Szentendre is one of the most famous and most picturesque little towns of Hungary. As it is located only at a short distance from Budapest, the town is a perfect destination for a day trip—especially during the holiday season.
Szentendre is a great place to visit around Christmas not only because of its pretty Christmas market, engaging festive programmes and its beautiful shoreline, but also because there is a small house in the town which has a special relationship with Christmas. Since 2010, the Hubay House of Szentendre has celebrates Christmas every day of the year. The House, which is also known as the Museum of Christmas, is dedicated to Christmas ornaments. The collection includes over 5,000 Christmas ornaments from Austro-Hungarian to modern times. The Museum not only showcases how Christmas traditions evolved in Hungary in the past two centuries but also how Christmas ornaments changed over the years—both in terms of their design and their method of production.
Else than for its Museum of Christmas, Szentendre is also famous for being a testimony to the harmonic coexistence of diverse communities.
While one of the earliest mentions of the town of Szentendre is from 1146, the community started to bloom only in the 16th century when Serbians settled in the town. One of the most famous attractions of the town, the Belgrade Cathedral was also built around this time in 1521. Fleeing from Ottoman rule, Orthodox Serbs moved up on the Danube to find shelter, settling in Szentendre. Soon, the town became home to a vibrant Serbian community. Until the 19th century, when Hungarians, Germans and Slovaks moved in, the majority of the residents of Szentendre were Serbians. The orthodox Serbian heritage of the town greatly contributes to its charm—the symbiosis between Eastern and Catholic architecture makes Szentendre the picturesque Instagram-famous place it is today.
Recognizing that ‘Szentendre is characterised by the spirit of multi-ethnic and religious tolerance, urban resilience and creativity since the end of the 17th century, deriving from its cross-border location,’ in 2020 the European Commission awarded the town the European Heritage Label.
The scenic little town attracts not only tourists but artists as well. In the interwar period, Szentendre became home for artists who were attracted by the charm of the town. The Szentendre Artists’ Colony was founded by artists mainly interested in depicting nature and the built environment who produced a number of unique paintings depicting Szentendre. The Colony also contributed to the interior decoration of the Church of St John the Baptist. Originally built in gothic style in the 13th century, between 1933 and 1938 the Szentendre artists painted the walls of the church with scenes from the Bible. What makes the murals special is that the artists used Szentendre sites as the background to the scenes. The legacy of this painter community and the countless museums of the town make Szentendre an important cultural hot spot in Hungary.
Another famous attraction of the town is the Hungarian Open Air Museum called the Szentendre Skanzen.
The Skanzen is dedicated to showcasing the architecture of different Hungarian regions while helping visitors explore the lifestyle of yore of Hungarian villagers. Since the Museum has opened its gates in 1967, over a dozen small villages, parks and streets, each dedicated to different Hungarian regions were built on the 63-hectare-large area. If you want to start losing the weight you gained during Christmas, get out of the house and explore the Szentendre Skanzen—you won’t regret it!