National Park Hortobágy - The Puszta

The Puszta

Pictures National Park Hortobágy, morning

The 80,000 hectare National Park in the puszta is itself bigger than Nevada. More than 40% of this area is boggy, marshy, and swampy.

Hortobágy is the largest protected area, and the largest natural grassland in Central Europe with cattle, sheep, oxen, horses, tended by herdsmen, and it provides habitat for various different species (342 bird species have been registered to appear in the puszta). This is an 800 km² national park in Eastern Hungary, in the puszta, rich with folklore and cultural history. The park, a part of the Alföld - puszta (Great Plain), was designated as a national park in 1973 (the first in Hungary), and elected among the World Heritage sites in 1999.

The Hortobágy National Park - The Puszta has been inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO on the 1st of December in 1999 in the category of cultural landscapes, based on cultural criteria iv and v. According to its brief description "the Hortobágy is a vast area of plains and wetlands that have been used by humans for grazing their domestic animals for more than two millennia.

Pictures National Park Hortobágy, The Csárda

The Hortobágy Csárda is one of the most famouse inn at puszta area and hundreds of years old.

The regular flooding of the Tisza provided local farmers with fertile pastures for their herds and allowed for Hungarian Grey Cattle to be exported to Western-Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Important trade roads were established for this activity. These roads later became known as the "salt-roads" on which salt was transported from the salt mines of Transylvania. Wayside inns called "csárda" along main roads were built at the end of the 17th century in the puszta and at least forty of them were still in existence within the last century. However, only about 5 of these inns currently exist. In the years of large-scale flooding, bridges offered the only means of crossing the land.

Pictures National Park Hortobágy, The Nine-holed Bridge

Pictures National Park Hortobágy - The Puszta: The Nine-holed Bridge.

The Nine-Arch bridge was built for that purpose. Damming of the Tisza river started in 1846 at Tiszadob. The channelized, regulated river, robbed of its meandering tributaries, was not able to flood the nearby land with its fertile sediment, resulting in the disappearance of marshes and loss of irrigation to the Hortobágy. The regulation of the watercourse, along with changes in precipitation and temperature, lead to the extension of alkaline soil. Efforts to restore fertility to the area started in the fifties. Artificial channels were created all over and industrialised, agriculture was forced upon the Hortobágy. The "puszta", with its domestic animals, pastures, waters, flora, fauna, shepherding, fishing and peasant life-style became an obsolete remnant of the past and its extinction was just a matter of time.

Hortobágy Stud

Pictures National Park Hortobágy, Puszta five

The puszta five - a traditional Hungarian horseman steers five horses in a horse show on the Great Hungarian Plains, 90 km (56 miles).

Máta is the home of the famous Hortobágy Stud: the Nonius strain has been bred here for 300 years in the puszta. From the fishpond keeper's-house visitors can observe the extraordinarily rich water world, while the lookout tower at the Szálkahalom keeper's-house offers a view of the bird life of forests and salt lakes. If you are looking for adventure, make an excursion in a horse-drawn wagon on the endless flat-land. (Hortobágy natural conservation one and Genpreserving non-profit company).

Windmill Karcag

Karcag Old Wind Mill

Karcag Old Wind Mill and Museum: Largest wind mill in Hungary - Exhibition about the rich flora and fauna of South Hortobágy - puszta

Ranked among the most significant heritage in the county is the vernacular Barna-type windmill built in 1858. The four-storey brick structure was built with a turning roof structure and four blades in the puszta.

The mill which has windows in its walls was built at the edge of town on a mound surrounded by a brick wall. Apparently the blades of the windmill utilise the energy of the wind most efficiently here. Work continued at the village mill until 1949 after which a hammer grinder was installed on its ground level. Its interior furnishing has remained intact to such an extent that it looks as though the huge wheels and stones were still grinding just yesterday.

At one time there were 60 mills operating in the city, eleven of which were windmills. Today this is the only one remaining. The southern gate to the Hortobágy National Park - The puszta is nearby.

The Puszta - sights, day trips, activities, attractions and highlights

Pictures National Park Hortobágy, Great Fishponds

Pictures National Park Hortobágy - The Puszta: Great Fishponds.