On our last virtual trip we took our rest at the „great” parking lot next to Bonchidai inn and I promised to write another time about the „old town”. Let’s brace ourselves again and walk further!
Going north from the parking lot – towards the main bridge – we come across several notable sights already. On the side of a large building we can an artwork made of iron by Tibor Tenkács called „Harvesters”, which was created in 1973, and for a long time was located next to the train station. It was moved to its current spot in 2012. This piece of art shows that as we walk around Tokaj, the essence of grapes, wine and the harvest can be felt throughout the whole city.
Next to the staircase leading up to Finánc-hill, and opposite the Erzsébet bridge we can see St. John of Nepomuk’s statue, who is the protector and saint of rivers, bridges and rowers. A few steps further is the statue of Ferenc Németi, who was the former captain of Tokaj’s castle in the 17th century. Moving on, we reach a flight of stairs and a model of some of the Rákóczi family’s castles and fortresses: Tokaj, Sárospatak, Regéc, Szerencs. At the beginning of Rákóczi street, one can still see the volcanic rocks at the foundation of the houses and buildings that were once used to support the city’s port and ferry system. This is also why the city was formerly called Kőrév (Kuurev) – literally: Stoneport – back in the 11th century.
Let’s walk directly up to Óvár street in order to evade all the people who are trying to do their daily business like shopping. The narrow street doesn’t contain any special sights but legend has it that the 1890 fire that raged across the town started from this very street, originating from inside a quilt factory.
Moving around 300 meters further we arrive at the birthhome of Ede Paulay, the former director of the National Theatre. The renovated house is now home to the Paulay Winehouse.
Further north along the Óvár street we arrive at a smaller junction. From here, we may deviate towards the main square between the pharmacy and the Rákóczi cellar, but let’s head to Dózsa György street instead.
A patinated tablet on the corner reminds us that Sámuel Helm, a painter of Tokaj – for now unknown to the history of arts – has lived and worked here. Even further on the left side we can the Roman Catholic parish built in 1693 and the former Lutheran garden, whose renovations for touristic purposes has already begun. We come to a small square and another junction. We see yet another statue of St. John of Nepomuk, created in 1802, although its original location was next to the head of the bridge. Here, we may take a short rest on one of the benches on the small Oestrich-Winkel square, then turn to our left and head up towards the mountain.
In the springtime, during the blossoming of the cherry trees or during the colourful season of autumn, this street is easily one of the most beautiful places to walk along. According to some plans initiated by the World Heritage Centre, this street is getting renovated to make it even more magical than it already is. On our right, the Calvinist church can be seen, built between 1802-22. (I hereby promise to write up a separate virtual walks which tours the temples, churches and other religious buildings in the city). Opposite we may observe the Dobogó cellar’s vine-covered walls and on the other side of the street is a bust of Gyula Alpár Veress and the statue of the Grapestomping girl, both of which making the environment of the street quite pleasant. Although, according to tradition, it was mostly men who stomped the harvested grapes in wooden tubs or tanks, the creator still decided on depicting a young lady in this piece of art. It is also worth observing the statue’s details, especially the hairstyle and clothing.
Not far from the statue is a memorial written in Hungarian and Polish about the the winetrader Robert Wojciech Portius of Krosno, who was allegedly of Scottish origin as well. He was one of the first large-scale importers between Poland and Hungary, having brought many other European royal courts Tokaj wine.
For those who decide to stop here, they can turn to their right and head in and up to the garden of Hímesudvar, moving through a gate-like entryway and climbing a flight of stairs. The winery welcomes all sorts of hikers, even those who aren’t necessarily experts on wine.
And to those who still have some energy left inside them, they may follow the red tourist path and move on towards Szeles-top and the other tourist paths (see my previous post), or from the end of Aranyosi street they can look back onto the city and the Great Plains.
That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed our walk! Next time, we’ll start again from the main square. Have a nice rest and enjoy your wine!
translated by Áron Várhelyi
The Tokaj Guide, one of the region’s most important guides and the most wine-friendly writing has finally released. Its popularity is proven by the fact that this is its fourth release.
Author Gergely Ripka was honoured by the critical acclaim given to him at the start of this year, as his work was nominated on the Gourmand Awards among the 4 nominees in the „European wine” category.
The bilingual (Hungarian-English) guide is a handy start for beginners, adepts, tasters at home and on the road.
Gergely has supplied us with the first copies after the online premiere of the book on Friday. You can purchase your own copies or receive them as extra if you order the special wine collection below.
One of Christianity’s most important symbols is wine, ever since the oldest religions gathered. Jesus himself declares at the Last supper how God should be worshipped and how the Communion should be held. Mark’s Gospel is the first of the gospels, in which one of the most well-known chapters describes the Last Supper as such:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
But how is it even possible that bread and wine contain God? Christian teachings differ in many ways from one another: roman catholics attribute the phenomenon with transubstantiation, meaning that a priest transforms the bread and the wine into the body and blood of Christ, respectively. The ancient latin liturgy “Hoc est corpus meum” – this is my body – is supposedly the origin of the popularized expression “hocus-pocus”. Similar to this is the representation of magic wands in children’s tales or cartoons, or the ringing, bell-like jingle associated with them. This transformatory reasoning is shrouded in mystery among the catholic rites, although it’s one of the things that defines it and separates them from other religious denominations.
The protestant communities claim a slightly different viewpoint – there are even two different understandings. According to a puritan approach the communion is merely a memorial supper. The other, dominant approach claims that during the communion’s reception God is somehow present in the communion itself. The Lutheran Church believes this as well, although Martin Luther described this in an unusual way. There are other differences as well, since the Calvinist communities hold the communion with bread, while the Lutherans and Catholics hold it with wafers.
Moving on to wine, there are several communities and congregations that stick to red wine mostly because of its color, but in Hungary – and therefore Tokaj – many communities hold the event using Tokaj wine. Religious practice shows that Tokaj wine tastes really well even if drunk from one of those old, metal chalices. It’s important that one focuses on their spiritual connection during the communion, so drinking bad wine can distract the disciples from concentrating on achieving this connection, however irrelevant this little detail might be. It’s difficult to find something more annoying than being brought a sour wine during such a communion and seeing the faces of the people contort in various ways of discomfort instead of experiencing the community’s most bonding moments. After all, this is what a communion is all about: to achieve the most complete earthly connection with Christ.
Martin Luther describes wine and other drinks: “Wine is a commendable thing, mentioned in the Bible, while beer is made by men.” He also says: “He who likes not women, wine or song remains a fool his whole life long.” Perhaps one of his most well-known quotes is: “Wine is strong, the king stronger, the wife even stronger, but truth is the strongest!” Besides his wife pioneering a brewery, Luther highly appreciated wine. In around 1540 he owned roughly 600 grapevines. However, this could never have been enough for his entire household, which consisted of around 60 people. It was for this reason that his friends, supporters and even the monarch of Wittenberg often gifted him wine. It is known that his preachings were also frequently paid in wine.
It’s quite difficult to search for the frequency of expressions in the electronic versions of the Holy Texts. Most Hungarian editions cannot separate full words from syllables, making it extremely hard to say how often ‘wine’ or ‘grape’ appears in the Bible. It’s still known that at least two hundered different mentions include grape, as the fruit of the plant, and this doesn’t include grapevines or grapebranches.The number of mentions of ‘wine’ are also somewhere around two hundred.
According to the Old Testament it was Noah who first planted grapes and produced wine, and it was he who was inebriated the first. Due to the intoxicating influence of wine it’s usually placed into negative context, such as bad consequences or other unfortunate events. Grape, however, is one of the most noteworthy plants in the Bible, sharing the top of the list with wheat and figs. All the way from the Promised Land, Canaan to the Kingdom of God, it is regarded as a valuable and praiseworthy fruit.
In the New Testament, Jesus compares the Father to a grapegrower in his own parables. In other places he represents himself as a grapevine, while his teachings are the branches of the grapes. This proves further just how privileged grape and wine is in both Jewish and Christian teachings. Paul the Apostle writes to his student, Timothy in one of his letters: "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” But first, he clearly warns: “Keep yourself pure!”. According to these, even the very strict Paul sometimes recommended a little wine in order to lead a healthy and pure life.
And let’s not forget: the first miracle performed by Jesus according to the Gospel of John was when the wine ran out during a local feast in Cana. Jesus proceeded to turn six stone buckets of water into wine in order to refill the supplies. In case of avoiding the blame on Christ and not to accuse him of “splashing around”, the following exchange is said between the groom and the best man: “Everyone brings out the choice wine first, and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink"
translated by Áron Várhelyi