A distant dyke collapsed and flooded the city of Szeged back on March 12, 1879, a town set up in southeastern Hungary. Ruining much of the city, Szeged received the help of its neighboring European countries to rebuild, redesign and resolve after such devastation. And like Szeged’s great flood, I was forced to resolve to change my plans to explore Romania. It just so happens Eastern Europe decided to freeze over for my visit.
Szeged is mostly known for being a university town peppered with paprika and salami. The two edibles are praised in Szeged. And like most of my Eastern European trip so far, my plans are almost always changed due to the cold. Szeged is home to a Paprika Museum. As I visited the Butter Museum in Cork, you would think I would be all over arranging a visit to the Paprika Museum, but unfortunately the weather and time wasn’t on my side. Apparently people only need two hours a day to visit such a museum.
Aside from a dash of paprika and a cut of salami, I brave the frigid evening temperatures to marvel at Szeged’s architecture and squares. When the city flooded, it was given a facelift, redesigned with broad avenues and boulevards. Kaluzál tér is one such redesign, a square covered in banks and pastry shops. I guess you need lots of money for the pastries you will consume. Set up right in the pedestrian quarter of the city, the square is named for the statue at the center, Gábor Klauzál, the minister of agriculture, industry and commerce of Hungary’s first democratically elected government.
I rise the next day to snow and more cold, a trend all over Eastern Europe. Not knowing if my rental car would make it over the mountains in Romania, I decide to forgo the freezing and head back up toward Budapest. Now without a long drive, I can spend more time with Szeged.
The Votive Church is hard to miss while in town, built by residents after Szeged’s great flood. In the snow, the twin-towered confection almost looks posed as a lone man braves the freezing to walk across its square, a square exactly the same size as St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
Inside is an ornate and what some may call gaudy meeting. Home to Europe’s third largest church organ, the Votive Church has the viewer constantly gazing toward the heavens.
Leaving the church and Szeged for that matter, I stop for a classic pastry and coffee before hitting the road. The pastry case is almost like neon in color compared to the snowy, gray scene outside.
By the looks of many residents clad in high-heels, you get the sense Szeged is not used to this dusting of white. And yet, the trams keep on running. This city has been through the unexpected as I quickly learn the meaning of the term in the travel sense myself. You can never plan for the weather.
Have you been to Szeged?