Budapest: Hungary’s Best Wines and Communist Era Tour

Jan 11, 2012
Budapest's House of Terror
Visit the House of Terror in Budapest, a museum paying tribute to the victims of Fascism and Communism.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Often overlooked among European capitals, Budapest is a city filled with breathtaking beauty and fascinating cultural history.

When you enter the lobby of Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, you can’t help but be dazzled. This Art Nouveau apartment residence, built in 1906, has been restored with contemporary creativity and modern Hungarian art. Connoisseurs regularly list it among the world’s most beautiful hotels.

The location is undeniably Budapest’s best: on the east bank of the Danube River, gazing across the Chain Bridge to the historic Castle Hill. Tree-lined boulevards are rich in classical architecture and, as you stroll the streets, you’ll quickly understand why Budapest is called the “Paris of the East.”

Taste the Finest Hungarian Wines

Hungary has a rich wine-making tradition, dating back to the fifth-century Roman era. Perhaps the best-known Hungarian wine is Tokaji Aszú—the honey-like dessert wine. But there’s much more to discover.

Today Hungary has 22 different wine regions, producing reds and whites of exceptional quality—many featuring grapes not commonly grown outside the country. Most of the wineries are small and their finest vintages rarely leave Hungary, so they are yet to be discovered by international wine collectors.

Four Seasons introduces you to the Etyek-Buda wine region, just 30 minutes west of Budapest and offering great similarities to France’s Champagne region. More than half of the region’s production is sparkling wine. Most of the wines are white, fresh and fruity, with vivid acidity.

You’ll enjoy private luxury transportation to the Haraszthy Vallejo Winery. Established in 1998, the winery is like a modern Mediterranean chateau, surrounded by vineyards.

Guided by one of the expert winemakers, you’ll enjoy a personalised tour provided exclusively for Four Seasons guests. You’ll view the unique technology and get an overview of the complete winemaking process—right through to labelling a bottle yourself.

Then you’ll come to the intimate Knight Hall, its walls lined with wine barrels. You’ll enjoy a guided tasting of the winery’s best selections, including tastings right from the barrel, and pairings with antipasti.

You can further educate your palate by learning the skills of fragrance matching. You’ll be presented with a box of ampoules, each containing a fragrance that is typically found in wine. For example, a common aroma in red wine is eucalyptus. In the box, there will be an ampoule with the eucalyptus fragrance, so you can compare and educate your nose.

Naturally, you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase wines or have them shipped to your home, so you can share your exclusive Hungarian discoveries.

Explore History ‘In the Footsteps of Communism’

Hungary went through a dark period of political repression from 1945  to 1989. Now it’s possible to explore this fascinating, troubling era in an exclusive Four Seasons tour, “In the Footsteps of Communism,” led by private guide Katalin Czeller.

This four-hour history lesson comes to life as you drive around Budapest in an authentic Trebant, the Communist car from the 1950s, which can accommodate two passengers.

On your journey, you’ll see The Flag with a Hole flying outside the Hungarian Parliament Building. As Katalin explains, “During the anti-Soviet uprising in 1956, revolutionaries cut the Stalinist emblem from the centre of the tri-colour flag, leaving a hole in the middle and creating a symbol of the revolution.”

You’ll also see the statue of Imre Nagy, who was prime minister of Hungary during the failed 1956 revolution and who was later executed on charges of treason.

A chilling highlight is a visit to the House of Terror, a museum paying tribute to the victims of Fascism and Communism. In the building that was once the headquarters for the secret police of both the Nazi and the Communist governments, the museum is a memorial to those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed there.

After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, statues of Lenin, Marx and Engels were immediately removed from Budapest’s streets. In Memento Park, you’ll discover 42 of these monuments, collected to form an open-air museum.

Your tour concludes in the private home of a Hungarian family, where you can talk to them about their personal experiences as you share a traditional three-course lunch.

This one-of-a-kind tour provides a rare and unforgettable experience, giving a portrait of Hungary’s past and a better understanding of the country’s personality today.

To help you plan your winter escape to Budapest, these exclusive Four Seasons opportunities are available in easy-to-arrange packages.

Or, read more about the European Capitals of Culture.


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