Old Village of Hollókő and its Surroundings
Since 1987 • Cultural
Hollokö is an outstanding example of a deliberately preserved traditional settlement. This village, which developed mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries, is a living example of rural life before the agricultural revolution of the 20th century.
Hollókö is an exceptional example of a deliberately preserved traditional human settlement representative of a culture that has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change. This village, which developed mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries, is a living example of rural life before the agricultural revolution of the 20th century. Located about 100 km north-east of Budapest, Hollókö is a small rural community whose 126 houses and farm buildings, strip-field farming, orchards, vineyards, meadows and woods cover 141 ha. The village and the surrounding area are given the same protection as a historic monument such as the castle. Mentioned as early as 1310, this castle, whose ruins lie to the north-west of the village today, played a decisive part in the feudal wars of the Palocz and the Hussite wars. It served as protection for the village whose ruins have been found a little way from its walls.
At the end of the Ottoman occupation (1683) the castle and the village were finally abandoned and the present village grew up below. It developed gradually throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. As was customary in the region, the first generation of inhabitants settled on either side of the main street. In this one-street village, subsequent generations built their houses at the back of the narrow family plots, thus progressively enlarging the built-up area. The barns were built apart from the village, on the edges of the fields, according to Palocz custom.
The development of the village and the soil can be traced from various documents. In 1782 it was still a typical one-street village. Later, a second street developed to the east of the main street. A plan of 1885 shows the topography was already like that of the present-day plan: the amount of cultivated land had reached its maximum by the mid-19th century and the village could therefore grow no further. Some limited growth started again in 1960 and is now strictly controlled.
The inhabitants of Hollókö never heeded a 1783 decree prohibiting the use of wood for building, which considered it to be too inflammable. Consequently the village was periodically devastated by fire. The last of these fires dates back to 1909 but the houses were again built according to the traditional techniques of Palocz rural architecture: half-timbered houses on a stone base with roughcast white-washed walls, enhanced by high wooden pillared galleries and balconies on the street side protected by overhanging porch roofs. The church with its shingled tower is simply a transposition of this domestic architectural style.
Hollókö is a living community whose conservation not only includes farming activity but also ensures its success. It provides a certainly exceptional and maybe unique example of voluntary conservation of a traditional village with its soil. The plots that were modified by the regrouping of land were returned to their original strip shape. The vineyards, orchards and vegetable gardens have been recreated; the ecological balance has been restored, even in the forestry environment, taking infinite care to respect historical authenticity. Hollókö not only represents the Palocz subgroup within the Magyar entity, but also bears witness, for the whole of Central Europe, to the traditional forms of rural life, which were generally abolished by the agricultural revolution in the 20th century.
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Within UNESCO's broad remit, this specialised agency of the UN works towards international cooperation agreements to secure the world's cultural and natural heritage, designating venues of exceptional value as World Heritage Sites.