From St. John to St. John
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
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