Budapest & Hungary
Hungary is known as the heart of Central Europe. It is famous for its musicians Frantz Litz and Bela Bartock, its delicious paprika goulash, the romantic Danube River, and not least for its capital Budapest, which has one of the best nightlifes in Europe with numerous wine bars and nightclubs. Other fun cities to visit are Eger with its Turkish history, Pecs with its extremely mild climate, and Hecks, which is located alongside a warm thermal lake. Lake Balaton is considered the Hungarian “inland sea”, and the Great Plain with Hortobagy National Park is the land of the Hungarian cowboys.
Budapest has developed a reputation as one of the best party towns in Europe. Nightlife and the pleasures of the numerous hot water springs spas are the main attractions. But Baroque, Neoclassical, and Art Nouveau architectural treasures also abound throughout the city. The two parts of the city, Buda and Pest, are divided by the Danube River. The Buda hills are on the West Bank, while on the East Bank is the newer, and larger, Pest, which developed on the edge of the Great Plains.
To reach the Royal Palace on the hill, you can either climb the challenging Royal Steps, or take the teleferic built in 1870. Along the promenade on the top of the hill you will find a charming medieval city with a magnificent panoramic view over the Danube and Pest to the east. Your visit to Buda should include Fisherman’s Bastion, The Citadella, a fortress built by the Habsburgs in the middle of the 19thc century, and Saint Matthias Church. Six miles away, memories of the country’s socialist past in the Soviet Bloc can be found in Memento Park. Lenin and Marx are among the 40 statues, busts and signs commemorating this part of its history.
The most famous of the many spas in Buda is Gellert Bath. You can enjoy eight different pools with various temperature between 66 and 100 F. Some people say: “it is like taking a bath in a Cathedral”.
The iconic Parliament Building, which is home to the National Assembly, stands prominently along the riverbank in Pest. It was constructed in Gothic Revival and Baroque style and completed in 1902. Many of its 691 rooms can be visited on a guided tour of the North Wing, which includes most notably the Domed Hall, the Golden Staircase, and the Crown of Saint Stephen. The adjacent Heroes’ Square is the largest square in the city. In the center is a 98 feet column topped with the statue of Archangel Gabriel. It is also known for the MIllennium Monument, which was erected in 1896 to commemorate 1000 years of Magyar history. Saint Stephen Basilica is a beautiful neoclassical cathedral built in 1905. The inside of it is quite dark but the view from the top of the Dome is fantastic. The Great Synagogue of Budapest was built in 1859 and is the largest Jewish house of worship in the world outside of New York City. Moorish elements are incorporated in the unique decorative style. It contains the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, and just north of the Synagogue is the Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial.