Hungary underwent an incredible transformation in the ten years since the fall of communism and continues to change as it moves into her second millennium. Having joined NATO in 1999, Hungary is now preparing to become a full member of the European Union. Hungarians have always been proud of their history and cherished their traditions. Castles and palaces have been restored and refurbished in their original style and opened as museums.
Country festivals-fairs and harvest celebrations-have been revived and continue to gain popularity alongside internationally recognized world-class musical, dance and theatrical events. Many travel agents and Tourinform offices offer tours that bring history to life, some programs are especially tailored to English-speaking visitors interested in finding, researching or simply seeing their ancestral homeland, such as the ones presented in this brochure. You could join a group or wander on your own, and discover your ancestral home, the town and the streets that you or your family came from.
Hungary's past and present forms a multi-layered mosaic. The National Gallery, the many museums scattered around the country, are filled with wonderful artwork, paintings, historical exhibits that illustrate Hungary's thousand-year history. Beautiful monuments and buildings stand as living proof to the major milestones of Hungary's fascinating past. Visitors can travel centuries in a single street where architecture illustrates a variety of periods: Renaissance windows, Baroque façades, Neoclassical apartment houses from the 19th century, art nouveau decorations from the turn of century, the modern lines of the 1940s, even remnants of the 1950s social realism construction. While the high musical culture of opera and concerts pervades Budapest, Hungarian melodies liven up the evenings in many restaurants.
Budapest even has an English-speaking theater. Hungary's folk art is very much alive, from the regional exhibits found in the Museum of Ethnography to the colorful embroideries hawked by street vendors. Besides Budapest, venerable old cities and towns attract visitors. Eger, Pécs, Sopron, Köszeg are rich in history, the beauty of their restored centers, and their awe-inspiring environment turns a study tour into an unforgettable vacation. Many restaurants have revived traditional recipes and adapted them to our times. The near-forgotten flavorful dishes that the writer Gyula Krúdy (lover of women, wine and food) wrote about are back, complemented by excellent Hungarian wines. Above all, visitors-even if they don't speak Hungarian-can get to know the wonderful people of Hungary whose zest for life, vitality and sense of humor, is known to be very contagious.