Hortobágy in a nutshell
Such a unique ensemble of sweep-pole wells, mirages, shepherds, wranglers, herdsmen, bustards, storks, inns, saline pastures, and herds cannot be seen anywhere else but on Hortobágy! The beauty, natural treasures, infinity, silence, flora and fauna of the landscape, the culture of traditional foals, goulashes and shepherds awaits visitors with different colourful, unique events and attractions!
In the words of Sándor Petőfi, one of Hungary’s greatest poets, “Hortobágy, glorious flatland, you are God’s forehead.” Hortobágy is Europe’s most extensive grassland, one of the most characteristic landscapes of Hungary, and an outstanding example of the harmonious interaction between people and nature. Its biggest value is the unbroken horizon, the unique landscape of the wilderness, the infinite silence, and its famous natural phenomenon, the mirage.
“How simple the puszta is, and yet, how sublime” – it is a “Hungaricum,” a national park, and a World Heritage Site, all under the starry sky! We are looking forward to welcoming you here! Discover the wonders of this wilderness!
The history of the village of Hortobágy
Hortobágy… When we hear this word, we envision the endless steppe, complete with sweep-pole wells and peacefully grazing grey cattle, horsemen galloping across the landscape, roadside inns, and the iconic Nine-Hole Bridge. Few people know that Hortobágy was originally the name of the river, and it is one of the most ancient Hungarian place names.
The area of Hortobágy, perfectly suited for animal husbandry, probably seemed to be an ideal place for the first Hungarians to arrive in the Carpathian basin in the 9th century. Written documents mention the Hortobágy River as Hortubaguise as early as 1009, while the name of the settlement itself was first mentioned around 1067. In the Middle Ages, the settlements around Hortobágy, formed during the Árpád era, belonged to Debrecen. Livestock was already raised and traded on the pastures of Hortobágy. The animals, especially grey cattle, were driven on foot on the former “Salt Road,” connecting Buda and the salt mines of Transylvania, to Buda and beyond, to markets in Western Europe. It was also along the Salt Road that the inns, many of which still exist (Látókép, Kadarcs, Kishortobágy, Nagyhortobágy, Meggyes, Patkós, Kaparó), were built later.
Today it is difficult to imagine that the Hortobágy was once an area with very lush vegetation, forests and reeds, often flooded by the Tisza River. During such floods, wooden bridges allowed for transport until 1833, when the Nine-hold Bridge, Hungary’s first – and still the longest – stone bridge, was built over the Hortobágy River, designed by Ferenc Povolny of Eger. An interesting feature of the bridge is that Povolny designed the two ramps of the bridge as widening on both sides, so as to make it easier for shepherds to drive the livestock onto the bridge. In the spring, at the St. George’s Day Drive-Out Festival, and in the autumn, at the Round-Up Festival on St. Demetrius Day, we can still witness how the shepherds of Hortobágy skilfully drive the animals across the bridge.
From the middle of the 19th century, as the Tisza River has been regulated, the landscape of the Hortobágy has changed significantly. The area that was once rich in vegetation has become the dry grassland as we know it today. Farming continued on the areas owned by the landlords of Debrecen until the end of World War II, when the farms were nationalized. With people working at the state farm also settling down here permanently, the village of Hortobágy was built near the inn, and it became administratively independent in 1966. The village of Hortobágy, with a population of 1600, is located along Route 33, between Debrecen and Tiszafüred. It is situated in the middle of the Hortobágy National Park, the first of its kind in Hungary.
Due to its geographical location within the area of the national park, the village can boast of a number of natural and cultural values, which are worth seeing during the visit to Hortobágy region.