H-4431 Nyíregyháza, Sóstófürdő, Tölgyes u. 1.




Opening time

1 april-       30  september     10 am - 6 pm

1 october - 31 october           10 am -5 pm 

Tuesday to Saturday


Ticket price 

Adult: 1000 HUF

Senior: 500 HUF (up 70 free)

Student: 500 HUF

Under 6: free

Family: 2500.- (2 adults and 2 or more children)

Disabled person: free admission for a carer


Grups (min. 15 person)

 Adult: 800 HUF

Senior: 350 HUF

Student: 350 HUF



The open air museum of Sóstó

 Sóstógyógyfüdő, a fashionable and po­pu­­lar spa and leisure center since the nineteenth cen­tury, is only five kilometers from the cen­ter of Nyíregyháza. Built in 1971, the Sóstó Vil­lage Museum, located near the spa in the north-western corner of the country is the on­ly open air ethnographic museum in Eas­tern Hungary. The decision to create this museum saved numerous local buildings which would certainly have disappeared had they remained on their oroginal sites. Proving the decision right, the museum has had 100,000 visitors flocking here every year, a great variety of arts and craft workshops, numerous folk art displays, and a growing number of private events held by companies, institutions, and private individuals. In 1997, it was named "Museum of the Year," a tribute to its status nor only in Hungary but abroad as well.

As the norther part of Tiszántúl region is a place where various cultural influences from different directions have always met, folk architecture here has blended numerous features, resulting in a characteristic style that cannot be found anywhere else in the country. Exploring an area of 2300 sq. mi. (6000 sq. km.), visitors can enjoy buildings and fireplaces designed in the distinctive styles of Transylvania, Upper Hungary, and the Great Plain. In the museum area itself, the farmyards and houses are grouped according to their region of origin. As the purpose was to display a real village, the communical buildings, like the houses, have been located in the most frequented spot, the center of the village.

Upon entering the main gate, visitors will feel as if they are in a real village from the last century. In every season, visitors can see the village from a different perspective. The sun, whether from directly overhead or casting long shadows,  illuminates the roofs of the buildings and the carved pillars of the terraces. The shadows projected on the white washed walls multiply the fasci­na­ting images. 

The following is a summary of the major points of the procedure for bringing a new house to the museum. Work commences with selecting a suitable building. Archi­tects survey the selected building, then the diffi­cult task of demolition begins. The house, or farm building is prepared for trans­porta­tion. During this phase, hidden elements such as remnants of old fireplaces, etc. are often found, necessitating the modi­fi­cation of the original blueprint. These ele­ments pro­­­vide us with hints for restoring the buil­ding to its original state. The vari­ous ele­ments of the building are numbered in or­der to insure that they will be rein­stalled back to their original position when the buil­ding is rebuilt. A video tape and a large number of photographs are also made on site to assist in proper restoration.

When the components are transported to their new location, they are repaired and restored prior to full reconstruction of the building. It is not possible to use all the ori­ginal materials again, as thatched roofs or parts of a wattle and daub wall for ins­tance, cannot be reused. In such cases, we use iden­­tical materials and technologies when reconstructing the building.

Sometimes it is not possible to obtain all  the buildings selected – especially in the case of public buildings – we cannot and do not wish to deprive a village of its church, for example, which may be the only real historic building there. Our solution is to copy the building, reconstructing it by examining his­­­torical documents and pho­to­graphs, but using new materials. A simi­lar procedure is used when constructing old buildings that do not exist in their original form anymore. 

Therow of workshops

A pitched road leads us past a modern, but still traditional gentry-style entrance building to the center of the village. On the left-hand side, we can see a 130-foot-long row of workshops of tradi­tional craftsmen. In this old Nyíregy­há­za building, we find the shops of the gin­ger­bread maker, shoemaker, milliner, dyer, black­­smith, and barber. The work­shops are all equip­­ped with original furni­ture, tools and acce­sories necessary for these different crafts. When furnishing  the work­shops, craftsmen still working in their trade provided us with help and guidance. The tools and equipt­ment found in these work­shops are iden­ti­cal to the ones used by the craftsmen them­selves. Craftsmen actually work here on open days. In the last room is an exhibition in memory of the local guilds, and here visi­tors may follow the events of their develop­ment and organization.

The scool from the village of Barabás


Behind the row of workshops, we find the taller building of the school from the village of Barabás. The school was built in its final form at the end of the last century and originally belonged to the Calvinist Church. It consisted of two classrooms, where six classes worked together, with the boys and girls being separated. The teacher's room is in the middle of the school, and the classroom on the right is now home to a permanent exhibition on the history of education.

The fire watch tower

The fire watch tower can be found oppo­site the school building. It was the place of a water-cart and a horse drawn pump. The watch tower was built and equipped with the help of the city fire brigade. The fire watch was maintained and operated by the people of the village. A fire watch was espe­ci­ally needed during harvest time as dry crops caught fire very easily. In addition, there was a multitude of thatched houses in every village. Two or three people from each street took turns on the fire watch. One of them was on duty in the tower while the others had a rest in the common room of the fire watch building. If they saw a fire, they rang the alarm bell, hooked up the horses to the carts, and everyone in the vil­lage rushed to help. 

The group of buildings of the Nyíri Mezőség


The entire village is modeled after the spindle shaped village pattern that became common in the area of the Upper Tisza Ri­ver during the middle ages. If we proceed on the right hand side of the street of the spindle shaped village center, the first sight is the group of buildings of the Nyíri Mező­ség region. It is worth noting the fire places in these thatched buildings that have spa­cious porches. In one, we can find a fitted old kitchen range and a cauldron located near the porch. Another fitted range and a búboskemence – a large curved shaped earthware fireplace common in Hungarian villages – are located in the next room. The owner of the house was a jack-of-all-trades and ma­ny of his tools are still in the house. The tradi­tional tools for fishing used by people in the Tisza area are also displayed here. From the same location, and located in the yard are other interesting buildings: the stable, pig­sty, coach house, and well. The most inte­res­ting, however, is the long tha­tched building with open sides as it houses a boat made from one, single piece of oak. The boat, made in the 15th century, is over 12 m long and research revealed that  the tree was over 500 years old when it was cut down to make the boat. Its original func­tion, ho­we­ver, is not clear; some experts maintain that it was used for transporting salt, others think it was part of a water mill. The boat was found in the Tisza river bed at Tiszabecs a few years ago. 

The farmstead of poor Nyírség peasants.


As we move down the street, the next buildings form the farmstead of poor Nyírség peasants. The small house in the middle of the yard was brought from Pócspetri. There is an earth stall behind it, with only the roof  being visible and above ground. It was modeled after an original one in the village of Levelek. The house pro­bably belonged to a poor, cotter family, ori­­­gi­nally Rusyn perhaps, but who later be­came Hungarianized. This conclusion was drawn from the copy of the famous Mária­pócs icon hanging on the wall. The icon has Cyrillic inscriptions on it. The antique fire­places and furniture survived from the turn of the century until the late 1980's without change.

The buildings from the northern part of the Nyírség area

The next house also comes from the northern part of the Nyír­­­­ség area. The house of Anarcs was built in 1816 and is one of our most valuable buil­­dings. Take time to notice the beauti­fully carved pillars of the porch and the sa­wed plank decoration of the facade. The walls  are also of interesting construction: huge oak pillars support the roof and the spaces between the two pillars are filled with wattle and daub and then covered with thick plas­ter on both sides. The larger room of the house, as well as the porch, are furnished to reflect the lifestyle of a peasant family of medium wealth. The back room now serves as a popular venue for demonstrations of traditional cooking. Crow-pleasing specialities include lapcsánka, tasty potato dough deep-friend in sinfully flavorful lard, kenyérlángos, leftover bread dough deep-fried golden brown, and sztrapacska, noodles fried with onions and served with tangy sheep's cheese.

 This house drew the attention of the designer of the Millenium Village and was used as a prototype for a house in that vil­lage. The Millenium Village was built to com­memorate the thousand year anniver­sa­ry of the Hungarian Conquest in 1896. 

The farm buildings belonging to the house were brought here from Berkesz.  When  the work began to transport them here, four ancient tombs were discovered. Since that time, we have organized youth camps, and with the supervision of archeo­lo­gists, young people have discovered nearly 20 tombs of an Avar cemetery. (The Avars were an ancient people who lived in the Car­pathian Basin before the Hungarian Con­­­quest.)

The buildings of the central part of the Nyírség area

The third house is an excelent example of the architectural style of the plains. The tha­­tched house, its porch, and the stable be­hind it have been brought here from Kál­ló­semjén. There is a small building used for drying hay at the end of the yard. This buil­ding, which was later used for curing to­bacco, originated from Nyírlugos. The two large rooms of the house are separated from each other by a vaulted porch and both rooms have a kemence, which is fueled from the outside. As you can see, the ke­mences take up most of space in the rooms. Note that the furniture in the two rooms is diffe­rent. The back room – "the small house" – is furnished with the furniture of the elderly couple who owned the house. Their furni­ture was made around the turn of the cen­tury. The front room – "the big house" – be­lon­­ged to a young couple and its furni­ture is made of popular wood, reflecting the ur­ban taste of the 1930's. The commode un­der the main girder beam is decorated with re­li­gious objects bought in the famous pa­rish-feasts of Máriapócs. They reflect the Greek Catholic religion of the owners.

The buildings of the Bereg area


We are still in the Northern part of the village center, but the houses are now diffe­rent: they come from the Bereg area. The buil­dings, transported here from Tarpa, were built in an entirely different style. The first Bereg house, with its Neoclassical fa­cade, tin roof, robust porch pillars, high stone footing, and the variety of farm buil­dings behind it, reflects the wealth of the people who lived in it. The barn behind the house contains a collection of old agricul­tu­­ral machinery. The furniture of the house and the equipment of the kitchen also il­lustrate the wealth of the owners of the house. The inscription on the main girder beam: I, Károly Belényesi, built this house with my woman, Sára Madai, in February 1881; identifies the builders of the house and  dates the house as well. 

The dry mill

The vast, thatched dry mill from the village of Matolcs is situated in the western corner of the spindle-shaped center. The mill, which consists of a large horse walk and a smaller millhouse, is only a reconstruction, but thousand like it once ground the region's grain. Regular grinding demonstrations have proved to be among the most popular events here.

The chand­lery store and the pub

Turning back from the Western corner of the spindle shaped village center, we may take a brief rest at its Southern arch. The chand­lery store and the pub brought here from Barabás are ideal for resting! The fur­ni­­ture and equipment of the store are from the period between the two world wars. There is an interesting chest with many dra­wers, locking cupboards, and various boxes and glasses. There is a wide selection of sou­ve­­niers, postcards and publications of the museum available for purchase. At the vil­lage pub next door, visitors may find re­fresh­ments.

The bell to­wer of Tivadar, the church Calvinist of Kisdobrony and the pastor's residence from Csaroda

We have made a circle around the bell to­wer by now. The bell tower is standing in the middle of the village and we can now have a closer look at it. It was constructed by a wright named Mózes Papp in 1757. The tower, with its roof of wooden shingles, stood next to the church of Tivadar before 1937. It was then disassembled. Photo­graphs and detailed documentation of the construction remained intact. Reconstruc­­tion was based upon these documents, and Romanian carpenters erected the nearly 16 m high tower of oak wood in less than 3 months. The tower is one of more than 20 similar wooden towers found in the Hun­ga­rian part of the Upper Tisza Region. Its slen­der spire, complicated knots and plank-co­ve­red gallery represent the Hungarian car­pent­ry trade at its best. The church of Kis­dob­­rony and the pastor's residence from Csaroda were placed behind it. Their wattle and daub walls exemplify the Protestant sacral architecture which dominates this area. Services, baptism, and weddings are held in the church on Sunday, and with its special ambiance, the pastor's residence, which reflects middle-class nineteenth-century taste, is regularly used for various events such as civil wedding ceremonies, conferences, and receptions.

A house of a lesser noble family is plan­ned to be built in the now empty site next to the pastor's residence. It is going to be a house from Jármi, in the Nyírség area of historical Szatmár County. The brick house with wooden shingles and its porch supported by round stone columns is expected to illustrate the lifestyle of the lesser nobility. The number of the lesser nobility was much higher in this area than the national average. The building is home to a temporary display of the museum's most valuable ethnographic artifacts.

The "Tirpák's" buildings

Walking under a row of birch trees towards the western end of the village center and passing by the smithy, we reach yet another group of buildings. These bokortanyák, a group of farmsteads standing isolated in the fields around Nyíregyháza, are a characteristic form of settlement for the Tirpák people, who are of Slovakian origin and live in and around Nyíregyháza. The specialty of the building from the Nagycserkesz–Cigánybokor is that the heated rooms and the other more utilitarian rooms (the pantry opening from the porch, the stable, and the cart shed) are all built under one roof. Tirpák days, regularly held in the space between the other agricultural buildings–such as the stable, summer shed, corn loft, pisty, chiken pen, and hayloft–provide the inhabitants of the nearby bokortanyák a chance to introduce visitors to their rich tradition.

The cemetery and the building of the gardien of cemetery

Turning back, we see the sexton's lodge by the cemetery. A typical cemetery from the historical counties of Szatmár and Bereg with its tombstones and crosses of wood and cast iron, it serves as a final resting place for Protestants, Jews, and Roman Catholics alike. The lodge has a stuffed thatched roof and it was brought here from Nagyhodos. The house, consisting of two rooms, is a ty­pi­cal example of the houses built by pea­sants who were not very wealthy.

The Gypsy's huts

Having gone past the garade, or hedgerow, visitors reach three huts which represent the type of dwelling attribured to the county's Roma inhabitants, some of whom still live this way. The first hut is dug into the ground and was used by the poorest people. The other two used to belong to somewhat bet­ter-off gypsy families. Sometimes quite large families lived together in these huts. The pit, as well as the piles of clay mixed with straw next to the huts, illustrate the ancient craft of the gypsies-adobe making.

The buildings of the Rétköz area

 Across from the huts, visitors will find a massive wooden granary from Nagyhalász, which we regularly use for various social events. Passing by the building, then crossing the bridge in the middle of the museum area, we reach a group of buildings from another region, the Rétköz. Before building the canals in the last century, the Rétköz was a region of moorlands and swamps. Ag­ricul­tural work was only possible on small dry patches of land among the swamps. The main source of living was ani­mal husbandry. It is well exemplified by the housing confi­gu­ration: a small dwelling house with a large stable in front of it. There was space for 25-30 animals in the stable. One of the two Rétköz houses il­lust­rates the lifestyle of wealthier people, whe­reas the other one re­pre­sents the home of a relatively poor fami­ly. The smaller house is unique, as it was built in 1871 but rep­re­sents the style of for­mer centuries. The house has been lowered into the ground al­most to the level of the windows, the walls are also low, and the whole house looks as if it were just growing out of the ground. Its kitchen is decorated with an interesting co­lo­red flower pattern.


The house of a poor nobleman of Szatmár area

The houses opposite it represent houses of families of various financial positions. They all come from Szatmár County. The house from Nagyhodos used to belong to a poor nobleman who hardly had any pro­perty. The house, built in 1830, is a nice example of the creative folk architecture, with nicely carved porch pillars, and wattle and daub walls. The pigsty from Tarpa and the well-sweep carved into a nice tulip shape are also examples of this kind of ar­chi­tec­ture.

The building of a middle peasant of Szatmár area

Entering the house of Jánkmajtis through its finely decorated gateway, we can see the house of a middle peasant fa­mily of the Szat­már region. The house and its farm buil­dings: the barn, wood shed, bakery, huge stable, pigsty, and hen-pen are all represen­ta­tive of this life style. 

The buildings of a poor peasant of Szatmár area


Having seen the last of the houses, we come back to where we started our walk. Passing through the lift gate, we arrive at the house of a poor peasant built in 1843. This is similar to the house of the sexton of Nagyhodos, which we have seen before, but which has another small room on the other side of the porch. In this room there is a hearth reflecting the Transylvanian inf­lu­ence on the architecture. The typical fire­place of the plains, the kemence, is on the porch un­der an open chimney. The farm buil­dings be­longing to the house reflect a relatively poor way of life; the corn bin with wicker­work walls, and the hen pen of similar con­struction, as well as the bee hives next to it are all made from inexpensive materials. The kiln, hidden among the plum trees in the back of the garden, and the hay storing roof, called abora, are necessities found only here in Hungary. The abora is a roof that can be lowered and elevated by four pillars.

*  *  *

The museum aims to be a living institution. After many years of painstaking efforts, we have managed to paint a picture of Hungarians of the past, one which is now ingrained in the minds of the people living in the area. Please join us. It is always worth a visit to the museum: something is always happening there! Whether it is a concert or a show or simply a leisurely walk among the buildings which recall the athmosphere of the nineteenth century. What we believe is that reconstructing the past for the future is a noble task. Without such an effort we would be considerably poorer; indeed, preserving folk traditions in this urbanized, globalized world helps us to retain our identity as it promotes our historical traditions.