Today we play our first gig in Hungary. The city is called Szeged, and I believe it takes an average of 3 days to pronounce correctly! It breaks down like this: ”s-che-ged”. And there ya go…
The Tisza River has lured human inhabitants to the Szeged region since the beginning of time. The oldest remnants of humans are from mammoth hunters, who settled in the area around 24000 BC. As the ice expanded southwards during the ice-age, the mammoth hunters drifted to warmer regions of the continent. The first archeological findings of human inhabitants go back to the new stone-age (5000 BC). This is about the time humans gave up nomad life and settled down. Today, Szeged is the largest city in Southern Hungary, next to the Serbian border. The Tisza River, second largest in Hungary, splits the city in two, the old and new szeged. March 12th, 1879 brought Szeged’s darkest hour- the Great Flood. Both the Tisza and the Maros rivers were bursting with extra water caused by the melting of snow up shore. Shortly after midnight (taking everybody by complete surprise) the dyke near the outskirts of Szeged gave way and literally washed the whole city away. Of the 70,000 people living in the city, 151 died that day. Only 265 houses remained standing, and 5,458 were destroyed. It took four months for the water to dry up.
Narada and Jesse, the Owens brothers, accompanied me on today’s walkabout. Narada has been dubbed “Night Scout”, due to his knack for walking around the night before and looking online for cool stuff BEFORE we start the afternoon adventure. When I’m left to myself, I just choose the direction with the highest cool-looking building and start walking! But today it is Narada’s path:
Below is the Kalvin Reformed Church. As part of the Hungarian Reformed Church, it was founded in the 16th century. The teachings of Luther and Melanchthon were most influential in the German colonies north of Hungary, while the Hungarian-speaking people supported the teachings of the Swiss reformation, especially those of Calvin.
Foremost among the Hungarian reformers were Gal Huszar (traveling printer and preacher), Stephen Kis of Szeged (theologian), and Peter Melius (pastor of Debrecen). It was due to the exertions of Melius that the Hungarian Reformed Church became a separate entity in doctrine and organization. It adopted the Second Helvetic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism as standards of doctrine and religious education. However, worship retained elements characteristic of the Roman Catholic Church, such as antiphons and passion songs.
At present the Hungarian Reformed Church is the main link that EEFC works with in the organization of English language summer camps.
Across the street is the Anna Medicinal Spa. Recently upgraded to four stars, the spa has been a haven for Szeged bathers since it was opened in 1896.
Let me just interject here that it would have been awesome to go into some of the bathhouses I’ve seen before and after this one, but the company has gotten paid since our advance before the trip, so none of us have any extra money to spare. No fun money…just bill money! It’s coming, but until then, I am enjoying the free gifts of these buildings’ exteriors:)
In The Szechenyi Square (Széchenyi Tér) is a memorial dedicated to Pal Vasarhelyi, the hydro-engineer who made the Danube navigable up to Budapest. In 1829, as a shipping engineer of the Lower Danube, he was commissioned to lead the surveys of the Danube. In 1833-1834 he accompanied István Széchenyi on his study-trip to England, and then became a part of the greatest environmental transformation brought about through river control projects and moor drainage in the 19th century. Based on the plans of István Széchenyi and Pál Vásárhelyi, the Danube was made navigable to the Black Sea between 1834-1896.
Here I am chillin’ on the back of the memorial’s canoe. Vasarhelyi’s coworker doesn’t seem to mind. Did I ever mention that I love the absence of gates, roped off areas, and English signs telling me not to climb on things?
The town hall is Neo-baroque and an especially elegant building graced with a tall tower and beautifully tiled roof. Its stone foundation was laid in 1799, designed and built by István Vedres and János Schwörtz. In 1883, it was redone by Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos after severe flood damage.
These, along with the fountain between them, commemorate the Great Flood.
On the western side of the square next to the City Hall stands the classical style Zsótér House built by the famous Zsótér merchant family.
Also in the square is the statue of King Stephen and Queen Gisela, by Sándor Kligl. King Stephen (or St. Istvan) helped in the Christianization of Hungary.
Upon Googling the words on this monument, I only found that it represents national pride, but no specific person came up in my research…
Next stop is the Dugonics Square which existed before the Great Flood as well. For the 100th anniversary of the Great Flood (1979) the city produced a beautiful water and lights show via fountain, and held a concert in the square.
A statue of Andrew Dugonics stands near, holding “Etelka’s Creations”, the first Hungarian novel.
And now, my favorite stop:
The Votive Church, commonly known as the Cathedral, was rebuilt in the neo-Romanesque style close by the Tisza River after the flood. The townspeople swore that if Szeged rebuilt it after the great flood, the would be church built for God’s glory.
You can catch me right in the middle of the steps in this pic. Narada and I waited for this guy to move, but since there were no rocks handy to toss, we just had to include him in the pic!
The “Dom” has 93-meter-high towers. Hungary’s fourth largest church was consecrated on October 24, 1930.
The “Dóm tér” or National Pantheon of Szech embraces the cathedral, with statues and reliefs of 80 notables running along an arcade around three sides of the square. The Dom Ter contains Szeged’s most important monuments (it’s a crash course in Hungarian art, literature, culture and history!) and is the centre of events during the annual summer festivals.
Closing our walkabout this day is Roosevelt Square, very close to the bridge which begins this newsletter. During the reconstruction of Szeged the library at Roosevelt Square (or Tér) was built in the Classical style. Known as the “cultural palace”, this building houses not only the municipal library but also the Ferenc Móra Museum, named after the popular Hungarian writer of youth literature, and researcher of ancient history, Ferenc Móra. He started working at the museum in 1904, was appointed director in 1917, and served in that post until he died in 1934.
Now on to the show! Here is our Szeged venue:
…basically a big sports arena. I think we played for an audience of 1,100. Fun show!
I believe this was the first gig, maybe ever, that the side fill speakers weren’t onstage, nixing the megarumble between us and “them”. Rodney and I were filled with joy AND dancing room!
Next newsletter is Budapest. LOTS of interesting stories there!!!
Just so you know, sometimes these emails take way too long to compose because the internet is very…moody…over here. Between the bus, venue, and hotel connections, it’s a miracle I can research anything!!! But thanks for being patient, and I look forward to getting the Budapest newsletter OUT OF ME!!!
Love you all:)
P.S. Just in case you didn’t catch it on Facebook, here’s a fun pic of me trying to obey the sidewalk signs…
When in Hungary…:)P