Vác is a city in Pest County, Hungary. It is located on the eastern bank of the Danube near the magnificent Danube bend. Though not visited nearly as much as either Szentendre or Visegrád it can become a pleasant and enjoyable stop over between the two.
Vác is well served by MÁV commuter trains from Budapest Nyugati station, forming the northern terminus of two lines. One is the Budapest - Göd - Vác route, which has 2 trains/h, takes 42 min to Vác, and costs 640 HUF (550 HUF with a Budapest travelcard). The other one is the Budapest - Fót - Vác route, which has 1 train/h, takes 85 min and costs 915 HUF (735 HUF with a Budapest travelcard). You should thus only take a train going to Vác via Göd and ignore those running via Fót.
The train station is only a short 10 minute or less walk along Széchenyi u. to Március 15. tér. From there you can reach all of the main attractions without any need for public transportation, though if you need the schedules they can be found here .
Cathedral Vác's cathedral on Konstantin tér is the building that defines the town. It was begun in baroque style but completed in Neoclassical. It can only be visited during mass or by prior arrangement for tourists, so you may just have to stand outside, admiring its massive columns and statues.
Március 15 tér. The main square of Vác is a blend of Rococo and Baroque mansions, but you'll also note the archeaological diggings that dominate the area. The Dominican Church is the baroque cathedral dominating the south side of the square. There is also the Town Hall and the former Bishop's Palace, which stands at #6.
Town Prison on Köztársaság u. is still a functioning prison. It gained notoriety during communism and the Horthy regime for being one of the cruelest prisons in the area and there are several famous escape stories. Today you can get eerily close to the building and see the guard towers, as well as a memorial for those who were imprisoned and died there.
Round Tower is on the northern end of the waterfront. It is the only remaining part of the former town fortifications. Today it is built into a far more modern house.
Diadalív (Triumphal Arch) is on Köztársaság u. just north of Március 15 square and flanking the town prison. Also sometimes called the Stone Gate, it was built in 1764 at what was then the town boundary to welcome Empress Maria Theresa. It is notably smaller than most other similar arches (only one lane of traffic can go under it and there are no stairs to the top), still it is nonetheless a beautiful structure in the city.
Bishop's Palace is a historic building, built between 1768 and 1775. The garden of the palace is a preserved botanical garden of national importance. The side-wing on the side of the garden overlooks Konstantin Square, while its main entrance opens from Migazzi Square.
Calvary The fortress-like building of the Calvary can be found in the garden suburb of Vác. This place of pilgrimage was built between 1726 and 1738 and consisted a hermitage, a gathering chapel and the calvary.
City Hall Beside the hospital there is the City Hall. This is the nicest building of the worldly baroque architecture in Vác. Above the front door there is a nice wrought iron balcony. On the frontage there is the coat of arms of the town. Above the frontage there are three statues. In the middle there is the antic Greek goddess of the justice, Justice. On the right and on the left there are two lying women, holding arm of the nation and the Migazzis' family crest. In the middle of the square there is the Fountain of the Partnertowns. There are the shields of the partnertowns of Vác on it and on the top of the column there is the statue of St. John. Towards the Köztársaság Street the Main Square is closed by the modern Vienna Town Gate.
Former Palace of the Great Provost The medieval house had been rebuilt in baroque style in the second half of the XVIII. century. On the front side there are a lot of classical ornaments, like Ion-offsets, and the triangular frontage. The very nice grating of the balcony had been made from wrought iron. There is a clerical-art collection in the building fro the moment. In front of the house in the Europe park there is a baroque Maria Statue
Hospital and Greek chapel There is a small chapel inside the building. Originally it was a seminary and later became a hospital.
Mansion Regarding the keystone of the front door this medieval building might have been the personal property of the chapter or it was his residence. Referring a written document the house had been rebuilt in baroque style and from 1770 operated as a hotel. The front of the house is eclectic. The cellar is 140 m2 and since September 2006 there is a Wine Museum. There is also a Sajdik Ferenc Caricature Exhibition in the house, where the painting of the artist can be seen.
Seven chapels The building complex of the Seven Chapels has been a place of pilgrimage since 1815, where thousands gather to worship the Virgin Mary every year. The chapel was built by Bishop Mihály Althann, while the seven chapels depicting the seven pains the Virgin Mary, which also gives the church its name, were only completed in the 20th century. The main attraction is a picture of pietry situated on the main altar. It is an exact replica of the statue of pietry in Máriavölgy. The spring behind the church is said to possess healing powers.
Soldier's memory The Soldier's Memorial is a listed monument. As the first Romantic monument it commemorates the victims of the war of independence of 1848-49.
Castle Géza király (King Géza) Square occupies the territory of the fortress of the Middle Ages, which is protected as a historic surrounding. The first bishop's palace stood here and was finished by Géza I, true to his promise after defeating Salamon. The excavation of the fortress and the town wall are still in progress. The remains of the barbican can be seen in the courtyard of the school, while the reconstructed parapade stands behind the church, at the side nearest to the Danube. Since 2000 the Statue of King Géza I. has been on the top parapet: according to the Illustrated Chronicle he was buried in the cathedral here in 1077.
Stone bridge The bridge over Gombás-patak is a nationally unique historic edifice. Besides, it is the only Baroque bridge in Hungary today. It was commissioned by Bishop Mihály Althann and the statues are the works of József Bechert. It was completed between 1753 and 1757.
Column of the Holy Trinity The column, standing in this square which hosted the fish market, is one of the most beautiful edifices. It was built using sandstone and was commissioned by Bishop Althann between 1750 and 1755.
The Franciscan Church and Friary is the oldest church of Vác belonged to the Franciscans. It stood on the place of the old fortress destroyed during the siege of the Turks in 1685. Using the stones of the fortress, people built a new church in Baroque style. The main ornament of the church is the richly decorated early Rococo two-storeyed wooden altar. The friary belonging to the church used to give home to György Váczi, the nationally renown bookbinder. A part of the building is now used as archives.
The Red House was built in 1733 in Baroque style and it is recognised as a listed building. Through more than two centuries it was the the rural building of the bishopcy. Its striking colour was the result of the bricklayers from Naples working here.
The White Friar's church is one of the nicest buildings of the square. It had been built in the XVIII. century in baroque-rococo style.
Memento Mori is on Mar. 15 square and houses the findings of the Dominican church crypts, including a few mummies. A special climate of the crypt ensured the very good conditions of 262 coffins and the bodies as well. There is an exhibition Memento Mori in the cellar of the house at Március 15. tér 19. There can bee seen the mummies with the rich decorated palls, and the painted coffins. These founds are unique in Central Europe.
The Medieval Cellar on Széchenyi utca 3-5. leads visitors down into a cellar built by King Matthias and displays archeaological findings.
Greek Church Exhibition Space is on Március 15. tér 19. contains history, art, and culture from the once thriving but now nearly non-existant Greek Church in Vác.
Diocesan Museum on Március 15. tér 4. is a collection of church arts and relics.
International Mobile MADI Museum The MADI movement started in Buenos Aires in 1946, proclaimed by Carmelo Arden Quin and his felows Martin and Ignacio Blaszko, Rhod Rothfuss, Estaban Eitler and Gyula Kosice. They set out an artistic programme whose main elements were polygonality, the coherent representation of motion and systematic construction in every sphere of art.
Art collections of Vác The unique heritage of Gyula Hincz, two times Kossuth prize winner painter, welcomes the visitors in the corridors, staircase and saloon of the house. The artists’ Europe-famous paintings guide us to the virtuosity and fantasies of the human mind with their colour-streams and tones....Because of this, he is often noted as the Paganini of painting. The Master’s constructive paintings were top-notch among the Hungarian and European art from the 1930s. His contemporary fellows often called him the Hungarian Picasso. He does not have eras or periods, his whole life-work is a great arch. Hincz was a painter, graphic artist, ceramist, illustrator, and sculptor in one person. The visitors are always impressed by his giant creations, sculptures and statuettes. XXI. century art can be caught out his modernity and tone. Ceramics of Magda and István Gádor and Géza Gorka can be found in the basement, the sculptures of Sándor Nagy and the “Fairy Garden” of Andrea Vertel found their places in the courtyard. The Cast Iron Collection reveals the masterpieces of European cast-iron art to the visitor. This diverse collection counts of nearly half a thousand pieces of sacral objects, including tomb crosses or secular ornaments and the tools of daily civil life: sculptures, ink holders, stoves, mortars, household and home instruments from the XVI. to XX. century. The creations of the golden prize winner bookbinder master György Váczi are exhibited independently with the title “Life bound in gold”. We can trace the process of book restoring and –bounding, their ancient instruments, as well as the ingenuity of György Váczi, which he has implemented through the years in his workshop.He became, not accidentally, the bookbinder of the country and restored and bound books for the British Royal court almost six years long. Several simple forms, gift albums, guestbooks praise his fantasy and the work of his hands. His creations are known in the UK, Italy, Japan, China, Finland, Africa and in the USA. Now this experience and discovery awaits you!The life-work exhibition of Béla Haraszti, with the title “Sugarisland”, await the curious with monumental sugarbuildings, made out of sweet ingredients, e.g. the Dome of Vác, Triumph- Arch. The Venesz prize winner master confectioner began his career in the famous Gerbaud confectionery, but he visited every country of Europe as a professional. In his matchless life-work, that he donated our city, machines and equipments of confectionery are exhibited. Also his recognition manifested in his prizes, certificates, medals are present at the exhibition. This extraordinary life-work has got an own room in the Pannónia House, and is also a teaser for visitors with a sweet tooth.
Caricature collection A permanent life-work exhibition of the Munkácsy prize winner Merited artist Ferenc Sajdik, a freeman of Budapest. In Vác, at one of the finest baroque main squares of Hungary, the museum collection of the unique oeuvre of Ferenc Sajdik has been opened. Sajdik’s tale-town, his sinuous little houses, snow capped, red topped, onion-domed corner-towers recall those cultural memories through which we happily get an insight of Vác. All the beloved Hungarian children’s tales, e.g. the story of Pom-Pom and the adventures of Gombóc Artúr (Arthur Dumpling) and the adaptation of the great Ho-ho-ho Horgász (fisherman) can be caught out the paintings. All these fables connected to the works colour and enrich these experiences even more.
Modern Art Collection The exhibition is organized with the help of The Mayor’s Office of Vác, and as it is suggested by the name, it gives us an insight to the modern style of the 21st century. On these walls the collection gathers and sorts the most prestigious representatives of our present Hungarian fine arts from Szilveszter Matuska to Salvador Dali. It is true that Matuska painted as an inmate of the Vác Prison, and he is not known as a modern artist, but his works haven’t been introduced to the public yet. As you enter the showroom we understand, why the modernity of Munkácsy prize winner Merited artist Erik Scholz impressed the parisien public as well. Here is a representative collection of Sholz’s unique oeuvre, who has been ahead of his own time according to art historians. Ernő Tóth’s satiric world in pictures and sculptures also overwhelms the visitor with its brave colours and unique design. Vilmos T. Kovács operates with colourful, simplified shapes when adapting musical and theatrical scenes in his own style and mind. Lelly Dombay lived and worked for decades in France that can be discovered in her theme-selection and modernity. The main theme is love, the birds of happiness and the eternal sky and the blue of the oceans on her big panel paintings. János Józsa, the most outstanding painter of the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld) has also brought us a life-work to the exhibition. The matchless handcraft of Vladimir Szabó makes through his charming characters on the oil paintings the collection even more special. He was one of a kind, the best drawer of his time in Hungary. Pieces of the 1960s, 70s and 80s artists of Vác include: András Orvos, András Cs. Nagy, József Monos, Imre Gaál, Erzsébet Markó, Pál Mizser, Gábor Koltai, Árpád Németh. They represent the spirit of the former nursery for artists.
Curia winehouse This Turkish origin cellar gives place to friend meetings, wine tasters. We suggest Hungarian wines from the most popular places what we likes too. You can taste what our ancestors drunk and know about wine regions. You can choose from 100 types of wine, or groups choose from 300 types of it. We offer you 10 types of tokaji essences from crystal spoon. We give you bread and dripping with onion, cheese, meats, snacks and tasty goose liver.Open:Monday-Thursday: 12-22 hFriday-Saturday: 12-24 hSunday: 12-20 h
Göncöl house geological exhibition This exhibition shows 600 pieces of mineral. Experts present the development of wildlife and about history of the Earth.
St. Matthiew crypt There is an exhibition in the crypt under the big glass roof. The ruins of a stone church built in roman style and the ruins of the church's cemetery are there to see.
József Attila sétány is the primary waterside promenade and a walk along it is probably the most worthwhile thing to do in Vác. Besides the Danube and scenery this is an excellent place for people watching and enjoying leisure time with the locals.
Desszert Szalon, Köztársaság út 21. (short walk from the main square), ☎ (20) 390-3367, . 09:00-20:00. This tiny cafe has probably the tastiest, most creative and simply beautiful desserts in Hungary. This place is a reason in itself to make the 30 minute trip from Budapest to Vác. Outstanding.2€. edit
Choco Cafe Váci Csokizó, Március 15. tér 20. (main square), ☎ +36(27)305-839, . Unique Chocolaterie on main square. Hot chocolates made of real chocolate (worth to try!), coffee specialties, wide tea selection. Classic equipment, friendly atmosphere. edit