The past is just around the corner in Budapest. Architecturally, Budapest is a true gem. It is known as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Hungary’s capital is filled with glorious and impressive architecture, endless history, cultural influences from both East and West have left their mark on the city. I’ve visited Budapest three times and it still amazes me. On my last visit to Budapest, I’ve spent three days exploring it. Here’s my recommendation of what not to miss while visiting.
- Chain Bridge
Back when it was built in 1849 it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary and also the largest suspension bridge in Europe. It spans between Buda and Pest. It is in my opinion the most charming of the cities’ bridges. Since I’ve stayed in a beautiful Lanchid 19 Design hotel on Pest side, located right next to the bridge, I’ve crossed it many times. And it’s a must. Crossing Széchenyi Lánchíd is just a short walk and no matter which direction you go, the view is amazing and beautiful. In the Buda-end of the bridge you’ll come to Clark Adam Square and the Pest-end of the bridge is at Széchenyi István Square. Cross the bridge also in the evening or in the night, when all the bridges light up.
- Danube River
The river is what separates Buda from Pest. Walk along the mighty Danube river. Don’t overlook the statue of the Little Princess on the Promenade. It sits on the railings by the embankment.
On the Danube Promenade you can find another installation of art. The Shoes on the Danube is a way to remember the thousands of lives lost through Nazi occupation. It is a touching memorial to the Budapest Jews who were shot by arrows between 1944 and 1945. The victims were lined up and shot into the Danube River. They had to take their shoes off, since shoes were valuable belongings at that time. The memorial contains 60 pairs of iron shoes and each pair of shoes was modeled after an original 1940’s pair.
- 2. Castle Hill
Walk your way up, use the stairs or elevators, even take a funicular ride on the top of Castle Hill (Várhegy), that rises forty-eight meters above the Danube. The imposing Buda Castle overlooks the city atop the Castle Hill and is often referred to as a Royal Palace. It is home to a number of cultural institution and two museums (National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum). Castle Hill is recognized as a World Heritage Site, it has changed much since the 13th century, though its main streets still follow their medieval paths. Don’t miss incredible views from the walls of Buda Castle, that was home to the kings of Hungary from the 13th century. I recommend you to walk along the cobblestone streets and discover Castle Hill at your own pace. My absolute favorite area of Budapest is also located on the Castle Hill:
3., 4. Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church
In the castle district you can also find two amazing, if not the most beautiful sights in Budapest; Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Be amaze by fabulous architecture and by a wonderful view of the city.
The historic Matthias Church was built over 700 years ago. It was the scene of several coronation and also the venue for the great Hungarian King Mathhias’ two weddings, hence the name of the church. The beautiful church is distinguished by the incredible tiled roof.
Next to the Matthias Church you can find the Fisherman’s Bastion. In the old times the fishermen were protecting this area in caste the Mongolian army would return and after them the place received its name. This white stoned building was built in the late 1800’s and it attracts thousands of visitors a day. The seven towers in Fishermen’s Bastion symbolize the tents of the seven Magyar tribes that founded the nation in the year 896. The white structure looks fairy-tale like. While visiting Halaszbastya take in the views over the city. The site offers one of the best views over Budapest.
- Hungarian Parliament
Another Budapest must see. This magnificent example of Neo-Gothic architecture is just over hundred years old and is the most impressive building in Budapest. Parliament is visible from everywhere. It is amazing to see at daylight at also all lit up in the evening. I’ve admired it only from the outside. The best view, as mentioned before is from the Fishermen’s Bastion, but you have to go to the opposite side of the Danube river to admire the Hungarian Parliament. The Hungarian Parliament building is the third largest Parliament building in the world, it has 691 rooms and 20 kilometers of stairs. Next to the parliament you will notice a statue of a man standing on a little bridge. It is Imre Nagy, Prime Minister of Hungary prior to the 1956 uprising.
- Hősök Tere (Heroes Square)
Heroes Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site that pays tribute to the 1000-year anniversary of the founding of Hungary is located at the far end of Andrássy Avenue. The Avenue is often referred to as Budapest’s Champs- Elysees and this was also my first association as we drove down the avenue. You can either walk, take a metro or drive with a car, as we did, to get to the famous and one of the major squares in Budapest. It is an iconic statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders. Hősök Tere is surrounded by Museum of Fine Arts and Hall of Art. The central feature of the square is the Millennium Memorial. The Heroes Square it’s situated in front of the city park and from there you can walk to the next sight.
- Vajdahunyad Castle
Vajdahunyad Castle is also located in the City Park, by the boating lake in the summer or skating rink in the winter time. Built in 1896, the castle is a mixture of different architectural styles (seems like a melting pot of Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque and Baroque) and is based on a Transylvanian gothic castle. It really does remind you of the Dracula inspired castle. The building stands on an artificial island and is accessible through four bridges. The castle is the home of several festivals, concerts and the exhibitions of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum. In the courtyard of the castle sits the statue of Anonymnous.