When János Kocsi was elected mayor of Nagykáta six years ago and president of a small region of 16 rural communities, he did not know about the famous history of the area he had bought at that time. When he got to know that this place was probably the home of Attila’s wooden palace, he immediately recognized the touristic potential of bringing Attila’s world to life again.
The central point of the 8,000 m² historic amusement park will be Attila’s palace with a tower almost 36 m high. “There are no historic theme parks in Central Eastern Europe at all,” says Mr. Kocsi. “Attila is known worldwide, and according to experts’ surveys, we can expect between 600,000 and one million visitors per year,” says the dynamic entrepreneur. “Attila was an excellent fighter, a talented politician, a passionate hero and an enchanting leader. He spoke six languages and worshipped women and the elderly. Two years ago, a new book about Attila was published in France, and it became a best seller immediately.”
“In a first step, we will try to make our visitors part of Attila’s everyday life,” he continues. “They will be received like ambassadors and will be shown around the whole area. We will have a prison, the chambers of Queen Réka and the hall of the Hun’s shamans, and offer a feast for 1,500 people. The whole setting will be a lively historic game in which actors, dancers and stuntmen as well as our guests themselves participate. We will have bell tents with craftspeople, and our visitors may sell their own goods, too. The second phase of our plan focuses on the building of a four- or five-star hotel, then Attila’s city including all its infrastructure. And do not forget that the famous hill of Attila has healing powers and is said to give you energy and relaxation.”
The ambitious project will be financed in part by the European Union. However, the Hungarian government has to support this project. “Our country and the government would benefit from this project for sure,” says Mr. Kocsi. “It will bring more taxes and boost our attractiveness as a tourist destination. It will be an interesting project for investors worldwide, too, and might even become a central hub in Central Eastern Europe. The region here offers many other attractions, for example our hot springs. We already have a museum, a wine and beer tavern, two restaurants and a hotel for around 120 people.”
Mr. Kocsi represents the eighth generation of a butcher’s dynasty. After the privatization process in Hungary, he grew the family business up to 24 butcher shops with a team of 200. “I come from a region where I have always been surrounded by horses,” he says. “When I established my own business, I bought horses in Bugac, Szilvásvárad, Hortobágy. As I was only able to see my horses once a week, I decided to establish a horse farm. I bought 500 h from the army in Tápiószentmárton. Here is where the famous mare Kincsem was born, too. I started to breed Lipizzaner. In 1999, some of my horses became world champions. I also founded a sports club. Today, I have around 200 horses, half of which are Lipizzaner and the other half are Holstein. Every year, we have between 50,000 to 70,000 visitors.”
Believing in the potential of his new project, Mr. Kocsi aims to make it a family affair. “We know we will be successful. Therefore, we are ready to take the full risk ourselves,” he says. “In general, the situation in Hungary could be worse. Tourism seems to be quite stable. There are more and more people coming from other countries, as well as from other Hungarian regions. We draw on a solid economic basis and hope that we will be able to lay the foundation for Attila’s palace soon.”