For a truly classic exhibition explore the National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria). Here you can progress through the treasures of art history century by century and the panorama from the windows will leave you breathless.
For a truly classic exhibition explore the National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria). Here you can progress through the treasures of art history century by century and the panorama from the windows will leave you breathless. Take a glance at the city spreading in front of you, you won’t regret it.
This museum is devoted to Hungarian painting and sculpture from the Middle Ages to the 20C. The collections are spread over four levels. The former throne room has a fine late-Gothic collection of altarpieces, including 15C and early-16C triptychs and polyptychs. The 19C painters Mihály Munkácsy and László Paál are also featured. The museum also displays some monumental works based on historical themes such as the Baptism of Vajk by Gyula Benczúr and Miklós Zrínyi at the Battle of Szigetvár by Péter Krafft.
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After strolling around the castle walls and enjoying the views or visiting a museum, why not enjoy the delights of wandering through the old part, where you can stop here and there to look at a shop window, a façade, a monument, to capture it on your.
After strolling around the castle walls and enjoying the views or visiting a museum, why not enjoy the delights of wandering through the old part, where you can stop here and there to look at a shop window, a façade, a monument, to capture it on your video or in a photo. If you are hungry or thirsty, just stop one of at one of the stalls or the bars along the street and you will be spoilt for choice.
The Castle District
The Castle District in Buda Erected in the 14th century and rebuilt in the Baroque style 400 years later, the royal palace at Szent György tér was the residence of the Hungarian monarchs for 700 years.
Today it houses Budapest’s most frequented museums and galleries. The Hungarian National Gallery (Buildings B, C, and D) offers a selection of the history of arts in Hungary from the 10th century to the present day. Exhibits include a collection of early medieval and Renaissance stone works, Gothic wood-carvings, panels and triptychs, Renaissance and Baroque art, 19th- and 20th-century painting, sculpture and collections of coins and medals. Guided tours are available to the crypt of the Hapsburg viceroys.
At the History of Budapest Museum (Building E) restored sections of the medieval royal palace in Buda, its chapel and Gothic sculptures as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions on Budapest’s history can be seen.
The National Széchényi Library (Building F), the country’s largest library, houses - among others - a rich collection of the Corvinas, medieval codices from King Matthias’ library.
In Building A the Museum of Contemporary Arts, also known as the Ludwig Museum, displays the works of outstanding Hungarian and foreign contemporary artists.
Topped by a tower of stone tracery, Matthias Church, also called the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (2 Szentháromság tér) was the scene of coronations and royal weddings. In the early 19th century it was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style. Its crypt now displays a collection of ecclesiastical artefacts. From spring to autumn concerts are organised here.
The Fishermen’s Bastion, a neo- Romanesque bulwark with seven towers built on medieval walls, offers an excellent view of the city. Further back the remains of the 13th-15th-century St. Nicholas Church with a Dominican monastery have been ingeniously incorporated into the interior of the stylish Hilton Hotel. The Dominican courtyard of the hotel hosts open-air performances.
The urban middle-class houses in the streets connecting Bécsi kapu tér and Dísz tér, gates to the Castle District, were built on medieval foundations. The Gothic sedilia of their doorways lend a unique feature to them. The Castle Cave, a 1,800-m section of the 12-km cave system under Castle Hill (entrance at 16 Országház utca) is open to the public only by booking in advance.
The Military History Museum (40 Tóth Árpád sétány) displays memories of Hungary’s military past, and the medieval Jewish Chapel (26 Táncsics M. utca) offers an insight into the past life of the Jews in Buda.
The Baroque Erdődy- Hatvany Mansion (7 Táncsics M. utca) keeps rare musical instruments from the Museum of Musical History as well as a rich collection of the manuscripts of the great Hungarian composer Béla Bartók (1881-1945).
Good to know about the castle district
The Buda Castle District dates back to the 13th century when King Bela IV built a castle here after the devastating Mongol attacks of 1242
The medieval town of Buda grew around the castle; the town's real development started when the Royal Court moved here in the 15th century
Under the rule of King Matthias (1458-90), Buda became one of Europe's most powerful cities
The Turks occupied the castle in 1541 and ruled it until 1686 when the Habsburgs and their allies took it back; the siege devastated both the casle and the town
After the Turks left and the Habsburgs moved in reconstructions began; the area became a government district; the current Baroque appearance was finalized by mid 18th c.
World War II devastated the area once again; reconstructions recreated the Habsburg appereance
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If you only have 1 day in Budapest, you’ll want to see a bit of both Buda and Pest, and this tour lets you do both. You’ll start off with a cultural and historic tour of Pest, then you’ll cross Chain Bridge (an attraction in itself) for a brief tour of the Castle District in Buda, where you can enjoy a meal and a stop in a pub.
Budapest is a city where wide boulevards intersect with some really narrow streets. It is a reminder that it was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Wide boulevards were especially well suited for accommodating the carriages of royals and others of wealth. This is definitely a city to be walked, so start in the center, wander the grand boulevards, and admire the architecture. Make sure you look up. So many interesting features on buildings are not at eye level.
Depending on your travel tastes, you may want to visit a few museums and highlights of the area. You may find the Greek-looking
Hungarian National Museum, the
Budapest Holocaust Memorial Center, or the
Inner City Parish Church
to your liking.
As you wander through the area, remind yourself of two facts: unlike Prague, much of Budapest was bombed during World War II; and the Communist regime only ended in 1989. In a relatively short time, the city has made tremendous strides, although it still has far to go. Many historic buildings have been torn down to be replaced with modern conveniences such as boutiques, apartment complexes, or restaurants. Others have been renovated to their former glory, but in my opinion, certainly not enough. History is being replaced by sterility of the new and modern.
Váci utca is the perennially favorite shopping and walking street of Budapest. Developed after the regime changes in 1989, it has blossomed with many international stores and some Hungarian ones as well. For examples of Hungarian crafts, visit the Vali Folklór folk craft shop, the VAM Design Gallery, at Váci utca 64, and various clothing stores (avoid the touristy cafes here).
Walk from Váci utca to the Danube Promenade and stroll along the river. Following the No. 2 tram line, you will be making your way to Kossuth tér for:
Budapest’s exquisite Parliament building is the second largest in Europe after England’s Westminster. The main facade faces the Danube. Designed by Imre Steindl and completed in 1902, the building mixes neo-Gothic style with a neo-Renaissance dome reaching 96m (315 ft), significant as the country’s millennium was 1896 and the conquest of the kingdom of Hungary was 896. St. Stephens is also 96m (315 ft) high for the same reasons. It is by far one of our favorite buildings in Budapest. At the top of a grandly ornamented staircase, there is a hexadecagonal (16-sided) central hall that leads to an impressive chamber. The fabled Hungarian crown jewels of St. Stephen are on display.
Unfortunately, you can enter only on guided tours (the 45 minutes tour is worth the chance to go inside).
Szabadság tér (Freedom Square)
This beautifully maintained park is the home of a large obelisk statue that commemorates when the Soviet Union liberated Hungary at the end of World War II. It is the last remaining memorial to the Soviet Union in the city.
Walk back to Parliament and then south about 0,25 km (0,15 mile) toward the historic Chain Bridge, which you will see in the distance:
Known as the Széchenyi Bridge or the Chain Bridge, this bridge holds the distinction of being the first permanent crossing to link Buda and Pest. The idea for the bridge was instigated and funded by 19th-century Hungarian reformer, Count István Széchenyi. Legend has it that due to storms, he was not able to cross the river to be with his dying father. While Széchenyi waited 8 days for the storms to subside so he could cross the river, his father died and he missed the funeral. Designed by William Tierney Clark, an Englishman, the bridge was also one of the largest suspension bridges of its time when it opened in 1849. According to legend, the omission of sculpted tongues on the lions, which guard the bridge at either end, caused the sculptor to drown himself in the river out of shame; however, the lions do have tongues, just not visible from the ground.
Walk across the Chain Bridge, and take the funicular up to the:
Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, consists of two parts: the Royal Palace itself and the so-called Castle District. Most of this area is a reconstructed medieval city, but the original castle was destroyed in World War II and replaced with the current Royal Palace. For a detailed 3-hour itinerary of this area, see post “Walking Tour 2: The Castle District,” and “Strolling Around Budapest.”
This is an interesting area for walking and wandering. There are many cobblestone streets, so choose your shoes carefully. You might also wish to stop and visit the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.