25 amazing things you probably didn't know about Hungary

25 amazing things you probably didn’t know about Hungary

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25 nagyon érdekes dolog Magyarországról angol szemmel nézve. 

1. It's an unlikely place for a beach holiday

At almost 600 square kilometres, Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe. It's so big, in fact, that it's often referred to as the Hungarian Sea, and sunseekers have flocked to its shores for decades. The nearby sulphuric waters of Héviz, meanwhile, are said to have medicinal qualities, and are believed to cure rheumatic ailments, aches and pains.

2. You can make the most of the healing waters indoors, too

Thanks to an abundance of natural hot springs, Hungary can boast around 450 public spas and bathhouses. A prominent bathing culture has existed since Roman times; it is supposedly the best cure for a hangover – or “cat’s wail” as the Hungarian term macskajaj translates.

3. Hungarians are mightily inventive

Notable inventions include the Rubik's Cube (by sculptor and professor Ernő Rubik, 1974), the krypton electric bulb (by physicist Imre Bródy in 1937), and the biro, patented in 1938 by journalist László Bíró.

4. And jolly Nobel, too

Hungary has produced 13 Nobel laureates to date - more per capita than the likes of Finland, Spain, Canada and Australia - bagging every category except peace.

5. There’s a statue that will make you a great writer

Touching the pen of the statue of Anonymus in Budapest's City Park will, legend has it, bless you with great writing abilities. You may not believe it, but the shiny surface of the pen suggests that many still do.

6. It is home to the world’s first official wine region

Put your glass of Bordeaux aside; King Károly made official Hungary’s Tokaj region - where wine has been produced since the 5th century - 120 years earlier.

7. And the master of escapology

Erich Weisz, better known as illusionist Harry Houdini, was born in Budapest in 1874 before earning his fame escaping from handcuffs, strait jackets and a Chinese Water Cell.

8. Pálinka is considered the cure of all ails

Refuse a shot of the ubiquitous fruit brandy and risk causing great insult - not to mention confusion. Hungarian nagymamák (grandmas) swear by its powers. Have a headache? Pálinka. Menstrual pains? Pálinka. Feeling nervous? Pálinka. As the saying goes: “Pálinka in small amounts is a medicine, in large amounts a remedy”. Palinka is the cure of that headache, not the cause.

9. It is considered rude to clink your beer glasses

Legend has it that when the 1848 Hungarian revolution against the Habsburgs was defeated, 13 Hungarian generals were executed, with the Austrians clinking their beer glasses after each execution. As a result, Hungarians vowed not to cheers with beer for 150 years - and while the time has passed, the custom remains. Eye contact is a must when Egészségedre-ing anything else, though.

10. Water polo is a national sport

Quite possibly the most famous game of water polo in history was the bloody play-off between Hungary and the USSR at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, in which Hungary won 4-0 before the game was called off to avoid a riotous outbreak. The 2000 Olympics (held in Sydney) also introduced a women’s tournament to the sport.

11. The world’s best female chess champion is Hungarian

Judit Polgár acquired the title of grandmaster at the tender age of 15 in 1991 - a record. The game is played everywhere in Hungary - including on floating boards in the thermal baths. Judit Polgár is still considered one of the best female chess players in the world.

12. The number 96 is very important

The crowning of Árpád as first king of the Magyars (Hungarian people) marked the beginning of the Hungarian state in 896. Budapest’s metro was built on the country’s millennial anniversary in 1896. By law, buildings in Budapest must not exceed 96 feet, and the Hungarian national anthem should be sung in 96 seconds - if done at the proper tempo.

13. So is paprika

Once traded with communists for hard currency, today more than 1,000 tons of the spice are produced annually in Hungary. There are two paprika museums, in Szeged and Röszke, which give an insight into the industry as well as a spicy sample.

14. It’s where the word ‘coach’ comes from

Or Kocs to be precise - the town where the vehicles are said to have first appeared in the 16th century.

15. Budapest has continental Europe’s oldest metro

Beginning operations in 1896, it is also the second oldest electrically operated underground railway in the world, predated only by the London Underground.

16. As well as a natural underground labyrinth

The world’s largest geothermal cave system can be found underneath the capital and is made up of some 200 subterranean chambers. While most explorations are only available to qualified visitors, a number of show caves such as Szemlő-hegy and Molnár János can be viewed from a distance with just a hard hat.

17. Budapest has the second largest synagogue in the world

Seating 3,000, the Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest in Europe and part of the Budapest Unesco World Heritage Site.

The Dohány Street Synagogue survived substantial bombing during Nazi Occupation but was restored - and remains one of the most impressive synagogues in the world.

18. And some of the most intriguing watering holes

A beer in one of Budapest’s ruin pubs is a must when visiting the city. The pubs or kerts quite literally sit inside the many bombed out and bullet marked “ruins” of buildings, and as well as being an interesting place for a Pálinka, many hold farmers’ markets and community gatherings too.

19. Hollywood would not be Hollywood without Hungarians

Paramount Pictures founder Adolf Zukor, Vilmos Fried - more commonly known as William Fox - and Casablanca director Michael Curtiz (formerly Mano Kaminer) all heralded from Hungary.

20. Neither would Dracula

Count Dracula is believed to have been based on the 15th century villain Vlad the Impaler, who terrorized Wallachia (formerly part of Hungary) until he was jailed by King Matthias.

21. Elvis Presley is an honorary citizen of Budapest

Posthumous citizenship was awarded to the musician in 2011 in recognition of his somewhat heroic status after a performance of “Peace in the Valley” on American television brought attention to the 1956 revolution. The accolade is also recognised in a local landmark, Elvis Presley Boulevard, dedicated to the star.

22. Tourists to the capital prefer pinball to historic sites

Opened in 2015, Budapest Pinball Museum houses over 130 classic machines and scores higher on TripAdvisor's attraction ratings than Heroes’ Square, Buda Castle or Liberty Bridge.

23. It has some real railway children

The Gyermekvasút Railway that runs through Buda hills between Széchenyi Hill and Hűvösvölgy stations is run almost exclusively by 10-14 year-olds from local schools who make up the ticket sellers and conductors, man the switch points and sell station memorabilia.

24. Hungarian names are regulated by law

Parents are subject to a naming law when it comes to choosing what to call their children. Names must come from a pre-approved list - any deviations from which must be approved by application to the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. No Brooklyns there, then.

25. The language is very, very tricky

The Hungarian language is part of the Finno-Ugrian language family and thought to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. It is said that English has more in common with Russian.

source: The Telegraph

Who invented or discovered what? Can you make pairs?

1. Bíró József

a. Vitamin C

2. Szent-Györgyi Albert

b. binoculars

3. Irinyi János

c. refrigerator

4. Petzvál József

d. biro

5. Szilárd Leó

e. matches

Key

1. d.

2. a.

3. e.

4. b.

5. c.

Vocabulary

to flock

seregleni, csapatostól menni

shore

part

sulphuric

kénes

to cure

gyógyítani, meggyógyítani

rheumatic ailments

reumás betegségek

abundance

bőség

spring

forrás

to boast

dicsekedni

prominent

kiváló, kitűnő

hangover

másnaposság, macskajaj

notable

figyelemre méltó

invention

találmány

sculptor

szobrász

biro

golyóstoll

to patent

szabadalmaztatni

laureate

díjnyertes, kitüntetett

to date

a mai napig

to bag

begyűjteni, bezsebelni

legend has it

úgy tartják róla

to bless

megáldani

escapology

kiszabadulás művészete

fame

hírnév

handcuffs

bilincs

strait jacket

kényszerzubbony

ail

gyengélkedés, betegség

ubiquitous

mindenütt jelenlévő

to swear by

esküdni valamire

remedy

gyógyszer, orvosság

to defeat

leverni, legyőzni

to execute

kivégezni

to clink

koccintani

to vow

megesküdni, megfogadni

to remain

megmaradni

bloody

véres

play-off

rájátszás

to call off

lefújni

riotous outbreak

zavargás, lázadás

to acquire

elnyerni, megszerezni

tender age

zsenge/fiatal kor

floating

víz színén lebegő

crowning

megkoronázás

millennial

ezredik évfordulós

to exceed

meghaladni

anthem

himnusz

hard currency

kemény valuta

annually

évente

sample

minta

to be precise

hogy pontosak legyünk

to predate

időben megelőzni

underneath

alatt

subterranean

föld alatti

chamber

üreg

substantial

jelentős, alapos

occupation

megszállás, uralom

to restore

helyreállítani

intriguing

nagyon érdekes

watering hole

kocsma, pub

bullet marked

golyónyomokkal tarkított

community gatherings

közösségi összejövetelek

founder

alapító

Vlad the Impaler

Karóbahúzó Vlad

honorary citizen

díszpolgár

posthumous

posztumusz, halál utáni

in recognition of

valami elismeréseként

heroic

hősként tisztelt, hősies

accolade

elismerés

pinball

flipper

exclusively

kizárólag

conductor

kalauz

to man

pozíciót betölteni

pre-approved

elfogadott, előre lefektetett

deviation

valamitől eltérés

tricky

trükkös, nem könnyű

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