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Castle of Szigliget - Szigliget, Ungarn

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 - Szigliget, Ungarn The Lengyel-Putheány Mansion functions as a restaurant today. It was built in 1782 originally in baroque style, probably by also using the stones of the castle that was blown up earlier. Over its gate there is the coat of arms of Boldizsár Lengyel on a stone, whioch was moved here when the former castle gate was demolished.

One of the reconditioned bastions of the upper castle - Szigliget, Ungarn One of the reconditioned bastions of the upper castle

The Szigliget Castle was built on the 239-meter-high Várhegy ("Castle Hill") by the Benedictines of Pannonhalma between 1260-1262. However, after the completion it was immediately acquired through an exchange by King Béla IV of Hungary. After more changes in the ownership in 1521 the heir of the Újlaki family (the previous owner) donated the castle to the Lengyel family, who then owned this land until the beginning of the 19th century, virtually continuously. During this time there was only one major change in the ownership, in 1531.

There were troubled times after the Battle of Mohács (1526) where the Hungarian forces were seriously defeated by the Turks. On the top of the fact that the Ottoman Empire occupied the half of the territory of Hungary, from December 1526 until 1570 the country had two hostile kings at the same time who split the "remnant" of the country among themselves. Because the Lengyel family supported John Zápolya (or John Szapolyai, also John I King of Hungary), the rival Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor from the House of Habsburg and also King of Hungary had the castle confiscated from them referring to infidelity, and passed it to Bálint Török de Enying, Ban of Nándorfehérvár (who is also known from the novel "Eclipse of the Crescent Moon" or in Hungarian "Egri csillagok", written by the Hungarian novelist Géza Gárdonyi). Because they didn't hand over the castle voluntarily, in 1531 Imre Martonfalvay took the castle in the name of Bálint Török, with a trick and without bloodshed. Then he became the captain of the castle, among other things he had a castle well dug for a water source and had the castle strengthened and extended. But in 1541 both Imre Martonfalvay and Bálint Török were captured by the Turks, and although the former could escape from the captivity, since the 1540s the Castle of Szigliget was owned again by the Lengyel family.

Although Szigliget village was destroyed by the Turks, the fortress which was also the refuge of the inhabitants was never occupied. The doom of the castle began with a fire caused by lightning at the end of the 17th century, and continued with Leopold I Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary who had the already outdated and insignificant castle blown up in 1702. Some of the stones of it were used to build the mansions and outbuildings at the foot of the Castle Hill. The archaeological excavations and the reconstruction of the castle were begun in 1991 and are still ongoing.

View to the volcanic butte hills of the Balaton Uplands (Balaton-felvidék) - Szigliget, Ungarn View to the volcanic butte hills of the Balaton Uplands (Balaton-felvidék)

The typical conical and often relatively flat-topped hills (these are called in English monadnock, inselberg, butte or mesa, in Hungarian "tanúhegy") determine the sight of the landscape of the Balaton Uplands and make it unique as well. The best known ones are the 437-meter-high Badacsony and the slightly lower Szent György Hill (St. George's Hill).

10-12 million years ago the area of the Carpathian Basin (or Pannonian Plain) was the shallow bay of the Paratethys Ocean (or Paratethys Sea), which was later isolated by the uplifting Carpathian Mountains and due to the inflowing rivers a freshwater, more precisely a brackish (semi-salty or semi-saline water) inland sea was formed. This was the Pannonian Sea, which was slowly disappeared until ca. 600,000 years ago, most of its water was drained through the Iron Gates (in Hungarian "Vaskapu-szoros") which is today on the border of Romania and Serbia. When the Pannonian Sea dried out it left behind 3-4-kilometer-thick deposited marine sediments, sand and clay layers. By the way, the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea were formed the same manner when the Paratethys Ocean was fragmented. Although the current Black Sea was formed probably only after the last Ice Age, practically this is also a remain of that ancient ocean.

When the Pannonian Sea was dried up volcanic activity was begun in the area. Low-viscosity, thin basaltic lava flowed to the surface, which after having solidified protected the underlying rock layers from erosion. On those areas where there was no protective hard basalt cover on the surface the grould was quickly mouldered, and that's how the current basins (including Lake Balaton) were formed, and the thermal lake of Hévíz also originated from that time.

Interesting to note that the hills of the Balaton Uplands (in Hungarian "Balaton-felvidék") were formed by a similar process as the hills of the Monument Valley, which were for example used as a background in Wild West movies and situated at the border of Arizona and Utah states in the United States. This kind of hills are called in North America "buttes" or sometimes "monadnocks".

Castle of Szigliget, with the 415 meters high Szent György Hill in the distance - Szigliget, Ungarn Castle of Szigliget, with the 415 meters high Szent György Hill in the distance

The Szent György Hill is well-known not just for its unique organ-pipe-like basalt formations ("basalt organs"), but famous for its wines as well. It is true also for the entire Balaton Uplands ("Balaton-felvidék") region, where the white wines receive their rich flavor probably thanks to the volcanic soil, too.

Hauptseite von Szigliget

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Jedes Standard-Fotos in:
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