Why should I never visit Budapest
Sightseeing in Budapest
There are many reasons to go to Budapest: the sights, the good cuisine, the friendly people, the healing baths, the great festivals, the rich cultural offer and certainly much more.
It is difficult to list everything. But we want to try it here ...
After a long time I was back in Budapest for four days - far too little to really get to know this city, but you can never get to know anything about this city anyway. It is constantly evolving. And that's a good thing - visits are never boring with it.
Budapest - Prague - Vienna - a real Austrian (especially a Viennese) should simply wander through these cities regularly on new tracks and highlights. In each of these cities you immediately feel at home and no matter how long you stay, you always like to come back to see what you know and to discover new things. Therefore, I can also take the risk of throwing another travel guide “on the market” - everyone sees the cities differently ...
For me, Budapest was finally on my program again in autumn. Budapest is the capital of Hungary and also the largest city in the country. With over 1.7 million inhabitants, it is the same size as Vienna and both cities were always in competition for size and beauty during the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Today's Budapest was created through the amalgamation of Buda, Obuda and Pest, which was carried out in 1873.
The history of Budapest
As early as 5000 BC, agriculture and cattle breeding were practiced in today's Budapest area and the residents of that time also understood pottery. Around 600 BC. the Scythians, a nomadic people from the Black Sea region, settle here as well as the Illyrians. Then Celtic Erawisker conquered the region, the Celtic settlement Ak-ink emerged on the Budapest bank of the Danube.
At 10 BC The Romans invade the area in the 2nd century BC, Emperor Tiberius founds the province of Pannonia. A Roman military camp was built and subsequently the Roman settlement of Aquincum, which between 106 and 296 became the capital of the province of Pannonia Inferior. At that time there were over 30,000 inhabitants in the city, the city developed excellently under Roman rule, the governor's palace, several amphitheaters and baths can still be found today. The Romans probably discovered the baths and the warm healing water for their health back then.
But in the Roman Empire signs of decay are noticeable: the empire is divided and the Huns come to the area during the migration of peoples, drive out the Romans, but withdraw again 50 years later, but the fall of Aquincum begins. In 567 Avars entered the country, new settlements were founded again and again along the Danube, in 803 Emperor Charlemagne smashed their empire and the first Slavic settlers settled in what is now Budapest. In 896 the time had come: The Magyars, an equestrian people from the middle Urals, conquered the country under the leadership of Árpád, who managed to unite the various tribes, and settled on the Buda bank of the Danube. This date is still considered to be the so-called "land grab" and thus the foundation of Hungary. Around the turn of the millennium - either on Christmas Day 1000 or New Year's Day 1001, Stephen I is crowned the first King of Hungary. He is promoting Christianization in the country, the Hungarians are expanding their dominance. When his only son Imre dies in a bear hunt, Stephan dedicates the land to the Virgin Mary and asks her to protect Hungary.
In 1222 the rights of the nobility were extended by the "Golden Bull" from King Andrew II. In 1242 the Mongols Pest and Buda burned down, the royal residence was moved to Visegrád, where Charles I (Caroroberto) of the Anjou family was crowned king.
Ludwig I finally made Buda a royal city again. The city experiences a new heyday, it is renewed and in 1361 the capital of the kingdom. From 1446 the city was repeatedly threatened by the Ottomans, which general and imperial administrator János Hunyadi was initially able to fend off. In 1458 Matthias Corvinus, his son, was elected king by the Diet. You can still see his “raven” on some monuments today. Matthias brought many Italian artists into the country and thus helped Renaissance art to break through in Hungary.
In 1514 the nobility crushed a peasant revolt with blood and in 1526 the Ottomans were again standing at the gates of Budapest. Sultan Suleyman II succeeds in destroying Buda, but then withdraws with his troops. In 1541 Suleimann, the Magnificent, attacks again and occupies the city, so that most of Hungary and with it the area around Budapest come under the rule of the Ottomans for 145 years. Buda becomes the seat of a Turkish pasha. Mosques and baths were built, many residents were driven out or enslaved, and the capital of the rest of the Hungarian Empire was relocated to Pressburg, today's Bratislava, by 1784.
In 1686 the Habsburgs, who have been kings of Hungary since 1526, succeeded in recapturing the city under Charles of Lorraine and driving out the Ottomans. Buda and Pest are being rebuilt, many German traders and craftsmen settle here, but the lower nobility and peasants continue to be suppressed. From this situation riots arise again and again. In 1703, Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II achieved considerable success with his peasant army against the Habsburgs, but since there was no support from Russia and France, this uprising was also bloodily suppressed. In 1741 Maria Theresa became Queen of Hungary after the Hungarian nobility remained loyal to her as the first woman to succeed to the throne. Among other things, she set up a stagecoach service to Vienna. In 1780, Joseph II, who succeeded his mother Maria Theresa, introduced German as the official language. In 1838 a flood of the Danube claimed almost 70,000 victims, large parts of Buda and Pest were flooded. Between 1839 and 1849 the first permanent bridge, the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) between Buda and Pest, was built at the suggestion of Count István Széchenyi.
Széchenyi is considered a great reformer and outstanding thinker of his time. 1848 is considered to be the year of the revolution of the Austrian monarchy and the revolution has its climax in Budapest: The poet and later Hungarian folk hero Sándor Petőfi and the “March Youth” proclaim the March Revolution by publicly chanting the “National Song” and proclaiming the “Twelve Points” which the Habsburgs can only bloodily crush with the help of tsarist Russia. Since the Austrian officers celebrate their victory - after the Hungarian nobles were executed - with beer and toasting, it was even forbidden to do so for 150 years - and it is still not welcomed today.
In 1867 the time had come: the Austro-Hungarian settlement was carried out and the dual monarchy was established. Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth (Sisi) are crowned the royal couple in the Matthias Church. Above all, Sisi is still revered in Hungary, as her influence on Franz Joseph I in this matter contributed significantly to the success. Sisi also spoke Hungarian and was very fond of this country. Count Andrássy, who had the esteem of Elisabeth, becomes Hungarian Prime Minister. Hungary becomes largely independent. Franz Joseph I comes to Hungary several weeks a year, resides at Buda Castle and took part in the Royal Hungarian Diet in Hungarian and in Hungarian uniform.
In 1873 the cities of Buda, Pest and Obuda are united in Budapest, another heyday of the city follows: the Great Ring, the Parliament, the West Railway Station, the Central Market Hall, the M1 underground line, the East Railway Station, the Opera and many bourgeois apartment buildings, which can still be seen today and whose appearance we can still admire today. The city is all about the Belle Époque, and many art nouveau works can still be admired today. The city's public parks are being built and the elegant Andrássy Boulevard is being expanded.
In 1896 the 1000th anniversary of the conquest is celebrated: a Millennium Exhibition with numerous major projects is organized: Heroes' Square, Vajdahunyad Castle are built, the subway (the first on the European mainland) is completed.
The First World War begins in 1914, Hungarian soldiers march under the flags of the Habsburgs in the war that is lost in 1918, the k.u.k. The dual monarchy collapses, the Republic of Hungary is proclaimed, in 1919 the country becomes a Soviet republic for 133 days, then Romanian troops occupy Budapest. As a result of the Trianon (Versailles) Agreement, Hungary loses more than two thirds of its national territory. In 1941 the state entered World War II on the side of Hitler's Germany, after which it was promised, among other things, territories that had been lost when the war was won. When defeat loomed in 1944, Hungary tried to switch sides, Budapest was occupied by German troops in response. The city's Jewish citizens are interned in ghettos, and many are deported. In 1945 the Germans blow up all bridges, the city also suffers severe damage from the American bombing raids, Soviet troops first lay siege to the city and then occupy it (and subsequently forget to go home - as many Hungarians still say today).
In 1949 Hungary will be followed by Stalinist purges through a fraudulent election to become a Communist People's Republic. Imre Nagy becomes Hungarian Prime Minister in 1953, the revolution breaks out on October 23, 1956, Imre Nagy declares his withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. The revolution is bloodily suppressed by the Soviet armed forces: 250,000 Hungarians flee to the West. Imre Nagy was executed as a traitor in 1958 after a secret trial. From 1968 the time of the so-called "Goulash Communism" began under János Kádár.
1989 is the time of the turning point: Hungary opens the iron curtain for the citizens of the GDR and calls on October 23. the republic from. In 1999 Hungary joined NATO, in 2004 Hungary became a member of the European Union, and in 2007 it joined the Schengen Agreement.
The celebrations in 2000 for the millennial anniversary of the founding of the state lead to the beautification of the capital: the park and the Millenáris Park cultural center, the millennium district with the national theater are built, the Buda Danube side and the campus of the Technical University are modernized.
Like Vienna, Budapest is now divided into 23 districts, many of which still bear the names of Habsburgs, e.g. Josefsstadt, Christinastadt, Leopoldstadt or Elisabethstadt.
The city is rich in sights, you don't even know where to start first. If you are in town for the first time, you should definitely take the “classic” route. Even if we present a lot of things to see here if you don't have much time, a guided tour of the city is recommended in any case, which you can book at the tourist information office. You can find the contact points with their opening times here: www.budapestinfo.hu/de/budapestinfo-point
I also recommend purchasing a Budapest Card, which not only allows you to use public transport, but also offers discounts at many sights, museums and theaters. You can find out more about my experiences with it here: https://reisenotizen.ask-enrico.com
The Budapest Card can also be booked online and you will also find a list of all the different card options here: https://www.budapestinfo.hu/de/budapest-card
But now finally in medias res - let's go: to the sights in Budapest.
Buda is the quieter, hilly part of the city with lots of green spaces. High up on the famous Fisherman's Bastion, but also on some other places such as Gellért Hill, you have a wonderful view of the city.
Anyone who has stayed at the Novotel and is not afraid to climb stairs can set off on foot straight away. Everyone else drive or walk to the chain bridge.
The chain bridge
The Chain Bridge - actually Széchenyi Lánchíd - was the first permanent bridge that connected Buda and Pest. Before that there was only a ship bridge, which could not be used in bad weather, or ferries to get from one side of the Danube to the other. The bridge was built from 1839 to 1849 by William Tierney Clark, an English engineer, the 4 characteristic stone lions were completed in 1852. I have found different information about the length: it is given once as 202 meters, in my Budapest guide as 380 meters. On my next stay in Budapest, I will walk through it and then let you know.
The client was Count István Széchenyi, the great Hungarian, was a very innovative and learned man to whom Hungary owes a lot. There are two legends about the construction of the bridge and its client: one says that Széchenyi had to wait a week to get to his father's funeral because he could not use the ship's bridge in bad weather. The second legend says that Széchenyi had a lover in the other part of the city, whom he wanted to visit quickly and in any weather and therefore commissioned the bridge. Regardless of which and whether a legend was the cause, today the Chain Bridge is a monument of the city and especially in the evening it shines in all its splendor.
It was also destroyed during the Second World War, but rebuilt in 1949, on its 100th birthday.
The Clark Ádám tér
The Chain Bridge ends in Clark Ádám Square, it is the bridgehead of the Chain Bridge and bears the name of the builder of the bridge. It is supposedly the only roundabout in Budapest (they should come to Austria!), Here is also the zero point kilometer stone - that means all Hungarian traffic routes are measured from here, and the funicular goes to Buda Castle from here. The tunnel, which also leads to the castle, also begins here.
There is also a nice story to tell about the tunnel: it is supposedly as long as the chain bridge and was built so that it can be pushed into the tunnel in bad weather. From Clark Ádám tér there are also small buses (no.16) that take you to Castle Hill, which you can also use with the Budapest Card. Since there is an extensive cave system in the mountain, you can only drive up the mountain in small buses, and the number and route of the tourist buses (only to the lower entrance of the fishing bastion) is limited.
The funicular - Sikló
The funicular is also connected to the Széchenyi family, it was commissioned by the son of the great Hungarian, Ödön Széchenyi. In his time, the castle district was still used as a government district and mandataries and civil servants could get to work more quickly. The funicular runs from Clark Ádám Square to its upper stop between the Sándor Palace and Buda Castle. It has also been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
Their two wagons are named after two saints: one is named after Saint Margit (Margaret) and the second after Saint Gellért. The two wagons operate in parallel on the pendulum principle: the weight of the passengers going down the mountain pulls the passengers in the other wagon up the mountain, if the weight is insufficient, an electric motor, previously a steam drive, supports the ascent. Together with the Buda Castle and the view of the Danube, the funicular is part of the world cultural heritage.
Gerhard von Csanád or Gerhard Sagredo came from a wealthy aristocratic family in Venice. Allegedly he became very ill as a child, whereupon he was brought to a Benedictine monastery by his parents and his parents swore that he would grow up as a monk if he should get well again. So Gerhard became a novice among the Benedictines. His father died on a crusade and Gerhard also went to the Holy Land in 1015, where he met the abbot of the Hungarian monastery of Pannonhalma, who invited him to Hungary.
King Stephen I was so impressed by Gellért's sermons that he entrusted him with the education of his son Imre. He later became bishop of the diocese of Csanád and played a crucial role in the conversion of pagans in Hungary and Transylvania. After the death of Stephen I, Gellért was put in a nail-studded barrel in Buda during a pagan uprising on September 24, 1046, rolled down the hill into the Danube and drowned in the river. Today he is the patron saint of Budapest, the hill, the bath and a wagon of the city cable car are named after him.
Margaret of Hungary was born in Klis Castle in today's Croatia in 1242. It was the time of the Mongol storm and her father Béla IV had fled here with his wife. Béla IV. And his wife swore to dedicate their expected child to God if Hungary were liberated from the Mongols and in the year of Margareta’s birth the time had come: the Mongols left, Bela IV.He kept his oath and handed Margareta, who was only four years old, into the care of the Dominican sisters in Verszprém.
In 1252 Margareta came to the monastery newly built by her father on Rabbit Island near Buda, today's Margaret Island. She led a virgin life, also refused the hand of the Polish Duke and that of King Ottokar II of Bohemia, even though the Pope had issued a dispensation to marry. Margit devoted herself entirely to the veneration of God, scourged herself in order to understand the martyrdom of the Savior, only wore simple clothes, did the lowest work and cared for the sick even when there was a high risk of infection. Her ascetic life with fasting exercises and sleep deprivation was so draining on her health that she died in 1270 at the age of 28.
The castle district
The castle district can be divided into two parts: the royal part with the royal palace and the residential area with its small baroque houses, the Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion. A castle town of its own developed around the castle, which in the 15th century even housed its own schools and university under King Zsigmond.
The residential area
Its story begins in the 13th century after the Tartars withdrew from Budapest, leaving only devastation. Bela IV returned to the city and began to secure it better with city walls and stone palaces. He also decided that the citizens should move to the Buda side on Castle Hill, as it was easier to defend than the flat Pest area. As early as the 14th century, the castle district had around 8,000 inhabitants.
But despite these measures, the castle and the quarter were later destroyed several times: by the Ottomans, by the Habsburgs in the year of the revolution and in World War II. After that the quarter was completely rebuilt, it was decided to rebuild it as a baroque quarter, just as it had looked after the destruction by the Ottomans. During the reconstruction, however, you also found the old walls from earlier times and those who dare to go into the backyards of the individual houses (which is not necessarily seen everywhere) can still discover the old parts from the Middle Ages. Many buildings are also listed here, as can be seen on the boards of the houses. In many passageways and houses you can also find the so-called Gothic seating niches - they have only been found here in Budapest, there is nothing like it in Prague or Vienna. To this day we do not know their function, we do not know what they were used for in the past, some think that wine was served here early on and that these niches were used as seats, but this assumption has not yet been confirmed.
This quarter here on Castle Hill is unique, different from Buda, different from Pest, actually it is a city within a city: Small shops, a primary school, everything that belongs to a small town.
When visiting, you shouldn't forget that under the historic castle district there is an extensive cave system, to which almost every house used to have an access.
Let's start our tour at Trinity Square, Szentháromság tér. The Trinity Column that we now admire is not the first column erected here out of gratitude for the end of the plague. After a major plague epidemic, the first column was erected as early as the 17th century, but as the plague broke out again, people thought that it was not beautifully designed and so a new column was erected at the beginning of the 18th century.
This served its purpose - the plague never returned. The baroque plague column was designed by Philipp Ungleich from Würzburg in 1741 and is 14 meters high. While the Trinity group watches over the square at its head, the artist has placed several figures of saints at the foot of the column. The relief and the coat of arms on the pedestal come from the sculptor Antal Hörbiger. However, this column is only a replica, as the original column was badly damaged in World War II.
The former town hall
The two-storey baroque building stands on the corner of Szentháromság utca and Tárnok utca and is now used by the linguistic institute of the Hungarian Academy of Science. It was built from 1702 to 1710 according to plans by the Italian builder Venerio Ceresola, including the medieval wall remains of the previous buildings. At that time, five medieval houses had to make way for the new building. Architecturally interesting include the stairwell and the inner courtyard of the building. Under the corner bay you can see a statue of the Greek goddess Pallas Athene, created by Carlo Adami around 1785, who bears the coat of arms of Budapest on its shield.
The Matthias Church
The Matthias Church, which is actually consecrated to the Virgin Mary and should therefore correctly be called the Church of Our Lady, is not the largest, but probably the most beautiful church
from Budapest. It is also called the Coronation Church, as many coronations, such as those of Franz Joseph I and Sisi, took place here. Charles I Robert of Anjou (1309), as well as Charles IV, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary and Zita, his wife, were crowned here in 1916.
The Hungarians call it Matthias Church, after Matthias Corvinus, who not only married his two wives in this church, but was also crowned here and had the high tower built. In the Matthias Church, however, Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Sisi were also crowned Hungarian King / Queen. On this occasion, Franz (Ferenc) Liszt composes the Hungarian Coronation Mass.
According to the tradition of the Archdiocese of Esztergom, Stephen I had a church built here in 1015. Possibly this was the Marienkirche, in which Saint Gellért was laid out after his martyrdom. However, no traces of settlement from this time have been found on the castle hill. This old St. Mary's Church was probably destroyed during the Tartar invasion. After the Tartars withdrew, a new, fortified capital was built on the castle hill, in the center of which was the newly built or rebuilt St. Mary's Church, which is also mentioned in writing in 1247. In 1248 Pope Innocent IV spoke out against the disruption of property, in 1255 it was mentioned in royal documents as being rebuilt and in 1269 as being rebuilt. Originally
The Church of Our Lady of Buda Castle was consecrated. The ground plan of the church at that time and the present one are almost identical: a three-aisled or transverse basilica.
The church was expanded and rebuilt several times over the years, Ludwig (Lajos) the Great had the Marientor on the southwest side designed - its main decoration is a relief depicting the death of Mary - and around 1370 the former Romanesque basilica was converted into a high-Gothic hall church . Master builders from the famous Parler workshop in Prague were also involved in the redesign. In 1412, 19 flags that had been captured on a campaign against Venice were hung on the church walls for the first time. Albert von Habsburg was proclaimed here in 1438 and Wladislaus Jagello I in 1440 and then elected. It was also he who, together with his legendary general János Hunyadi, held a solemn thanksgiving for the victory against the Turks in 1444. At that time, the captured flags were hung on the walls of the church for the second time.
Matthias built the royal oratorio next to the southern side choir around 1460, built the 60-meter-high south tower around 1470 and had his coat of arms, the raven, attached to it. Matthias married his two wives here: Katharina von Podiebrad, the king's daughter from Bohemia and, after her death, Beatrix of Naples.
In 1526 the Hungarians suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Mohács. During the Turkish rule, the Ottomans took the castle hill with a trick in 1541, afterwards the church served as a mosque, within 24 hours the walls were whitewashed and covered with tapestries, the furnishings were destroyed. The church treasures were brought to Pozsony (now Bratislava) as early as 1526, but the statue of the Madonna of King Wladislaus was not brought to Pressburg, it was walled in. It was in Turkish possession for 145 years and was called Eski, i.e. old mosque. However, the conversion into a mosque saved the Church of Our Lady, all other churches on the hill of Buda were destroyed by the Turks.
The legend of the Virgin Mary statue
Pope Innocent XI. conquered Buda Castle from the Turks on September 2, 1686 with united European forces. Before the last attack, however, the miracle of the statue of Mary occurred, which was also held responsible for the Turks' rapid flight. After an explosion in the powder tower, the wall erected in front of the statue of the Madonna collapsed and the long-forgotten statue of the Virgin Mary, the patroness of Hungary, reappeared. This caused a great shock to the Turkish occupiers: if even Maria reappeared, they concluded that the battle could not be won and so they called for a retreat. On the same day the castle was conquered and the statue of the Virgin was carried through the streets of Buda in a thanksgiving procession.
The Church of Our Lady subsequently became the main church of the Jesuits in Hungary, with the baroque religious house and a seminary built on the north and south sides. The interior and its furnishings were also expanded in the baroque style. Palatine Pál Esterházy donated the baroque main altar, the inscription of which at that time still referred to the foundation of the church by Stephan I. Fire and lightning damaged the church several times in the 18th century, so that it had to be renovated more often. After the dissolution of the Jesuit order in 1773, the church was administered by the Buda City Council. In 1785 Joseph II ordered an auction of the church treasures brought back from Pozsony, which were thus lost forever. In 1780 the crypt was built under the main choir, where in 1862 the remains of King Bela III. and his wife Anna of Chatillon, who had been found in Székesfehérvár.
Between 1874 and 1896 the church was renovated under the direction of Frigyes Schulek, giving the building its present-day appearance. Schulek had the former Jesuit buildings that narrowed the church torn down and gave the church back its free-standing character. He also wanted to restore the building to its original architectural appearance and therefore had vaults and walls removed down to the foundation in several places, he removed the baroque additions and tried to restore the previous state, at the same time he completely renewed damaged parts and surfaces.
The side choirs from the time of Sigismund were removed, the Marientor from the time of Ludwig the Great was torn down and the bell tower was rebuilt by King Matthias and the column capitals, which were faithfully carved from the originals, were replaced. If there were no records of the earlier appearance, he added parts according to his own plans: the St. Stephen's Chapel was built in place of the destroyed Gara Chapel, the baroque row of chapels in the north aisle was rebuilt in the neo-Gothic style and the south bell tower was given the magnificent one A stone dome and a neo-Gothic Söllerkranz, the north tower with a late Romanesque turret dome, between the two sacristies and the choir, the royal oratorio was built on the northern side, and he renovated the crypt in the free neo-Gothic style.
In addition to Schulek, Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz are responsible for the interior decoration work. They created the frescoes inside and according to their designs Ede Kratzmann made the stained glass windows and Ferenc Mikula the new stonemason decorations.
Another renovation of the church begins before the Second World War, but this is interrupted by the outbreak of acts of war. During the siege of Budapest in 1944-45, the church was badly damaged. Only the foresight of a pastor who has all of the lead glass windows cut out of the church early on and brought to a safe place can these unique works of art be preserved for posterity.
The roof burns down, the lower church is blackened by the soot from the German camp kitchen (and remains that way until 1993), the vaults are damaged and the organ falls silent. The choir is used by the Soviets as a horse stable and war vehicles drive up the stairs of the main portal. Finally, the building is declared in danger of collapsing and blocked, the authorities issue the demolition permit, but this is not carried out.
Between 1950 and 1970 the Hungarian state removed the war damage, but it did not carry out a complete renovation. The renovation of the organ was completed in 1984, and in 2006 the complete renovation of the church began, which today shines again in its splendor.
You should also pay attention to the roof of the church: The beautiful, colorful roof tiles come from the famous Zsolnay factory in Pecs. They are made of pyrogranite - a material that is frost and acid resistant and was invented by the Zsolnays.
Inside the Matthias Church
The Crowned Mary
The anniversary celebrations in 2000 - the 1000th anniversary of Hungary - naturally also thought of the St. Stephen's Crown, which Pope Silvester II sent to Stephan and thus co-founded the Christian Hungarian state. To commemorate the mission of the crown at that time, a new copy of the crown was made, which was blessed by Pope John Paul II and brought from Rome to Budapest on a foot pilgrimage. Here on the Assumption of Mary - with the approval of the Pope - the statue of the Mother of God was crowned on the main altar.
This once again made it clear that the Virgin Mary is the patroness of Hungary. This coronation of the Virgin Mary is unique and it had to be approved by Pope John Paul II to be performed.
Look back to the Middle Ages
At the foot of the bell tower you can see the largest medieval fragment of the church, decorated with figures, the gate built by Ludwig the Great, whose relief shows Mary asleep. The guild signs from the 14th century can still be seen on the stones.
On the inside of the Marientor, on the upper column capital right next to the gate, you can find the hidden face of Ludwig the Great and his wife Elisabeth, on the other side you can see the coat of arms (with the face of the king) of Matthias Corvinus, which first appeared on Tower was placed. Nearby under the organ choir is a small columned chapter from the 15th century with several faces: the three faces that look towards the main gate belong to King Matthias, his father János Hunyadi and his brother László (Ladislaus) - László's head is crooked to imply that he was killed; the head facing the sacristy is probably King Sigismund of Luxembourg (according to legend, the birth father of János Hunyadi).
Next to the column capital described above is the lattice door to the entrance to the Loreto Chapel.
According to tradition, the statue of Our Lady has been kept here since 1891, which, by appearing behind the collapsed wall, contributed to the escape of the Turks in 1686 and thus ended the occupation of Budapest. However, if you take a closer look at the statue, you notice that it cannot be the original sculpture: its style elements point to a later era and its weight is too great to be attributed to a procession through the streets of the city wear. It is believed that the original statue was possibly destroyed in a fire in 1723 and that the copy was then made, which is now venerated in the Loreto Chapel.
The Holy Emmerich Chapel
In the north aisle is the chapel, which is supposed to commemorate Saint Stephen, his wife Gisela and the young prince Emmerich. Worth seeing is the winged altar decorated with pictures by Mihály Zichy, which is about the impeccable life of the young Emmerich.
In the middle stands Emmerich's statue together with his father, Saint Stephen and his tutor, Bishop Gellért. Above the altar is the statue of the Mother of God with the Holy Crown on her head to indicate that after the early death of his son, Stephen entrusted Hungary to the Mother of God. The opposite wall shows events from the life of Francis of Assisi (painted by Károly Lotz).
The Trinity or Béla Chapel
Next to the Emmerich Chapel is the second side chapel, in which Bela III in 1898. and his wife were buried in a canopy roofed tomb by Schulek.
The chapel of St. Ladislaus
At the end of the north aisle is the Ladislaus Chapel, the chapel of the very revered King of the Knights, who ruled from 1077-1095. The cycle of frescoes by Károly Lotz shows his life as a brave knight, church-building ruler and god-appointed leader, who - like Moses - lets his thirsty army gush water from a rock. The second triptych shows the miracles that occurred after his death.
The main altar
The neo-Romanesque main altar was also created by Frigyes Schulek. The crucifix on both sides of which you can see scenes from the life of Mary (her introduction to the Temple of Jerusalem and the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) comes from him. The upper part of the altar is dominated by the crowned figure of Our Lady floating in a halo, above the statue there is a replica of St. Stephen's Crown, which was brought on foot from Rome to Budapest.
The main ship
Not only the glass windows but also the painting and the many frescoes impress the visitor and give the church a very unique atmosphere.
The fresco above the main portal shows the first victory of Saint Stephen over the German Emperor Konrad - when Stephan heard of the German attack, he first decreed a nationwide Lent and Reconciliation before he went against the Emperor. Strengthened in this way, he was able to drive out the emperor and even conquer Vienna.
The following picture shows Ludwig the Great setting out for Bulgaria to keep the Turks away. In a dream he was promised victory if he would stick an image of Mary on his flag and sacrifice her in Zell. Ludwig won and he founded the still world-famous pilgrimage site of Mariazell.
The next picture is dedicated to the miracle of the statue of Mary from 1686.
The frescoes repeatedly show moments of Hungarian history that are somehow touched by God, enormous figures of angels, which were painted by Bertalan Székely, underline this impression.
The triptych by Lotz next to the baptismal font complements this series and shows the victory of János Hunyadi against the Turkish army near Belgrade in 1456 and the regulation of the noon chime, which is a reminder of this victory to this day
Also noteworthy are the three cycles of frescoes by Bertalan Székely depicting the mysteries of the rosary, to name but a few.
View into the church
Next to the chapel of St. Stephen, the so-called king staircase leads to the second floor. Through this the royal family could get to the royal oratory and take part in the mass.
If you continue on the second floor you come to the small organ choir. The construction of the choir organ could not be realized at the end of the 19th century and so the room became the oratory of the royal family and the chapel of the Order of Malta. The walls are therefore adorned with the coats of arms of the aristocratic members of the knightly order. In 2010 the room got its original function back with the installation of a new choir organ.
On the wall above the altar there is an allegorical memento of the coronation in 1867: on the fresco by Károly Lotz you can see the Virgin Mary in the middle, Franz Joseph and Elisabeth kneel on her right and left side, next to them the Archbishop of Esztergom, who crowns the king, Elisabeth is crowned by the bishop of Veszprém.
A staircase leads further into the so-called Béla halls, the windows of which offer an extraordinary perspective of the church hall and the windows opposite. From here you can also get to the attic of the church with its new exhibition rooms.
The fisherman's bastion
The Fisherman's Bastion was also built by Frigyes Schulek during the last renovation work on the Matthias Church on the remains of the medieval fortress, who adapted its appearance to the style of the Matthias Church. The Fisherman's Bastion, from which you can enjoy an excellent view of the city and the Danube, runs parallel to the Danube and is 140 meters long. Its seven pointed stone towers symbolize the seven tribal princes of the Hungarians and the tent-shaped roofs of their yurts.
In the Middle Ages, a fishing market was held here, in the water town (Víziváros), which is in front of the bastion, the town's fishermen used to live and this is how the building got its name. The Fischerbastei and Wasserstadt are connected by the Schulek and Jezsuita (Jesuit) stairs.
Equestrian monument in front of the Matthias Church
One would like to believe that the bold rider in front of the Matthias Church represents King Matthias Corvinus, but that is not the case. The statue shows King Stephen I, the founder of the state and the first Hungarian king.
Only a few steps away from the Matthias Church and the Fishermen's Bastion, the Hilton Hotel Budapest is located, which since its construction in an extremely modern and perhaps eccentric style has repeatedly aroused the hearts of locals as well as tourists. You can stand by it however you want - it is now there.
The hotel was built in 1974 and integrates the remains of a Dominican monastery from the 13th and 17th centuries into the modern structure, which can be visited from the hotel. Classical concerts are often held here in summer.
The castle palace
It is the largest building on Burgberg and is dominantly visible from Parliament on the other side of the Danube. Bela VI. built the first castle here from 1247, which was later rebuilt and expanded several times. The castle was almost completely destroyed twice: in 1578 gunpowder was stored here, which exploded due to the carelessness of the guards and was recaptured by the Ottomans in 1686. Originally the castle palace was built in the Gothic style and later rebuilt in the Renaissance style.
Charles III had a small baroque palace built here in the 18th century, which Maria Theresa later expanded. In 1890 the 304-meter-long wing was added in the neo-baroque style.
During the Second World War, German soldiers holed up here in the palace and it was destroyed again during the attack by the Red Army. During the reconstruction, the baroque facade was reconstructed and crowned with the classicist dome that we know today.
Nowadays, many cultural institutions such as the Historical Museum, the National Gallery or the Szechenyi Library are housed in the royal palace.
The National Gallery
When looking at many works of art, the name Széchényi comes into play again, because the basis of the paintings in the National Gallery is the private collection of Count Ference Széchényi, who bequeathed them to the state in 1808. That was an initial spark for many aristocrats to bequeath their treasures to the state of Hungary. In 1957 the Hungarian National Gallery was established in the former Supreme Court on Kossuth Lajos tér, and in 1975 it moved to the Reception Hall of the Kings in the Castle Palace.
Hungarian painting and its development from the Middle Ages to the present can be followed on three floors. Special exhibitions complete the program.
The historical museum
Archaeological finds that came to light during the reconstruction of the palace after 1945 are shown here, such as the remains of the medieval fortress or Gothic sculptures that presumably once adorned the castle palace.
The National Széchényi Library
It is the largest book collection in Hungary, but it can only be visited by registered users and only as part of guided tours by appointment (historical collection). Every book published in Hungary is represented here, as well as millions of drawings, manuscripts and scores. The most valuable is the book collection of King Matthias Corvinus from the 15th century.
The Sándor Palace
Next to the mountain station of the Sikló, the funicular, is the palace, built in 1806, where its owners, the Sándor family, celebrated lavish parties. From 1867 to 1945 the residence of the Prime Minister was housed in this building; today it is the seat of the President of Hungary.
But the prime minister is also drawn back to the castle hill. Right next to the Sándor Palais is the former Burgtheater, built in 1736, which integrated parts of a Carmelite monastery and a church into its building after they were destroyed by the Ottomans during the liberation of Buda. During the renovation of the church, the architect and inventor Farkas Kempelen transformed the burial chapel into a retractable stage for the theater.
2000 people found space in the auditorium, it was considered one of the first houses in the city and Ludwig van Beethoven played his F major sonata (op. 17) for horn and piano here in 1800. In the Second World War, the building was used as an army depot and was badly damaged, after which it stood empty for a long time and currently (2016) it is being converted into the official residence of the Prime Minister.
The maze in the castle hill
A partly publicly accessible labyrinth system of considerable size runs under the castle district: after all, 2000 German soldiers found space in it during the Second World War. It is a confusing system of natural caves and man-made extensions that used to be accessed from almost every basement in Buda and that offered storage space, but also protection and escape. It is dangerous to enter the cave system, so it can only be visited with a guide. The entrances are at Úri utca 9 and Lovas út 4. Those who take a guided tour can also admire the various exhibitions that are repeatedly shown in the “underworld”. Allegedly there are some underground wells with red wine flowing out of them, but that shouldn't be the reason to visit the cave system.
At Lovas út 4 / c you can also visit the rock hospital, which was set up as a military hospital during the Second World War and converted into a nuclear bunker during the Cold War.
The cave labyrinth is also the reason why only small buses are allowed to drive up the castle hill, the number of tourist buses is also limited and they are only allowed to drive to the lower entrance of the fishermen's bastion. The Buda Castle District and the Danube panorama have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987.
The Várkert Bazár or Castle Garden Bazar
At the foot of the castle hill, the Várkert Bazár is located at the end of the castle complex on the Danube promenade. It is a wonderful facility, the facades alone impress the walkers on the promenade. Various exhibitions take place in the Várkert Bazár, but the CAFe festival is also one of its homesteads there - and neither should be missed.
The building complex was built by Miklós Ybl on the banks of the Danube and to protect the royal gardens. The facility was opened in 1883 and is still considered to be one of the most successful examples of the neo-renaissance in Hungary. Due to poor sales, the original commercial orientation was abandoned and studios and art workshops were set up in which, among other things, some outstanding sculptors worked.
This is how the Matthias Fountain by Alajos Stróbl (which can be found today in one of the castle courtyards) or the equestrian statue of King Matthias by János Fadrusz, which today stands in the central square of Kolozsvár-Cluj in Romania, was created here.
During the Second World War, the royal gardens were destroyed by bombs and then converted into the Buda Youth Park, where from 1961 to 1984, among other things, rock bands provided entertainment for young people. However, after an accident in 1984, the legendary cult site of the Eastern Bloc was closed. The slow destruction of the garden structure began. In 1987 the bazar was registered as a background of the castle view in the UNESCO world cultural heritage, but the decline continued until 1996.
Then the Vákert Bazar made it into the headlines as one of the 100 most threatened cultural heritage sites in the world.
After an unsuccessful attempt at revitalization in the early 2000s, the two residential buildings that flank the 350-meter-long building complex were even abandoned. But in 2012, with the help of the European Union, a renovation and restoration project was started, which was completed in 2014. Today the Vákert Bazar is again one of the “crown jewels” on the banks of the Danube and offers an interesting mix of the old original structures and modern architecture. The result was a harmonious complex of a great park and similar buildings, a perfect starting or finishing point to discover the Buda castle complex.
The Bazar Castle Garden consists of several parts:
The Palace of the Guards (Testőrpalota) was laid out as the northern boundary of the Várkert Bazar. Today changing exhibitions are housed here and the palace is also used for events.
The Northern Bazaar (Északi bazársor)
Behind the large glass portals of the shops you can not only taste various delicacies but also buy famous Hungarian specialties, handicrafts and other products.
Pavilion with stairs (Lépcsőpavilon)
Many different routes lead to the Buda Castle, here is a starting point. There is also an elevator from Lánchíd Street to the Royal Gardens.
Gloriette and Rampe (Gloriette és rámpamű)
Behind a romantic wrought iron gate, the elegant symmetrical ramp leads the visitor into the neo-renaissance garden and the lavishly decorated pavilion, the Gloriette.
Cabin pavilion (Fülkepavilon)
Similar to a triumphal arch, this building is the entrance to the event hall, which impresses with its modern design and protrudes into the mountain like a cave.
The southern bazaar (Déli bazársor)
Here, the walls of the former bazaar shops have been removed in order to create a well-lit and spacious area in which the visitor can relax and have a cake and / or a café.
The southern palaces (Déli paloták)
The two inner courtyards are surrounded by a representative space that was created during the reconstruction of the former apartments. Today the building functions as an event hall with a unique atmosphere and hosts frequently changing exhibitions.
The event hall (Rendezvénytér)
Both the multifunctional hall in which there is space for 1000 visitors and the stately foyer can be used as a conference location as well as for various cultural events and events.
The garage (Garázs)
There is parking here for visitors arriving by car. The entrance to the garage is on Szarvas tér.
The neo-renaissance garden (Neoreneszánsz kert)
This beautiful garden is reminiscent of the former royal gardens. Rose beds flanked by bushes, young, stocky trees provide shade, pergolas overgrown with climbing plants, comfortable benches and a bubbling fountain ensure a pleasant atmosphere and relaxing tranquility.
Dry ditch (Szárazárok)
At the northern end of the Neo Renaissance Garden, the open-air theater is hidden in the dry ditch and creates a special atmosphere for the cultural events on mild summer evenings.
The foundry courtyard (Öntőház Courtyard)
Surrounded by massive walls, this garden has comfortable seating and a modern restaurant with both sunny and shady places. A perfect place for dance, craftsmanship and programs of all kinds.
The exhibitions in the southern palaces are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
After the detour to the Várkert Bazár we now turn to the Gellért mountain.
The Statue of Liberty
The woman on Gellértberg with the palm leaf in her hand in front of the citadel is a Soviet monument and thus one of the few that still stand in its original location, most of which were dismantled after the fall of the Wall and are now on display in the Memento Park.
The Statue of Liberty is the largest of the three bronze statues erected in 1947 in honor of the Soviet Army and can be seen from almost anywhere in Budapest. The statue bore the inscription: Erected out of gratitude to the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in the struggle for the liberation of Hungary from the National Socialists. The Statue of Liberty, however, had already become one of the landmarks, a symbol for Budapest, and so it stayed in its place. They just removed the red star and changed the inscription a little: Out of gratitude for all who gave their lives for the liberation of Hungary.
The statue is 14 meters high and with its base it reaches a total height of almost 40 meters.
The rock church
A cave in the mountain was known for a long time, so the current Gellért mountain was also called Pest-hegy - Pest mountain when the Hungarian conquest. The Slavic word means furnace, grotto, cave.
Tradition has it that a hermit used to live here who was able to heal many sick people with the warm water from the mountain.
When a Hungarian group of pilgrims visited the famous pilgrimage site of Lourdes in 1924, they came up with the idea of building a rock church in Budapest as well, and so the rock church was built in 1925/1926 according to the plans of the architect Kálmán Lux, who expanded further corridors to the existing natural caves. The aim at that time was to create a sanctuary of atonement in post-war Hungary and to return to the patroness of Hungary, the Virgin Mary. In 1926 am inaugurated the choir.
In addition, a tunnel was to be built to the stairs on the Danube, through which the believers could leave the chapel after mass. Despite precise calculations and multiple checks, the tunnel always ended in completely different places than planned, so that this was also perceived as a sign of God, because the blasting had created mystically beautiful, chapel-like caves, which were later supplemented by the main nave.
Altars for Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus were set up in the main nave, and altars for Emmerich, Elisabeth and Margareta in the side chapel, all of which come from the Arpadenhaus and were canonized.
In 1934 a neo-Romanesque style monastery was built next to the church, which was handed over to the Pauline Order.
When the Communists came to power, the church in the country was severely suppressed: in 1948, many people who committed the Atonement for Fatima together with Cardinal Minszenty were brutally suppressed, the Pauline Order was dissolved, the church and the monastery were destroyed and in 1960 the entrance to the empty cave church with a two meter thick concrete wall.
The Pauline Order was only able to reopen the church in 1989 and in 1990 the monastery building was returned to it. In 1991 the demolition of the concrete wall began and on July 16, 2001 the six meter high cross was put up again over the church.
A piece of concrete wall at the entrance is reminiscent of times gone by. The anteroom of the church was renovated and set up as a reception center. Here the history of the Order and the Church can be followed on projection screens and on touch screens. On the upper floor, behind the statue of Eusebius the Blessed, created by László Marton, you can watch a short film. To the right of the entrance, at a height of four meters, is the statue of Mary of Lourdes in prayer position, created by Antal Czinder.
A relief by Cardinal Jószef Mindszenty, also by Lásló Marton, is in a niche in the narrow passage that leads into the church. In the church itself, visitors can expect a constant temperature of around 20 ° C in both summer and winter, which is generated by the hot water springs running in the rock.
Not far from the entrance you can see the Madonna of the Hungarians by Mária V. Majzik with the Holy Crown. This representation is interesting because Jesus is not sitting on her lap, but standing next to her, handing her the orb and pleading with her to accept it.
Behind the statue is a bust of Saint Stephen, who recommended the fate of Hungary into the hands of Mary. Next to the statue of the Virgin Mary one can see a flag with the image of the suffering Heart of Jesus pierced with a lance and surrounded by a crown of thorns and the Heart of Mary pierced with the dagger of sorrow, in the middle is the apostolic double cross.
A chapel in the rock church is a copy of an Egyptian Coptic choir that Győzőő Vörös discovered in 1997 during excavations in Egypt. Above it is a bone relic of the hermit Saint Paul of Thebes.
Anyone walking further will come to the Polish chapel, which commemorates the friendship between the two states - Poland and Hungary - and also the fact that Poland welcomed the Pauline Order after it was banned in Hungary. The railing shows the Pauline coat of arms in the middle and holds the coats of arms of both nations together, the altar is formed from the symbol of the former Polish ruling house, the Jagiellonian eagle, and a copy of the miraculous image of the famous Częstochowa Choir, the Black Madonna, is attached to it . This also commemorates Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who in Auschwitz took on death instead of a family father.
In the main nave we can also see the statue of the Virgin Mary of Fatima on the right, while the crucifix above the altar, the Spanish Limpias, is said to have been the miraculous change in Jesus' facial expression and thus the suffering at his death.
The altar is made of pyrogranite decorated with green eosin, both come from the Zsolnay porcelain factory in Pécs.
The wood carvings in the Chapel of St. Stephen were made by the Transylvanian-Hungarian woodcarver Ferencz Béla, who lived in California and wanted to support the rock church after seeing its dilapidated condition during a visit in 1990.
The Felsenkirche can be visited outside of the times of mass celebrations. An audio guide in different languages is included in the admission price.
Before we turn to the baths and the spa town of Budapest, let's make a quick detour via Szabadság híd to the Great Market Hall.
The Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd)
With the walk over the Liberty Bridge, which connects the Buda Szent Gellért tér with the Pest Little Ring, we come to the Pest side for the first time. The planning of the bridge comes from the Hungarian engineer János Feketeházy. It was opened on the occasion of the millennium celebrations on October 4, 1896 in the presence of the Austrian Emperor and Hungarian King.
Franz Joseph himself set the steam hammer in motion to remove the last rivet, made of silver and with his initials F.J. had stamped into the steel structure. The bridge was previously named after him and was renovated in 2007-2008.
The Great Market Hall
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