more gray slate) and carved portals. There is also a "Tree of Life" on the Western side, a jumble of roots and branches with a glass floor so that visitors can see the whole thing.
Inside, two walls stretch across the building’s diagonal. Each wall is three metres apart from the other. Seven towers stand on top of this double wall. To the west of the double wall can be found all those areas that project what Western Hungary is like, while the eastern section naturally represents Eastern Hungary. At the same time, the wall constantly talks. Its voice is sometimes louder or softer, but it is always saying something. The point of this - let us not forget the seven towers standing sentry above the wall! - is for the visitors to feel that they are making their way through a living wall. After all, this wall is nothing less than Hungary itself!”
Those beloved Miska jugs of Hungary
The Miska jug is probably the most popular Hungarian pottery, which is well-known around the world. The wine vessel depicting a stylized knight is a special kind of pitcher that, partly for its rich information content, is certainly of great interest.
The Miska jug was originally made in the Great Plains.It first appeared at the end of the 1920s in Mezőcsát, then in the first half of the 1830s in Tiszafüred and also in the early 1860s in Mezőtúr.
The typical shape of Miska jug is a shepherd, in predominant colours of red, white, yellow, brown and green. Typical patterns shows birds standing on branches, with a flower in their peak, waving row of leaves, pomegranate and ornamental motfis. Very important motif is the snake - sometimes even two or three on one jug - which symbolizes the eternal life.
There are older Miska jugs, dating back to the 1820’s. Those Miskas usually have a head of a Hungarian hussar, remembering the famous hussar cavalries, like András Hadik’s combat of Hungary and the later the revolution and freedom fight of 1848/49 against the Habsburg Empire.
In 2014 original, authentic Miska jugs are shown at the Museum of Ethnography of Budapest.The material on display features 59 of the 65 Miska jugs held by the museum, grouped according to the region they were made in, within this in order of the craftsmen and workshop it was made by and at. A recently completed study processed nearly 150 Miska jugs processed. The exhibition, presents the most complete compilations of this typical Hungarian type of ceramic.
Rosé Marathon of Villány
Hungary’s first official wineroad, the Villány-Siklós Wine Route (declared to be in 1994) connects through eleven towns and villages in a protected wine-growing area. It is one of the sunniest wine districts of the country, where in the mild, sub-Mediterranean climate the grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon,Cabernet Franc, Blue Portuguese, Blue Franc and Merlot feel perfectly at home. The earth is fertile limestone, clay and loess here. While Villány is primarily known for its ruby-tone red wines, that reminiscent the Médoc wine style, in Siklós and Nagyharsány mainly white wine is being produced, like Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay and Tramine.
Previously known simply as the Rosé Marathon, the event is now more firmly linked with the name Fröccs Festival (fröccs being a kind of wine spritzer) and with Villány, a town famous for its fruity rosé wines. The Conga-dancing and musical parade are fuelled by plenty of it (raspberry lemonade for the children). Points are awarded not for speed but for the creativity of costumes.
The pearl of Lake Balaton - Szigliget
Although Szigliget is not as trendy destination as Tihany or Siofok, it is still one of the most visited tourist sites. It is a peaceful, quiet little settlement. Szigliget was formerly called “Sziget-liget” (island-park) or “Zeg-Ligeth”, and certainly not by accident! In those days it was really an island but when in the 19th century the Lake of Balaton was drained, it became a peninsula. Today three large hills and the valley lying between them dominate the landscape, where were people living already the stone age people, and today it is the home of almost one thousand people.
The Old Village lies on the south side of the Castle Hill. This is the oldest, most romantic, most charming part of this historic settlement of Szigliget, full of ethnographic monuments including houses, thatched mansions, nice barns, winding, steep streets.
Szigliget Castle, that is standing lonely on the nearby230 meter high peak. The castle was built by the abbot of Pannonhalma between the years 1260-12621, and was transformed or extended several times over the passed years. The fortress had a defending role during the Turkish wars. The remains of the chapel, the prison, the drawbridge gate, the palace and the walls with battlement blows takes us back in time with hundreds of years.
After many years of splendor, the Szigliget Fortess had a sad fate. At the end of the 17th century, because of a lightning it was almost totally burned, then the locals scattered the remaining stones to the nearby construction sites. If one look around from up here, will see a luxurious romantic landscape with rich parks, dense forests, steep mountain sides, gently sloping valleys. When you stand on the Castle Hill, in the middle of this beautiful surrounding, you feel an almost irresistible urge to take a long walk in the forest and deeply inhale the fresh humid air.
Medieval Hungary - exhibitions of Pannonhalma Archabbey
For several decades now, the Benedictine Archabbey at Pannonhalma has also served as an important exhibition venue.For a long time, there has been a permenant exhibition space in the abbey as well, but only a very small part of the abbey’s collection was on view. This year, a new abbey museum and visitor center opened at Pannonhalma, in the former manor building belonging to the abbey. This museum is the home of a new permanent exhibition of the abbey, and includes an exhibition of medieval stone carvings from Pannonhalma, as well as a good selection from the collections of the abbey. The new space created an opportunity to display some elements of the medieval building which were previously not visible, such as elements from the 13th century cloisters of the abbey (which was rebuilt in the late 15th century). The collections of the abbey include goldsmith works, important manuscripts, a good ensemble of paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects, among other artworks.
Hucul stud of Hungary
Genetically, huculs are the breed closest to those horses used by the tribes (Avars, Székelys, etc.) which inhabited the Carpathian Basin before the Hungarian Conquest in the 9th century. Since that time huculs gradually got outnumbered in herds by other breeds - for example horses similar to the Akhal-Tekes of Turkmenistan - and over the course of centuries today’s indigenous species were arrived at using other foreign breeds. However, a number of huculs survived this period in the most closed-off parts of Carpathians without any crossbreeding. This period of natural selection developed the hucul into a hardy, small horse suited to rough and hilly terrain. Today, its sure-footedness and ability to work and carry loads over difficult terrain is prized over many other breeds, and the hucul’s appearance has changed little from that of the ancient wild horse it once was.
After 1919, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy’s central stud was distributed among the newly formed neighbouring states and following World War II hucul breeding was largely neglected. From 1970, the Director of Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, Dr. Csaba Anghy, gathered the remaining thoroughbred huculs, of which 10 mares were received by the Aggtelek National Park Directorate in 1986, and breeding in Hungary resumed using these horses and several specimens from abroad.
At the main breeding stud in Jósvafő our most important job is the conservation of this ancient breed’s gene stock. Horses are carefully selected for breeding in order to raise healthy foals, which are examined around three years of age. At the stables in Jósvafő, stallions and mares are trained. Those with the right qualities are trained to pull a carriage and to remain placid around children, while stallions are trained to tackle C category paths. Thorough examination ensures that a horse is fit for use by children and used to daily attendance by the grooms. Accomplished mares are prepared for competiton either as coach horses or for dressage while any unreliable horses are singled out from the main breed. The Jósvafő hucul stud runs children’s riding camps in the Aggtelek National Park in spring, summer and autumn. Not only are participants able to ride, they also get an insight into the life of the stud farm and learn about the horses’ treatment and care.