Possible as a day-trip from Budapest, Kecskemét is a small town chiefly remarkable for a few striking pieces of architecture from Hungary’s “Romantic Nationalist” period at the turn of the twentieth-century. Its name comes from the Hungarian for goat, kecske, as its thirteenth-century bishop apparently used to give the cloven-footed creatures to each new Christian convert. It is also the gateway to Kiskunság National Park.
Kecskemét’s main attraction is the ornate Cifra Palace – a large building on a street corner that you might overlook were it not for the daring Art Nouveau design. Designed by Géza Markus in 1902, it now houses the Kecskemét Art Gallery, whose collection of bold, stylized pre-World War I art is well worth a look. South of Szabadság tér is the Town Hall – another piece of Romantic Nationalist architecture, with the added charm of a musical clock which pops out hourly. The Hungarian Photography Museum at Katona József tér 12 has excellent exhibitions of photography from the nineteenth century to the present day.