A Touch of Imagination
Tata has a nice ring to it. It’s a four letter word, but not profane. It sounds like the kind of word that is always spoken with a smile and it’s got a strange abracadabraesque quality to it. Tata is a quaint town in Northwestern Hungary. It is the kind of place that can make you smile. After all it’s got a castle, a lake and a palace, what more could you want.
Disembarking at the train station in Tata gives you a sense of prosperity. The station has a fine ochre tinged exterior that has the unique quality of looking both rustic and new at the same time. This is just the start of a multitude of tasteful delights.
Tata’s past has a lot to do with water. At one time there were 14 water mills in the town. The remnants of several can still be seen and one still seems to be in pretty fine working condition. With the sound of rushing waters echoing in the distance Tata Castle begins to loom on the horizon. With a name like that it certainly sounds like it came straight out of a fairy tale. Yet it would be a very dark tale that would tell of the castle’s demise. This time it was not the dreaded Turks, but instead the Habsburgs who destroyed much of it.
Enough of the castle still stands today that you quickly conclude that it was a symbol of power, authority and grandeur in the middle ages. The castle walls stretch out for hundreds of meters and what’s left of the main building towers above the older ruins.
On the other side of the castle is the Öreg-tó (Old Lake) whose placid waters languidly lap Tata’s royal fringe. It must be quite a sight to see all the sailing boats on the water with the castle tower rising above the glassy lake on a calm summer day.
Further onward, but still within sight of the lake are a series of buildings that were once part of the Esterhazy Palace, not the first one from this family that I have stumbled upon in western Hungary. It seems that the Esterhazy’s once owned the town along with several nearby villages. The main palace building cannot be entered at this time which is a shame.
Its yellow and green colored façade is the classic picture of faded grandeur. The product of benign neglect under the communists, it seems to be yearning to be restored. If not a touch of paint than at least a touch of the imagination can make this palace come back to life. It really is a site to behold because it seems to have a personality all its own.
Your final destination in Tata should be like all good towns in Hungary the Belvaros (Inner City). There is a host of colorful buildings some well kempt while others are quietly fading. They certainly add character and a sense of eclectic ambience to the place.
Your final destination is the Parish Church which is a two towered refuge, soaring above the town. Set a bit back from the road, it seems to be looking down upon the Belvaros from an almost throne like position. It is a grand spectacle, with a chipped façade seems to show its age with style and verve.
It is a fitting farewell to Tata, the town with an outsized architectural legacy, a picture perfect natural setting and evocative name.
written by CHRIS WILKINSON
edited by CHRIS KOVACS
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