A Travellerspoint blog

Hungary

Budapest

Faces of Budapest.

Faces of Budapest.

We visited Budapest in summer 2005. This was before I had joined V.T. I never got round to writing our visit up, but now that we are all pretty much confined to our homes by the onslaught of Covid 19, I might as well get round to writing it up for Travellerspoint. Better late than never.

Enjoying a beer.

Enjoying a beer.

We came to Budapest by train from Vienna. After having been in Austria for several days, the first thing we noticed about Hungary was how flat it is compared to Austria.

Gypsy violinists.

Gypsy violinists.

Although we were only going to be in Budapest for a few days, we stayed in two hotels. Our first night was on a boat hotel in the Danube, because Peter loves boats. After that we moved inland.

The boat hotel was called the Fortuna Boat Hotel. It is moored on the Pest side of the River Danube, about a kilometre away from the spectacular Hungarian parliament and near a bridge that takes you to Margaret Island. Our cabin was comfortable enough and we ate on the boat in their open air restaurant, which was very enjoyable and certainly a beautiful setting.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

Fortuna Hotel.

On the River Danube.

On the River Danube.

On the River Danube.

On the River Danube.

On the River Danube.

On the River Danube.

I can't remember the name of our second hotel but it was near Our Lady of Hungary Church. We had a look at this church and its graveyard. I remember finding the grave of Eva Braun here and wondering why Hitler's mistress would be buried in Budapest, but as a friend later pointed out it is probably a very common name and was not likely to be Hitler's woman at all.

Our Lady of Hungary Church.

Our Lady of Hungary Church.

We took a stroll along the banks of the Danube to Budapest's beautiful neo-Gothic parliament building. This building is 268m long, 123m wide and 96m tall, which makes it the biggest building in the whole of Hungary. It was designed by Hungarian architect, Imre Steindl, who unfortunately went blind before it was completed. Work began on the parliament building in 1885 and it was finished in 1902. The parliament has 691 rooms and 10 courtyards. It is possible to do a tour of this building, but we didn't. Of course, since the building is so big, it is best to photograph it from the other side of the Danube.

The River Danube.

The River Danube.

The Budapest Parliament.

The Budapest Parliament.

The Budapest Parliament.

The Budapest Parliament.

The Budapest Parliament.

The Budapest Parliament.

The Budapest Parliament.

The Budapest Parliament.

We also crossed the river to get to Buda Castle which is at the top of Budapest's Castle Hill. King Lajos first built a castle here in 1356. Forty years later this was replaced by a Gothic palace. Later again, King Matthias Corvinus built a new renaissance style castle here. When Budapest fell to the Turks between 1541 and 1686, the castle was destroyed. Then between 1714 and 1723 the Habsburgs built a new, smaller Baroque style palace here. This was damaged in a fire but was eventually rebuilt. The castle was damaged yet again during World War II, but was reconstructed in 1950 following a design by architect István Janáki. Today the castle is home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. In front of the castle stands a bronze equestrian statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who helped drive the Turks out of the city. It is possible to walk uphill to the castle or take the funicular.

Buda Castle.

Buda Castle.

Buda Castle.

Buda Castle.

Buda Castle.

Buda Castle.

Buda Castle.

Buda Castle.

The Funicular.

The Funicular.

We also went to the nearby Fisherman’s Bastion. This was built in the nineteenth century as a lookout tower, so of course it has fantastic views over Budapest. You can look at the views free from the lower balconies or pay to go to the top turrets. This area of Budapest was protected by the guild of fishermen during the Middle Ages that is why it is called the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion.

We also climbed up Gellért Hill, a 235 metre dolomite rock, which is another great viewpoint. The hill was named after Saint Gellért, Hungary’s first missionary. He was killed here by pagans who rolled him down the hill in a barrel lined with spikes. The barrel ended up in the Danube River. At the bottom of Gellert Hill stands the Art Nouveau Gellért Hotel. Construction of this hotel began in 1912, though it was not complete until 1918. The hotel was designed by Hungarian architects Ármin Hegedűs, Artúr Sebestyén and Izidor Sterk. It is famous for its thermal baths. Near the hotel you can find the Gellért Hill Cave. Legend states that a hermit lived here and used the natural thermal water near the cave to heal the sick. This hermit later became Saint Ivan. The natural thermal water is now the Hotel Gellert thermal baths. On Gellert Hill there is a statue of Saint Gellert brandishing a cross. On top of Gellert Hill stands a fort called the Citadella and the Liberty Monument which consists of a female figure holding above her head a palm leaf to represent victory. This monument dates from 1947 and was built to commemorate Hungary’s liberation from Nazi rule at the end of World War II.

The Gellert Hotel.

The Gellert Hotel.

The Gellert Hotel.

The Gellert Hotel.

Gellert Cave Chapel.

Gellert Cave Chapel.

Saint Gellert Statue.

Saint Gellert Statue.

Liberty Monument.

Liberty Monument.

Budapest is famous for its thermal baths. As well as the ones in the Gellert Hotel, there are several other famous ones such as the Széchenyi Spa Baths. We had a look at the building here and I got told off for taking a picture of the mosaic ceiling. The mosaic shows Helios, the god of the sun and was created by Miksa Roth. I think it is pretty impressive.

Helios Mosaic.

Helios Mosaic.

Budapest has several beautiful churches. One of these is Matthias Church which is located on Castle Hill near the Fisherman's Bastion. A church built at this location was once used as a coronation church for Hungarian kings. In 1526 when the Turks occupied Buda, this Church was turned into a mosque. Matthias Church is called after King Matthias Corvinus the Fair, who rebuilt and expanded the church in the fifteenth century. In the early nineteenth century the church was restored by Frigyes Schulek.

Matthias Church.

Matthias Church.

We also visited Saint Stephen's Basilica which is called after Stephen, the first King of Hungary. His "incorruptible" right hand is on display in the basilica's reliquary. This building is the same height as the nearby Hungarian Parliament Building to symbolize that worldly and spiritual thinking have the same importance. The basilica was completed in 1905.

Saint Stephen's Basilica.

Saint Stephen's Basilica.

Saint Stephen's Basilica.

Saint Stephen's Basilica.

We also took a look at Saint Anne's Church. This Baroque church was founded between 1740 and 1762. It has suffered wars, floods and, earthquakes over the years and was restored between 1970 and 1984.

Saint Anne's Church.

Saint Anne's Church.

We also visited Ják Chapel which is located opposite Vajdahunyad Castle. Ják Chapel's beautiful portal was copied from the thirteenth-century Abbey Church of Ják in western Hungary.

Ják Chapel.

Ják Chapel.

Ják Chapel.

Ják Chapel.

Ják Chapel.

Ják Chapel.

Vajdahunyad Castle is located in Budapest's City Park. It was built in 1896 for the Millennial Exhibition celebrating the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian State. The castle was designed by Ignác Alpár to look like several famous buildings from different parts of Hungary so it is a mixture of different architectural styles such as: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. Vajdahunyad Castle was originally supposed to be a temporary building made from wood and cardboard, but between 1904 and 1908 it was re-built from permanent materials, because it was so popular with the Hungarian people. Today, this castle is home to the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture.

Vajdahunyad Castle.

Vajdahunyad Castle.

I was quite entranced by the hooded statue opposite Vajdahunyad Castle which was simply entitled Anonymous. It turns out Anonymous represents the unknown chronicler at the court of King Béla III who produced a history of the early Magyars. Apparently those who want to be writers stroke the tip of Anonymous's pen for inspiration.

Anonymous.

Anonymous.

Anonymous.

Anonymous.

We also visited Heroes Square. Heroes Square is centred on the Millenary Monument which is a thirty-six metre high column. On top of the column stands a golden Archangel Gabriel. He is holding a cross and the Hungarian crown. At the bottom of the column there are statues of seven Magyar chieftains. In the colonnade behind there are fourteen statues of Hungarian rulers.

Heroes Square.

Heroes Square.

Heroes Square.

Heroes Square.

Heroes Square.

Heroes Square.

On our last day in Budapest we finally got round to visiting Margaret Island, but unfortunately half way through our visit the heavens opened and there was a violent thunder and lightning storm. It was so bad we had to abandon the island and take cover, but we still got soaked.

Margaret Island is situated in the River Danube. It was once called Rabbit Island and acted as a royal hunting reserve. King Béla founded a nunnery on the island and promised to send his daughter Margaret there as a nun if God helped him drive the Mongol invaders out of Hungary. When the Mongols finally withdrew from Hungary, King Béla, true to his word, sent eleven-year-old Margaret to the convent. The island was later called after her. Nowadays, the island is a public park.

Margaret Island.

Margaret Island.

Margaret Island.

Margaret Island.

Margaret Island.

Margaret Island.

Posted by irenevt 06:28 Archived in Hungary Comments (7)

Sopron.

Hungry.

sunny

Folk art shop on Fo Ter - Sopron

Folk art shop on Fo Ter - Sopron

Getting to Sopron.

We got to Sopron by train from Vienna as the train is operated by Austrian Railways we could get there on an einfach raus ticket which cost 32 Euros for up to 5 people. The journey took an hour and 10 minutes from Wein Meidling Station. Transport on the schnellbahn is included in the ticket if you are starting from another station.

Sopron Station

Sopron Station

Sopron is a very relaxed place with a very pretty old town. We mainly enjoyed wandering aimlessly around the old town streets with their lovely buildings and sitting enjoying the sun in some of Sopron's lovely old squares. We also had a very pleasant goulash soup meal with Soproni beer. Buying food and drink in the restaurants and supermarkets in Sopron was much cheaper than in Vienna. The currency is the forint, but some restaurants accept Euro. There were lots of money changers in Sopron.

The Old Town.

Fo Ter is the main part of the old town, but there are many lovely streets leading off it, such as Saint George's Street. The streets are lined with colourful old buildings and often lead to lovely wide open squares. There are several fountains, churches and a synagogue.

Beautiful building, Sopron. - Sopron

Beautiful building, Sopron. - Sopron

Sleepy courtyard, Sopron. - Sopron

Sleepy courtyard, Sopron. - Sopron

The Old Town

The Old Town

The Old Town

The Old Town

The Old Town

The Old Town

Fo Ter Square.

Fo Ter Square is the heart of Sopron's old town. The fire tower (Fo Ter) which gives the square its name is currently undergoing renovation so is surrounded by scaffolding. The square also contains several lovely buildings; some of which are museums. There is also a holy trinity statue and Goat Church. Goat Church was supposedly funded by a goatherd whose goats uncovered buried treasure. We did not go inside the church; I think it is now a museum. There were lots of restaurants, cafes and bars. The town hall was also on this square. This is a very pleasant spot for a meal or a seat in the sun.

Fo Ter Square

Fo Ter Square

Fo Ter Square

Fo Ter Square

Fo Ter Square

Fo Ter Square

St Ursula's Square.

St Ursula's Square in the old town is a wide open space. It contains the lovely Church and Convent of Saint Ursula and a statue of her, too. At one time this square was the site of the salt market of Sopron.

St Ursula's Square

St Ursula's Square

Roman Remains.

Near Fo Ter you can see some excavated Roman remains. They are of several buildings and streets that were part of Sopron's Roman forum. You can look down over the site and there are several notice boards around indicating what you are looking at. Quite interesting and worth a look. Near Fo Ter.

Roman Remains

Roman Remains

Roman Remains

Roman Remains

Near Fo Ter there is another interesting square with some old buildings and interesting monuments. The old Golden Lion Pharmacy is across the road from here. This is worth passing by for a quick look if you are in the area.

Near Fo Ter

Near Fo Ter

Near Fo Ter

Near Fo Ter

Near Fo Ter

Near Fo Ter

Near Fo Ter

Near Fo Ter

Szechenyi Ter.

This square is between the railway station and the old town. It contains a park, as well as a church and a statue of Count Istvan Szechenyi. It is quite a pretty square and worth a look if you are ever in Sopron.

Szechenyi Ter

Szechenyi Ter

Liszt.

Near the old town there is a Liszt Street with a plaque and bust of Listz. Stop and have a look if you are in town. The bust is outside the conert hall. I am not entirely sure of Listz' connection with Sopron.

Liszt

Liszt

Shops.

This lovely shopfront appealed to me as we we were wandering around. Baskets just look attractive when they are all grouped together or when they are hanging up around windows or doors. Sometimes it is not the big sights, but the little ones that make good photos.

Shop Front

Shop Front

Restaurants.

We had lunch in a restaurant near Goat Church on Fo Ter Square. The restaurant was located in a lovely old cellar. The bar part had huge barrels as tables. My husband had soup and Schmalzbrot, bread and dripping. In this restaurant it was covered with chopped onion and sprinkled with paprika. I had delicious goulash soup and we both had bottles of the excellent Soproni beer.

My husband enjoying his lunch. - Sopron

My husband enjoying his lunch. - Sopron

Posted by irenevt 06:32 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

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