Balaton lake, The "Hungarian Sea", is the people's name for the 50-mile long lake with silky green-yellow water in the middle of Transdanubia.
Lake Balaton is one of Hungary's most precious treasures and most frequented resorts. It is also the largest lake in Central Europe. The southern shores are ideal for small children because of the shallow water, but on the north shore the water gets deeper instantaneously. The water and the sleek mud of the lake are excellent remedies for nervous complaints, anaemia and nervous fatigue.
Picturesque vineyards in the region produce an assortment of excellent wines that go very well with the delicious local food. Large numbers of inns and restaurants welcome guests from home and abroad.
Siófok is the largest town on the southern side of Lake Balaton and is known for being the party town of the lake. Its port serves every boat route on the lake. Cruise boats also start from here. The hotels of the Golden and Silver Beaches are very much in demand. The pleasant parks are ornamented with statues. The Lutheran church has a remarkable style. The composer of the internationally renowned operettas, Imre Kálmán (1882-1953), is the famous son of this city. His piano and many personal belongings can be seen in his museum. The Water Management Museum covers the history of shipping and fishery on Lake Balaton, while a huge collection of minerals is exhibited in the Museum of Minerals.
KeszthelyKeszthely, the oldest settlement of Lake Balaton was an important hub of commerce in Roman times. The beautiful Festetics Mansion with its ornate wrought iron gate, surrounded by an English park, is the third largest chateau in the country. All you may wish to know more about Lake Balaton, including its formation, flora and fauna, the history of bathing culture, waterborne traffic and archaeological and ethnographic memorabilia of 7,000 years, can be seen at the Balaton Museum.
How come camels, buffaloes and zebras roam along Lake Balaton? Hardly indigenous to the region, they are resident of the Safari Park and Africa Museum established by the renowned Hungarian hunter in Africa, Endre von Nagy. A rich collection of artefacts including trophies and African ethnographic objects is on display at the museum.
The hill is an extinct casket-shaped volcano. Its slopes are covered with some very strange geological formations, fossilized lava columns called "basalt organs" as well as vineyards which produce the excellent wine of the Pauline monks called "Grey Friar". One of the two hundred year old press houses is home to one of the most popular restaurant. Its terrace also offers an excellent panorama.
The twin-towered church of the Tihany peninsula is distinctly visible far and wide. The peninsula, inhabited almost a thousand years, is of volcanic origin, and has a profusion of rare plants and animals. The crypt of King András I, founded in 1055, survived the turbulent past and still stands in its original form. The present church was built over the crypt in the 18th century in Baroque style and has many precious wood carvings. In the Museum of the Benedictine Abbey, you can find an exhibition about ancient times. There are frequent organ concerts in the abbey church in the summertime.
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