Sights

Hungarian Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament building, a magnificent example of Neo-Gothic architecture (although displaying Renaissance and Baroque characters too), is just over 100 years old. In the 1880’s an open tender was held for the design of the Parliament building. Construction based on the winning plan began in 1885 and the building was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of Hungary in 1896, and fully completed in 1902. Both runner-up designs were also built facing the Parliament building. One is the Museum of Ethnography and the other is the Ministry of Agriculture. The Budapest Parliament building is the third largest Parliament building in the world. It has 691 rooms, 20 kilometers (12,5 miles) of stairs and at 96 meters (315 feet). During the Communist era a large red star was added to the central tower above the dome of the building, but after its downfall, the star was removed. Unfortunately, modern air pollution constantly attacks the porous limestone walls, requiring frequent restoration. This also means that there is a good chance that you will see some scaffolding around the building.

Guided tours of the Parliament are available when the National Assembly is not in session. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and is well worth the price, as it covers the main entrance stairs and hall, one of the lobbies, the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Tours are held in several languages.

Source: visitbudapest.travel

Buda Castle Hill, Fisherman’s Bastion

Today, Castle Hill is recognized as a World Heritage Site, and has many must-see attractions, Gothic arches, eighteenth-century Baroque houses and cobblestone streets. Though Castle Hill has changed much since building began in the 13th century, its main streets still follow their medieval paths.

Buda Castle Hill is also home to a large interconnected cellar system that consists of natural caves created by thermal waters and man-made passageways. Part of the cellar system can be toured at the Buda Castle Labyrinth and at the Hospital in the Rock Museum.

Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya) is only 100 years old, and is a favorite lookout. In medieval times, the fish market was nearby and the bastion was built to commemorate the fishermen who protected this part of the city. The seven tent-like turrets symbolize the seven Hungarian tribes that arrived to the Carpathian Basin in 896.

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Heroes’ Square

Laid out in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of Hungary, Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) is the largest and most impressive square of the city. Located at the end of Andrássy Avenue and next to City Park, surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Kunsthalle (Hall of Art) on the right.

The Millennium Monument in the middle of the square was erected to commemorate the 1000-year-old history of the Magyars. Archangel Gabriel stands on top of the center pillar, holding the holy crown and the double cross of Christianity. The seven chieftains who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary can be seen on the stand below. Statues of kings and other important historical figures stand on top of the colonnades on either side of the center pillar.

When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. The Habsburg emperors were replaced with Hungarian freedom fighters when the monument was rebuilt after World War II.

Source: visitbudapest.travel

St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and can hold up to 8,500 people. Although in architectural terms it’s a cathedral, it was given the title of ‘basilica minor’ by Pope Pius XI in 1931. It took more than 50 years to build the Basilica. Building commenced in 1851, and the inauguration ceremony took place in 1906 and was attended by Emperor Franz Joseph. During its construction, in 1868 the dome collapsed and rebuilding it had to start almost from scratch, which explains the delay in the Basilica’s completion.

The patron saint of the church is St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary. His mummified right hand is kept in a glass case in the chapel to the left of the main altar. The beautiful interior is also noteworthy as it is decorated by famous artists of the era. The most valuable artwork is the mosaic based on Gyula Benczur’s oil painting depicting the allegories of the holy mass. Another beautiful work by Benczur is the painting in which St. Stephen holds up the crown and asks the Virgin Mary to become the patron of Hungary.

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Chain Bridge

Spanning the Danube between Clark Ádám tér and Széchenyi István tér, the Chain Bridge (Lánchid) was the first to permanently connect Buda and Pest. There has been a pontoon bridge on the river since the Middle Ages enabling passage from spring to autumn. During winter, the river froze making crossing possible; however, there were times when the weather changed abruptly and people got stuck on one side. In 1820, this happened to Count István Széchenyi, when he had to wait a week to get to his father’s funeral. This experience led him to decide that a permanent bridge had to be built. He became a major advocate of the project and founded a society to finance and build the bridge.

At the time of its construction, Chain Bridge was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Chief engineer Adam Clark, a master builder from Scotland, completed the span in 1849. Legend has it that he was so proud of his masterpiece he would challenge anyone to find any fault with his work. When it was discovered that the lions at either ends of the bridge didn’t have tongues, he was so ashamed that he committed suicide. This of course is only an anecdote. The tunnel, which was built a few years later, is also the work of Adam Clark. By the way, the lions do have tongues; however, they are not visible from the street below. During World War II, the bridge was damaged and its rebuilding was completed in 1949.

Funfact:

It is an interesting detail that the bridge’s designer was an English engineer named William Clark, who had no relation to the Scottish engineer, Adam Clark, the builder of the bridge.

Source: visitbudapest.travel

Budapest Opera House

The opera house in Budapest stands as one of the most beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings in Europe. When it was opened in 1884, the city shared the administrative duties of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with Vienna. In fact, Emperor Franz Joseph commissioned its design.  The Budapest Opera House is considered to be amongst the best opera houses in the world in terms of its acoustics, and has an auditorium that seats 1200 people. It is horseshoe-shaped and, according to measurements done by a group of international engineers, has the third best acoustics amongst similar European venues (after the Scala in Milan and the Paris Opera House). The statue of Ferenc Erkel stands in front of the Opera House. He was the composer of the Hungarian national anthem and the first music director of the Opera. The other statue in front of the Budapest Opera is of Ferenc Liszt, the well-known Hungarian composer.

Insider Tip:

You can tour the Opera House during the day and learn about its gorgeous architecture as well as enjoy a world-class performance in the evening. Guided tours are offered daily at 3 pm and 4 pm in English, François, Deutsch, Italiano and Español. Tours in Japanese are offered Mondays and Saturdays. Tickets are available in the Opera Shop and tours take about 45 minutes.

Source: visitbudapest.travel

Andrássy street (Fashion district)

Andrássy Street, recognized as a World Heritage Site, was built to connect the city center with City Park (Városliget). Construction began in 1872, and the avenue was inaugurated in 1885. Its Eclectic Neo-Renaissance palaces and houses were built by the most distinguished architects of the time. Aristocrats, bankers, landowners and noble families moved in. The iconic avenue was named after Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy, a key advocate of the project.

Things to Do and See Around Andrássy Street

Andrássy Street is great for walks alongside the beautiful turn-of-the-century buildings or people watching in one of the many cafés. It’s a long avenue, however the Millennium Underground Railway runs beneath it, should you feel tired. The State Opera House and the House of Terror Museum are the most famous attractions on Andrássy, but the avenue is also home to many upscale boutiques, including Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna, Burberry and Gucci, and to several other sights.

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Gül Baba’s Tomb

This tomb is the northernmost holy place of the Islam. Gül Baba was a Turkish dervish who came to Hungary during the Turkish invasion, led by Suleiman I in the 16th century and is known in Hungary as the ‘Father of Roses’. He was honored as a holy man, and died in Buda in 1541.

You must remove your shoes before entering.

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Váci street

Váci Street, located in the city center and designated as a pedestrian precinct, runs from Vörösmarty Square to Vámház körút. The northern part is the busy and fashionable shopping street everyone refers to as Váci Street, while the southern part is lined with restaurants and over-prized souvenir shops. While Váci Street is great for a stroll, unfortunately most of the restaurants are expensive and geared towards tourists and there is little in the way of quality souvenirs for sale.

To give you an idea of the size of Pest in the Middle Ages, it was the lenght of today’s Váci Street. Next to Vörösmarty Square, on the corner of Váci Street and Türr István Street, the white line on the pavement marks the site of the medieval city wall. This is where the city’s northern gate, Váci Gate, once stood.

Insider Tip:

Start your walk at the famous Gerbeaud Café on Vörösmarty Square and you will end it with a totally different experience at the Central Market Hall on Vámház körút.

Source: visitbudapest.travel