Visiting Esztergom and Štúrovo

For many centuries, Esztergom was the most important city in Hungary, acting as the capital from the 10th till the mid-13th century. It was here that the coronation of Saint Stephen of Hungary took place, in the year 1000 or 1001. With his ascension to the throne, Esztergom became the political, cultural and religious centre of the Hungarian nation.

Jeremy_MacLaine_Esztergom_Sturovo_Photo_21

Today, the city is home to some 30,000 people. It lies on the banks of the Danube river, across the water is Slovakia and the town of Štúrovo. The two towns are connected by the Mária Valéria bridge, which has no border control.

Esztergom lies on the left, Sturovo on the right.
Esztergom lies on the left, Sturovo on the right.

You can easily reach Esztergom by train from Budapest. Trains leave the Nyugati train station every hour and a round trip costs about $10 Canadian or 7 Euros. The journey is slow, with many stops through the Budapest suburbs and small country villages, but the train is modern, making for a pleasant enough trip.

Esztergom’s basilica and castle are built atop a hill with sprawling views of the surrounding countryside and the Danube river.

The view from the Slovakian side of the river.
The view from the Slovakian side of the river.
Castle Hill
Castle Hill
Small Dungeon by the castle
Small Dungeon by the castle
Sunset at a sculpture depicting the coronation of St. Stephen.
Sunset at a sculpture depicting the coronation of St. Stephen.
The winding stairs up to the castle hill.
The winding stairs up to the castle hill.
Sunset views from the lookout spots.
Sunset views from the lookout spots.
A re-creation of the famous Holy Crown of Hungary with its bent cross.
A re-creation of the famous Holy Crown of Hungary with its bent cross.
Saint Stephen's likeness in front of a restaurant that claims to have been in operation since 1659.
Saint Stephen’s likeness in front of a restaurant that claims to have been in operation since 1659.
Saint Stephen Square. There is likely one of these in every Hungarian town.
Saint Stephen Square. There is likely one of these in every Hungarian town.

Across the river is Štúrovo, Slovakia. It’s a small town, with a mostly ethnically Hungarian population. You’ll hear Hungarian spoken on the streets and you can even pay for your food and drinks in Hungarian Forints at the local restaurants and cafés.

Crossing into Slovakia.
Crossing into Slovakia.
On the Slovak side of the bridge.
On the Slovak side of the bridge.
Central Štúrovo.
Central Štúrovo.
Bilingual street signs
Bilingual street signs
Welcome to Štúrovo.
Welcome to Štúrovo.

The convenience of cheap and hourly trains running between Budapest and Esztergom makes for a fun and easy daytrip. Esztergom is a nice enough town, with an impressive history to merit a visit on its own. Being able to cross the border and visit a different country only adds to the novelty. I enjoyed my daytrip to Esztergom and Štúrovo and would recommend it to someone looking for a change of pace during a longer stay in Budapest.

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