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This immense square attributed to the architect Albert Schickedanz is surrounded by the Museum of Fine Arts and by the Art Gallery.

Name: Heroes' Square
Category: Architecture, castles and historic districts
Location: 1068 Budapest, Hősök tere

Description

Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) belongs to Budapest’s World Heritage Sites. The square, together with the monument built for the millennium of Hungary’s foundation is a mustsee. The freedom emanating from them will definitely get to you. If it still doesn’t satisfy you, here are the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum), the Kunsthalle (Műcsarnok), the Vajdahunyad Castle (Vajdahunyad vára) and the City Park (Városliget), that’s bound to be refreshing after so much culture. Finally, those who feel like experiencing something more intense should check out the Zoo or the Municipal Circus, both of which located nearby.

Heroes’ square
Heroes’ square

 

This immense square attributed to the architect Albert Schickedanz is surrounded by the Museum of Fine Arts and by the Art Gallery. In the centre a column and behind two colonnades in a circle arch with a set of statues and sculptures: the monument to the Thousandth Anniversary. In front of the column, two soldiers perform a well rehearsed ballet before the tomb of the unknown soldier. It has always been a great place for meeting for mass demonstrations, popular celebrations or rejoicing.

Wander around the impressive and huge square and admire the wonderful composition of the statues.



Good to know about Heroes' Square

  • Heroes' Square (Hősök tere) is a grandiose square at the end of Andrássy Avenue; the two forming a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2002
  • The two imposing buildings on each side are the Museum of Fine Arts and Hall of Art
  • The Millennium Memorial dominates the square comprising of a Corinthian column in the center and two semicircle colonnades in the background
  • The construction of the memorial started in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of Hungary's existance
  • At the base of the central column, the mounted figures represent the 7 founding fathers of Hungary; at the top Archangel Gabriel holds St. Stephen's holy Crown
  • Both colonnades feature 7 statues of important figures of Hungarian history, e.g. first king, St. Stephen, or Lajos Kossuth, leader of the independence war of 1848-49 against Austria
  • The 4 statues on the top of the colonnades represent: War (left, inner edge), Peace (right, inner edge), Work and Welfare (left, outer edge), and Knowledge and Glory (right, outer edge)

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Hero Square on the map

 

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After a trip to Paris in 1858 Count Gyula Andrássy had the idea to cut out a large thoroughfare linking the Small Boulevard to the Bois-de-Ville.

Name: Andrássy út
Category: Architecture, castles and historic districts
Location: 1061 Budapest, Andrássy út.

Description

After a trip to Paris in 1858 Count Gyula Andrássy had the idea to cut out a large thoroughfare linking the Small Boulevard to the Bois-de-Ville. The route for the avenue was designed in 1872 and the works lasted around 20 years. It cuts through Nagymező Street nicknamed Broadway for its theatres and cafés, and leads to Liszt Ferenc tér and Jókai tér (very busy in Summer) as well as to the Oktogon (a large crossroads in an octagonal shape which crosses the Large Boulevard).

Andrássy út
Andrássy út

 

Take a walk on this long, wide boulevard with fine cafés, restaurants, theatres, and luxury boutiques.

The Hungarian State Opera (Magyar Állami Operaház), shops of luxury brands of world-wide fame, colleges, palaces, embassies, museums and historical coffeehouses – you walk past all of these on Andrássy Avenue (Andrássy út) that spans between Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) and downtown Budapest. The avenue can be divided into three distinctive parts: palaces and villas, then between Oktogon and Kodály Circus (Kodály körönd) there are rows of trees beside the road and finally the residential part with multistoried buildings. You might want to walk slowly because apart from the buildings worth to see, the avenue itself has a peculiar feel to it, too.



Good to know about Andrássy Avenue

  • Andrássy Avenue is an iconic boulevard in Budapest that connects the city center and the city park (Városliget)
  • It is lined with spectacular Neo-renaissance mansions; it is also features a number of fine cafés, restaurants and luxury boutiques
  • Andrássy Avenue was built in 1872 to divert the heavy traffic of parallel Király street and connect the city center with the city park
  • The palaces that line the boulvard were part of the plan. They were built by the leading contemporary artchitects
  • The palaces were completed by 1884; aristorcrates, bankers and historical families moved in The avenue takes its name after a former prime minister, Gyula Andrássy, who was one of the main supporters of the project
  • The anveue was renamed 3 times highlighting the rapid political changes of the time: first it was renamed Stalin Avenue (1950-56); in the1956 revolution it was named Avenue of Hungarian Youth; after 1956 it became People's Republic Avenue. The original name was restored in 1990

Tipp: Take a coffee or a meal in one of the cafés, restaurants on Liszt Ferenc Square.

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Andrássy út on the map

 

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While peace and quiet is harder to find in Pest than it is in leafy Buda, you don’t have to trek out to City Park or Margaret Island to experience what is known as "park life" as a secluded spot is often never more than a few corners away.

The cute park at Honvéd tér with its trimmed lawn and neat flowerbeds is tucked away close to the busy Pest thoroughfare of Szent István körút but is totally peaceful, bar the sounds of kids playing. There’s also concrete ping-pong tables with iron nets that may be an unglamorous hangover from Communism but they can stand all weather and make for a good game.

Honvéd tér
Honvéd tér

 

You’ll run into English speakers here and also on the playgrounds of Szabadság tér. Although Szabadság tér, literally Freedom Square, may be synonymous with the violence after the riots of 2006 and repression in the form of the Soviet War Memorial, this big open space, surrounded by colossal buildings that serve to block out the bustle, is a superbly relaxing place and you can contemplate the awesome aspect of the city’s biggerthan- thou architecture.

Freedom Square
Freedom Square

 

Still on the Pest side, Károly kert also belies its central location close to hectic Astoria, transcending metropolitan modernity and transporting you back to Budapest’s early 20thcentury heyday.

Károly kert
Károly kert

 

Step through the wrought-iron gate and feel at the center of a living bastion of old-world charm.

More cosmopolitan than Prague, more romantic than Warsaw and more beautiful than both, Budapest straddles a gentle curve in the Danube, with the Buda Hills to the west and what is essentially the start of the Great Plain to the east. With parks brimming with attractions, museums filled with treasures, pleasure boats sailing up and down the scenic Danube Bend, Turkish-era thermal baths belching steam and a nightlife throbbing until dawn most nights, the Hungarian capital is one of the Continent’s most delight ful and fun cities.

Cosmopolitan city
Cosmopolitan city

 

And the human legacy is just as remarkable as Mother Nature’s. Architecturally, Budapest is a gem, with a wealth of baroque, neoclassical, Eclectic and Art Nouveau (or Secessionist) buildings. Overall it has a fin-de-siecle feel to it, for it was then, during the industrial boom and the capital’s ‘golden age’ in the late 19th century, that most of what you see today was built.

In some places, particularly along the Nagykörút (Outer Ring) and up broad Andrássy út to the sprawling Városliget (City Park), Budapest’s sobriquet ‘the Paris of Central Europe’ is well deserved.

Nearly every building has some interesting detail, from Art Nouveau glazed tiles and neoclassical bas-reliefs to bullet holes and shrapnel scorings left from WWII and the 1956 Uprising.

At times, Budapest’s scars are not very well hidden. Over the years, industrial and automobile pollution has exacerbated the decay, but in recent years the rebuilding and renovations have been nothing short of astonishing. Indeed, some people think the city is tidying itself up a bit too quickly.

Yet Budapest remains – and will always stay – Hungarian: exotic, sometimes inscrutable, often passionate, with its feet firmly planted in Europe but with a glance every now and then eastward to the spawning grounds of its people. Budapest is fabulous, romantic and exciting at any time, but especially so just after dusk in spring and summer when Castle Hill is bathed in a warm yellow light.

Chain Bridge

 

Stroll along the Duna korzó, the riverside embankment on the Pest side, or across any of the bridges past young couples embracing passionately. It’s then that you’ll feel the romance of a place that, despite all attempts – from both within and without – to destroy it, has never died.

City Life

Once you have discovered the charms of Inner Pest and the Castle District on Day 1, it is time to broaden the scope with a walk around the Outer Ring Boulevard (körút). Note that as you walk the körút, the name changes from district to district.

Start: New York Palace Hotel.

 

New York Palace Hotel

The New York Life Insurance Company originally commissioned the building, which opened on October 23, 1894. During the 1900s, its cafe was a center of intellectual life in the city, with writers and journalists as frequent patrons. After many years of remodeling and revitalizing the original eclectic style with a strong Italian renaissance influence, the Boscolo hotel chain reopened the hotel and its legendary cafe in 2006. The detailed reconstruction is worth admiring and returning to see in the evening when lit up.

New York Palace
New York Palace

 

Walk toward Oktogon, noting the grand turn-of-the-20th-century architecture of Pest. At Oktogon turn right and walk up to Andrássy u. 60.

Terror Háza (House of Terror)

First the headquarters of the secret police of the Nazi Arrow Cross regime, when the Soviets liberated Hungary, it immediately turned into the headquarters for the Communist secret police. This building is the setting of some of the most horrific days of 20th-century Hungary, which lasted for more than 50 years. Hundreds were tortured and murdered in the basement by both regimes. The Nazis’ primary victims were Jews, but the Communists targeted anyone who spoke out against the government.

House of terror
House of terror

 

The building is a museum functioning as a memorial to the victims of both Fascism and Communism and is an everlasting reminder of the effect of oppressive regimes in Hungary. However, it has caused continual controversy since it opened in 2002, especially because the building’s overhang has the word “TERROR” stenciled on it, which is quite striking when the sun shines through it.

Andrássy Boulevard

Strolling up the majestic Andrássy Boulevard toward Heroes’ Square and City Park, you are taking the UNESCO World Heritage Site tour. The boulevard is lined with trees and a wealth of beautiful apartment buildings, many of which are now used as embassies. In addition, there are restaurants and museums scattered along the way leading to Heroes’ Square. This is Pest’s greatest boulevard.

Andrássy Boulevard
Andrássy Boulevard

 

Once you reach the end of Andrássy Boulevard, adjacent to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Műcsarnok, and City Park, you'll find:

Heroes' Square

Heroes’ Square was created for the millennium in 1896 (remember the reoccurring 96), which celebrates the arrival of the Magyar tribes in the Carpathian Basin in 896. The statues represent the chronology of some 1,000 years of Hungarian history. The seven statues on the left side are all Hungarian kings. On the right side, they are all famous Hungarians, but only one was a king. In 1896 during the famous world exhibition, this space was the apex of some 200 pavilions that made up the festivities. Many festivals are still held here.

Heroes' Square
Heroes' Square

 

To your left you will find the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is the main repository of foreign art in Hungary. It has one of central Europe’s major collections and it is considered one of the most important art collections in Europe. Free 1-hour tours are offered by highly trained docents Tuesday through Friday at 11am and 2pm and Saturday at 11am.

Walk through the park and you will arrive at:

The Széchenyi Baths

After a long day, you deserve to rest and relax. Nothing could be better after a day of touring than a soak in a thermal. This is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe and the first thermal bath on the Pest side. Chances are if you have seen photos of men playing chess on floating chessboards, the men were in this thermal. It is mixed men and women and bathing suits are mandatory.

Széchenyi Baths
Széchenyi Baths

 

See post “Thermal Baths”.

After your afternoon of thermal bathing, you may want to head back to your hotel to rest, but if you have done so at the thermals, then head out for dinner. You can take the Yellow metro from Széchenyi and go one stop to Mexikói or choose a dining spot from post "Where to Dine in Budapest," but either way make a reservation.

Some Nighttime Culture

Spend an evening attending an opera at the Opera House. It is a premier venue. The Opera House is magnificently beautiful inside. The fine arts are alive and well in Budapest, and a nighttime cultural event is the way to round out your short stint in the city. Note that performances usually start at 7pm not the customary 8pm.

Opera House
Opera House