Kalocsa lies 88 miles south of Budapest, in the centre-south of Hungary. The town encompasses surrounding marshlands, vineyards and gardens, and lies only three miles from the river Danube itself, so when cruising the lower portions of this legendary river you’ll often find yourself sailing past the town and a number of itineraries also offer you the opportunity to explore it, too. Kalocsa is one of the oldest towns in Hungary – practically as old as the state of Hungary itself – and one of the richest in both history and culture. With a population of about 20,000 and with most people working out of the town in both fishing and agriculture, Kalocsa is ideally suited for visitors looking for an easy-going trip around the historic town centre and a great choice of local cultural landmarks.
One of the main architectural draws in Kalocsa is the beautiful twin-towered Cathedral of St Mary, located opposite the Archiepiscopal Treasury and adjacent to the Holy Trinity column in the square of the same name. The cathedral is a hymn in itself to the classical Baroque style, a feast for the eyes, boasting a palatial white and gold interior. This close proximity means it’s possible to explore a number of the town’s landmarks easily and indeed the aforementioned column is always a popular site, dating back to 1786 and bearing likenesses of St John of Nepomuk, St Sebastianus and St Florian. Saint Stephen meanwhile, is granted his own statue, located in front of the aforementioned cathedral.
Kalocsa is also home to the Archbishop’s Palace, a clerical seminary for training priests and various teacher training colleges – all reminders of the town’s Catholic influence, and its historical reputation as a home of academics, clergy and craftspeople. Built on the sight of a 14th century castle, it is baroque in style it is a fascinating place to explore. As you would imagine, the Ceremonial Hall is one of its grandest open spaces and home to some fabulous frescos as well as a number of astrological curios and maps along with a certified replica of the Hungarian Holy Crown and Sceptre. The Library is another highlight and houses around 150,000 books one of which is key Protestant Reformation figure Martin Luther’s own bible.
For a more personal look at the culture of Kalocsa and its people, during your visit you may have the chance to see a traditional Magyar cowboy equestrian show. Kalocsa itself sits on the Puszta, or Great Hungarian Plain, a land of ranches and riders and the shows typically feature horse parades and fast-paced displays of horsemanship, originally stemming from a more militaristic era when the town found itself at the mercy of the Ottoman Empire and later, opposing Protestant forces.
The currency in Hungary is the Forint, so be sure to take a little of it with you if you're thinking of buying something to eat or drink while in the town.