The reformer, the moderate and conservative: three synagogues close to other in the 7th district of the city. There’s one in Kazinczy Street, another in Rumbach Sebestyén Street and the fifth biggest in the word is in Dohány Street, which contains a museum of Jewish history, too.
Earlier Jewish merchants lived in Gozsdu courtyard which could luckily retain its former atmosphere. The Holocaust Memorial Centre in Páva Street is oneof the museums to deal solely with the Holocaust. The shoes made of cast iron between Széchenyi István Square and Kossuth Square on the Pest side of the Danube are an absurd and movingly beautiful sight. They commerorate those who were shot inti the Danube by the Arrow Cross.
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A buzz with pavement cafés, street artists, vendors, boutiques and nightclubs, the dowtown (belváros in Hungarian) or Inner City is the hub of Pest and, for tourists at least, the epicentre of what’s happening. Commerce and pleasure have been its lifeblood as long as Pest has existed, first as a medieval market town and later as the kernel of a city whose belle époque rivalled Vienna’s.
Since their fates diverged, the Belváros has lagged far behind Vienna’s Centrum in prosperity, but the gap is fast being narrowed, at least superficially. It’s now increasingly like any Western city in its consumer culture, but you can still get a sense of the old atmosphere, especially in the quieter backstreets south of Kossuth Lajos utca.
Pest, on the left bank of the Danube, also has many historic districts, resorts and famous sights. There are nine bridges spanning the Danube, the oldest being the Széchenyi Chain Bridge built in 1849.
Downtown - Pest The Downtown Parish Church on Március 15. tér was the city’s first church. Examples of all architectural styles, ranging from Romanesque to Classicist, blend into the interior of the church.
The Hungarian National Museum (14-16 Múzeum körút) is the finest example of Hungarian Classicist architecture. In existence since 1846, it is the most significant public collection in Hungary, tracing the history of the Hungarian people from prehistoric times to the present day.
The Vásárcsarnok (Grand Market Hall, 1-3 Fővám körút) is striking in its architectural inventiveness.
The finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Hungary include the Museum of Applied Arts (33-37 Üllői út) with its wide selection of permanent and temporary exhibitions, the houses on Szervita tér (Pest town centre) and the building of the former Postal Savings Bank (4 Hold utca).
The Parliament (Kossuth Lajos tér) is the largest and the most lavishly decorated building in the country. Built between 1885 and 1902 by Imre Steindl, this exquisite edifice is 96-m high and 118-m wide, and has 10 courtyards, 29 staircases and 27 gates. Europe’s first area heating system was put in service in this building. Seat of the Hungarian Parliament and government offices, it provides a place of safety for the Holy Crown and the royal insignia. It is accessible only by guided tours in groups.
The neo-Renaissance St. Stephen’s Basilica (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út), elevated to the rank of basilica minor, is the largest church in Budapest, and the second largest in Hungary. The right hand of St. Stephen, Hungary’s first king (970-1038), preserved intact for over 1,000 years, is the relic of the Chapel of the Holy Right. The tower balcony of the basilica offers a splendid uninterrupted panorama of the whole of the city.
It is worth taking a walk along the straight Andrássy út, a boulevard that is now a World Heritage site. It is lined with 19th- and 20th-century Eclectic-style palaces.
The State Opera House (22 Andrássy út), with its frescoed interior, seating an audience of 1,200, is a splendid work of by Miklós Ybl, Hungary’s most famous architect, and has been the centre of musical life in Hungary since 1864. There are guided tours.
After a stroll along Váci utca from Vörösmarty tér and a look at the splendid view of Várhegy from the embankment, the best way to appreciate the dowtown is by simply wandering around. People-watching and window-shopping are the most enjoyable activities, and though prices are above average for Budapest, any visitor should be able to afford to sample the cafés. Shops are another matter – there are few bargains – and nightclubs are a trap for the unwary, but there’s nothing to stop you from enjoying the cultural life, from performances by jazz musicians and violinists to world-class conductors and soloists.
After a hard day of major sightseeing on Day 1, take the plunge and relax in one of Budapest’s world-renowned thermal baths, while still admiring its architectural beauty, then get out and about again to uncover some of the unique buildings that reflect the country’s varied and troubled past.
The therapeutic waters of this neo-Baroque bathing bonanza will revitalize tired joints and set you up for a fulfilling day. That’s providing you don’t spend all your time being slow cooked in the hot pools, which will leave you seriously sleepy.
Alternate between hot and cold pools, saunas, and steam rooms and take some time out in the mediumtemperature pools or just chill out on a deckchair.
The most luxurious pool is the outdoor semi-circular one, from which steam dramatically rises in the cold of winter as locals play chess.
The whirlpool is great for kids.
Time: 2 hours. Go early to avoid the crowds, especially in summer. For more information please reed our post Best Baths in Budapest.
Location: Budapest, Állatkerti körút 11.
Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe that this fairly authentic-looking folly was once made out of cardboard and dates back barely a century. Vajdahunyad Castle went up as a temporary structure as part of the Magyar millennium celebrations in 1896, depicting the various Hungarian architectural styles over the centuries.
By 1908, Vajdahunyad had been transformed into a collection of stone replicas representing treasured creations from right across the Magyar realm. Particularly prominent are the ramparts facing the lake from Vajdahunyad Castle and Sighişoara’s clocktower, both in present-day Romania.
Time: 30 minutes.
Location: Metro: M1 to Hősök tere / Széchenyi Fürdő.
Fine Arts Museum (Szépművészeti Múzeum)
The Fine Arts Museum is closed for reconstruction for about 3 years since march 2015.
The mighty Habsburgs who once ruled as far as Spain and the Netherlands acquired an astonishing collection of impressive art works, many of which found their way here. A tour de force in European art from the 13th to the late 18th centuries, lovers of Madrid’s Prado gallery will see similarities with this collection, which is also particularly strong in Spanish masters, with El Greco, Velázquez, Murillo, Ribera, Cano, Zurbarán and Goya all represented. El Greco’s Annunciation, painted in the late 16th century, is set to heavenly clouds and bright lights, while Velázquez’s early work Peasants Around a Table, dated around 1619, magically preserves the timehonored tradition of getting stuck into conversation over a few drinks.
Time: 1,5–2 hr. Go early when major temporary exhibitions are running.
Location: Budapest, Dózsa György út 41. Opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5:30pm. Metro: M1 Hősök tere.
Walk up Andrássy út
You are more than likely to have explored portions of this, the grandest of Budapest’s boulevards on Day 1 when checking out the Opera House, but further examination is rewarding. Walking from Heroes Square the first stretch is lined with luxurious villas, including Kogart, an arts center and restaurant.
Further up, Andrássy út is traversed by Kodály körönd, a striking square of faded but ornately painted town houses.
Time: 30 minutes.
It’s funny how both the Fascists and the Communists both favored this location on classy Andrássy út to do their worst. An address that seems to be cursed, this visually impressive museum caused controversy with its highly politicized opening in 2002. Seen by many as an affront to the re-spun Hungarian Socialist Party, which once ruled Hungary with an iron fist but has changed beyond recognition, on behalf of their archrivals Fidesz, it was even sponsored by the then Fidesz Prime Minister Victor Orbán. More about the: Terros House
Cynics’ claims are backed up by the fleeting coverage of Fascist Hungary and the much denser coverage of the red terror. However, the fascist Hungarian Arrow Cross Party ran the country for only a year, coming into power in 1944, but what a gruesome year that was, with the previously protected Jewish population being shipped off in droves to concentration camps.
Politics aside, from the Russian tank that greets you; to the pictures of victims and their jailors; the industrial and dark classical soundtrack; film footage and interviews; genuine exhibits including Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross uniforms; and the trip to the cells and gallows.
Location: Budapest, Andrássy út 60. Metro: M1 to Vörösmarty utca.
With its onion domes, Moorish and Byzantine influences, Budapest’s great synagogue not only pioneered a new style of Jewish architecture, it also spawned the father of modern Zionism who was born here, Tivadar Herzl.
Time: 15 minutes.
Location: Budapest, Dohány utca 2. Metro: M2 to Astoria.
Applied Arts Museum
You might have encountered this remarkable-looking Art Nouveau masterpiece by Ödön Lechner, Budapest’s answer to Gaudí, if you took the road in from the airport. Lechner, who also worked on the building’s plans with secessionist sidekick Gyula Pártos, created a Hungarian take on the Art Nouveau movement, adding Hungarian folk touches and emphasizing certain eastern influences on Hungary.
Accordingly, traces of architectural styles from as far afield as India can be detected, and the bright green and gold Zsolnay tiles that adorn the roof and dome are more Oriental than European. You may find more info about this Museum here.
Budapest, being the capital, is the largest city in Hungary with 1.7 million people within the city proper. However, if the greater Budapest metropolitan area is included, this figure climbs to 3.27 million inhabitants. The metropolis is separated into 23 districts, 6 in Buda, 16 in Pest, and one consisting of Csepel Island making it seem like an immense city at first glance, but the majority of districts are residential and not of interest to most travelers.
Budapest officially became one city with the unification of Buda, Pest, and Óbuda on November 17, 1873. One contributing factor was the building of the Széchenyi lánchíd, commonly known as the Chain Bridge. This was the first connecting bridge over the Danube in Budapest. It was named for Count Széchenyi who was a major financial supporter of the project. The story goes that Széchenyi was on the Pest side of the river when he received word that his father was on his deathbed. Due to a major storm, Széchenyi was unable to get a boat to traverse the river for a week, thus missing seeing his father one last time before he died. He vowed this would never occur again. Not only did the bridge have practical implications, but it also aided the cultural and economic advancements of the people.
Interestingly, William Tierney Clark, the engineer who designed the Marlow Bridge across the river Thames in Marlow, England designed this bridge as well. Both bridges are similar in design. Construction of the bridge was supervised by a Scottish engineer, Adam Clark, though they were not related. On the Buda side of the bridge is a turnabout named Clark Adam tér. The bridge officially opened in 1849. Its center span of 202m (660 ft) was the largest in the world at that time.
On the ends of the bridge are sculptures of lions, added in 1852, producing a humorous folk legend. When a group of schoolchildren were brought to view the lions and the bridge, the sculptor who was in attendance bragged about the lifelike details of his lions. One child pointed out that the lions did not have tongues. The sculptor was upset over this missing detail; he jumped to his death into the Danube. Of course, this is only a legend as the sculptor lived well into old age.
Budapest is also home to the oldest metro (underground) line in continental Europe, the second oldest in the world after London.
It has the largest Parliament building in Europe, again being beaten only by Westminster in London.
The Dohány Synagogue is the second-largest working synagogue in the world after Temple Emanu-El in New York City.
Budapest has the worlds largest cave system of thermal water with 80 geothermal springs running below it.