Palais New York
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.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Szabadsag hid (Freedom bridge)
This bridge that spans the Danube downstream from Chain bridge and links Gellert square (Buda) and Fövam square (Pest) was the third bridge in the city, opened in 1896. Its original name was Franz-Josephs-Brücke, named after the Hapsburg Emperor.
The bridge has a gracious appearance despite the overload of decoration. The architects' motto was "beauty, simplicity and economy". Especially by night (see pictures) it is a very romantic view. Just imagine the traffic wasn't there ;-)Related to:
Corvin ter (square)
This little square in the Vizivaros district, below Buda's old town is a real gem. It would be jewel if there wasn't so much car traffic in Fö utca that runs along the square's Eastern side.
Anyway, the dominating building is Budai Vigado from 1900, the Buda Redoute (concert hall), home of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble. Opposite to it is a former Capuchin church, now parish church of the Italian Catholic congregation. You can still see two Turkish windows from the 14th century when it was turned into a mosque on the outside, but the church was redesigned in the 19th century.
On the hillside of the square is a very beautiful Baroque house with balcony and over and over decorated with ornaments. On the opposite side is a row of three small colourful houses that are restaurants, now part of the ArtHotel.
The square itself is beautifully designed with benches, a cafe, lawn, flower beds and trees. The Lajos fountain from 1904 depicts an unknown Hungarian man in the year 896 - at least as they imagined one.
Truly a place to recover from sightseeing!Related to:
Protestant (Calvinist) church
The protestant (Calvinist) church is due to its location (right on the bank of the Danube on the Buda side) and its colourful roof a landmark of Budapest. Not that it is spectacular architecture in some way, but it is a dominating part of the panorama seen from the Pest side.
The church was built 1893-96 by architect Samu Pecz whose monument is right next to the church. Since he was an admirer of medieval architecture (the church was built in a mix of neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic styles) he is depicted in medieval clothing.Related to:
Maria Magdalena church tower
The tower is basically all that is left of the former Maria Magdalena church in Buda's old town at Kapisztran ter. The Franciscan church from 1276 had served as the parish church for the Hungarian citizens of Buda in medieval times (the choir for Catholics, the nave for Protestants) - with permission by the Turks who later turned this church also in a mosque.
In WWII nave and choir were destroyed, only the tower survived. One typical Gothic window was reconstructed and you can also see the bases of the church walls. It seems the place has nowadays become a popular place for the younger locals to hang out.Related to:
- Religious Travel
Yeah, I know, I never thought I would recommend a Hilton as "Off the beaten path" tip. LOL
But it is true. This hotel was built in 1976 and was the best hotel in Budapest back then. In the meantime other, better hotels were built, especially those in restored old buildings are now top of the rank. However, the Hilton is special: It occupies the grounds of former monasteries. Old structures are preserved and can be visited. The facade to Hess Andras ter is that of the former Jesuit monastery in beautiful late Baroque style. To the left of that facade is the Gothic tower of the former Dominican monastery to see, at the facade the monument of King Matthias Corvinus - which, btw, is modelled after the monument in Bautzen, Germany (see my Bautzen page) - and behind that tower relics of the cloisters are also preserved. To the two remaining wings of the Gothic cloisters were two wings in modern style added, forming a nice courtyard where open-air events take place in summer. Entrance is left of the tower through the shopping arcade.
Location: Buda old town on the hill, next to St. Matthew churchRelated to:
Get Your Laundry Done
Traveling light always involves getting laundry done on the road. The best (an one of the few) coin laundromats in Budapest is not far from the Gellert Hotel. From the entrance of the hotel proceed down the driveway to the right. Cross the street to where the bank is and go past the ATM/Bankomat toward the water. Turn the corner to the right staying on the right side of the street. Go about 4 blocks and look to the right for the sign. The place does have a web site as well and touts theuse fo American machines.
It is pretty reasonable and there is an attendant to assist. The dryers are very low heat so expect to take a long time and extra money or let some things hang out later.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Doors & Windows
We love to look for architectural detail, especially doors and windows. Budapest and Szentendre both had scores of interesting doors, windows, and tile patterns. I've given the location as close as we remember them, but you don't have to look far - just look closely and you'll find all kinds of intersting things.
See more in "More Doors and Windows"Related to:
The newest and already quite popular park in Budapest is on Kopaszi-gát in south Buda. The area used to be a dingy industrial zone, but has now been transformed into a beautiful green park. Inside you can find a restaurant, a café, playground for children, benches to relax and grass to sunbathe.
It is located just south of Lágymányosi bridge, on a peninsula between the river Danube and a small bay. The entrance is right at the bridgehead.
The park is open from 6:00 until 22:00 every day.
By public transport, the best option is to take trams 4 or 6 to the Buda side of Petőfi bridge, and then walk south towards Lágymányosi bridge along the Danube (1 km, about 15 minutes). After you walk under the bridge, the entrance to the park is straight ahead.
If you're coming by car, cross the Danube to Buda on any of the bridges, and then follow the road along the river (Budai alsó rakpart) heading south until you get to Lágymányosi bridge. After the road passes under the bridge and turns right, the entrance to the park is straight ahead.
Day Trips: Visegrad
Built high, high up on a hilltop overlooking the Danube Bend, where the powerful river suddenly changes direction and heads south towards Budapest, the castle at Visegrad commands a supremely strategic position, but also has some of the most amazing views in Hungary. I can't actually vouch for these, because the castle was shut when I arrived in the late afternoon. Don't make the same mistake and get there in the morning - you'll need a good half day to get up there and explore.
It's an easy day trip from Budapest. You can take a bus from the bus station at Ujpest (end of M3 line). It takes about an hour and a half.
Day Trips: Szentendre
Just outside the city limits you will find the picture postcard beautiful town of Szentendre. Popular with tourists, possibly too popular, the charming, narrow, twisting cobbled streets of the town are filled with a multitude of foreign voices, tourist tat, pretty churches and little art museums. It's the latter the town is famous for, and the tourist crowds are what it is infamous for.
Love it or loath it, you are bound to enjoy some aspect of the town. I particularly enjoyed St. John's church on Castle Hill, and the views of the tightly packed roofs of the low-rise houses.
Check out my Szentendre page.
Getting there is easy. You can take the HEV from Batthanya Ter all the way to the end of the line. It takes about 45 minutes.
Serbian Orthodox Church
A very pretty church this, not far from Vaci Utca in the Belvaros district.
It stands in its own little garen area, with walls all round and a rather nice mosaic pitcure of St George.
It is supposed to be open every day (from 10 - 4), but was never open when I passed it...perhaps there was no one to supervise, as it is holiday time? Or maybe it was just beasue the whole area was undergoing massive refurbishment.
A pity, for I would have liked to explore the interior and the gravestones lined up against the walls.
It would be worth seeing if it is open if you are in the area at the right time.
On Szerb Utca, corner of Veres Palne Utca.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
A section of Medieval town wall
Pest was once walled, as were so many towns in Medieval times.
A sound wall was not only a good defence but also showed visitors that the town was a wealthy place.......wealthy enough to afford a wall, anyway.
There are a couple of short sections of Pest's wall still visible. This one is in a children's playground in the Bevaros district, incorporated into the structures of much later buildings.
The playground is on the corner of Bastya Utca and Vernes Palne Utca, which leads off the main road over Szabadsag Hid (bridge) , Vamhaz Korut.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Medieval Buda 2: Uri Utca
Again, one or two bits of Medieval architecture still visible along this rather nice (and quiet) street, which runs parallel with Orszaghaz Utca.
A lovely set of Medieval arched and diamond windows on the first floor of number 31 (although the paintwork is pretty horrible, imo).
Interesting stonework exposed on the house next door, showing how rebuilding has occurred (and re-ocurred).
A Medieval archway rebuilt (I think) at the entrance to numbers 48/50.
A grilled stone window, clearly a remnant of an earlier building (probably 15th/16th century).
Along an alleyway/small road joining the two streets an almost-hidden stretch of wall. I'm pretty sure the stonework is at least 17th century, if not earlier.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Medieval Buda 1: Orszaghaz Utca
You will have to look hard to find evidence of Medieval Buda. So much has happened in the intervening centuries, so much damage done, so much rebuilding and restoration.
But there are little bits to be seen here and there.
On Orszaghaz Utca, which runs down from St Matyas Chruch towards Kapisztran Ter, there is a rebuilt Medieval house at 18.
Number 20 has a rather lovely stonework decoration.
Number 22 has evidence of sgraffito just about visible in the grime under its bay window.Related to:
- Historical Travel
If you can afford it, the Gresham Palace, a 5 star luxury hotel owned by the Four Seasons group has...more
Was booked in here as part of Insight tours, would recommend to the non-budget travellermore
We were delighted with our room at the Budapest Sofitel. We had fantastic views over the Danube to...more
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