Mohács, located in southern Hungary, is a common stop on Danube River cruises, and while the small town does have some of its own attractions, most cruisers take an excursion to Pécs, which is one of Hungary's largest cities and only 29 miles away. Pécs received a big boost in 2010 when it was designated a European Capital of Culture, which brought in funds to restore the city's unique mix of architecture (including Ottoman Turkish structures).
What We Love
The Cathedral of Pécs: This historic building dates from the 11th century and was altered many times until it took its present Romanesque style in the 1880s. Original sections still remain, though, including the crypt.
Széchenyi Square: This square at the heart of Pécs is dominated by the Pasha Gazi Kasim Mosque, which was constructed with stones from an earlier 17th-century Gothic church. While it was later reconsecrated as a church, it remains topped by the crescent moon and cross of Islam. Inside, frescoes depict sayings from the Koran.
Best Known For
Mohács' Historical Sites: The town's identity is rooted in a major battle that took place here in 1526 when the Turks swept in, defeated the Hungarians, and then ruled over them for some 450 years. If you do spend the day in Mohács, the Historical Memorial Park just outside of town has a comprehensive collection of clothing, tools, and arms that show the cultural differences between the enemies. In town, two additional museums continue the story from both sides.
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Who It's Best For
Architecture Buffs: As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the historically attractive city of Pécs has much to offer those who like to uncover the layers of design influences in buildings.
Wine Lovers: The wine region around Pécs sees some of the country's warmest temperatures, giving it a Mediterranean-like climate. Wine buffs will want to try some of the full-bodied Hungarian reds produced here.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
History Here Is Complicated: Hungarian history goes back to the Roman times and the early Christian era, then passes through Ottoman rule, a return to Hungarian power, Soviet dominated communism, and finally today’s more peaceful life. It is not easy to absorb all the influences, some you can see and some you cannot.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.