Herdsmen's land – Hortobágy

Best destination in "Tourism and local intangible heritage", 2008

The Hungarian Puszta is an exceptional surviving example of a cultural landscape constituted by a pastoral society and illustrates the harmonious interaction between people and nature. The Hortobágy is Central Europe's only huge continuous steppe and one of the most important tourist destinations today with its unbroken horizon, special flora and fauna, unique animal stock and rich cultural traditions. In 1999 the puszta took its well-reserved place among the less-than-thousand universal values of the Earth: it has been inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage list. In 2008 Hortobágy won the honorable titles of "Best tourist destination of Hungary – Living Traditions" and "European Destination of Excellence – Intangible Traditions (EDEN)".

For centuries, Hortobágy was used for extensive stock-farming where the shepherds living in harmony with nature developed unique methods and tradition of grazing. More than half of the gene bank livestock population of Hungarian nature conservation can be found here on Hungary's and Europe's largest continuous organic farming site.

At our permanent tourist exhibitions and our programme series throughout the year from spring until Advent, every visitor can get acquainted with the herdsmen's lifestyle, traditional dresses, pastoral traditions, cuisine, music and dances and the craftsmen trades of herding.

Tourist attractions:

The Nine Arch Bridge is Hungary's longest public-road stone bridge, which stands on nine arches over the river Hortobágy. The overall length of the bridge is 167,3 meters. Connecting Transylvania with Pest-Buda, the bridge has always been part of an important route. It served as a significant commercial route from the Middle Ages regarding salt and cattle trade.

The Hortobágy Inn is the oldest building of the puszta, the most valuable architectural monument of Hungarian catering trade from the 18th century. The city of Debrecen had the first "kocsmaház" (pub house) built here for the tired and thirsty wanderers in 1699.

This building having been renewed several times, with its beauty, atmosphere and folkloristic romanticism is the incarnation of "csárda" today.

The building of Herdsmen Museum of Hortobágy was a cart shed in the old times, where the mass of the marketers and Hortobágy herdsmen turned up. The Herdsmen Museum exhibits the most important elements of the horsemen', herdsmen' and shepherds' lives from the driving out until the Bridge Fair.

The Stud of Máta was established 300 years ago by the Free Royal Town of Debrecen. Due to its rich and unique horse breeding traditions it takes a special place among the national and historical studs of Europe. Its reputation has been established by the equestrian art of the horsemen of Hortobágy and the Nonius breed. It is also an internationally recognized horse breeding programme site and tourist centre in our days. The most popular among its organized program is the horse carriage tour in the puszta introducing its natural treasures, herdsmen's traditions, horsemen and stud, the Hungarian Grey Cattle herd and other Hungarian domestic animals typical to the area in their habitat.

The Rare Breed Animal Park was established in 1997 to demonstrate the different tools and ways of traditional animal keeping, the history of the typical animal species and breeds of the puszta, and their use in the past and now. This open-air exhibition presents several traditional Hungarian domestic animals such as Hungarian Grey Cattle, Hucul Horse, Domesticated Buffalo, Racka Sheep, Hungarian Goat, Mangalica Pig, Hungarian poultry and pigeon breeds.

Events&Programmes: St. Geroge's Day "Driving-out" Celebration (April), Hortobágy Equestarian Days (June), Herdsmens' Festival – National Herdsmens' Competition and Meeting (June), St. Demetrios "Driving-in" Celebration (October).