Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Budapest, Hungary

A round-trip ticket, for the four hour train ride, from Brno to Budapest costs 1259 Kč (~$66). It is so worth it. Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. With almost 2 million residents, about 20% of the entire country lives there.

In 1873, the cities of Óbuda (Ancient Buda) and Buda (both on the west side of the Danube), and Pest (on the east side of the Danube) were united and became Budapest. The city used to be the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918.

There is a lot to see and do here. Way more than you can do in 1.5 days. I, for sure, have to go back soon. Here are some of the highlights of my weekend trip.
Buda Castle, completed in 1265, was home to Hungarian kings. Inside the castle is Hungary’s biggest library, the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. During communism, the government considered buildings like the castle to be symbols of the former regime. During the 1950s, the castle was gutted and the interiors were destroyed. Such a shame.

Near the castle is the lánchíd (Chain Bridge) which joins Buda and Pest. It was the first permanent bridge in Budapest that crossed the Danube River.

Hősök tere (Hero’s Square) is the major square. In the center of the square is the Millennium Memorial with statues of the leaders of the seven tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century, plus other outstanding figures in Hungarian history. Construction on the memorial began in 1896 on the 1,000th anniversary of Hungarians coming to the area. It is surrounded by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art. The square is at the top of Andrássy Avenue.

Andrássy út dates back to 1872. The wide boulevard is lined with Neo-renaissance mansions, the State Opera House, expensive boutiques, restaurants and theaters. It was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 2002.

Magyar Állami Operaház, the Hungarian State Opera House is a neo-Renaissance building, in central Pest, Andrássy út.

The House of Terror, located on Andrássy út, is a museum and memorial containing exhibits about Hungary’s fascist and communist governments.

Dohány Street Synagogue, is located in Erzsébetváros, in the city’s 7th district. It is the second largest synagogue in the world, after the Temple Emanu-El in New York City. The original synagogue was bombed by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party in 1939. The Germans used it as a radio base and as a stable during WWII. It suffered lots of damage from aerial raids during the war.

The Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs resembles a weeping willow. The leaves are inscribed with the names of the 400,000 Hungarian Jews murdered by the Nazis.

The Hungarian Parliament is the 3rd largest in the world. It is the seat of the National Assembly. It is at Lajos Kossuth Square, on the bank of the Danube.

On the Pest side of the Danube, between Parliament and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is a memorial to Jewish victims, who had to remove their shoes and were shot directly in to the Danube by, the fascist Arrow Cross militiamen.

Monument of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. In 1956, there was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the communist government from October 23 – November 10. On November 4th, Soviet troops invaded and over 3,000 people were killed while 200,000 people fled as refugees.

St. Stephen's Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica and the neoclassical building is the city’s largest church. It is named for Hungary’s first king. Stephen’s mummified fist can still be seen there.

The Liberation Monument was erected in 1947 in remembrance of the country’s liberation from the Nazis by the Soviet Red Army during WWII. It is located on Gellért Hill, with an awesome view of the city.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been to Budapest but it sure sounds like it has amazing history. That thing about people being shot directly into the river is shocking. One of the best books about expats living in Budapest is called, strangely, "Prague". I'm sure other expats in Prague picked it up like I did to read about an expat experience in Prague.