Szentháromság tér 2, Varbusz, Open daily 9am-5pm,
At the very heart of Buda's Castle District is the Mátyás Templom. Officially named as the Church of Our Lady, it has been popularly named after King Matthias Corvinus (Good King Mátyás) who ordered the construction of its original southern tower. In many respects, the 700 year history of the church serves as a symbol (or perhaps a reminder for Hungarians) of the city's rich, yet often tragic history. Not only was the church the scene of several coronations, including that of Charles IV in 1916 (the last Habsburg king), it was also the site for King Mátyás' two weddings (the first to Catherine of Podiebrad and, after her death, to Beatrice of Aragon).
Old hilly capital of Hungary and castle remains on high mountain is about 40 km from Budapest.
From the castle you can see beautiful panorama of mountains and Danube and in the castle you can find museum of torture.
Visegrad is about 42 kilometers from Budapest.
For further information watch my Visegrad VirtualTourist page.
Szentendre is small lovely town near Budapest. It was built by influence of Serbs and has many narrow streets, colorful churches, some museums and great variety of souvenir shops.
Szentendre is about 21 kilometers from Budapest.
For further information watch my Szentendre VirtualTourist page.
I had my magic 72 hour travel pass and one late afternoon I had quick whizz out on the Metro to Deli Palyaudvar in Buda just to see what that was all about. Unfortunately it was dusk by the time I arrived - in wintertime Hungary the sun drops sharply at its abided hour and so despite the ride from Deak Ferenc only taking about 20 minutes it was damn near pitch black by the time I arrived.
I was impressed though. Some attractive restaurants beckoned (but at 5 pm too early to eat) and a quick wander gave me the impression that there's more to Buda and Pest than just the centres of either.
On my next visit I'm definitely going to do some exploration of these out of the way places - HA! Especially now that I've upgraded my language skills and can now say "Korso Kerem" with total confidence.
A fellow Vter recommended this to me and then I saw a writeup of the trip in Fodor's and it turned out to one of the most enjoyable things we did.
The children's railway is totally run by children except for actually driving the train. Children sell the tickets, take the tickets, give information, etc. It was known as the Pioneers Railway until 1990 when Communism was kaput.
Part of the fun is actually getting there, we took tram 56 from Moszkva Ter, a 15 minute ride through lovely tree lined streets and residential area. At the end of the line, head back the way the tram came up and look for a staircase going up, at the top you should see the sign for the railroad. Buy your ticket and hop on board for the 45 minute one way ride through the hills and forest of Buda.
There are 6 stops in between, if you have a morning to spare, you can get off, the station had a brochure that detailed what you could do at each stop that was in English. One of the stops was the highest point in Budapest (Janos-hegy), a nice idea if you have a clear day (we didn't). If you get off here, I understand you can take the chairlift back down or you can get back on the train.
At the end of the line, follow the crowds and take the cog wheel railway to the end where you can pick up tram 56 to take you back to Moszkva Ter.
The cost is 300 ft (around $1.50 US), a real bargain!
You can do the entire trip backwards from what we did, not sure if there is an advantage to doing it one way over the other.
See the attached website for the schedule and more information
We found this restaurant recommended on Trip Advisor and although it is a bit far out, we decided to go all the way there. It is located on the Buda side, on the upper end, on the same level as the top of Margit island. We were not disappointed. This was one of our best Hungarian meal experiences in Budapest.
The Kehli is an old inn - founded 1899. Ask for a seat in the courtyard. They have live musik every night. We saw (or rather heard) many Hungarians at the restaurant which means that it is a place frequented by locals - a good sign.
Service was up to standard, food was good, wine was good, musik was nice. Go with an appetite.
Located at one of the busiest roads in Budapest and not in a particularly charming neighbourhood the St. Rochus chapel and neighbouring hospital are probably often overlooked. However, the chapel is a fine little Baroque church from 1711 which was built after the end of the Black Death epidemia. Unfortunately the chapel was closed when I visited.
Even more interesting is the neighbouring Ignaz-Semmelweis-Hospital, espically for medicine history buffs. It was built 1796 as the first hospital in the city. From wikipedia:
"On May 20, 1851 Semmelweis took the relatively insignificant, unpaid, honorary head-physician position of the obstetric ward of Pest's small St. Rochus Hospital. He held that position for six years, until June 1857. Childbed fever was rampant at the clinic ... After taking over in 1851, Semmelweis virtually eliminated the disease. During 1851–1855 only 8 patients died from childbed fever out of 933 births (0.85%)."
Semmelweis discovered that childbed fever could be cut drastically if doctors washed their hands in a chlorine solution before gynaecological examinations. Louis Pasteur later confirmed Semmelweis' observations by his germ theory.
This nice little church is the parish church of the VI. district. It was built 1811, the spire was added later by Miklos Ybl. The interior is nothing to write home about or go out of your way, but once you're in the area take a minute to go in - it's quite charming in classicistic style. Outstanding piece is the high altar by Mihaly Pollack. The church is open during daytime with a break in early afternoon.
Location: corner Nagymezö utca/Kiraly utca
When wandering along the streets of Pest don't hesitate to walk into one or another of those backyards. Mostly they are entered through a narrow and rather dark passageway. Typically these backyards have little shops or restaurants, sometimes they are for housing/offices only. Almost always the balconies are decorated with beautiful wrought-iron banisters, sometimes you see a fountain in the middle of the backyard.
One of the magnificent buildings at Szabadsag ter is home of the Hungarian National Bank. It was opened 1901, architect was Ignac Alpar. The style shows influence of Art Nouveau/Secession but is mostly Neo-Renaissance. Unfortunately tourists cannot see much of the beautiful interior but at least they opened a visitor centre in 2004.
The visitor centre is open 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays and free of charge. You must put your belongings in a locker (which can be a tricky thing to do, and end up in an embarrassing request to the guards for help, believe me! LOL). The exhibit is very informative. It is mostly about money in general, how it works, the history of money from ancient to modern times, with an extensive part on the Forint. You can also read quite a lot about the building itself, the design and construction etc. Funny thing was for me that the original plans are all labeled in German.
Imre Nagy was one of the leading figures in the Hungarian revolution 1956. Born in 1896 he has been a communist all his life. Rumour is he even had a career in the Soviet Secret Police in the 1930s. However, in 1953 he became prime minister of Hungary, was forced to resign in 1955 and again took the job of the prime minister during the revolution of 1956.
After the revolution was defeated by military actions of the other communist countries under Soviet leadership he was urged to go into exile to Romania. The worst was yet to come, though. In 1958 he was sentenced to death and executed in Hungary. It is remarkable that he could have saved his life if he had collaborated with the communist regime. He was buried with his face down in an undesignated grave and it was forbidden to say his name until 1988.
In July 1989 he was re-buried in place 301 of the Rakoskeresztur cemetery under the great monument by György Jovanovics. The monument I am talking about here is a different one, though. It was erected on the occasion of Nagy's 100th birthday. The bridge is supposed to symbolise the transition from totalitarism to democracy. The figure of Imre Nagy is idealizing, not true to life. He was short and stocky, didn't look like the intellectual coffeehaus-type guy of the monument.
Location: southeast of the parliament building, Vertanuk tere.
Just a few steps from Deak Ferenc ter, the metro hub in the centre of Pest, is the Erzsebet ter, a nice oasis in the busy city. I thought it has a beautiful design with lawns, trees, the Danubius fountain in the middle (by Miklos Ybl, built 1880-83, destroyed in WWII so you see a copy, on top (male) Danube, the other three (female) figures depict the rivers Theiss, Drau and Save).
The square is surrounded by interesting buildings. The southern side is occupied by two fancy hotels: the Kempinski Corvinus with post-modern design and Le Meridien. Only a few steps from Le Meridien, on Deak Ferenc ter, are the Evangelic-Lutheran church and the Evangelic museum of Hungary. Worth to mention is that the museum owns the original testament of Martin Luther. No idea how they got it.
This is the most important Hungarian theatre for plays and musicals. It was built by Fellner & Helmer (who else? LOL) 1895/96. It was destroyed in WWII but rebuilt right away. The interior is (as I heard) very beautiful - just like the exterior. The stage has seen the greatest Hungarian actors.
Be prepared that they perform in Hungarian. Don't expect to understand anything, even if they play a piece by Tennessee Williams. It's probably best to attend a musical. I tried, but it was sold out.
The name is misleading. Nyugati pu means Western Railway station. But the trains that leave from here run towards North and East. See my transportation tip also.
However, what's remarkable is the architecture of this train station. Gustave Eiffel's company (yes, the same guy who designed the Eiffel Tower!) built it 1874-77. Nowadays most of the cast-iron construction is new - due to its bad shape it had to be replaced during the restoration of the building some years ago. The other parts of the train station are still original. It's also worth to have a look at the MacDonald's at the right side: probably the most beautiful place of the fast food chain (see pic #5).
At the back of the station a modern shopping mall was built. I didn't bother to go there.
Originally built after plans by Alajosz Hauszmann 1891-95 for the American insurance company "New York" this splendid neo-Baroque palais was turned into a luxury hotel a few years ago by the Italian-based hotel group "Boscolo hotels". It looks quite fancy, a bit stiff and snobby, but since I didn't stay there I cannot really comment.
What's to note about this place is the cafe at the left corner (main facade). The "Cafe New York" was *the* place for writers, artists, poets in Budapest until the 1930s. The legend goes that writer Ferenc Molnar threw the key into the Danube right on the opening day so that it should never close. I only had a quick look inside. A waiter welcomes you right behind the door and asks for your wishes. Normally I am not opposed to having coffee and cake in upscale coffeehouses or restaurants but in this case ... The interior of the cafe is VERY opulent. Too much for my taste. And total lack of patina. It's polished. With the renovation they also wiped the history out it seemed to me. But to each their own ...
Location: on the Grand Ring, close to Blaha Lujza ter.
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