The Tokaji (Bald) Mountain
2021. 04. 19.

The Tokaji (Bald) Mountain

The 516 m high mountain is the southernmost and youngest volcanic witness mountain of the Tokaj-Eperjes mountain range. It is separated from the Zemplén Hills by the Bodrogkeresztúr saddle, which was once the bed of an ancient watercourse. It is a special meeting place for the different landscapes of Northern Hungary, such as Nyírség, Taktaköz, Bodrogköz and Zemplén. Its name has changed many times over the centuries, from Tarcal Hill to Tarcal Hill.

Anonymus writes about it in the Gesta Hungarorum:

"'Then Ond, Ketel and Tarcal, having passed through the forest, rode by the river Bodrog; then, as if running for a prize, they galloped up to the top of a high mountain. Leaving the other two behind, Tarcal, the valiant warrior, was the first to reach the top of the hill. From that day until now, the mountain has been called Tarcal's Mountain. From the top of the mountain, the three gentlemen looked round and round as far as the eye could see, and loved the land inexpressibly, and at that very spot, according to heathen custom, they slew a fat horse and made a great dream. Tarcal, who was a bold man, and had stood his ground in battle, was now dismissed by his companions; and he, with his soldiers, returned to the general Árpád, to give him news of the suitability of the land. " (Anonymus: Gesta Hungaroum, c. 1200)

 The name of Tarcal is preserved to this day by the neighbouring settlement, but the name of the mountain became Tokaj Mountain with the historical strengthening of the town of Tokaj, as Petőfi testifies:

"I am passing through more and more beautiful landscapes, my friend; today I have passed through the Mountain Valley. The view is more beautiful than Szerencs. To the south, a long plain down to the Tisza; to the east, the former fire-boiler, the Tokaj mountain, which stands alone, like a general before the army, there stands the town of Tarcal with its high head, in a blue cloak, with grave dignity." (Sándor Petőfi: Travel Letters to Frigyes Kerényi, 1847.)

At the foot of the mountain, the Bodrog flows into the Tisza, to then continue as one body of water to cross the Great Plain. The meeting of these landscapes and rivers gives the area a unique microclimate. The unique topography and climate are further enhanced by the mountain rocks. The rocks are mainly pyroxene andesite, with rhyolite and rhyolite tuff, and the surface is mainly covered with loess. The loess was deposited during the last glaciation of the Eurasian continent, in some places several metres thick. The mosaic of these rocks is very favourable to flora, resulting in a very diverse flora. There are many special species of plants on the mountain, such as the woolly peony, which is found only in Hungary, the purple sallow flower, which is a representative of the Mediterranean flora of Lebanon and Syria, and the Hungarian lady's-flower, a native species of the Carpathian Basin. The mountain has 500 hectares of protected area with 65 protected plant species, including 18 orchid species. The former plant communities have been almost completely altered by human intervention. By the end of the 19th century, the area was almost exclusively planted with vineyards and orchards. It is from these times that the name Bald Mountain derives. During this period, the native vegetation was found in stone pits, on field margins and on the edges of low roads. These indigenous plant species regained a foothold on the mountain after the Phylloxera, when the vineyards were destroyed. In the 1950s, large areas of mixed woodland were planted to mitigate erosion damage and ensure the establishment of native vegetation.     The reintroduction of flora was followed and is still being followed by the addition of new species of fauna. UNESCO has declared the Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region a World Heritage Site. The Tokaj Mountains are an excellent tourist destination to visit when wandering around the region.

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