Eger in detail

Sights

Worth a Trip: The Magnificent White Stallions in Szilvásvárad

The celebrated white Lipizzaner (Lipicai in Hungarian) horses are well known for their graceful, ballet-like dressage movements at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. In Szilvásvárad they are bred as carriage horses. As a result they are bigger and stronger than the Austrian breed and those raised for riding and show at Lipica in Slovenia.

Breeding, as they say, is paramount. Six families with 16 ancestors (including Spanish, Arabian and Berber breeds) can be traced back to the early 18th century, and their pedigrees read like those of European royalty. When you walk around the stables at the stud farm, you’ll see charts on each horse stall with complicated figures, dates and names like Maestoso, Neapolitano and Pluto. It’s all to do with the horse’s lineage. The exhibits at the Horse Museum focus on bloodlines, but the real attractions are the breeding mares who live in this five-star stable.

A fully mature Lipizzaner measures about 15 hands (around 153cm), weighs between 500kg and 600kg and lives an average of 25 to 30 years. Lipizzaners are not born white, but grey or even chestnut brown. The celebrated 'imperial white' coat does not come about until they are between five and 10 years of age, when their hair loses its pigment. Think of it as part of the maturing process. Their skin remains grey, however, so when they are ridden hard enough to sweat, they become mottled.

Nonstop hourly buses link Szilvásvárad with Eger (560Ft, 40 minutes, 29km). From Eger, catch one of three daily trains to Szilvásvárad (420Ft, one hour, 30km) from Egervár station, which is on Vécseyvölgy utca about five minutes on foot north of Eger castle.