European Quartet One Melody

 
Some fall in love with the city at first sight, some are won over only after a longer period of discovery, but all agree that it occupies one of the most beautiful sites in the world.
Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist OfficeThe Buda Castle / © Hungarian National Tourist OfficeDuna Corso in Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist Office
Hungarian Parliament in Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist OfficeGellért spa in Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist OfficeArt Nouveau style building in Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist Office
Synagogue in Dohány Street in Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist OfficeJewish Memorial in Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist OfficeOpera in Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist Office
The Gundel Restaurant in Budapest / © Hungarian National Tourist Office
The metropolis of two million people is cut in two by the mighty stream of the Danube, with the hills and valleys of Buda on one side and the flat, low-lying Pest on the other. This riverside panorama was made a World Heritage site by UNESCO, and those who have seen it illuminated at night will understand why.
The following are some of the main characteristics of Budapest:
 
  • Inhabited fifty thousand years ago, it has had its present name for only 128 years: Óbuda, Buda and Pest were separate towns until 1873.
  • Under its hills there is a continuous cave system with medicinal waters welling up from thermal springs. Around 80 thermal springs supply 12 spas with 70 million litres of thermal water daily.
  • Among its monuments there are 2000-year-old Roman amphitheatres, 400-year-old Turkish baths and typically Hungarian Art Nouveau style buildings from the 19th century. The cityscape owes its uniform appearance to the elegant mansions erected at the beginning of the 19th century in Eclectic style.
  •  There are also points of interest in its transport system. The underground railway connecting the Inner City with the City Park was the first on the continent and has been running for 105 years. Serving the Buda Hills you will find the world's third mountain railway and a forest light railway operated by children.
  •  For lovers of culture, the only problem is choice. There are 237 monuments, 223 museums and galleries, 35 theatres, 90 cinemas, 2 opera houses, 12 concert halls and nearly 200 places of amusement, which offer a wide variety of things to do. Over the 365 days of the year, travel agencies organise walks and sight-seeing tours by coach and boat, tailored to your requirements.
We can only mention the most important sights of the city here, so let's start in Buda, onthe right bank of the Danube.
The Buda side is also the capital's green belt, with memorable places for excursions. The hills are all part of the Buda Nature Reserve.
 
The Buda Castle Hill
The Palace (Szent György Square) erected in the 14th century and rebuilt in Baroque style 400 years later, was the residence of Hungarian kings for 700 years. Today it houses the most visited museums and galleries in Budapest. The Hungarian National Gallery (buildings B, C and D) gives a cross-section of Hungarian history of art from the 10th century to the present day, from exhibits of medieval and Renaissance stonework to Gothic wood-carvings, panel pictures, triptychs, Renaissance and Baroque art, 19th and 20th century painting, sculpture and medals.
The crypt of the Habsburg Palatines can be visited with a guide. In the Budapest Historical Museum (building E), restored parts of the medieval Buda Castle, its chapel and Gothic sculptures, as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions on the history of Budapest can be seen. In the National Széchényi Library (building F), the largest library in the country, medieval codices from the very rich collection of King Matthias Corvinus are exhibited alongside regular temporary exhibitions. The Museum of Contemporary Arts – or Ludwig Museum – in building A, offers visitors outstanding domestic and foreign works of contemporary art.
Budas basilica, the Matthias Church, (2 Szentháromság Square), also called the Church of Our Lady, has a tower of stone tracery and used to be the venue for coronations and royal weddings. At the beginning of the 19th century it was rebuilt in Gothic style with contributions from the most illustrious artists of the age.
 
Gellért Hill
It is rare to see a hill like this, a protected nature reserve, right in the middle of a city. The Citadel, built on the top of Gellért Hill in 1851 as a military fortification, is today at the service of tourism as its terraces offer the most perfect view of the city.
The water of the medicinal springs welling from the depths beneath the hill are exploited by three spas built at its feet. One of them is the most elegant spa in the country, the Gellért Thermal Baths (2-4 Kelenhegyi Street), in which thermal and tub baths, bubble and wave pools, as well as a swimming pool and an open-air bath can be found. The remaining two –
Rudas (9 Döbrentei Square) and Rác Baths (8-10 Hadnagy Street) – date back to the Roman age, and both offer a thermal, Turkish and a tub bath, and in the Rudas, a swimming pool as well.
Further monuments of the Turkish age are the Tomb of Gül Baba, a Moslem pilgrimage site on the Hill of Roses [Rózsadomb] (4 Mecset Street) and the domed Király [King] Thermal Bath (82-84 Fő Street) with thermal, tub and Turkish baths.
 
If you go over from Buda to Pest, on the left bank of the Danube you will find historic city districts and many places of interest. For the crossing, let's choose the oldest of the nine bridges spanning the Danube: the Széchenyi Chain Bridge built in 1849.
 
Inner City
The Inner City Parish Church in Március 15 Square was the first church in the city. Its interior shows examples of all architectural styles from Romanesque to Classicism. The recently renovated building of the Synagogue in Dohány Street (2 Dohány Street) is the largest synagogue in Europe, and its excellent acoustics also makes it suitable for concerts. The Jewish Museum, set up in its courtyard, has one of the most outstanding Judaic collections in Central Europe. The museum is at the same time the research centre for Jewish culture. The Hungarian National Museum (14-16 Múzeum Blvd.) is the finest monument of Hungarian Classical architecture. This is the most significant public collection in the country and since 1846, has been preserving the historical memories of the Hungarian people from ancient times to the present day. The Grand Market Hall [Vásárcsarnok] (1-3 Fővám Blvd.) is outstanding in its architectural features.
The most beautiful monuments of Hungarian Art Nouveau are the Museum of Applied Arts (33-37 Üllői Street) with its rich collection, the dwelling-houses of Szervita Square (Inner City of Pest) and the former Post Office Savings Bank (4 Hold Street). The Parliament (Kossuth Lajos Square) is the largest and most decorative building in the country. Imre Steindl built the 96m high and 118m wide edifice between 1885 and 1902. It has 10 courts, 29 staircases, 27 gates and the first long distance district heating system in Europe. The Holy Crown and the royal insignia are kept at this seat of the Hungarian Parliament and government offices. Group guided tours are available.
The St. Stephens [István] Basilica (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Street), a neo-Renaissance church, raised to the rank of basilica minor, is the largest church in the capital and the second largest in the country, and contains the largest bell in Hungary. The Chapel of the holy Right [Szent Jobb] contains a jealously guarded treasure, a relic of the first Hungarian king, St. Stephen (1000–1038). His right hand has remained intact for a 1000 years and is housed here. Relics of church history can be seen in the treasury, while the tower balcony offers a wonderful panorama of the city.
It is worth walking from the Inner City of Pest along Andrássy Avenue, which is as straight as an arrow. Both sides of the avenue are lined by eclectic 19th and 20th century mansions designed with artistic thoughtfulness. The Hungarian State Opera House (22 Andrássy Avenue), the elegant work of the most famous Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl, has been the centre of Hungarian musical life since 1864. The public can see its fresco-decorated interior, its auditorium seating 1,200 spectators and its technical stage equipment in group tours.
 
City Park
The notable buildings in the capital's most important park were erected by the enthusiastic citizens to celebrate the country's millennium in 1896. In the imposing Heroes Square, Archangel Gabriel raises the Holy Crown to a height of 36m. The central group of sculptures commemorates the seven tribes and their chief Árpád, the founders of the country. In the colonnade stands sculptures of Hungarian kings as well as generals and politicians who fought for the independence of the country, encircling a memorial to the heroes who sacrificed their lives for their home.
Also on the square stands the Museum of Fine Arts containing the most important art collection in the country. In its Antique Picture Gallery you can find the largest Spanish painting collection outside Spain and works of world-famous artists. The works of Bellini, Brueghel, Corregio, Dürer, El Greco, Giorgione, Goya, Murillo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Rembrandt, Rubens, Tiziano, Velasquez and, from the 19th century, Delacroix, Gauguin, Monet, Renoir and Corot are of international renown.
On the opposite side is the largest exhibition hall in the country, the Palace of Art, a worthy venue for the most important temporary exhibitions. The Vajdahunyad Castle – a set of buildings erected on the Széchenyi Island – includes the true reproduction of several famous buildings of Hungary from the Romanesque to the Baroque style. Its most emphatic element is the copy of the Transylvanian Vajdahunyad Castle (today in the territory of Rumania). The Hungarian Agricultural Museum with an exceptionally rich collection was founded here in 1896 – the first institution of its kind in the world.
The rowing lake not only offers romantic experiences in summer but gives pleasure to skaters in winter as well. The Széchenyi Medicinal Baths (11 Állatkerti Blvd.) is the largest health spa in Europe: it has thermal, Turkish and tub bath facilities, as well as a swimming pool and an open-air bath. The Transport Museum (11 Városligeti Blvd.) is one of Europes oldest collections on transport history. The 135-year-old Municipal Zoological and Botanical Garden was one of the first of its kind in the world, its buildings are excellent products of Hungarian Art Nouveau and are listed monuments.
In its neighbourhood is the most elegant restaurant in the capital, The Gundel, which still bears the name of the family that has become a legend in catering. The two popular places of amusement in the City Park are the Municipal Circus and the Funfair, in which the 100-year-old carousel, holding the Europa Nostra Award is, still working.
Among the outstanding works of Hungarian architecture are the buildings of the Hungarian National Geological Institute (XIV., 14 Stefánia Street) and the Roman Catholic Parish Church of Kőbánya (X., 25 Szent László Square) built in the Art Nouveau style. An interesting experiment in its time was the Wekerle Housing Estate in Kispest (18th district) built with geometrical regularity for minor officials. Children can have fun in the Palace of Wonders (XIII., 19 Váci Street), the first interactive, scientific playhouse in Central Europe and on the drivable vehicles of the Hungarian Railway History Park (XIV., 95 Tatai Street).
 
Danube Bend
One of the finest panoramas in the country can be seen at the Danube Bend, where the river is forced between the hills and turns to the South. The land was owned by our royal family and was the scene of important events in the history of Medieval Hungary, leaving to later generations a rich collection of historical artifacts and monuments. The most notable towns and villages on the right bank are Dömös, Esztergom, Szentendre and Visegrád; on the left bank Nagymaros, Vác, Vácrátót, Verőce and Zebegény.
 

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Budapest: Location

Hungary GPS latitude/longitude: 47.29355 , 19.31701

 

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