An Invitation in Three Movements: Tourism, Health and Wellness Tourism, and Medical Travel
Four central European countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – have joined together to promote tourism to the region in a unique ensemble of countries that share borders; history; cultural and gourmet delights; unique tourist attractions; and an abundance of health, wellness, and medical services. This joint marketing initiative draws its name from the musical heritage of the region and is called the “European Quartet“.

First Movement: Tourism

 by Elizabeth Ziemba

The four countries offer a rich variety of tourism attractions including those for the arts. Cultural activities such as museums, concerts, opera and ballet are available at affordable prices that shine in comparison to the prices charged in London, Paris, and other European cities while delivering comparable or better quality. Rich in musical heritage, each of the four capital cities boasts jewel box theaters and opera houses as well as museums and concert halls that celebrate their best-known composers and performers from all genres.

Even for the music novice, the music of Central European composers is familiar. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with Chopin’s Minute Waltz, Liszt’s Hungarian Dances, Dvorak’s New World Symphony (inspired by his time in the United States), and Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto. These and other compositions have been used as soundtracks for movies, commercials, and yes, even cartoons. Let them inspire you to take in the sights and sounds easily available to you in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland. and Slovakia.

Chopin statue, WarsawFryderyk (Frederic) Chopin, Poland’s favorite son was born in a tiny village, Zelazowa Wola, where you can visit a museum built on the place where his house stood. Chopin is widely celebrated in Warsaw in many places including the Chopin Museum. Housed in the Ostrogski Palace, Degas’ portrait of Chopin is hung in a corner overlooking one of the composer’s pianos where you can imagine his mazurkas being performed. Concerts are frequently performed at the museum to complete your musical experience. The Grand Theatre in Warsaw offers concerts, opera and other performances in one of Europe’s largest theaters.

Franz LisztHungary’s most famous composer, Franz Liszt, was born in Raiding, Hungary, now Raiding, Austria, reflecting the changing boundaries that define the history of this region. The Liszt Museum and Research Center is located in the heart of Budapest. Situated in the Academy of Music building, Liszt’s apartment contains his pianos, music, books and other personal items offered in a personal and intimate setting. Concerts are also offered at the museum and other venues including the Hungarian State Opera House and the Hungarian National Theatre where the acoustics and quality of performances are excellent.

Dvorak Museum, PragueThe Czech Republic boasts the birthplace of Antonin Dvorak and celebrates his life and music with an annual festival in the country’s capital, Prague. Dvorak was born in Nelahozeves which was part of Austria at the time of his birth but which is now in the Czech Republic. This small town hosts a museum at the home where the composer was born, displaying his personal effects. The Antonin Dvorak Museum in Prague is in a beautiful baroque villa named “America” and is surrounded by lovely gardens. The museum offers a personal look into the private and musical life of the composer.

National Theatre, BratislavaA friend and contemporary of Beethoven, the brilliant composer, pianist, conductor and teacher, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, was born in Bratislava, Slovakia. The charming house where he was born stood on the site of the Hummel Museum with its lovely garden and music shop. Pianos and memorabilia are on offer to transport you back to the time when Hummel was a central music figure during a time of great musical brilliance in Europe.

Bratislava has two opera houses in which to enjoy traditional and contemporary performances of not only opera but also dance, concerts, and theater. The historic opera house, dating from the 1880s, is in the center of town, an easy walking distance to restaurants, shopping centers, and other sites. In contrast, the New Opera House is modern and situated along the Danube.

Hungarian SweetsWine in Central EuropeEven if you are not a fan of classical music or opera, each of these four countries offers a marvelous array of experiences to feed your heart, soul, and tummy.From urban cityscapes to stunning mountains, travel by train or cruise the Danube to relax and watch the countryside roll by.

Vineyards hint of wine to be tasted while the region is also famous for its beer. Sample Hungarian goulash, Polish pierogi, Czech palacinky (thin pancakes), and Slovakian roast duck as you travel from country to country enjoying your own European quartet.

Article by Elizabeth Ziemba

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