Tourist information Lake Balaton

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Lake Balaton

Cities information

Location, characteristics of the Lake:
Balaton is the largest lake in Middle- and Western Europe. It is situated in the western part of Hungary. Thanks to a new freeway, it can be reached with a good hour ride from Budapest. The water is 3 metres deep on the average (the deepest part is near the Tihany Pennisula: 11-12 m), the lake is 77 km long, it is the widest between Balatonfuzfo and Siofok-Sosto (almost 17 km), and the most thin between Tihany and Szantod (just a bit more than 1 km), where the Tihany Pennisula divides it into two parts.

Climate and weather:
The summer season begins at the end of May. The beginning of June usually brings frequent rainfall, but the daily average temperature is already over 20 Celsius. The heat-wave hits in July and August, during which time swift storms freshen the air. (As they are highly unpredictable for the eye, the area operates a storm-alarm system for the last 65 years. Light signals are proportioned along the shore, 30 flashes per minute indicate a light storm, 60 flashes per minute indicate a heavy storm). The dry, blissful days of the fall season begin around the middle of September, and reach well into October. During the winter, the shallow water freezes well, and forms a nice 20-40 cm thick ice surface, to please those who love skating.

The Romans called the lake Lacus Pelso, built mansions on the shore, and planted vineyards on the sunny northern hillsides. When the Hungarian tribes entered the region, they quickly gained possession of it, and built further villages and church buildings. King Andrew the first established the Abbey of Tihany in 1055. Many stone church buildings were built during the 12th and the 13th century, and the townships grew. The Turkish invasion of the 15th and 16th century led to much destruction, which was followed by the establishment of an extended fort-system, which served well in the civil war of 1704-0709. The first bath house was built in 1728, and by the end of this century, a few prestigious hotels were added to the already numerous summer cottages. The railway on the southern side was finished in 1861, bringing visitors and vacationers in ever increasing numbers. By the turn of the 19th century, Balatonfured became a renowned centre, a meeting place for leaders and celebrities of culture and politics. The 20th century brought the railway line along the northern coast, as well as swift industrial progress. A great number of private mansions, company holiday resorts, and pensions were built between 1920 and 1940, as well as nursing homes by the Heviz and Balatonfured spa. The Second World War had a devastating effect, as one of its front lines went right through the area, but a well planned restoration project brought the region back to the line of the most popular Hungarian regions.

Local curiosity: the echo in Tihany
From Echo Hill, voice reverberates from the walls of the present Abbey (built in the middle part of the 18th century), travelling the almost 700 metre-distance within two seconds. The increasing leafage of the in-between trees, as well as the noise of tourist traffic reduced its power, but the echo still draws many visitors. The cistern on the top of the hill offers a restaurant with a panorama view.

Sights to visit
Castles dot the shore, reviving the splendour of Hungarian Aristocratic era in Cseteny (Holitscher Castle), Lovaszpatonya (Somogyi Castle, now a school), Bakonyolszlop (Eszterhazy Castle, now a school and a dormitory), Szigliget (another Eszterhazy Castle, now an art residence, surrounded by a huge park with over 500 kinds of trees), Magyargencs (Szell Castle, now an elementary school), Daka (Nadasdy Castle, now a retirement house), Papakovácsi (another Somogyi Castle, now an elementary school), Doba (Erdody Castle, now a nursing home, surrounded by a large botanical garden), Nyirlakpuszta by Sumeg (Taranyi Castle, now a retirement house), Lesencetomaj (Nedeczky Castle, now a retirement house), Szentkiralyszabadka (Talian-Horvath Castle, now a townhouse, Nagyvarzsony (Zichy Castle, now a hotel, surrounded by a park, hosting many who love horse-riding), Varpalota (another Zichy Castle). Forts take the visitors to even more distanced places in history. Ruins can be found by Bakonybel, Bobronte, Varoslod, Band, Pecsely, Somlo, Doba, Hegyesd, Csobanc, Tapolca, Szigliget and Sumeg and in the town of Nagyvazsony, Varpalota and Veszprem.

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