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  • The Hungarian capital, Budapest,

  • is situated on the banks of the Danube in Central Europe.

  • It’s the political, economic and cultural heart of the nation,

  • and one of the most beautiful and livable cities on the continent.

  • For centuries this has been a tale of two cities,

  • the city of Buda rising from the steep western hills,

  • and Pest, stretching away into the flat plains of the East.

  • The Danube kept these two cities apart until 1873,

  • when the first of Budapest’s seven bridges began stitching the two halves into one.

  • This tale of two cities has been one of destruction and renewal too.

  • Just as the Danube’s waters have coursed through Budapest,

  • so too have the great tides of European history, often gracefully,

  • but sometimes with ferocious force.

  • Budapest is a big city, and navigating its

  • patchwork of districts can be as challenging

  • as understanding its complex history.

  • For a sweeping overview, head to the Citadella on the Buda side of the Danube,

  • and take in the views from the 19th century ramparts on Gellért Hill.

  • Just upriver from the Citadella is Budapest’s oldest area,

  • The Castle District, which is filled with medieval,

  • baroque and 19th century buildings.

  • Ride the 150 year-old funicular up Castle Hill to Buda Castle.

  • First built in the 13th century the castle has been home to Hungarian kings,

  • a stronghold for Ottoman armies, and headquarters for an elite German Commando Unit.

  • Over the last seven hundred years,

  • the castle complex has been reduced to rubble by wars and rebuilt in peacetime many times over.

  • At the northern end of castle hill rises the

  • defiant spire of Matthias Church,

  • which served as a mosque during the 150 years of Ottoman rule.

  • Step from the church and onto the terraces of Fisherman’s Bastion,

  • whose seven towers represent the seven Magyar Tribes

  • who founded the Hungarian nation in the ninth century.

  • In medieval times, fishwives peddled their wares here;

  • today the fanciful terraces are yet another great place to catch views across the city.

  • Once youve explored the heights of Castle Hill,

  • stroll across another of Budapest’s iconic landmarks to the Pest side of the city.

  • Crossing the Danube wasn’t always this easy,

  • for centuries travellers were at the mercy of the watersmoods.

  • In 1820 a young count vowed to create a bridge after winter ice flows prevented him

  • from attending the funeral of his beloved father.

  • Thirty years on, The Szechenyi Chain Bridge was completed.

  • Hailed at the time as one of the world’s engineering wonders,

  • the bridge was just one of many achievements which earned István Széchenyi the title of

  • The Greatest Hungarian.

  • Once youve crossed the river,

  • follow the riverbank upstream to Hungary’s Parliament Building.

  • Lovingly constructed from 40 million bricks,

  • half a million precious stones and 88 pounds of gold,

  • this architectural masterpiece holds the hopes and dreams of the nation.

  • It’s also the home of The Hungarian Crown Jewels, which have been hidden,

  • lost, stolen and returned many times over.

  • Join a tour to see the crown of Hungary’s first king, St Stephen,

  • which after being kept in America’s Fort Knox for safekeeping

  • throughout much of the Cold War,

  • now takes pride of place beneath the Parliament’s central dome.

  • The Parliament Building is home to around 100 statues,

  • but none is more cherished than that of former Prime Minister, Imre Nagy.

  • In 1956 Nagy enraged the Soviets by announcing his country’s withdrawal

  • from the Warsaw Pact,

  • sparking a gallant but doomed uprising

  • which cost him and thousands of Hungarians their lives.

  • Just a short walk downriver from the Parliament Building

  • is a sobering memorial to another of the city’s darkest chapters.

  • In 1944, thousands of Budapest’s citizens, many of them Jews,

  • were executed here by the ruling fascist party.

  • 60 pairs of iron shoes, lined up along the riverbank,

  • pay tribute to those who were shot and swept into the night by the Danube’s currents.

  • Despite the horrors of World War Two,

  • today’s Budapest has one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe.

  • Lose yourself in the Jewish quarter,

  • an area undergoing renewal thanks to its colorful cafe and bar scene.

  • Then pay your respects at The Dohany Street Synagogue,

  • the largest Jewish house of worship in Europe.

  • Budapest is home to over 200 museums.

  • The nation’s most important, The Hungarian National Museum,

  • lies just to the south of the Jewish Quarter.

  • Here you can explore over 1000 years of Hungarian history,

  • from the days of the Magyars, to the Stalinist era and beyond.

  • But this is more than just a building dedicated to the past,

  • this is a place where history was made.

  • In 1848 the first calls for revolution rang out from these very steps,

  • inspiring Hungarians to rise and throw off the shackles of their Austrian overlords.

  • Like so many of this city’s historic buildings,

  • the story of St Stephen’s is filled with drama.

  • The basilica took 54 years to complete.

  • It would have been finished years earlier had a storm not caused the dome to collapse,

  • forcing the builders to demolish the entire basilica and start from scratch.

  • Thankfully the new dome has held firm now for over a century,

  • a reassuring thought as you take in the views from its top.

  • From St Stephen’s, allow yourself to be swept up Andrassy Avenue,

  • a world heritage listed boulevard

  • lined with exquisite neo-renaissance architecture and grand cafes.

  • Not far from St Stephen’s is another temple,

  • this one celebrating the European gods of music.

  • Even though the curtains first opened at The Hungarian State Opera House over 130 years ago,

  • the acoustics here are still considered among the world’s finest.

  • Andrassy Avenue continues to flow to the north-east,

  • through Franz Liszt Square,

  • dedicated to the city’s most revered musical son,

  • before finally opening out onto Heroes Square.

  • Gaze up at Hungary’s seven founding Magyar chieftains,

  • and pause for a few moments at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

  • Heroes Square is the gateway to City Park,

  • which in 1896 was the centerpiece of Hungary’s millennium celebrations.

  • As part of festivities, Vajdahunyad Castle was created,

  • a temporary attraction made from cardboard and wood

  • showcasing the evolution of Hungarian architecture.

  • The castle proved so popular that it was later rebuilt in stone,

  • and today houses an agriculture museum,

  • a fascinating tribute to the Hungarian peoplesclose connection with the land.

  • City Park is also the home of The Széchenyi Thermal Baths,

  • a vast water palace of pools, saunas, steam cabins and massage rooms.

  • Budapest lies across a network of over 125 thermal springs.

  • The Romans took advantage of these warm medicinal waters over two thousand years ago,

  • as did the Turks who later built lavish bathhouses on the Buda side of the city at Gellért.

  • By the 1930s, Budapest was known throughout the world as the city of Spas.

  • For many in Budapest, “taking the watersis a weekly ritual.

  • These are the places locals go to rejuvenate their bodies, spirits,

  • and connections with loved ones and friends.

  • Whether it’s the sparkling Danube or the thermal springs,

  • there’s something truly special in the water here that’s helped Budapest absorb some

  • of history’s most turbulent passages,

  • and re-emerge renewed.

  • So when youre ready to experience moments of reflection,

  • inspiration, and sublime beauty, come to Budapest,

  • one of the world’s great cities.

  • Youre sure to come away rejuvenated too.

The Hungarian capital, Budapest,

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Budapest Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

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    Eric Wang posted on 2017/07/01
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