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The Anna Ball is the most prestigious ball in Hungary, although it does not constitute as a national beauty contest, since the winner of the title is chosen from the guests of the ball. The Anna Ball has a rich history, with one of the only such events organized even in the socialist decades. The ball traditionally takes place on the closest Saturday to the name day of Anna, which is July 26. The first Anna-ball was held on July 26, 1825 in Balatonfüred, a town near the Lake Balaton by Fülöp János Szentgyörgyi-Horváth for his daughter Anna-Krisztina. It was here that Anna met her husband, Ernő Kiss (later one of the Thirteen Martyrs of Arad who were executed in 1849 as the leaders of the revolution and war of independence against the Austro-Hungarian Empire). In the 1800s it was the most aristocratic ball, and was visited by many artists and politicians, too, including Mihály Vörösmarty, Mór Jókai and Lujza Blaha. After World War I the ball lost its importance, but it was still held until World War II. After the war Hungary became a communist country where aristocratic balls were discouraged, but despite this the Anna ball was held again. The first one after the war was held on July 31, 1954. “The Most Beautiful Girl of the Ball’ was first elected in 1861, and from 1862 her prize started to be a golden apple. The winner gets a Victorian style vase and the Apple of Eris, the first runner-up gets a Rotschild style vase and the second runner-up gets an Apponyi-style vase from the world-famous porcelain Manufacture of Herend. The next day the winner and the runners-up make a tour in the host city of the ball in chaise. On Friday prior to the ball the traditional "heart-fishing’ is held, when girls participating on the ball go to the lake, and fish little wooden hearts, with the name of their future partner - at least on th ball - on it.

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There are various local legends regarding the origin of the heart-shaped tombstones in Balatonudvari. Whichever you choose to believe, one thing is for sure: this protected heritage cemetery is an eerily captivating place.Historians and researchers agree that this cemetery near the local church was consecrated sometime between 1770 and 1780. Historic documents prove that there weren’t any crosses in this burial place: instead it has these heart-shaped stones. Although similar tombs can be found in other nearby settlements, Balatonudvari has them in the largest numbers. According to the dates still visible on some, the stones date back to the 19th century. We can only refer to legends when trying to explain the stones’ origins. One of them says that the daughter of a fisherman drowned during a Balaton storm: her stonemason lover made her a heart-shaped tombstone and soon the locals started to follow suit. The other legend was documented by politician and writer Károly Eötvös in his piece about his travels around Lake Balaton: a poor, peculiar man lived in Balatonudvari, who wrote that those buried had a part above ground looking just like a human heart – because that’s worthy of both the dead and the living.Whatever is the truth, the cemetery, declared to be a defended monument in the meantime worths avisit, when you are at the nearby Balaton. #balaton #balatonlake

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