Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2: CIC visits Szentendre

Szentendre is a riverside town in Pest county, Hungary, near the capital city Budapest. It is known for its museums (most notably the Open-Air Ethnographic Museum), galleries, and artists. Due to its picturesque appearance and easy rail and river access, it has become a popular destination for tourists staying in Budapest. There are many facilities including shops and restaurants catering for these visitors. Populated for well over a millennium, under the Romans it was called Ulcisia Castra, meaning "Wolf Castle". Since the 1500s it was considered the center of the Hungarian Serb community. At one point it had as many as eight Serbian Orthodox church buildings and 3 chapels, and only one each Roman-Catholic and Evangelical. It is still the see of the Buda Diocese of the Serb Orthodox Church. Szentendre and the surrounding villages were also inhabited by Bulgarians ever since the Middle Ages. In 1690, the Serbian teacher and hegumen Stevan notes that Szentendre was even called Bolgarija by some. It had a Bulgarian neighbourhood of settlers from Chiprovtsi and a Chiprovtsi church. The names of locals clearly hint at a Bulgarian population. In the 1700s, after liberation from the Turks, Szentendre enjoyed a rebirth with Mediterranean leanings, as Serbian, Croatian, Slovak, German and Greek newcomers moved in and lived alongside the Magyar inhabitants. According to the 1720 data, 88% of the population of the town were South Slavs (mostly Serbs, but also some South Slavic Catholics). The town to this day is characterised by a south European atmosphere with much baroque architecture, churches of various faiths, narrow sidestreets, and cobblestone roads.


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