We arrived in the grand city of Budapest last at night, so first things first, it was time to get a room. Now not doing my research like I normally do when visiting places like this, I was finding it odd that everywhere we were looking only had the “Buda” name attached to it… Weren’t we in Buda”pest”? Ahhhh! The answer to my question was about to be told to us as soon as we sat down to dinner! Here is a quick look across the street from our home for the night!
Not having too long before it began to get dark, we decided to indulge ourselves with a nice dinner and a drink at the bar before tucking ourselves in for the evening. But while at dinner, the answer to our question…
Budapest is the combination of the city names Buda and Pest, which were united into a single city in the year 1873. The river dividing the two cities is non other than the Danube. The history of these two cities dates back to as early as 1 AD when it was occupied by the Celts. It was later occupied by the Romans to which it became the main city of Pannonia Inferior in 106 AD.
The history goes on to include the Ottomans, the Turkish Rule and others. To say this place has an interesting past is an understatement, but we have learned this far in our journey that not many European cities lack a full-page or two in the history books.
So on with our journey! It’s morning and time to hit the pavement running! Since we were on the Buda side of town, we needed to head to the Pest side to get to the real action!
We set off for the big city to see sites such as this…
The Buda Castle.
The Castle is the historical palace complex of the Hungarian kings of Budapest dating back to the year 1265. As you can see between the two main buildings in the picture, is the reconstructed medieval fortifications and the Great Rondella. These are the earliest parts of the castle still remaining. Remember Maria Theresa from the Czech Republic, well this was apart of her collection during her reign but never intended to use it as a royal residence because she did not spend much time in Buda.
Quite impressive if you ask me. The castle itself has a tremendous history and is well worth the read if you are ever interested, as well as the history of the whole city itself. The city, like much of Europe was destroyed during WWII, which we will begin to see more of later in our journey.
And we continue!
A quick stop on our way before heading to Pest! A beautiful waterfall, built for a martyr who again kept secrets about something someone else wanted knowledge of. (I apologize as I do not for the life of me remember what this place was called…)
Now let’s get back to business.
Crossing the Danube.
Budapest is cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, as well as one of the largest. It has 80 geothermal springs, the worlds largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue and the third largest Parliament building in the world. It truly is a unique city in each and every way.
Here is the Buda Castle from the Pest side of the city…
Onward we walk!
And then we come to this!
Our first real sighting of the Hungarian Parliament Building. Not only is it the third largest in the world, it’s one of the oldest legislative buildings in all of Europe. It is the largest building in Hungary, and the tallest in the city.
It houses the Holy Crown of Hungary and is perfectly symmetrical, containing two identical parliament halls. One used for politics, the other for tours.
We ran into the Kossuth Memorial, which was later moved to Esztergom, Hungary in 2014.
Lajos Kossuth, was a Hungarian lawyer, journalist, politician and Governor-President of the Kingdom of Hungary during the Revolution of 1848-49. He was widely honored during his lifetime from the United Kingdom and the United States and a freedom fighter of democracy in Europe. A bronze bust of Kossuth can be found in the Untied States Capital with the inscription: “Father of Hungarian Democracy, Hungarian Statesman, Freedom Fighter”
A little fun along the way!
It was super hot outside, so any chance of cooling off was greatly welcomed. We sat on the top of our “hop on hop off” tour bus and were extremely sun-kissed by the time the day was over!
So now we head away from parliament (For a little bit anyway) and onto the next big sight.
Onward to, St. Stephens Basilica.
And boy, were we in for yet another treat! This part I did my research on. Not only were we going to see a magnificent church, but our first real relic!
And our first glance inside…
You’ll have to excuse all of the pictures, but this place was fantastic.
The Basilica is named in honor of Stephan, the first King of Hungary (c 975-1038). The basilica seen today, was actually a theater in the 18th century. The architectural style is Neo-Classical and has a Greek cross ground-plan. There are very few stained glass windows here, just majestic archways, soaring domes and a treasure for your eyes every direction you look.
Now to the reliquary. Here we go…
The people are everywhere… it took us a good half hour to get in, as your shoulder to shoulder with everyone else looking to get a glimpse of the relic.
Referred to as The Holy Right, this is the supposed right hand of Saint Stephen. The story goes, when Stephen was canonized in 1083, his corpse was exhumed and is said that his right hand was found to be as fresh as the day he was buried. The rest of him, not so much. But as a result, the hand was taken off to be preserved for the rest of time. The hand went through many owners and did it’s far share of traveling over it’s 1000+ year history, even kept in a cave in Salzburg Austria during WWII. Maria Theresa herself had this at Schonbrunn Palace, which we just saw yesterday. Talk about the traveling hand.
After seeing The Right, it was time to head back outside!
Goodbye St. Stephens…
Now a quick stop at Hero’s Square.
The Square is noted for its iconic statue complex and rich history with the city. The top of the column, seen in the left photo, depicts Archangel Gabriel, who holds the Hungarian Holy Crown and the apostolic double cross in his hands.
Here is the Man with a snake, the symbol of war…
A must see while in Budapest! And now, for some lunch. As it was sweltering hot outside, we looked for a shady place to sit down for a quick bite. We found ourselves a sausage stand and of course, some ice cream!
After lunch, it was time to take to the water! We were off to Margaret Island which is located in the middle of the Danube in Central Budapest. The island is covered with parks and is a popular recreational area for locals and tourists alike!
And from here, it was time to head for a little cruise back down the Danube to where we started. Hop on, let’s go!
A few sights along the way…
And we get to see that wonderful Parliament Building again!
You really are speechless after seeing this go by… Remarkable…
A little view of our tour boat!
And with that comes the end of our time in Budapest. I will make it back someday to spend more time and get to know the city more, as it’s a city with a lot to share, and a history that begs to be explored!
Until next time, farewell Budapest and onward to Slovakia then back to explore Poland some more!