After a one-hour drive from Budapest, one can spot a great black raven, which shows that we are in the right place. It symbolizes the village Hollókő (Ravenstone), or the “Living Village.” The place got its name, because according to legend, ravens carried everything away at night that people built during the day. The beautiful, charming village has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. The unique town in Hungary is one of the last where traditions, folk customs, arts and crafts, and traditional Palóc foods are part of everyday life to this day.
Hollókő consists of two parts, the old town and the new town. Parts of the old town and its buildings are now used for tourism (Postal Museum, People’s House, Tourist Hostel). In the heart of the settlement is the Catholic Church with wooden towers and a shingled roof.
The building, named after St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, which has become a symbol of Hollókő over the years, was built in 1889 from money that was raised from public donations from the village population. The parish, however, has existed since 1342. The restoration of the temple was completed in 1980.
In 1909, almost every house in the historic old village was lost in a fire, but was also the reason why Hollókő later prospered and is now protected by UNESCO. The houses were rebuilt according to traditional Palóc customs, and were made with a more secure brick base. If you want to discover the whole village, the so-called “Village Walk Ticket” is the best choice. You can visit the best museums and small workshops in both the old village and the castle with a single ticket.
The entrance fee includes the following:
Guzsalyas museum ticket
In the former weaving mill, visitors can learn more about the development of hand weaving and the way the hemp was processed. The colorful costumes of the women are also noteworthy:
Entrance ticket to the village museum
For this purpose, three rooms of the oldest residential building of the village was furnished with original Palóc furniture. Kitchen utensils and brightly painted furniture can be seen as well as the traditional embroidery.
“Portable” cradle: in this cradle the women brought their baby to the fields and sometimes the pregnant women took this cradle if the child was born in the field.
In the “Gazduram” cheese shop you can taste many wonderful Hungarian cheeses.
Crafts workshop in Palóc Playhouse and LEGO exhibition:
Have a good coffee or a lemonade at the Hollóköves Castle Cafe
Leather art workshop, including a small leather gift
Museum at the building of the old school
The building of the school is furnished with authentic old furniture, as the teacher even lived in this house. Condensed lessons were typical, children from 6-10 attended classes together.
Smaller visitors can look at Hungarian folk tales and answer some questions about fairy tales.
A tasting in the Kalácsos bakery
Wonderful scents comes from the bakery… Cake, pretzel, bread, brioche, scones – and much more! It is worth to try some of the delicacies.
Entry ticket to the castle
After a stroll through the Old Village, it is worth taking a tour to the ruins of the Hollókő castle, which is only a few minutes’ walk from the village. Perched on a hill, the 14th-century castle dominates the landscape.
Thanks to the location, visitors of the ruins can enjoy a great panoramic view of the area of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hollókő.
Parts of the castle, which played a significant role against the Ottoman siege in the 15th and 16th centuries, have also been restored.
The village is also home to the folk group “Palócok.” Every year at Easter, tourists can enjoy an old Hungarian tradition in which the bachelors of the village water the girls with a bucket of water (nowadays this is done with cologne).
Hollókő, the Living Village – Hungary in Pictures
Written by Zsófia Nagy-Vargha/Ungarn Heute
Translation by Fanni Kaszás