Kecskemét City Hall

Kecskemét City Hall

It had taken us over an hour to drive from Budapest to Kecskemét, and by the time we arrived the sky was cloaked in darkness. I had things to do and see. My cousin—my generous escort—suggested we head to the city square after our visit to the military base. Charming buildings many hundreds of years old surrounded us. In the 13th century, the prairies of Kecskemét were invaded and settled by Mongol tribes. By the 14th and 15th centuries, the French, Turks and Hapsburgs had all taken their turn. Each of those conquerors left their cultures through architecture: French Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic, Moorish and Art Nouveau. Take a look here:

With the wind in their faces and their breath swirling in the freezing air, the local inhabitants trudged through the streets, bundled tightly in their thick coats. I fancied that the square knew it had once bustled as an open market. I could imagine peasants hauling their produce, pushing their fruit carts, urging their horses to pull wagons laden with wares. I saw barking dogs corralling cattle for trade. There must have been bargaining, bartering, haggling. I retrieved my camera and clicked away, taking touristy photos of statues, churches, synagogues, a mid-1800s university, and an opera house. If you are interested in learning more about Kecskemét, here is a link:ét/latnivalok.php?nyelv=gb

My next stop was the City Hall. This beautiful salmon-colored building was built in the Art Nouveau style. But it offered something more. Every hour, on the hour, its bells chimed. You can listen here:

With the bells still ringing in my ears, I headed through the wrought-iron gates and into the entryway of the city hall. I passed handcrafted furniture, leather chairs, stained-glass windows, paintings and chandeliers. All beautiful. I entered the immense archives, with its high ceiling, thousands of books, and clerks everywhere, busy carting papers, binders and books for filing. The room smelled of old paper. A clerk asked me in Hungarian if I needed help. I answered in English. If you recall my unpleasant experience in Budaörs, you will understand my unwillingness to speak my mother tongue. I had asked my cousin not to interpret but to let me talk. He obliged with a good-natured smile.

To my surprise, the woman spoke decent English, though with a heavy accent. She apologized for being ill-prepared for my questions. I asked if I could see photographs of Kecskemét before and after World War II and before 1956. She whisked herself away, and in no time returned with stacks of leather-bound books. We spread them across a table and opened the pages. There I found photographs of a parking lot full of hundreds of horses attached to wagons. I found other information, too, that I never would have thought I needed. I asked a lot of questions, and the clerk handed me her card and offered to help me by email. She has kept her word, and I thank her for that.

About Sheila Bali

Sheila Bali, historical fiction writer, is soon to complete her novel, Swans and Cranes, based on a family’s escape from the iron grip of post–WW II Russia during the turbulent 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The book focuses on a young girl’s experiences as her family’s world is uprooted, forcing them to flee their home and country to save their lives. Sheila holds a Fine Arts Degree from Concordia University, plus two graduate degrees from McGill University in art education and special education. She now lives in San Francisco Bay Area of California and paints with colorful words. Sheila is a member of CWC Tri-Valley Branch.
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10 Responses to Kecskemét City Hall

  1. Terry says:

    This is a beautiful site…
    I’ll enjoy reading it…..

  2. Leonov Melincianu says:

    Hi Sheila
    Nice knowing your interest in the Hungarian history. I am a man of faith and a man of history who follows the truth. As such I am to tell you that there are many hidden truths about the history of Eastern Europe including Hungary. As such the origin of Hungary had not been explained nor does anyone else know the truth except me. But for now you should know that Hungarians are part of the Holy lions and wolf culture.

    • SheilaBali says:

      Hello Leonov,
      The story on Hungarians being aliens arises from a conversation between
      Enrico Fermi and one of his co-scientists at Los Alamos National Lab. Fermi
      said if there are aliens then where are they. He then showed mathematically
      that if aliens existed they should already be here. The other man, Leo
      Szilard, said that the aliens were already there, and that they were
      Hungarians. It was a joke, because so many of the scientists on the
      Manhattan Project were Hungarian. Among them John von Neumann, who was
      considered to be the smartest man alive by his fellow scientists. Yes
      Einstein was still alive at the time.

  3. Marilyn Dalla Valle says:

    Agreed. This is a beautiful site. I enjoyed the article-
    Kecskemét City Hall

  4. Vibhu Ashok says:

    Description about “Kecskemét City Hall” was so alive that, I feel myself over there, thank you dear Sheila…. it reminds me of the beauty of one of my poem in my book, I hope that you will keep including me in your posts…

    Much Love and light,

  5. Daniel quentin steele says:

    this one came out of the blue. never expected it.this is a fascinating column, withouit knowing anything about you and your life. that’s the wonderful thing about blogs, to echo Forrest Gump – you never know what you’re going to get. thanks for a good column.

  6. Sherry Isaac says:

    Architecture, and the history it contains, takes me away. Thanks for sharing, Sheila.

  7. Alice Lynn says:

    I’m so glad I clicked on the link you sent (via Twitter) as your photos and description of Kecskemet are so vivid and well written. I envy the travels you are enjoying. Except for Canada, Egypt has been the only country I have visited at any length. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Alice

    • SheilaBali says:

      Alice, I’m glad you clicked the link and that I succeeded in placing you where you’ve never travelled.

  8. Morgan Mussell says:

    Great post. Thanks for pointing me toward this.

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