A Gem on the Danube Bend
Situated just 21 km / 13 miles north of Budapest, Szentendre is a quaint riverside town with a rich tapestry of history. This treasure trove has been inhabited since the Stone Age, with a colorful succession of settlers that include Illyrians, the Celtic Eraviscus tribe, Romans, Lombards, Avars, and Hungarians. In the 17th century, the town became a hub for Serbians, who enriched Szentendre with their unique cultural elements and built several Serbian churches.
Since the 20th century, Szentendre has been home to an artist’s colony where about 100 artists live and work today. It also boasts an impressive selection of 48 museums and monuments. However, visitors may find themselves lured away from these cultural offerings by various shopping opportunities. Do note museum hours may be quite fluid. Signs stating closures for “technical reasons” without a specified reopening date are not uncommon. If you find a museum open, seize the opportunity to visit.
Szentendre is a bustling tourist destination, with numerous tour buses arriving daily. This might seem overwhelming for some, but the town’s charm is worth the crowd. To truly appreciate Szentendre, explore beyond the tourist-laden shops. Wander through the cobblestone streets, admiring the architecture, galleries, and churches. Don’t hesitate to veer off the main streets, where you’ll find hidden shops, beautiful old homes, and quiet green spaces.
Exploring the Museums & Churches of Szentendre
Barcsay Museum: The Barcsay Museum showcases the genius of artist Jenő Barcsay (1900–88). Despite the conservative Socialist dictates of his time, Barcsay’s work shines through in his anatomical drawings, etchings, and charcoal and ink drawings. His pastel depictions of Szentendre street scenes are particularly noteworthy. The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Wednesday to Sunday, at Dumtsa Jenő u. 10.
Blagovestenska Church: The Blagovestenska church at Fő tér 4 is among the town’s several Serbian Orthodox churches that are frequently open to visitors. Dating back to 1752, the tiny church was built on the site of a wooden church from the Serbian migration of 1690. The church houses a rococo iconostasis with paintings by Mihailo Zivkovic. Its doors are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.
Margit Kovács Museum: Hungary’s best-known ceramic artist, Margit Kovács, is celebrated at this museum. Her work, which ranges from sculptures of elderly women to folk art interpretations of village life, can be seen at Vastagh György u. 1. The museum operates from March to September, Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 5 pm, and from October to February, Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm.
Marzipan Museum: The Marzipan Museum is a delightful treat. It is well-known for its marzipan and chocolate sculptures, including a 1.6m long replica of the Hungarian Parliament and a 1.8m tall white chocolate Michael Jackson. Located at Dumsta Jeno u. 12, the museum is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm from May to September and from 10 am to 6 pm from October to April.
Serbian Orthodox Museum: Adjacent to a Serbian Orthodox church, the Serbian Orthodox Museum holds an extensive collection of 16th- to 19th-century icons, liturgical vessels, Arabic scrolls from the Ottoman period, and other types of ecclesiastical art. The museum is located just north of Fő tér, at Pátriárka u. 5, and is open from May to September, Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm, and from October to April, Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm.
Szántó Jewish Memorial House and Temple Moments: The first temple built in Hungary after World War II as a memorial to those from the area who died in the Holocaust, Szántó Jewish Memorial House is also likely the smallest Jewish temple in the world. It was dedicated on May 17, 1998, by Professor Jószef Sweitzer, the chief rabbi of Hungary. The temple is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm at Albotmány u. 4.
Note: While the museums, churches, and other attractions mentioned above provide enriching experiences, their hours of operation may vary, so be sure to check for any updates before planning your visit.
One of Szentendre’s information offices, TourInform, is located at Dumtsa Jenő u. 22 (+3626317965). They provide maps of Szentendre and the region, concert and exhibition schedules, and accommodation information. Another useful resource is the Ibusz office, situated on the corner of Bogdányi út and Gőzhajó utca (+3626310181). Suppose you plan to stay in the region for more than a day. In that case, you might want to check out Jági Utazás at Kucsera F. u. 15. Their knowledgeable staff can assist with everything from planning a hunting or horseback-riding excursions, finding the right pension room to recommending the best palacsinta (crepe) spot in town.
Remember, comfortable footwear is a must when exploring the cobblestone streets of Szentendre.