126km (78 miles) NE of Budapest

Eger (pronounced Egg-air) is the third-most visited city in the country and the most visited of Northern Hungary. It is a small baroque valley city between the Matra and Bükk mountains. Eger's fame is based on three things: its castle, its wine, and the brave struggle of its 16th-century women. When the Turkish army attacked in 1552, there were only 500 equestrians and an equal number of soldiers inside the fortress. The battle against 80,000 Turks was a little imbalanced to say the least. Those in the fortress, including the girls and women, stood up to the Turks to defend themselves and were remarkably victorious. The exuberant triumph is documented with golden letters in Hungarian history. Today, you can visit the exhibitions of the István Dobó Fortress Museum within the walls of the castle.

From the fortress, you can see a number of church towers defining Eger as a once-important church center for centuries, starting with an archbishopric since 1804. But alas, the Turks eventually succeeded in occupying the town, and the minaret, 40m (131 ft) high with 14 sides, is a reminder of their 100 years of rule from 1596. The view from the top will delight you with a vista of the town's surroundings.

Today Eger's landscape presents a harmonious blend of old and new. The ruined castle, one of Hungary's proudest symbols, dominates the skyline. Eger is convincingly known as the city of baroque. In its historic city center many beautiful and valuable baroque and late-baroque buildings fill each street. If you wander beyond the confines of the old section, you'll find a small modern city.

One of the most widely known and prestigious wines produced in this city is the claret, Eger Bull's Blood. Its distinctive traits are spiciness, fieriness, and relatively high acidity. In the Valley of the Beautiful Women, the most important outer part of town, wine producers are always ready to receive travelers to offer and sell them wine. Many wineries are out of town, making them difficult to access without a car.

If you don't want to rent a car, but want to enjoy the wines of the region, another option may be one of the festivals. Festivals include: Eger Spring Festival, an art festival of all mediums in late March to early April; the Feast of Eger Bikavér, a wine and food extravaganza in July; Wine Tasting, when wine producers present the wines of Northeastern Hungary in August; Agria International Folk Dance Festival, a convention of folk dance troupes in August; the Benediction of Wine on the day of St. John, the traditional celebration of new wine and wine exhibitions in late December.