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St Mary’s Way – Entire Tour

In the Footsteps of Hermits and Royal Saints 

Walking pilgrimage tour on Saint Mary’s Way

  •    Duration: 13 days (12 nights)
  •    Date: at any time for groups or individuals
  •    Route: Bakonybél – Majkpuszta – Tata – Esztergom (Hungary)
  •    Distance: 175 km (~16 km/day)
  •    Difficulty: 2/5 (easy)
  •    Price: from € 690

In the Footsteps of Hermits and Royal Saints

We depart from the Saint Mauricius Benedictine Monastery of Bakonybél on Mary’s Way towards Zirc. Following the journey of Saint Gerard of Csanád, who once was a hermit here, we arrive in Esztergom after walking through woods, hills and spectacular canyons. Esztergom, the medieval center of the Hungarian Kingdom, has been the archbishop’s residence of the Hungarian Christianity to the present day.

The top attraction of our journey can be a boat trip on the Danube: nothing is more impressive than arriving on a boat in the wonderful Budapest bathing in evening lights. A city often called the Pearl of the Danube.

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    You can enjoy an extensive pilgrimage across Hungary’s beautiful Transdanubia region through dense forests, visiting monasteries, churches and enchanting villages and towns.
  • Cistercian Abbey of Zirc
  • Hidden shrines of Mary
  • Tata: the Hungarian Town of Waters
  • Esztergom: the thousand year old castle and seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church
  • Majkpuszta: Camaldolese Hermitage
  • Interesting tour guidance at 6 places:
    Bakonybél, Zirc, Székesfehérvár, Majkpuszta, Tata & Esztergom)
  • Pilgrim passport and certificate
  • …all this in a small group of fellow pilgrims

Day 1

  • Lunch: Three-course meal
  • Dinner: Three-course meal

Accommodation in Bakonybél:

  • Hotel Bakony***

A medium size hotel with an own park, next to the forest, and not far from the Benedictine Abbey.

 


Day 2

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (in the Restaurant of the Rézkakas Guesthouse)

Accommodation in Zirc:

  • Guesthouse Amberg (double rooms)
  • Guesthouse Rézkakas (single rooms)

Both accommodation are only some minutes walk from each other and the Cistercian Abbey. They are both small family run guesthouses, with all comfort and rural style.

 


Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Two-course meal (at the guesthouse)

Accommodation in Csesznek:

  • Guesthouse Erzsébet

A family run comfortable guesthouse near the castle.

 


Day 4

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (in the restaurant of the Hotel Öreg Prés)

Accommodation in Mór:

  • Hotel Öreg Prés

A good quality medium size family run hotel, which consists of a new hotel wing and four old peasant houses, ideal to reveal the German tradition and architecture of the town.

 


Day 5

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (restaurant of the Károlyi Castle Hotel)

Accommodation in Fehérvárcsurgó:

  • Károlyi Castle Hotel

In the elegant and luxurious hotel developed in the castle the Károlyi Counts, you can become a part of the 19th Century Hungarian Aristocracy.

 


Day 6

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Three-course meal (in Székesfehérvár)
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (restaurant of the Károlyi Castle Hotel)

Accommodation in Fehérvárcsurgó:

  • Károlyi Castle Hotel

same as last night

 


Day 7

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (in the restaurant of the Hotel Öreg Prés)

Accommodation in Mór:

  • Hotel Öreg Prés

same as the hotel on the 4th day

 


Day 8

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (in the restaurant of the accommodation)

Accommodation in Oroszlány:

  • Pension Czermann

A modest accommodation in the city centre of Oroszlány, classic example of the communist period architecture.

 


Day 9

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (in the restaurant of the hotel)

Accommodation in Tata:

  • Hotel Kristály Imperial ****

This luxurious hotel is one of the oldest in Hungary dating back to 1770. The hotel has a unique, 240 m2 wellness centre with a jacuzzi, swimming-pool and several saunas.

 


Day 10

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Three-course meal (restaurant in Tata)
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (in the restaurant of the hotel)

Accommodation in Tata:

  • Hotel Kristály Imperial ****

same as last night

 


Day 11

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Two-course meal (in the restaurant of the pension)

Accommodation in Tardos:

  • Pension Kemencés – Tardos

A small, modest, but comfortable pension in the centre of the village, with a very good restaurant.

 


Day 12

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: One-course meal (in the canteen of the Shrine)

Accommodation in Péliföldszentkereszt:

  • Guesthouse of the Don Bosco Salesians

A very modest, but clean guesthouse, at the Marian Shrine. All the rooms are with bathroom – just like on every other places, only the furnishing and the style of the room can look a bit outdated.

 


Day 13

  • Breakfast: Continental breakfast 
  • Lunch: Packed lunch on the way
  • Dinner: Three-course meal (in the restaurant of the Hotel)

Accommodation in Tát:

  • Hotel Öreg Halász

A small and tidy hotel, on the bank of the river Danube.

 


Day 14

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: one-course meal (in a modest restaurant on the outskirts of Esztergom)
  • Dinner: Festive farewell dinner (in the elegant Prímás Pince restaurant)

Accommodation in Esztergom:

  • Pension Basilica****

It is really a nice, first class hotel with wellness facilities (Jacuzzi, saunas), just few steps from the Esztergom Basilica.

 


Day 15

  • Buffet breakfast
  • Lunch: Three-course meal (in a restaurant in Esztergom)

 

 

  Basic package: €690 All inclusive package: €1580
Accommodation Pensions and guest houses;
in double rooms (mainly) with bathroom
Good quality hotels and pensions (two wellness hotels among them);
in double rooms with bathroom
Single supplement €200 €250
Catering Modest breakfast + warm dinner Breakfast + warm or pre-packed lunch (depending on availabilty of a restaurant) + warm dinner
Guidance At 5 places: Bakonybél monastery, Zirc abbey, Majk hermitige, Tata & Esztergom city At 5 places: Bakonybél monastery, Zirc abbey, Majk hermitige, Tata & Esztergom city
Luggage shipment Yes Yes
Accompanying car Yes Yes
Accompanying person Pilgrim host, who drives the accompanying car, gives all the necessary information and arranges everything, but doesn’t walk with you.
Spoken languages: Hungarian and English, German, French or Italian.
Pilgrim host (see basic package)
+ hike leader, who walks with the group leading all day.
Spoken languages: Hungarian and English, German, French or Italian.
Night astronomical presentation at the Pannon Csillagda observatory no yes
Wine tasting in Mór no yes
Boat trip on the Danube (Esztergom – Budapest) no yes
Admission fees no yes
Info pack & map no yes
Traveling to Bakonybél and traveling from Esztergom no transfer from Budapest  airport
Insurance no no

The prices apply for a group of at least 10 persons.

Of course you can also mix the two packages (e.g.: you want the basic package, but with wine tasting and the boat trip). In this case please contact us, and we will calculate you the best price possible.

Monastery

Day 1 (Bakonybél)

We will be waiting our guests at the bus stop in Bakonybél or at the railway station in Zirc in the previously agreed times, and then take them to their accommodation, where they can have lunch.

Meeting is at 14.00 o’clock at the Saint Mauricius Monastery in Bakonybél established a thousand years ago, where Benedictine monastic life was revived in 1998. First, with the assistance of our tour guide, we familiarise ourselves with the thousand-year-long history of the small monastery hiding in the deep forests of the Bakony Mountains, and we can get an insight into its everyday life as well.

Following supper, we participate in the evening prayer (compline) of the Benedictine community. Eventually, you can finish the day at the nearby Pannon Observatory where, because of the excellent quality binoculars and extremely low light-pollution, the examination of the night sky provides a unique experience.

Latecomers may join the afternoon programs as they wish.

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Bakonybél pond

Day 2 (Bakonybél – Zirc)

Distance: 14 km | Elevation difference: +540 m, -360 m

Our pilgrimage begins! First we walk to the miraculously beautiful Borostyánkút (Amber well) next to the place where bishop Saint Gerard of Csanád led his solitary life around 1023. He retired from public life after finishing the education of prince Saint Emeric (Imre), the heir to the throne.

Later, we arrive to the feet of the highly protected Mount Nagy-Som, then leave towards the ancient Zirc where the centre of the Hungarian Cistercian Monastic Order can be found.

With the explanation of our tour guide we can get to know the monks’ new life ideal originating from the 11th century Benedictine community, while we can wander around the parts of the Zirc Cistercian Abbey open for visitors (Baroque abbey church, crypt, medieval ruins, historic library, arboretum).

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Bakony forest

Day 3 (Zirc – Ördög-árok – Bakonyoszlop)

Distance: 14 km | Elevation difference: +300 m, -440 m

This morning we go further North: first, we go in the spectacular valley of the Cuha stream and then, by going East, we get to the entrance of the Ördög-árok (Devil’s Gorge). Walking in the zigzag-winding gorge we approach the narrowest point of the 2 km long road (Gizella pass or Devil-dam), after which we descend approximately 4 or 5 metres on an iron ladder to the path below. The Devil’s Gorge is only recommended for experienced hikers. We advise another path for those, who would not like to hike through the Devil’s Gorge.

Our destination is Bakonyoszlop, from where we go to our accommodation by car situated at the foot of the seven hundred years old Csesznek castle. After occupying the accommodation, we also “besiege” the now ruined castle, destroyed by lightning centuries ago.

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Csesznek castle

Day 4 (Bakonyoszlop – Csatka – Nagyveleg)

Distance: 19 km | Elevation difference: +330 m, -380 m

We continue our pilgrimage from Bakonyoszlop on Mary’s Way. First, we go through Koromlapuszta, consisting of only a handful of houses, and arrive in Csatka and Szentkút (Holy Well, a famous place of pilgrimage). In recent years, Szentkút is visited by more and more Gypsy pilgrims around 8th September.

Gypsies coming here express not only their reverence for the Holy Mother, they also sell all kinds of things and look for husbands for their daughters while singing and dancing: music can be heard everywhere. We reach our accommodation by car, which is in the nearby town of Mór famous for its wine. We can even try them after dinner in the course of a wine tasting.

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Fehérvárcsurgó

Day 5 (Nagyveleg – Gaja-szurdok – Fehérvárcsurgó)

Distance: 15 km | Elevation difference: +280 m, -320 m

This morning we go back to Nagyveleg by car. In the afternoon, we arrive at the spectacular Gaja-gorge where one of the most famous Hungarian outlaw, Jóska Sobri, allegedly found shelter together with his companions. Having gone over the last hill and passed the calvary, we arrive in Bodajk. According to the tradition this is the first Marian shrine of Hungary, where Saint Stephen I, first king of Hungary, his son Saint Emeric (Imre), and his tutor Saint Gerard of Csanád came here several times to pray 1000 years ago.

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Wheat

Day 6 (Fehérvárcsurgó – Bodajk – Csókakő – Csókakő castle)

Distance: 14 km | Elevation difference: +320m , -220 m

In the first section of this day, our way leads again in the Gaja-gorge valley, and we go through Bodajk once again.

From here we go onwards to Csókakő where, after a small climb, we can take pleasure in the imposing ruins of the Csókakő castle, built after the Mongolian attack in 1241-42. Our accommodation is a little further, in Mór, to where we will arrive by car.

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Monks' cells in Majk

Day 7 (Csókakő – Oroszlány – Majkpuszta)

Distance: 21 km | Elevation difference: +400 m, -440 m

We will cover the longest daily distance of our pilgrimage this day, which goes through forests and hills all the way, far from civilization and roads. Therefore, it will not be possible to get into the escorting car during the day.

At the beginning of our pilgrimage we have to overcome a 300 meter level difference in order to go through Szentgyörgyvárpuszta and arrive in Oroszlány afterwards.

In the present day, the medieval settlement is mainly famous for its coal mines during the Socialist era, thereby having changed the previous identity of the village. The destination of our excursion is the Camaldolese Hermitage in Majkpuszta, where once the Camaldolese hermits lived, who made a vow of silence.

Our accommodation will be in a typical town from the communist time Hungary: Oroszlány.

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Graves

Day 8 (Majkpuszta – Csákányospuszta – Felsőgalla – Tata)

Distance: 17 km | Elevation difference: +500 m, -500 m

After seeing into the secrets of the Camaldolese hermits, we advance through the hills where the Holy Roman Empire’s army braking into the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary suffered a catastrophic defeat in 1051. Allegedly, the soldiers, while escaping, threw away their armors (vérts), hence the name of the Vértes.

During our trip we can catch a glimpse of the abandoned cemetery of Körtvélyespuszta, which is being slowly taken back into its possession by the forest. Then, after leaving behind the cliffs of the Mária-szakadék (Mary-gap), we get to the intersection of the Mary’s Way where we take a turn towards Esztergom. We finish the day’s section at Tatabánya (Felsőgalla) from where we get to our accommodation in the town of Tata by car, which is considered to be the Hungarian Town of Waters with several lovely lakes and springs. Eventually it is one of the loveliest town of Hungary with its castles, churches built on the shore of the lake. So after a short break we will go on a sightseeing walk to discover all these treasures.

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Forest

Day 9 (Tata – Tardos)

Distance: 12,5 km | Elevation difference: +500 m, -350 m

This day is an exception on our pilgrimage: on today’s journey we don’t follow Mary’s Way but that of St. James, leading to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The way passes by our accommodation, and leads us back to Mary’s Way.

We leave Tata going over the beautiful English Landscape Garden, and passing vineyards we soon get into the forest. We will have to overcome significant elevation differences by climbing up to the Slovak village Tardos, where our accommodation lies. Here, we can not only visit the Country House displaying the old lifestyle of Slovaks, but also the Radio Museum, which houses almost 150 still working radios from the last 100 years.

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Pusztamarót

Day 10 (Tardos – Pusztamarót – Péliföldszentkereszt)

Distance: 15 km | Elevation difference: +520 m, -630 m

We have to overcome significant level differences again by climbing up almost to the highest point of the Gerecse. For all our hard work we are compensated by the unspoiled nature and tranquillity.

After covering the first long section of the road, we arrive at the venue of our great but undeservedly forgotten historical tragedy, Pusztamarót. After the Turkish troops occupied the centre of the country, Buda, in 1541, an army with significant numbers entrenched itself here, recruited from local people.

However, the Ottoman Empire’s army outnumbered the local resistance: at least 20-25 thousand Hungarians died in the fights and the Turks captured many more. After visiting the Pusztamarót memorial we arrive in Péliföldszentkereszt at the end of the day, where the guest house of the Salesian religious order provides simple refreshment to our bodies and souls, tired from walking all day.

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Lavender in an old window

Day 11 (Péliföldszentkereszt – Tokod – Nagy-Gete – Dorog)

Distance: 16 km | Elevation difference: +720 m, -760 m

Péliföldszentkereszt, which once accommodated Templars, hermits, and Nazarene monks, became a well-known place of pilgrimage when a little boy who had been lame since his birth was cured.

Five years later it was declared an official place of pilgrimage and Pope Benedict XIV accepted a piece of the Holy cross from here as an authentic relic. Today, the Salesians of Don Bosco operate the shrine and welcome the guests and pilgrims wishing to relax.

During our trip the biggest challenge will be to overcome a steep 300 m high slope. After reaching the top of the hill of Nagy Gete, we go past the village of Csolnok. Here we can commemorate those political prisoners who had been sentenced to work in mines at the beginning of the 1950s and were kept as prisoners in the labour camps situated next to the village.

Descending from here we go towards Dorog, which is famous for its coal mining, however our accommodation is situated a little further from the pilgrimage route on the bank of the Danube, to where we get by car.

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Esztergom Basilica

Day 12 (Dorog – Esztergom)

Distance: 10 km | Elevation difference: minimal

Finally, we arrive at the final destination of our pilgrimage, Esztergom. The approaching sight of the Esztergom Basilica accompanies us almost all the way during our trip this day. Beginning from Dorog, we will be going on flat terrains until the end of our way in Esztergom, which is situated on the bank of the Danube. Esztergom’s heart is the former Royal Castle, which is towering over the Danube, and the Esztergom Basilica, built on the place of a medieval cathedral. During the evening farewell dinner we celebrate the end of our pilgrimage, the memorial certificates are handed out to the pilgrims.

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Sculpture of King Saint Stephen

Day 13 (Esztergom – Budapest)

Distance & elevation difference: minimal

On the last day, we will visit the most famous sights of Esztergom: the Esztergom Basilica, built on the place of the Saint Adalbert Cathedral, where we can once more recall the image of King St Stephen, his son Saint Saint Emeric (Imre), the mother and wife Blessed Gisela, and the educator St Gerard of Csanád.

On request, we can also participate in a Catholic mass (in Hungarian). Then we visit the Esztergom Castle Museum standing beside the Basilica. By walking in the eight hundred year old building, we can become familiar with the troubled history of the Royal Castle and formation of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, thanks to the assistance of the tour guide. After visiting the museum, a sightseeing tour in the city follows and then you can travel back on a ship to the magical Budapest, which will be bathing in its evening splendour. And perhaps, at the end of our road, we will succeed in recognizing that our whole life is a wonderful pilgrimage…

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Mary's Way map


Dear Pilgrims,

I’m Balázs and I’ll be at your help in the St Mary’s Way Entire Tour (In the Footsteps of Hermits and Royal Saints).

We start at the thousand-year-old small monastery of Benedictines, then we reach the miraculous Borostyánkút („Amber well”) and the Cistercian Abbey of Zirc. Furthermore, we pass through romantic landscape in Bakony and Vértes Mountains: we can see the spectacular Ördög-árok („Devil’s Gorge”) and the fabulous Gaja-szurdok („Gaja-Gorge”). We also visit historical towns (Zirc, Tata, Esztergom) and Marian shrines (Bodajk, Csatka).

We all hope that our pilgrimage help you to gain spiritual experiences in the undiscovered rural Hungary, which will accompany you throughout your whole life.

I am looking forward to meeting you in Bakonybél!

Balázs Ullrich

 

Mary's Way Association

Our professional partner:

The Mary’s Way Association

“Central Europe’s Pilgrim Way”

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