Less than 30 km from Debrecen, Hungary has an amazing Natural park, incredibly important for the environment and the natural preserving of the flora and fauna of the nation that is part of the UNESCO's humanity patrimony since 1999.
If you’re in Hungary for a road trip, or just passing by and you love landscapes and nature then Hortobagy is the place for you.
It is the first National park of the whole country, nominated in 1973 is the oldest protected area of Hungary and it is all about nature and the old traditions. Today it covers 82.000 hectares and it is the largest protected area of the whole nation. In 1999 it was also nominated as Humanity’s Patrimony from UNESCO.
This amazing national park is near the city of Debrecen, the second largest city of Hungary, and it is really easy to reach by bus. The opportunity it gives is incredible since it is a view hard to see in Europe. The territory of Hungary is almost completely flat and when you’re there you can really let your eyes go as long as they can reach without seeing cities, structures, hills nor mountains and the feeling it leaves is indescribable.
It presents of course the typical flora of the country, which means that’s possible to see grassy steppe, meadows, loess puszta, alluvial woods, ponds and lakes that serves as a perfect shelter for endangered native species. The flora of the puszta shines with a thousand colors and if you spend some time in the little village of Hortobagy it will be possible for you to also visit a bird rescue center and a local animal “zoo” that hosts lots of farm animals like sheep, cows, pigs, poultry and mostly horses, who are one of the most important parts of this park since a lot of them are running in the meadows.
Taking a walk in the small center you’ll be able to see, with a little bit of luck, nests of storks: Hotobagy is in the road that they take annually during the migration and a lot of houses there have tall wooden poles built specifically to host and preserve the nests of these amazing animals.
One of the most typical views of Hortobagy is the nine-arch bridge, it is 167 meters long and it was built in 1833 to substitute the previous wooden bridge, on one end of this bridge you’ll see the Museum of the Shepherds where the old traditions and the lives of the most common job of the area is explained and shown to the public.
The population of this area, in fact, has kept intact the ancient traditions and activities: both in the park, but in the Shepherds' Museum itself, in fact, you can relive the habits of the inhabitants of the puszta who lived outdoors all year round; there is also a circular pavilion that houses the rarest flora and fauna, together with the tools of traditional folk crafts. In a gallery in the village there are also paintings by well-known Hungarian painters who were inspired by this environment.
It was believed that this alkaline steppe was formed thanks to the cutting of immense forests during the Middle Ages but in reality the Hortobágy is older: the alkalinization began approximately 10,000 years ago, when the Tisza made its way along the great Hungarian plain , its formation was concluded by grazing animals, marmots and wild horses during the ice age, and by domestic animals afterward, making this huge prairie the incredible landscape we can enjoy today.