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Magyar Chieftains, Heroes Square, Budapest, Hungary
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Hungary: Budapest
August 2014

River Danube Castle Hill Walking Budapest Parliament District
Gellert Hill Andrassy Ut to Heroes Square City Park Dohany Synagogue
Budapest

A European city with a long and sometimes troubled history, with an awful lot to see. I remember particularly Shoes on the Danube, some wonderful contemporary bronze statues including the Magyar chieftains at Heroes Square, the beautiful Parliament building, Matthias Church and the warrior statues guarding the entrance to Fisherman's Bastion.

River Danube

River Danube
Budapest on the Danube
The large island is called Margit-sziget or Margaret Island.
Budapest Hotel Gerloczy

 

We arrived in time to have a cheese-oriented lunch at our hotel, the Gerloczy, in a great location with quirky rooms and a good café. And we were really aided in our discovery of the city by the copy of Andras Torok's Budapest: A Critical Guide which was in our room.

Budapest, like many great European cities, is located on an impressive river - in this case the mighty Danube, rising in Germany it flows almost 3,000 km east to the Black Sea.

Budapest Hotel Gerloczy
Hotel Gerloczy
River Danube
Buda Castle on Castle Hill is now home to the National Gallery and Budapest History Museum.
River Danube

Budapest lies about 1200 km down river from the source and was founded over 2,000 years ago, first with a Celtic settlement which later became an important town occupied and developed by the Romans. When the Romans departed in the fifth century, tribal warfare ensued, until a peace treaty made the town Bulgarian. The form of the modern city developed from two Bulgarian military outposts: Buda and Pest on opposite shores of the Danube.

We bought a 72 hour Budapest card which gives free public transport and includes free ferry transport on weekdays so that afternoon, a Friday, we hopped on a ferry travelling up river to Castle Hill. It's a great way to get a feel for the extent and splendour of the city and we passed many landmark buildings that we would return to visit in the coming days.

River Danube
Budapest Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge
Inaugurated in 1849, the bridge, below Castle Hill, was the first permanent structure to span the Danube, connecting Buda and Pest.
River Danube

 

River Danube

 

Castle Hill

Peter Mansfield MonumentPeter Mansfield
A student revolutionary of the 1956 uprising, he was eventually executed. The monument reflects the time he escaped from the police, leaping from a height. On the walls leading up to Castle Hill.

In the cave system which riddles Castle Hill traces of humans 500,000 years old have been found.1 In more recent times the hill has provided refuge for people fleeing invading forces since the 13th century when the Mongols were expanding their borders. At this time a Royal Palace was built but it was not until the 15th century that the town really gained importance when the king married a Neapolitan princess. Many Italians came to settle here bringing new crafts and styles, Renaissance culture and much building ensued, including expansion of the Royal Palace.

Castle Hill on the west bank of the Danube in Buda, was developed over many centuries, suffering invasion and occupation, as did many towns and cities, during the European wars for territory and supremacy.

Budapest Castle Hill
Walking up Castle Hill.
Budapest Castle Hill
This beautiful stepped window is in a deep alcove in the wall up Castle Hill.

Under the Austro-Hungarian Empire the quarters of Obuda, Buda an Pest merged to form the city of Budapest in 1872, becoming the capital of the country.

Bad times returned during the Second World War with severe destruction and eventual occupation by Russian forces.

Budapest Castle Hill
A fine St. George.

The 1956 revolution against the Russian puppet Communist government was crushed by overwhelming Warsaw Pact forces led by the Russians. Many thousands died.

The war had left the city in ruins but In the ensuing decades renovations have returned the city to its former glory.

Budapest Castle Hill
The view from Castle hill up river.
Budapest Castle Hill
Statues of 10th century soldiers guarding the gate at the entrance to Fisherman's Bastion.

We made our way up from river level to Fisherman's Bastion, climbing the monumental steps which make for a very grand approach.

The Bastion was built at the end of the 19th century as a viewing terrace - previously a true castle existed here with defensive walls but towards the end of the 19th century it was decided to redevelop the site as there was no longer a need for such massive fortifications. The medieval walls encircled the city on the hill; some say that this section was protected by the Guild of Fisherman, hence the name for the new terrace.2

Budapest Castle Hill

The seven towers along the length of the terrace represent the chieftains of seven Magyar tribes who came to settle in the land that was to become Hungary.2 The beginning of building for the renovated site in 1895 was in recognition of the millennium which had elapsed since then.

Budapest Castle Hill
Three of the seven towers on Fisherman's Bastion.
Budapest Castle Hill
Bronze statue of St Stephen, the first king of Hungary (1000-1038).
Budapest Castle Hill
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Matthias Church
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
The raven with a gold ring in its beak derives from the Coat of Arms of the Hunyadi family, one of whose members was a 15th century King of Hungary - Matthias Corvinus.
Budapest Castle Hill
Detail on one of the towers of Fisherman's Bastion.
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Matthias Church
West front and the Trinity column.
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Baroque Trinity Column was erected in 1713 and is a memorial to plague victims.
Budapest Castle Hill

 

The beautiful Matthias Church stands on the square behind the terrace. Over 700 years old it was founded by Saint Stephen and has had its fair share of trials and tribulations. The original 11th century church was destroyed by Mongol invaders in the 13th century.

A Gothic church was built towards the end of the 13th century and it became the venue for coronations. In the 16th century it was converted to a Mosque by the Turks, its walls were whitewashed and its floors covered with carpets.

The church was in a poor state when major restoration commenced in the 19th century, only for it to be badly damaged again in the Second World War. But repairs were again made to create the church as we see it today, a gleaming neo-Gothic edifice.

Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Matthias Church
Beautiful ceramic tiles on the roof.

 

The interior is Gothic-arched with classic Art Nouveau style decoration.

Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Entrance to Matthias Church.
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria
Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elisabeth were crowned in Matthias Church in 1867 marking the beginning of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Budapest Castle Hill Matthias Church
Stunningly beautiful stepped window with Art Nouveau painted decoration.

 

Walking Budapest

Budapest
Gresham Hotel
Budapest
Belvárosi Disznótoros

budapest market hall
Great Market Hall on Vamhaz krt.


budapest books and wine
Books & Wine
We came upon this store selling books and wine just a couple of minutes away from the Dohany Synagogue. My kind of place!

The Gresham Hotel stands close to the Danube in Pest, at the end of the Chain Bridge. Built in 1906 it is a fine example of Art Nouveau after extensive renovations which were completed in 2004.


Budapest
Lift floor indicator in the Gresham.



Budapest
Belvárosi Disznótoros
This butcher on Karolyi Mihaly Utca serves great food - we had spicy sausages and rustic bread one lunchtime. Very popular with the locals.
budapest gelarto rosa
Gelarto Rosa
Superb ice cream worked into artistic roses - chili chocolate was fantastic!
budapest books and wine
Books & Wine
budapest metro vorosmarty utca
Vorosmarty Utca Metro Station

 

Parliament District

Budapest Parliament
Hungarian Parliament building.

 

The Parliament building stands on the banks of the Buda on the Pest side. It is a mixture of styles, mostly neo-gothic, completed in 1904.

Attila Jozsef
Statue of Attila Jozsef - Hungarian poet, in front of parliament.
Budapest Shoes on the Danube
Shoes on the Danube
Budapest Parliament

 

Budapest Shoes on the Danube
Shoes on the Danube
Budapest Hungarikum Bistro
Hungarikum Bistro

Nearby, on the embankment, is a really moving memorial to those who were shot here towards the end of the Second World War, their bodies dumped in the Danube. Shoes on the Danube manages to evoke immense sadness and a feel for the ordinary people so viciously executed in the shadow of their parliament.

 

 

 

We had a very good meal at Hungarikum Bistro close to parliament. Excellent goulash soup, chicken-stuffed pancakes, followed by duck and paprika pork. Afterwards we wandered back to the embankment to take night shots.

 

Budapest at night
Budapest at night
Budapest at night
Budapest monument to victims of nazi occupation
Monument to victims of the Nazi occupation of Hungary in Liberty Square: a Nazi eagle attacks the Archangel Gabriel.

The items in front of the memorial (detail right) have been left by Holocaust survivors and other victims protesting that the memorial whitewashes Hungary's role in their persecution.
Budapest monument to victims of nazi occupation
US Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz
He carries a riding crop with which, so legend has it, he saw off looting Romanian soldiers.

 

 

South east of the parliament building is Liberty square with an eclectic array of statues and memorials.

 

Budapest monument to victims of nazi occupation
Budapest fountains
The street fountains sprang up without warning, trapping unsuspecting pedestrians and cyclists, until they subsided a few minutes later.
Budapest soviet memorial
Panel on the memorial to the Soviet liberation of Hungary in WW2.
Budapest royal postal savings bank
Bees climbing to a hive and snakes' heads.

East of Liberty Square, on Hold Utca, is a good example of the local "Secessionist" style: the former Royal Postal Savings Bank, completed in 1901, has strong Art Nouveau elements with eastern and Hungarian folk art influences.

Budapest royal postal savings bank
Budapest royal postal savings bank

The building's architect, Odon Lechner, deliberately set out to create a unique national style. It's very "Gaudiesque"!

Budapest royal postal savings bank
Budapest magyar nemzeti bank

On the south east corner of the square is Magyar Nemzeti Bank, with some very nice reliefs on the facade.

Budapest magyar nemzeti bank
Magyar Nemzeti Bank
Budapest magyar nemzeti bank
Budapest magyar nemzeti bank
Budapest St STephen's Basilica
South east of Liberty Square - St. Stephen's Basilica, named for the first king of Hungary.




Budapest magyar nemzeti bank
On a rooftop on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky.

 

 

Gellert Hill

Budapest gellert hill
Gellert Hill
Liberty Statue

 

Gellert Hill was of strategic importance in the past, hence the fortress, or Citadella, built here in the mid-nineteenth century by the Hapsburgs to keep an eye on a potentially unruly populace.

The comprehensive view of the city which made it a good lookout point nowadays entices tourists to see the city spread out below.

Budapest gellert hill
Steps and waterfall on Gellert Hill.
The statue is of St. Gerard (Gellert).
Budapest gellert hill
Budapest gellert hill
St. Stephen's and a ferris wheel.
Budapest gellert hill
Budapest gellert hill
Parliament
Budapest gellert hill
New Budapest Gallery on the Pest side of the Danube.
Budapest gellert hotel
Gellert Hotel

 

 

At the base of the hill is the Gellert Hotel and Spa. We didn't sample any of the spas in the city but the buildings themselves are worth a look. The Gellert is Art Nouveau with a vengeance!

 

Budapest gellert hill
Gellert Spa main hall.
Budapest gellert hotel

 

The spas offer not only hot and cold pools, indoor and out, but also massage rooms, steam baths, saunas and a host of other services.

Budapest gellert hill

 

Andrassy Ut to Heroes Square

Budapest opera house
The Opera house on Andrassy Ut.
Budapest opera house
Statues of composers on the Opera House - unmistakable Beethoven!
Budapest geza hofi
Bronze of Geza Hofi, comedian.

 

 

We walked up Andrassy Ut to visit the Heroes Monument - it's a long walk!

I love all the bronze sculpture scattered about the city, especially those of more contemporary people. Nagymezo Utca, at the junction with Andrassy Ut, is the location of several theatres and there are bronze statues of performers here too.

Budapest imre kalman
Imre Kalman, operetta composer, on Nagymezo Utca.
Budapest imre kalman
Seated bronze of Imre Kalman is outside the Operett Theatre.
Budapest geza hofi
Geza Hofi
Budapest Parisi Nagyaruhaz
Parisi Nagyaruhaz

We stopped for drinks at the celebrated Alexandra Bookcafe on the first floor of the Parisi Nagyaruhaz (Paris Department Store) in the dazzling Lotz Hall - the ceiling frescoes here were created by Karoly Lotz. It's an immensely impressive place in which to take coffee!

Budapest Parisi Nagyaruhaz Lotz Hall
Lotz Hall
Budapest Parisi Nagyaruhaz Lotz Hall
Budapest Parisi Nagyaruhaz Lotz Hall
Budapest Parisi Nagyaruhaz Lotz Hall

 

Budapest Parisi Nagyaruhaz Lotz Hall
Budapest Parisi Nagyaruhaz Lotz Hall
Budapest House of Terror
House of Terror

The House of Terror at Andrassy Ut 60 was once used by Hungarian Nazis - the Arrow Cross Party - and the Hungarian State Protection Authority - AVH - the Hungarian secret police. Prisoners here were tortured, held without trial, sent to forced labour and concentration camps.

In the spring of 1944 Hungary was occupied by the Nazis. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced into ghettos or deported to forced labour or extermination camps or summarily executed and thrown into the Danube, all their possessions confiscated. Soviet occupation took over early in 1945. Over 600,000 Hungarians were sent to gulags - Soviet concentration camps.1

Budapest House of Terror
Photographs of victims on the wall of the House of Terror.

 

Budapest ww1 memorial
WW1 Memorial corner of Andrassy Ut and Izabella Utca.

 

Budapest ww1 memorial
WW1 Memorial on Izabella Utca.

The House of Terror serves not only as a museum but also as a memorial to the many victims of the Nazi and Soviet occupations.

 

Budapest Zeller Bistro
Zeller Bistro on Izabella Utca.

We had a very good meal at Zeller Bistro, on Izabella Utca off Andrassy Ut, one evening - loved the complimentary sparkling elderflower wine from the owner's estate. Fabulous crispy fish and duck salad starters and excellent pork tenderloin and chicken paprika to follow.

Budapest bronze
Art Deco-style bronze relief corner of Andrassy Ut and Rozsa Utca - theme of trains.

At the north end of Andrassy Ut Heroes Square is dominated by an impressive monument, the Archangel Gabriel flanked by seven Magyar chieftains and fourteen historical figures.

Budapest heroes Square
Heroes Square
Budapest heroes Square
Magyar Chieftains
Budapest heroes Square
Budapest heroes Square
Budapest heroes Square
Magyar Chieftains
Budapest heroes Square
Karoly Robert
1307-1342
Budapest heroes Square
Budapest heroes Square
Konyves Kalman
1095-1116
Budapest heroes Square

 

City Park

Budapest City Park
City Park seen from the air as we flew in, Heroes Square centre top.
Budapest City Park
Budapest City Park zoo
Elephant House at Budapest Zoo.
Not a big fan of zoos!

 

 

Heroes Square stands on the edge of City Park which, among other things, is home to the zoo, gardens, a boating lake (which becomes an ice rink in winter) and Széchenyi Baths.

Budapest City Park
City Park
The large building is Széchenyi Baths.

 

Budapest City Park
Széchenyi Baths
Budapest City Park zoo
At the entrance to Budapest Zoo.

Széchenyi Baths are very impressive with fine water-themed mosaics.

Budapest City Park
Széchenyi Baths
Budapest City Park

 

Budapest City Park
Budapest City Park
Vajdahunyad Castle
Budapest City Park
Budapest City Park
Vajdahunyad Castle

 

 

 

 

Vajdahunyad Castle was built in 1896 to showcase the various architectural styles found in Hungary.

Budapest City Park
Vajdahunyad Castle
Chapel of Jác
In the portal Romanesque curved arches beneath pointed arches of the typical Gothic style.
Budapest City Park
Vajdahunyad Castle
Budapest City Park

Budapest City Park
Anonymus
True identity unknown, he was King Bela's chronicler.

 

 

A memorial to the 1956 Hungarian revolution stands on the west side of the park. A mass of rusting columns gradually come together to form an arrowhead of steel. It symbolises the coming together of the people in a show of force against the occupying forces.

Budapest 1956 uprising memorial
Memorial to the 1956 Hungarian uprising.
Budapest Timewheel
Budapest 1956 uprising memorial

 

North of the 1956 memorial is a massive hourglass timewheel, 8 meters in diameter and weighing 60 tons. The sand should take one year to flow from the upper to the lower glass chambers, running out on New Year's Eve, when the wheel is turned through 180degrees to begin a new cycle. We couldn't see if sand was flowing through or not. However, as we were visiting in August, and a very small proportion of the sand had moved to the lower chamber, I think it was broken.

Budapest ing building
Just across from the park on Dozsa Gyorgy Ut is the modern Ing building, in stark contrast to most of the architecture in the city it has a very definite bright and modernistic feel.

 

Budapest 1956 uprising memorial

 

Dohany (Great) Synagogue

Budapest Dohany Synagogue
Two towers rise above the Great Synagogue. The arcaded wing on the left is the Jewish Museum. The white arcade and dome behind is the Heroes' Memorial Temple.

 

The synagogue stands at the intersection of Dohany Utca and Wesselenyi Utca and is the largest synagogue in Europe, in the world second in size only to the Temple Emanu-El in New York.4 The building can accommodate around 5,000 people.

Budapest Dohany Synagogue
Budapest Dohany Synagogue


Budapest Dohany Synagogue
Budapest Dohany Synagogue

It was built in the middle of the nineteenth century with distinctive Oriental/Moorish elements which were so admired that many future synagogues were built in a similar style.

Budapest Dohany Synagogue
Memorial Tree

The synagogue was part of the Jewish ghetto during the Second World War. Very unusually, through force of circumstance, a cemetery was created next to the synagogue for thousands of victims of the nazis.

In the courtyard is a memorial tree, the leaves bear the names of the dead and disappeared.

Budapest Dohany Synagogue
Budapest Dohany Synagogue

 

References

  1. budapest.travel: Buda Castle Hill
  2. Fisherman's Bastion History
  3. House of Terror
  4. Jewish Budapest