In Pursuit of a Gothic Church

The Great Hungarian Plain is graced with bountiful sunny days.  Last Saturday, the sky looked like an upturned ceramic bowl with a smooth, blue glaze.  It was too pretty a day to spend sitting in our apartment, so I persuaded Jesse to hop on a train to Nyírbátor with me.

I spent the train ride gazing out the window.  This is what I normally do, but I had extra motivation because the couple across from us chose to occupy themselves by making out, and I tried to avert my gaze.

Nyírbátor is a sleepy little town.  Although it was midday, few people were out and about.  Most of the shops seemed to close at noon on Saturday, and we had trouble finding a restaurant that was open for lunch.

The American Midwest has an abundance of sleepy little towns, and many are worth pausing in for a piece of pie, some nostalgia, and an antique shop or two.  Sleepy little towns in Europe, however, often have fifteenth century buildings tucked in amongst the quaint houses.  Fifteenth century buildings from which cruel Transylvanian princes governed. Nyírbátor is such a town.

One of its landmarks is the Minorite Church.  Its crisp white exterior was so unblemished that I wondered if it was actually a modern church.

The plain exterior is contrasted by the baroque altars on the interior.  They are entirely carved of wood.  I was impressed by the craftsmanship, but also a little overwhelmed.  The baroque style is just too over the top.

Outside stands a statue of this austere man with a mace.  I think this is István Báthory, a prince who was friends with none other than Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula.  Old “Steve” apparently borrowed some plays from his friend’s playbook, because he was so cruel that he was deposed.

Across from the Minorite Church, this dragon is landing gracefully in a small pond.

Dragons were popular.

Maybe St. George is the patron saint of the town?

Jesse had fun posing with the sculptures.

From the Minorite Church, we could see the Reformist Church and its sinister wooden bell tower.

Apparently Calvinists insisted that bell towers stand separate from the main church building, hence this bizarre building from the 1600s.  It is the tallest of its kind in Hungary.

The interior of the Reformist Church supposedly has stunning rib vaulting, and it was the primary motivation for our excursion.  To my consternation, the church was locked up tight.

We did make some dog friends outside of the church.  This fellow and a pal were eager for attention and hoping for a snack.  Unfortunately, Jesse and I had no food on us.  We wanted to adopt them, but I’m not sure how we would’ve gotten them back to Debrecen without leashes.

My camera batteries died before I got to photograph the small fifteenth century fortress where István lived.

Our adventure was brief, and perhaps a bit anticlimactic, but I wasn’t too disappointed by the Reformist Church being closed.   I got to wander around a historic town with Jesse on a crisp fall day, and such experiences were exactly why I came to Hungary.  Mission accomplished.

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1 Comment

Filed under Hungary, Travel

One response to “In Pursuit of a Gothic Church

  1. Melody

    I love how you give animal updates each time. =) That is a pretty creepy statue Jesse is posing with!

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