2010. november 29., hétfő

Hungary, Szentendre, Open Air Museum (Skanzen), SzG3


I'm Gabriel (Gábor) from Hungary.

The aim of founding the Szentendre Open Air Museum was to present folk architecture, interior decoration, farming and way of life in the Hungarian language area from the 2nd half of the 18th century to the 1st half of the 20th century, through original and authentic objects, relocated houses arranged in old settlement patters. The more and more elaborate settlement plan appropriates the relocation of more than 400 edifices into the museum, arranged into village-like regional units on the basis of ethnographical considerations. Within the units buildings are fitted into the traditional system of peasant households, supplemented by sacred, communal and outbuildings which used to be integral parts of traditional villages. Dwellings and farm-buildings represent the typical houses and outbuildings having evolved historically in each region.

Main table
I. Northern Hungarian Village

The new geographical region displays the traditional folk style of construction and lifestyle in the area between the Ipoly and Hernád rivers. It will feature 11 residential houses, 30 adjacent buildings and nearly 5000 original articles. The North-Hungarian Village will be located near the Upland Market Town, completing the greater region’s image.

Special features

Gentry residential house from Nemesradnót 

The house of this regional unit is not a reconstruction, but rather an original will be presented in the Skanzen. The delivery of the house will take place in several bits and rounds. Our experts will mount and furnish it on spot with a 19th century interior. This North-Hungarian village was the birthplace of Miklós Radnóti’s father and according to literature historians it formed the basis for the poet’s choice of a new family name.

Cave residences

A characteristic building of the villages in the Northern Hungary region where the cave flats carved into the hillsides and clay ridges which provided shelter mainly for the poor. These homes could be heated in wintertime while they remained cool in summer, and although were far from being luxurious, they meant a reasonable solution for housing needs. The cave residences in this region are exciting examples of the creativity and wit of folk architecture.

Good news for our wintertime visitors is that we keep a fixed temperature in the various buildings of this region, thus they can be visited throughout the entire year. Moreover, we also prepare some special winter programmes.

The region’s construction work was started in July 2008 and as foreseen, it has been finished in 31 March, 2010, and will be opened on 25th June 2010.

Buildings of the North-Hungary Village

Cave residences

Family-commune residence: residences from Domaháza, Márianosztra and Karancskesz with sheds, stables, storage rooms and pigsty.

The Novaj residential flat with stable and pigsty on the lot.

Gentry house from Nemesradnót, with an oil-press on the lot.

Residential house from Perkupa, with stone barn, stable and pigsty.

Residential house from Erdőhorvát (I.)

Residential house from Erdőhorvát (II.) with barn and piggery

Residential house from Filkeháza with a multi-cornered barn, apiary, fruit drier, double-arm hemp hammer, pigsty and hay-storage.

Servants’ house 

In addition to the already mentioned barnyard, we also present vaulted cellars with and without a press house.

II. Upland Market Town

Upland is the historical name for the territory of the northern mountain range. The market towns, emerging in the region between the rivers Ipoly and Bodrog are the characteristic settlements of the area. Their privileged position (rights for having markets, electing magistrates, free options to move and inherit) set them apart from the serfs of the neighbouring villages. Market towns had a culture mediating role between rural peasants and nobles and civilians of the free royal towns. The cultural significance of the region is indicated by the fact that Vizsoly was the birthplace for the first Hungarian translation of the Bible, by preacher Gáspár Károlyi. A determinant character of the Hungarian  neologist movement, Ferenc Kazincy also lived in Zemplén County. The Upland was populated by Slovakian, Polish, Ruthenian, German, Greek and Jewish inhabitants in a great number. The mostly Roman Catholic people lived together with minority Protestant and Lutheran communities. The number of inhabitants was not high – maximum 5000 persons. More than 20% of the population worked as craftsmen.

The peculiar viniculture became a town-founding factor in the region. The white wines of Tokaj, which are Hungarikums, the red wines of Gyöngyös and its surroundings were popular in faraway European countries thanks to long-distance trade. Those owning vineyards had certain privileges; e. g. they did not have to pay taxes in kind for twelve years after introducing grapes. The lowest layer of market town society was that of wage-workers, hoers. Those possessing vineyards – farm labourers serfs – followed them. They did craftwork in winter time. Among the merchants of the towns, there were local shopkeepers and rich tradesmen as well. The noble owners of vineyards did not live permanently in the settlements – such as the members of the Rákóczi family – however, their mansions, cellars or tithing houses were significant in the settlements.

The buildings of the regional unit represent the local traditions of the 18th-19th century stone architecture. The method of stone architecture differed from town to town, depending on the quality of quarry stone and the other materials. The houses built with varied layout in narrow yards were complemented with taverns, cellars and workshops. On the first floor a room heated with a panelled stove and a kitchen with a central oven were found. Downstairs, press houses constructed with wooden ceiling or vaulted cellars opened from the yard or the street. Abundant variations of valuable furniture, glassware and potteries represent the way of life, different from the neighbouring villages.

III. Upper-Tisza region
The Upper-Tisza regional unit represents the folk architecture of the inhabitants living in the north-eastern corner of the country, a territory wedged between Slovakia, the Ukraine and Romania. The area, devided by the River Tisza and its tributaries was densely covered in oak-forests and woods rich in fruit trees. The majority of the villages founded in the Árpád-era were built on clearings in the 11th-14th centuries. In the place enclosed by waters and swamps the system of small villages has remained since the Middle Ages. Those living here have been engaged in animal husbandry, forestry, food-gathering and fishing for centuries. The growing of grain crops and farming gained importance only after the river regulations in the late 19th century.

The Upper-Tisza region has been continuously populated by Hungarians. In the forming of the region’s culture Protestantism, spreading from the 16th century, and the peculiar combination of society have played a great role. In Szatmár County the rate of rural gentry was extremely high (29% but in some places 75%). The way of life of the impoverished country gentlemen hardly differed from that of peasants. However, their influence was significant as they had a culture mediating role between serfs and gentlemen. The area took a prominent part in the formation of Hungarian history and civilization. It was a locale for wars of independence and religion; through its landlords (Báthori, Bethlen and Rákóczi families) it cultivated a vivid relationship with the flourishing Principality of Transylvania.  It was the starting point of the Rákóczi War of Independence and the memory of Tamás Esze, a native of the land, and his brave warriors still lives on. Part of the local gentry actively participated in the reform movements of the 19th century and the 1848/49 War of Independence. Ferenc Kölcsey, author of the national anthem, and Zsigmond Móricz, who authentically depicted peasant life were also born here.

The population and economy of the region could not exploit the advantages of river regulations and the political transformations of 1848. Sticking to the old world, the gentry layer preserved the feudal system – of estates. The new borders after the Trianon Peace Treaty cut the settlements from their previous administrative and market centres, there were no railway connections. Owing to this they preserved traditional lifestyle and culture. This separation still has an effect on the region’s culture and economy.

The regional unit opened in 1974 presents a row of houses leading to the rural settlement. In the yards characteristic plants of the region can be found (plum, nut).


The Great Hungarian Plain is generally considered as the typical Hungarian region. The best known Hungarian words all over the world – puszta, csárda, betyár, gulyás, paprika – have theri origins here. Specific natural formations of this territory are the bleak flatland with its alkaline soil, the mirage, the sand drift, or the shallow waters and thick reeds providing home for a colourful birds. 
The geographical units of the Great Plain are situated between the rivers Danube and Tisza, the Trans-Tisza territory and the Banat. Its middle regions thickly interspersed with small villages were on the course of campaigns and lost their population several times during the middle ages. As a means of repopulation our sovereigns settled Pechenegs, Cumans and Jazygians in the Plain and ensured their integration by various privileges.

The development of market towns in the plains started in the 14-15th centuries. The Turkish occupation and later the liberating fights in the whole region resulted in the repeated destruction and large number of emigrants. Resettlement of the depopulated areas began in the 1730s. The new immigrants arrived mainly from the northern part of the historic Hungary; most of them were Slovakians but German-speaking settlers also came from the provinces of the German Empire.

The market towns annexed the pastures of the devastated villages and in their enormous commons the first farmsteads evolved in the 17th century. The shelters initially used as winter-quarters for animals developed into the attached settlements of the towns from the 2nd half of the 18th century. In the towns the former common leasehold gave place to individual lease so the farmstead and its surroundings became the location of cultivation as well as of animal-breeding. At the same time in the towns considerable craftsmanship and trade evolved, satisfying the demands of both those living in residence and in the vicinity.

The regulations of rivers beginning in the mid-19th century radically transformed the Great Plain’s landscape. The demand for wheat and maize grew in leaps and bounds; by ploughing the pastures enormous fields were gain and cereals became the most important merchandise in trading.  The market town smallholders built their houses in the centre of the town and both in their way of life and their clothing they followed the bourgeois lead increasingly.


Southern Transdanubia, i.e. Baranya, Somogy, Tolna and Zala Counties used to be a densely populated area, full ofby small villages, the greater part of which lost its population during the Turkish occupation. Since the 16th century Serbians, Catholic Serbians, Croatians and Hungarians have coexisted in this region. The tradition ofbusójárás, having been a famous carnival custom for a long time in Mohács, is of Croatian origin.
During the Rákóczi war of independence (1703-11) some of the Serbians moved to the south and afterwards more and more Germans settled in this part of the Danube from the German Empire. That is why the territory of Tolna and Baranya are called Schwäbische Türkei.

The majority of the Hungarians in this area are Protestant,which is seen in the interiors of houses, e. g. by the oleographs of patriotic themes. The immigrant Germans were mostly Roman Catholic or Lutheran, the Croatians and Catholic Serbians were Roman Catholic, while other Serbians belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church. 

Although the tradition of viniculture in South Transdanubia dates back to Roman times, the famous red wines of Villány and Szekszárd are considered as a heritage of  the Serbians, who settled here in the 16-17th centuries. It is Szekszárd where the first type of bikavér  (Bull’s blood) was blended from various species of grapes.

Outstanding figures of Hungarian culture can be associated with this region are Janus Pannonius, Miklós Zrínyi and Mihály Babits (poets).

Not only the population of this region, but also its settlements and buildings are varied. While in the more isolated western parts of South Transdanubia timber-framed, thatched wooden buildings with black kitchens were present up to the beginning of the 20th century, in the eastern half of the region, closer to the Danube – the main line of communication – a more developed architecture with solid walls was widespread. This dichotomy is shown in our regional unit as well: on both sides of the wide street houses with solid walls are standing in their yard; while on the sites of the irregular settlement part timber-framed buildings can be found. The regional unit is closed by the wickerwork fence characteristic of the whole region; outside the gate structures of agricultural function – the vineyard, the enclosure of barns – and the cemetery are situated

VIII. Bakony, Balaton-Highlands

Bakony recognised by its wood covered hills, while Balaton-Uplands recall gentle slopes rising above the glistening water and interesting volcanic shapes planted with grapes and press-houses. In the villages whitewashed, adorned gables, vaulted porches catches the eyes of the visitors together with colourful stone walls emerging from beneath the crumbling mortar.
Until the mountainous regions of historic Zala and Veszprém Counties were covered with unbroken leafy woods, the houses were mainly constructed with wooden and plaster walls. Parallel to the thinning out of woods, stone became the most significant material during the 18th century. The walls built from white, yellow and grey limestone, dolomite, red sandstone and black basalt give the villages a pculiar character. Serfs and other workers used quarry stones mixed with mud. The new building material affected the structure and form of houses: trough vault, constructed from flat stones and vaulted cellars were made, which enhanced the level of wine storing. The roofing and the ceiling of dwellings with black kitchen and three or four rooms were constructed from trimmed hardwood till the mid-19th century.

Sources of living in the Balaton-Uplands were wine and fishing (by the shore). In the Bakony area, it was animal husbandry and forest crafts (carving, lime-burning, potash cooking) were the main. Small amount of grain grew on the poor soil, so the population actively bartered with the inhabitants of the flat country. The wines of the area also reached Western-Hungary and Styria.
Due to sieges of fortresses, most of the villages were destroyed in the 16th-17th centuries. In conjuction with this the population also decreased. In the 18th century the new owners spoke in Hungarian, both German and Slovakian settlers. Besides the dominance of church and secular lands, poorer layers of the gentry coloured the society. During the Turkish occupation most of the people converted to Protestantism, however, at the end of the 18th century, Catholics prevailed thanks to settlers, farm labourers and shepherds. Protestantism was preserved by the descendants of the gentry. Lutherans also lived in the neighbourhood of Kõvágóörs.

The settlement patterns were characterised by villages by roads in the Middle Ages. From the 19th century, due to narrow fields, irregular sites and the system of common yards appeared, while in the new villages regular yards were characteristic. The regional unit represents the different kinds of stone architecture with dwellings, public and ecclesiastical buildings.

IX. Western Transdanubia 

The regional unit presents the traditional, vernacular peasant culture of  Őrség in Vas County, Göcsej and Hetés in Zala County. The clay spil is diff, difficult to cultivate but the area is rich in streams. In the woods oak, beech and pine are indigenous. The settlers founded their first settlements by burning up the vegetation on the wooded hilltops. Besides the scattered, loosely connected irregular settlements, in flat areas mainly villages developed arranged by a regular street pattern. 
These villages came into being at the time of the Magyar conquest of Hungary. Tha Magyars used to belong to our frontier regions until the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. The frontier guards serving the king stayed in their villages after the destruction of their organisation. Göcsej people served as soldiers and waited on at the royal court in exchanging for which they were ennobled. The one-time guards living in the 18 villages of Őrség (the area of the defence system) enjoyed privileges which were curtailed only in the 17th century. The people having lived here since the age of the Árpád-Dynasty are the descendants of the late border guards some of whom were raised to nobility, but some of whom sank into serfdom. 
In the earliest stages of Reformation the communities here became Protestant. However, in the 18th century serfs, were converted back to Catholicism by their landlords but the gentry remained Protestant or Lutheran.

People supplemented their livelihood by gleaning. Mainly rye, barley, millet and buckwheat were grown. Animal husbandry meant nomadic raising of livestock and stabling as well, and in oak-forests swine fed on mast forest nuts. Their famous cattle were sold mainly in Austrian and German cattle-markets until World War I. The flourishing cattle-raising in the second half of the 19th century led to the quick rising into the middle-class peasant bourgeois class of those living a conservative way of life.

The traditional construction material of the region was wood; in areas lacking wood wattle- and earthen-walled buildings were characteristic even at the turn of the 19-20th centuries. On the carved oaken sills hewn and carved pine log walls were built then plastered with mud and whitewashed. They had thatched roofs although since the middle of the 19th century tiled roofs also appeared.

The belfry standing in the middle of the regional unit, together with the houses and yards clustering around it characterised the small villages in the flatland of Zala County. The compound on the distant hill conjures up the scattered irregular settlements. Further on, the press-houses of the Zala hills line up.

X. Kisalföld (North-West Transdanubia)

The two rows of houses facing each other in the regional unit are definitely different: on one side there are stately brick buildings while on the other humble, with earthen walls, thatched or reed covered roofs can be seen. The exhibition’s aim is to reflect the ethnographic versatility of Kisalföld through its traditions and changes.
Today the historic boundaries of the region are outside of Hungary today. Since the 18th century the flat areas of Pozsony, Moson, Nyitra, Komárom, Bars, Győr, and Sopron counties have been named Kisalföld (‘Small Plain’).

Kisalföld includes the flatlands (e.g. Szigetköz, Csallóköz) distributed by the Danube and its tributaries and the surrounding hilly country. Their economical and cultural developments are due to its favourable position and good soil. In the fertile land grain, on the sunny hillsides grapes and fruits have been growning. Owing to the waters rich in animals fishing has also been important. Animal husbandry and dairy farming linked to the haymaking in the pastures of the river flats. As a consequence of good transport and market possibilities (Vienna, Bratislava) it became the north-western trade port of the Carpathian Basin and this greatly affected folk culture. Lots of industrial and imported goods affected the traditional, e.g. those of clothing and farming. Farmers producing for the market – following the examples of the manors at Magyaróvár, Fertőd and Nagycenk – were open to innovations. Thanks to the products of the local Bokor and Kühne Engine Works automation of agricultural works became possible quite early. But not all the regions of Kisalföld developed with the same intensity. Isolated areas with less fertile soil or those devastated by the Turks in the eastern half of Kisalföld remained traditional in their way of life and architecture for quite a long time. Water regulation and drainage of Hanság was carried out only in the 19-20th centuries.

Since the 10-11th centuries Kisalföld was one of the largest territories inhabited solely by Hungarians. Since the 13th century ethnical diversity resulted from the German settlers, followed later by the Turkish-driven Croatians. German settling also occurred in the 18th century, changing the composition of population. Most of the people are Roman Catholic though there also a significant number of Lutherans.

Count István Széchenyi, “the greatest Hungarian” was born at Nagycenk, in the vicinity of Győr. The Benedictine Abbey at Pannonhalma and the Fertő environs are parts of World’s Heritage. Kisalföld is famous for verbunk, the group dance of men.

Virtual tour

Skanzen Rail:

Transportation for our visitors in the museum is soon going to be assisted by a renovated Ganz-Jendrassik style  locomotive. The 2.2 km long service will operate amoung the various legend sites, with authentic ticketing and information systems and appropriate style of clothing for the crew.
The line will consist of 5 stations and the geographical regions will be easily accessible from these. The rail, with a loading capacity of 100-120 people is an indigenous addition to the exhibited regions, since in the village settlements of Hungary – for example in the Southern part of the Great Plains or in the Mid-Duna-Tisza region – at the beginning of the 20th century a regular, normal track-width railway system already provided transport for people and goods alike.
The diesel engine designed by György Jendrassik was mounted into the vehicle in 1932 in the legendary Ganz factory. Although the train is a museum piece, it can still be seen, used in traffic in a few places. The one renovated for the Skanzen has been made accessible both for pushchairs and wheelchairs as well.
The locomotive is arriving in March 2009 and will start its operation on the 8 April, 2009.

 locomotive BCmot 422
 locomotive BCmot 422
locomotive BCmot 422
locomotive BCmot 422
locomotive BCmot 422
locomotive BCmot 422
My video from the Open Air Museum

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