Founded as Sopianae 2000 years ago by the Romans and known as Fünfkirchen by the Germans, today's Pécs is a pleasant small (but still one of the largest in Hungary) university town that has largely escaped the ravages of both communist-era architecture and modern-day mass tourism.
In 2000, the Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2010.
There are frequent trains to Pécs from Budapest's Déli or Keleti station - see Hungarian Railway Timetable . The trip can be as fast as 2:40 on an express, but several hours longer by local clunker.
There is also a daily, daylight-hours train to/from Osijek in Croatia and Sarajevo in Bosnia (up until late 2006, this ran as an overnight service in both directions), and a daily train to the city from Vienna. The train from Osijek however was terminated in 2013.
Numerous buses from all directions (including from cities in northern Croatia) serve the city. Buses to Budapest's Nepliget station operate numerous times daily, though the trip is slower than the train, and far less scenic or comfortable. Buses to Szeged take about 3-3.5 hours and cost HUF 3410 (as of August 2013).
The core of Pécs is small enough to cover on foot, but for those who wish to explore the town, there is a cheap and efficient bus service, single tickets are available for 300 HUF from the driver or 220 HUF from the many kiosks dotted around the city. Make sure you have tickets, the bus inspectors have no mercy and will fine clueless foreigners.
To visit the impressive communist era TV tower catch the (infrequent) number 35 or 35A to Misina (the last stop), from the Train Station or Kórház Tér (Hospital Square).
Inside the Catholic Church on the main square (once the Mosque of Pasha Ghazi Quasim)
Early Christian monuments: Remains of Sopianae, the Roman city of some 8-10,000 people in Pannonia Province, are found at several points below the inner city. The most important one is the Early Christian Necropolis, a World Heritage site dating back to the 4th century and the largest necropolis remaining in the European provinces. Currently, seven of the burial chambers are open to the public under the name Cella Septichora ; the main visitors’ complex includes Cella Septichora, the Peter-Paul Chamber, the Chamber of Jugs, a baptismal chapel converted into a burial site and chambers III, IV, XIX and XX. Many of the chambers are unadorned; some have surviving figurative and geometric frescoes dating back to the date of their construction and similar to Roman catacomb paintings in their style and symbology, including the St. Peter and Paul Chamber with one of the earliest depictions of Virgin Mary. A unique feature of the site is the presence of two-level chambers, which originally served a dual role for both burial site (cubiculum) and ceremonies (memoria).
The Mosque of Pasha Quasim: Located on the main square. Built on site and from the stones of Saint Berthold’s gothic church by Pasha Quasim the Victorious, the Turkish character of the church was restored during the most recent, early 1940s renovations. Inside the building, which functions as a Catholic church, frescoes depicting quotes from the Qur’an from the 16th century are visible. The other mosque in the city, built by Yakovali Hassan, is located at Kórház Square at the western terminus of the main pedestrian street, and is also open for visit when not in religious use by the city’s Muslim community.
The Cathedral (Székesegyház). The Cathedral of Pécs dates back to the 11th century and the times of Peter Orseolo, second king of Hungary. Bearing the traces of the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance periods as well as the Turkish conquest when it was partially used for storage. It was renovated in Rococo and Classicist styles, but gained its modern form in the 1880s, when it was mostly restored to its imagined Romanesque origins, destroying much of the subsequent decorations. On John Paul II’s papal visit in 1990, the Cathedral gained the rank of Basilica Minor.
Vasarely Museum: dedicated to the works of Victor Vasarely, founder of the op-art movement. Faux-threedimensional paintings, gobelins and "kinetic statues". One of the three collections of Vasarely's work besides Gordes (France) and Budapest.
Csontváry Museum: This museum houses the largest collection of visionary painter Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry. A pharmacist by trade, Csontváry became a self-educated painter after receiving a vision at the age of 27 with a voice announcing “you will be the greatest sunway painter, greater than Raphael!” Gradually abandoning his civilian profession, he travelled the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East as well as the Dual Monarchy for inspiration, and painted strange vistas of vivid colour in a unique style that has traces of post-impressionism and expressionism, but ultimately defies classification. Csontváry has been praised by Dalí as the second greatest painter of the century after himself. A must-see.
Zsolnay Museum: An exhibit on the life, times and decorative ceramics of Vilmos Zsolnay and the Zsolnay Ceramic Factory. The lustrous eosin glaze and colourful pyrogranite developed in the 1870s has given the Manufacture its fame and a Grand Prize at the 1878 Paris World Exhibition. Eosin had gained particular significance in Hungarian Art Nouveau, and became a popular material for public and private buildings as well as art objects. Although the fortunes of the company have been uneven, with world wars, family troubles, nationalisation in 1948 and the mass production of industrial ceramics, the hand-painted charm of the brand survives. The museum collects the lustrous ceramics of the Zsolnay legacy in chronological order in addition to plans, documents and other relics of this cornerstone of the city’s industrial heritage.
Television tower. Open for visitors; provides a nice panorama on the city, on the neighbouring Mecsek Mountains, and on the hills in the south.
Zsolnay Porcelain: Colourful glazed items produced by the Zsolnay Ceramic Manufacture, often with a distinct Art Nouveau character, are the best known products of Pécs, remarkable for a distinctive green-gold glaze named eosin. Pieces from before the war are also found in antique stores on Király and Ferences Street; of special note from recent designs is the charming jewellery collection by Katalin Zoob.
Villány Wines: wines from the Villány wine region, especially full-bodied reds, are counted among the best in Hungary. The region was at the vanguard of reviving traditional winemaking methods and implementing quality standards after 1990, a process encouraged by both family vineyards and strategic investors. In recent years, wine producers have also turned towards quality tourism, as well as introducing the “Villány Classicus” and “Villány Premium” labels to designate quality wines reflecting the best of the terroir – the former emphasising the characteristics of the wine region, the latter of specific hills or valleys. In addition to world types (Cabernets, Blaufränkisch, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Blauer Portugieser and Syrah), the less known Kadarka and Zweigelt are also cultivated.
Local Crafts and Art: A selection of wares produced by local craftspersons and artists can be sampled at “Remekek Háza” on the main square (of special interest are the bookbinders’ wares) and “Belső Kert Galéria” in a small courtyard opening from Király Street for mainly playful pieces. Other art galleries and antique stores are found in the inner city as well. Also notable is Elegáns Divat, a main street store selling quality off the rack womenswear based on traditional 19th and early 20th century Hungarian designs.
Enoteca Corso, fine dining restaurant ranked 7th best of Hungary by the 2010 Hungarian Restaurant Guide and 12th by the 2010 Népszabadság Top-50. Located on main pedestrian street next to the National Theatre and accessible from the city centre. Serves nouvelle cuisine with a fusion of French, Italian and Hungarian influences, as well as affordable bistro dishes. Terrace open in warm weather. Wine list not excessively long but edited with a sure touch and includes the best of the region. Upper floor five-course tasting menu approx. 11,000 HUF with wines; three-course bistro meal 3500–7000 HUF; noon menu on weekdays 990-2100 HUF.
Addo Cafe, modern bistro on Kossuth Square. A seasonal selection, mostly lighter dishes prepared from fresh ingredients. Outstanding service & coffee. Three-course menu approx. 2500-3500 HUF, daily offer 1300 HUF.
Kolibri, small one-man restaurant on Hunyadi Str., above the tunnel. Very narrow but inspiring menu characterised by simplicity and the good use of green spices; excellent desserts.
Crystal, elegant, modern restaurant in Citrom street opposite post office; small interior yard in good weather. Broad variety of dishes, mainly Italian and Hungarian; a good bet for lighter fare. Regular tasting menu offers based on seasonal availability. Service friendly and informal; region-exclusive wine selection narrow but good. Three-course meal approx. 3000–5000 HUF.
Bagolyvár. Spacious hotel and restaurant on Havihegy with unique folk art-inspired organic architecture, charming collection of pottery and antique household objects; splendid view of the city from open-air terrace. Mainly a selection of traditional dishes, typically served in abundant portions; a separate range of Transylvanian Székely specialties and superb homemade strudels. Three-course meal approx. 3000–5000 HUF.
Caesar Pince, next to the cathedral. This special restaurant with a more exclusive atmosphere is situated in the same building as the Pannonia Champagne Factory, and shows you the beauty of the old Roman cellars.
Tettye. 19th century restaurant on Tettye Hill with large interior and beer garden. Danubian Swabic specialties include lung and liver casserole with bread dumplings, cabbage and beans with spare ribs and goose leg with onion-potato garnish. Portions of main dishes are excessive and should not be underestimated. Somewhat old-fashioned with both virtues and flaws of traditional cooking. Three-course meal approx. 2500–3000 HUF.
Sir Khan. Indian restaurant in intersection of Citrom street and Irgalmasok str. with a solid performance and genuine respect for the art. Relatively mild use of spices to suit local clientele; ask for more if hotter tastes are preferred.
Replay Café. A wide variety of dishes; grill.
Arizona Restaurant. Serves the best beef steak in town.
Semiramis. Cafe with a good selection of arabica coffee, chocolates and assorted sweets.
Even in a country of oenophiles, Pécs is known for its sparkling wines.
Pannonia Champagne Factory (Pannonia pezsgőgyár). Hungary's first champagne factory, founded in 1859 by Lorinc Littke and still producing sparkling wine under the Pannonia label. The facility is a tourist attraction, with a 5-story underground labyrinth of caves and cellars.
Private rooms and apartments are widely available. There's also a number of small hotels in the centre. Enquire at the tourist office.
During the summer months some student dormitories open for foreign visitors, this is the cheapest accommodation (~3000Huf per night). There is one realy cheap and nice hostel in Pécs, see below.
Nap Hostel Pecs is in the main pedestrian street of the historic city centre.The hostel can be found in a building of eclectic architecture built in 1885. The rooms are spacious and colourful, the bathrooms are modern and there is a fully equipped kitchen for you to use. From the balcony, you can have a beautiful panoramic view of the whole city and of the Mecsek Mountains.
Boszorkany Hostel The recently renovated Boszorkany Hostel provides cheap and convenient accommodation for those who are visiting the City of Pécs in July and August. The Hostel is located at the foot of Mecsek Hill and it takes a 10 minute walk to get to the city center, but you can get there by taking bus no. 30, no. 32 and no. 37 which ones leave from the local railway station. It is the cheapest and tidiest hostel to be found in town. (3000 HUF/bed/night) Every two double rooms share a bathroom, a toilet and a fridge. As an extra, every room has broadband internet access for free: 100Mbit/sec! You can park your car here for free, too - just a few minutes far from the center.
Hotel Főnix. In the historical center of Pécs (20 meters from Széchenyi Square). Ideal for families and for business travelers as well.
Makártanya Sportcenter, . Most of the rooms can have spare beds so the biggest capacity reaches 100. All the rooms are at high standard, equipped with modern furniture, bathroom, air-conditioning, minibar, cable television and telephone.
HUNGUEST Hotel Kikelet. The hotel is located at one of the most scenic spots of the Mecsek Mountains, directly above the downtown of Pécs. The hotel offers a unique view onto the town and the neighbouring hills.
Hotel Rácz is in the Historian City in the neighborhood of the Castlewall. Just a few minutes from the city, along the road #6 and it is also easy to access with public transport.
Hotel Fenyves Panoráma is a family atmospheric hotel, which is on the hillsides of Mecsek by the pine forest, right above the centre of the town.
Berg Toboz Pension is situated in a quiet calm and decent place in the greenbelt out off the downtown on the hill.
Delanta Pension can be found in the east quarter of Pécs, at the crossroads of Budapest-Komló. The pension has 14 rooms, a smaller and a bigger family-appartement, and a closed parking possibility.
Hotel Laterum *** is in western part of Pecs. As Southern Hungary's scientific and economic center Pecs is a frequent host of domestic and international gatherings and symposia. Hotel Laterum has been a provider of youth- and group tourism for over 15 years, while also serving as a meeting place for both international and domestic conferences, various events, weddings.
Ananas Hostel is located between the new cultural center and the old city wall.The house has a small friendly nice garden with place for tents, campfire, outside cooking, tulips and roses. Hostel rooms: 1 mixed dormitory room with 6 beds, 2 private rooms with 2-2 beds 3 places for tent.
In the early evening students gather at Replay Café, Apollo or Los Bongos in the city center. For late night clubbing you should ask the taxi drivers at Széchenyi Tér where to go. They are the most up-to-date source about nightlife in Pécs. An other cool place is the Hard Rák Café (spelling: like Hard Rock Café).
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