Vác is a little gem, a small baroque town just north of Budapest (half an hour by train). It is stunningly situated along the river Danube and has many historic houses, palaces and churches. In addition, Vácis home to two very special treasures: a unique collection of mummies from the 1700s and a collection of paintings by Gyula Hincz, the ‘Picasso of Hungary’. What is more: as Vác hasn’t yet been generally discovered by foreign tourists,strolling the town offers visitors an authentic feel for life in an old and elegant Hungarian town.
The tour starts at the main square, lined with colorful baroque houses and palaces, among them the town hall and the notable White Church. It was in a forgotten crypt of this church that the mummified bodies of some 150 citizens from the 18th century were found. It was a unique discovery and some of these mummies are now on display, together with the decorated coffins and the clothes in which they were buried, in an exhibition called Memento Mori.
Many of these mummies carry German names. The area around the main square was, for most of its history, mainly inhabited by Germans who made up the upper and middle classes of this trading town. They were later joined by a substantial Jewish community whose synagogue still stands. Most Hungarians originally lived a bit further, around the old castle and the bishop’s palace. Vác has been a Catholic diocese since the 11thvarious phases of its long history, Vác has been inhabited by substantial minorities of Slovaks, Greeks and Turks.
At the northern corner of the main square, close to the reconstructed Vienna Gate, is a small museum with another very special collection: more than 100 paintings from Gyula Hincz, a painter with huge fame in Hungary in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. His work was very much influenced by Pablo Picasso and other famous modernist painters whom he met and shortly worked with in Paris in the 1920s. According to some art critics, Hincz could have reached the same level of international fame, had he not decided to return to Hungary and stay there for the rest of his life, firmly drawing the iron curtain of the cold war between his artistic efforts and the recognition of Western art historians.
During our walk, you will pass the town prison, infamous for the fact that it housed many political prisoners during communist times. We will also see the triumphal arc built for Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa, then visit the local market and enjoy the wonderful view along the embankment. And Vác has some very nice restaurants and terraces, a special “chocolaterie” which sells extraordinary chocolate drinks, an exquisite pastry shop, and a wine museum with wine tasting for you to explore.
There is a fast train to Vác from the Nyugati Station in downtown Pest, which takes only 25 minutes. Of course, your guides will pick you up directly from the train station in Vác. Alternatively we can provide you driving directions if you come by car and, during spring and summer, you could even decide to treat yourself to cruise down the Danube to Vác, The boat deaprts from Budapest at 9.00 in the morning and docks in Vác around 11.00.