Hollókő, Hungary

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Step back in time and enjoy a day trip to this authentic Hungarian village located in the hills 100km northeast of Budapest. A hidden gem and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hollókő is a Palóc ethnographic village. It is considered a “living village”, as people continue to inhabit the village, preserving Palóc traditions and heritage.

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Hollókő’s history dates back to the 13th century with the original construction of its castle, which was intended to protect the region from additional Mongol invasions. Throughout the 15th century, control of the castle alternated between the Ottomans and Hungarians until it was ultimately liberated and abandoned in 1683. The existing village was constructed below the castle grounds. Despite suffering several devastating fires, the village was rebuilt to maintain the traditional Palóc style. Some of the houses continue to be used as private homes and others have been repurposed as small museums and shops, like the doll museum, house of the weavers, and toy shop.

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In celebration of our anniversary, Gabe and I left the kids with his parents and set out to explore this unique village. We hiked up a hill to the Hollókő castle, which is perched just above the village. The views of the Cserhát Mountains and the Hungarian countryside were expansive. We slowly climbed to the top of the castle, admiring the scenery along the way. There are a few exhibits displaying weaponry and recreating scenes of knights from long ago.

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After climbing back down the castle steps, we followed a wooded path to the charming little village of Hollókő. We enjoyed strolling the cobblestone street and imagining a more simple life from long ago. We stopped in a small shop to look at pottery and shortly after, arrived at the wine tasting cellar. It must have been beckoning our name. We enjoyed a generous tasting, where the wine just continued to flow from one glass to the next. My husband chatted with the winemaker and then we made a beeline to lunch at Muskátli vendéglő. There are several restaurant options in Hollókő, but the Gypsy music at Muskátli lured us in and set the mood as we shared a traditional Hungarian meal. Before heading home, we made one last stop in the adorable toy shop to purchase handcrafted wooden gifts for the kids.

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The Hollókő village and castle were very interesting, but the village was definitely on the quiet side. To those interested in visiting Hollókő, I would recommend timing your visit with one of Hollókő’s festivals. During the three day Easter Festival, the townspeople wear traditional Palóc clothing and the town comes to life with folk music, dance, and medieval customs.

A visit to Hollókő is like turning back time and stepping into a quaint little fairytale. If you are looking to escape the city for the charm of a small town, Hollókő has a little bit of everything. For an extra special experience, you can also book accommodation and spend the night in one of the traditional guest houses.

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