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The famous buildings of the capital’s premier park were erected by enthusiastic Budapest citizens to commemorate the country’s millennium in 1896.

The City Park
The City Park

 

At the imposing Hősök tere (Heroes’ square) the Archangel Gabriel raises the Holy Crown to a height of 36 m. The centre of the square is occupied by a colonnaded monument commemorating the millennium of Hungary’s conquest.



A group of sculptures represent the Magyar chieftains, including their legendary leader Árpád, who led the conquering tribes from Asia into the Carpathian Basin. Between the pillars statues of kings, generals and politicians of Hungary can be seen.

Heroes’ square
Heroes’ square

 

On opposite sides of the square are the two principal art museums of Budapest. The Museum of Fine Arts contains the country’s prime art collection. Its old masters section boasts the largest collection of Spanish masters outside Spain as well as an equally superb collection of works by masters of other nationalities, including Bellini, Brueghel, Corregio, Dürer, El Greco, Giorgione, Goya, Murillo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian and Velasquez. Famous pieces from the 19th century include those by Delacroix, Gauguin, Monet, Renoir and Corot.

Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts

 

The other museum is called Műcsarnok (Palace of Arts), and it is the country’s largest exhibition hall, a suitable venue for major temporary exhibitions.

Palace of Arts
Palace of Arts

 

Erected on Széchenyi Island, Vajdahunyad Castle is an imitative anthology of some of old Hungary’s famous buildings and architectural styles ranging from the Romanesque to the Baroque. Of the imitation buildings, the most important is the replica of the Castle in Vajdahunyad in Transylvania (today in Romania).



It houses the Agricultural Museum, the first of its kind, established in 1896. The nearby lake is a romantic setting for boating in summer and ice skating in winter.

The Széchenyi Baths complete with thermal pools, Turkish steam baths and tubs, swimming pools and a water park (11 Állatkerti körút) is Europe’s largest spa baths.

The Transport Museum (11 Városligeti körút) houses one of Europe’s oldest collections of transport history memorabilia.

The 135-year-old Budapest Zoo, built in the Art Nouveau style, was the first of its kind in the world. The other popular amusement facility in the City Park is the Metropolitan Circus.

Budapest Zoo
Budapest Zoo

 

The Palace of Wonders at 19 Váci út is Central Europe’s first interactive ‘playhouse’ of science, popular with children. So is the Park of Hungarian Railway History (95 Tatai út) with trains that visitors can drive.

Good to know about The City Park

  • City park (Városliget) is a landscape public park in Central Budapest. Városliget was among the first public parks in the world open to the whole public
  • The area used to be a meadow and popular hunting area for noblemen. It was turned into a city park at the beginning of the 19th century
  • It used to be the main venue of the 1896 Millenium Celebrations, Hungary's 1000th anniversary. Many attractions were built then such as Heroes' Square or Vajdahunyad Castle
  • Other attractions include: the Zoo, Budapest Circus, Széchenyi Bath, Városliget Pond (an ice rink in winter)
  • The Városliget ice rink is the largest open air ice rink in Europe
  • Vajdahunyad Castle is an architectural museum presenting the major building styles used in Hungary for Romanesque to Baroque. Part of the building is a replica of an existing castle in Vajdahunyad, Romania
  • Vajdahunyad Castle was first built out of cardboard for the Millienium Celebrations. It was so popular that a permament, stone building was erected
Városliget ice rink
Városliget ice rink

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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Built in 1896, Vajdahunyad is a perfect example of the Hungarian fusion of architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque), and is partly inspired by Honedoara castle in Romania.

Name: Vajdahunyad Castle
Category: Architecture, castles and historic districts
Location: 1146 Budapest, Vajdahunyad vára

Description

Built in 1896, Vajdahunyad is a perfect example of the Hungarian fusion of architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque), and is partly inspired by Honedoara castle in Romania. Its gate echoes that of the Romanesque church in the 13C Ják Benedictine abbey. The Baroque part of the castle is fronted by a bronze sculpture by Miklós Ligeti (1903), depicting Anonymus, scribe at the court of King Bela III (12C). The château houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture.



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Vajdahunyad Castle on the map

 

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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.

START: Take the M1 or "Millennium Underground" to Széchenyi Fürdő.

Széchenyi Baths (Fürdő)

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.

Széchenyi Thermals
Széchenyi Thermals

 

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.

Vajdahunyad Castle

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.

Vajdahunyad Castle
Vajdahunyad Castle

 

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.

Fine Arts Museum
Fine Arts Museum

 

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.

Andrássy út
Andrássy út

 

Further up, Andrássy út is traversed by Kodály körönd, a striking square of faded but ornately painted town houses.

Time: 30 minutes.

Terror House

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

House of terror
House of terror

 

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.

Time: 60 minutes. Opening hours: Tues–Fri 10am– 6pm, Sat–Sun 10am–7pm.

Location: Budapest, Andrássy út 60. Metro: M1 to Vörösmarty utca.

Great Synagogue

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.

Zsinagóga
Zsinagóga

 

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.

Time: 1,5-2 hours. Opening hours: Tues–Sun 10am– 6pm.

Location: Budapest, Üllői út 33–37. Metro: M3 to Ferenc körút.

Budapest's Bests in Three Days