Approaching Tekirdag (Rodosto) I remember a hilarious series of English language signs from Asia making the rounds on the net…. this could be my modest contribution. And this was my lunch that day: a crepe-like dish, tasting more salty than sweet. And the fame of the region, Meatballs. These looked and tasted very similar to Chevapchichi in Serbia and Croatia. One of the several houses that was given to the Hungarian nobleman, Ferenc II Rakoczi and his entourage by the Ottoman Sultan following the downfall of their uprising against Habsburg rule in Hungary in the 18th century. Francis II Rákóczi (Hungarian: II. Rákóczi Ferenc, 27 March 1676 in Borsi, Royal Hungary – 8 April 1735 in Tekirdağ, Ottoman Empire) Hungarian aristocrat, leader of the Hungarian uprising against the Habsburgs in 1703-11 as the prince of the Estates Confederated for Liberty of the Kingdom of Hungary. He was also Prince of Transylvania, an Imperial Prince, and a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Today he is considered a national hero in Hungary. Ahmed has been the director of the Hungarian House in Tekirdag for 30 years, and during this time he learned absolutely perfect Hungarian from the visiting tourists there. He has no family ties, relations or any other connection to Hungary. Listening to him, one would not be able to tell that he was not born and raised in Hungary.I am not sure if he ever has been to Hungary, even for a short visit. When I asked him how he did it, all he said was: “ one must pay close attention, that is all….” The insurrection led by Rakoczi was unsuccessful, as was the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 in the following century, and the title of King of Hungary would remain with the Habsburg emperors until the final collapse of the Austrian Empire after World War I, resulting in the formation of the short-lived Hungarian Democratic Republic in 1918. Rákóczi was offered the Polish Crown, supported by Tsar Peter I of Russia. He turned the offer down, though, and remained in Poland until 1712, where he was the honoured guest of the Polish aristocracy. For a while he lived in Danzig (now Gdańsk, in Poland) under the pseudonym of Count of Sáros.He left Danzig on 16 November 1712, and went to England, where Queen Anne, pressured by the Habsburgs, refused to receive him. Rákóczi then crossed the Channel to France, in January 1713. On 27 April he handed a memorandum to Louis XIV reminding him of his past services to France and asking him not to forget Hungary during the coming peace negotiations for the War of the Spanish Succession.Prince Rákóczi, although not recognized officially by France, was much in favour in the French court. But after the death of Louis XIV on 1 September 1715, he decided to accept the invitation of the Ottoman Empire (still at war with the Habsburgs) to move there. He left France in September 1717, with an entourage of 40 people. He landed at Gallipoli on 10 October 1717. He was received with honours and enjoyed the support of the Sultan for the rest of his life.He was given several houses in a beautiful street facing the Sea of Marmara in Tekirdag to house him and his entourage and a generous yearly stipend to support them. This house was where they gathered for their meals. Adam Vay, 1656-1719, General of Ferenc Rakoczi. He died in exile in Poland. International relations provided Hungary with an opportunity to liberate themselves from the Habsburgs. With the help of Louis XIV of France anti-Habsburg rebels, led by a young nobleman, Imre Thököly (Rakoczi's stepfather) rose against the Empire in 1678. Thököly occupied most of Northern Hungary and territories of modern-day Slovakia. In 1681 the Ottomans joined to help him, and Thököly was recognised as King of Upper Hungary by Sultan Mehmed IV. However, when the Ottomans lost the battle of Vienna in 1683, Thököly lost Ottoman support and was eventually defeated in 1685. His alliance with the Ottomans changed the positive perception Western Europe had about Hungary, and instead of being thought of as the bastion of Christianity, the country was now being thought of as an enemy, Partly as a consequence, Hungary was occupied and organised as “newly acquired territory” instead of “territory liberated from the Ottomans”. As the House of Habsburg was on the verge of dying out, France was looking for allies in its fight against Austrian hegemony. Consequently, they established contact with Rákóczi and promised support if he took up the cause of Hungarian independence.Kuruc (i.e. anti-Habsburg) forces began a new uprising in Munkács, and Rákóczi was asked to head it. He decided to invest his energies in a war of national liberation, and accepted the request. On 15 June 1703, another group of about 3000 armed men joined him and French support of funds and 600 Polish mercenaries also arrived. Encouraged by England and the Netherlands, peace talks started on 27 October 1705 between the Hungarians and the Emperor. Both sides varied their strategy according to the military situation. One stumbling block was the sovereignty over Transylvania – neither side was prepared to give it up. Rákóczi’s proposed treaty with the French was stalled, so he became convinced that only a declaration of independence would make it acceptable for various powers to negotiate with him. The Diet held at Ónod declared the deposition of the House of Habsburg from the Hungarian throne on June 13, 1707. But neither this act, nor the copper currency issued to avoid monetary inflation, were successful. Louis XIV refused to enter into treaties with Prince Rákóczi, leaving the Hungarians without allies. There remained the possibility of an alliance with Imperial Russia, but this did not materialize either. At the Battle of Trencsén, on August 3, 1708 Rákóczi’s horse stumbled, and he fell to the ground, which knocked him unconscious. The Kuruc forces thought him dead and fled. This defeat was fatal for the uprising. Numerous Kuruc leaders transferred their allegiance to the Emperor, hoping for clemency. Rákóczi’s forces became restricted to the area around Munkács and Szabolcs county. Not trusting the word of the Emperor’s envoy charged with negotiations with the rebels, the Prince left the Kingdom of Hungary for Poland on February 21, 1711, which was the beginning of his lifelong exile. The Sea of Marmara from his window. The language geniuses, Ahmed and Emrullah, our tour guide, who also learned our very difficult language on his own, for fun! The street of the Hungarians in Tekirdag. And the Eye that Protects, the Nazar Amulet on a gate of a house in Tekirdag. It looks like it is not only for tourists!