There are eight permanent exhibitions in Vajdahunyad Castle, Budapest, which are worth a visit even if you are not much into farming, hunting or animal breeding. Besides the permanent exhibitions, there are intriguing temporary exhibitions, like Optical Illusions, Easter Giant Eggs, and more.
First of all, the castle itself is beautiful from the inside too, so if you liked the castle from the outside, why not take a look inside too? Secondly, the exhibits are like a time travel, with lots of quirky tools and displays, sometimes shocking, other times intriguing. Thirdly, beside the permanent exhibitions, there are more interactive displays for children (best for over 6 probably) that challenge their intelligence. Last but not least, the entrance fee to the exhibitions is very cheap (see the Tickets to Vajdahunyad Castle).
Hungarian Grapes and Wines in Europe
The best part of grapes is of course to actually eat them, but how did wines emerge from grapes and how did civilized wine consumption grew part of our everyday lives? This exhibition in Vajdahunyad Castle may be of interest to you if you wish to learn about wines, (Hungarian) wine producing, grape harvests, grape types, extraordinary Hungarian wines, etc. The Hungarian Wines and Grapes exhibition is situated in the cellars of the Gothic wing of the castle. Did you know that in the Middle Ages it was quite normal to drink 3-5 liters of wine a day? Purely for health reasons, due to mediaeval epidemics, and the lack of fresh drinking water, the residents of the Middle Ages preferred medicinal and restorative wines. By the 19th century people started to sober up, wine consumption substantially decreased in the late 19th century as a result of the phylloxera (vine louse) epidemic in Hungary. While Hungarian wines had been the basis of the livelihood for about a third of the country’s population until the end of the 19th century, the years of Communism, globalization and many other factors made the superb Hungarian wines less known and visible on the market. Luckily, these days Hungarian wines are being rediscovered with great success, well beyond the sweet Tokaji aszu wines.
History of Hungarian Agriculture from the beginning to 1945
This exhibition in Vajdahunyad Castle shows the history of Hungarian agriculture chronologically, from the beginning of food production to WW2, i.e. from the Neolithic until 1945.
You can see the farming and hunting tools in the Carpathian Basin before the arrival of the Hungarian tribes led by the chieftains (before the Magyar Conquest). Then you can see the traditional tents of the tribal Hungarians, called yurt, which is a portable, Nomad felt-covered tent. The period of Arpad Kings, from approx. 1000 to 1300 shows the dwellings, tools, lifestyles of the early medieval Hungarian settlements. Later centuries show the farming, animal breeding and wine producing traditions during the years of the Turkish occupation. Another section of this historical exhibit shows the intensive agriculture characterizing the age of the industrial revolution, especially in the 19th and 20th century, featuring a steam locomobile imported from England in 1851, and a thresher.
Exhibition of Domesticating Animals
Animals in present day Hungary from the lives of prehistoric people living in the Carpathian Basin, as well as farming tools and everyday scenes are presented. You can see reconstructed scenes of caves, hunting and fishing scenes, etc. Domestic animals, like sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, dogs etc. are shown in their evolution modified by domestication (e.g. changes in bone and skull shapes in wild boars changing into pigs). The Hungarian Grey cattle (szurkemarha from the 17th-19th centuries), the outstanding Hungarian breed, is also presented in detail.
Hunting Exhibition in Vajdahunyad Castle
The Hunting Hall in the Museum of Agriculture shows the history of hunting in Hungary, a vast array of world record setting antlers and other trophies (bizarre for some), a mock Hunting Lodge with typical hunting tools (crossbow, daggers, knives, powder flasks, etc.), hunting scenes with typical games in Hungary (stuffed animals of wild boar, deer, moufflon, etc.
Fishing Exhibition in Vajdahunyad Castle
If you love fishing, you may enjoy to take a look at the Hungarian exhibit of fishing. The displays reach back to the beginnings of catching fish in the Carpathian basin, when the Magyar people settled down in the 890s. The Nomad Hungarian tribes had lots of ancient fishing tools. In the 16th century of medieval Hungary, the first Fishing Guilds were established, who did not only catch and sell fish as fishmongers should do, but also protected the community from attacks (see the famous Budapest attractions of the Fisherman’s Bastion, named after the fishermen of Watertown under the Buda Castle). You can see ways of fishing in lakes in Hungary (e.g. Lake Balaton) or rivers (River Danube, River Tisza), results of fishing competitions of local fish breeds (approx. 80 fishes in the Carpathian basin)
Forestry Exhibition in Vajdahunyad Castle
The Forestry Exhibition is probably most appealing to those who are interested in forest management. These exhibits show the history of using woods for human purposes, with extra info about the Hungarian aspects of wood production and forest management. Grazing, clearing forests in order to gain ploughlands, large-scale deforestations caused by mining, etc. We are quite used to the ideas of long-term forest management, which were only born in the 18th-19th centuries. The 1970s was another turning point in Hungary: forests were and are to provide enough trees, protection against erosion and flood, as well as pleasure for communities via natural recreational services.
Herbs, Plants Exhibition in Vajdahunyad Castle
The Exhibition concentrates on showing the history, tools and significance of plants grown in Hungary for nourishment, medicine and household purposes. An interesting part of the exhibit is the beekeeping equipment (Hungary has excellent pure acacia honey products, honeycombs, honeys mixed with nuts, etc.)
Nature Conservation Exhibition in Vajdahunyad Castle
Hungary has beautiful nature reserves, protected landscapes (of about 7% of Hungary is protected), local breeds and plants, which are well worth your time if you love special places in nature, like the Aggtelek Cave (Carst Cave), a UNESCO World Heritage site in north-eastern Hungary. The first act on nature conservation in Hungary was passed in 1935 to protect the Great Forest by Debrecen (close to the special Hungarian Puszta with its unique flora and fauna, like the Hungarian Grey Cattle). This exhibition features some local animals protected like amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, etc.