Budapest is a beautiful city that has more than enough to keep even the most demanding visitor happy. The famous thermal baths of Budapest are certainly worth a visit. Or for a good view over the city you can climb the hill to the Citadel. Also, the Castle District alone is enough to keep you occupied for at least a day. This UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Buda side encloses several palaces, museums, churches and is one of the main tourist attractions in Budapest and a kilometer or so further, lies the citadel on top of another hill. Also, at the Liberty Bridge you can have a great view over Buda, Pest and the elaborate green iron cast on the Liberty Bridge.
On the other side of the Danube, in the Pest side of the town there is also much to be seen. There is the area around Heroes Square with several museums, the Vajdahunyad Castle, the zoo, and the business and stately residential area where most of the embassies in Budapest are located. Other sites that are definite not to miss are the Parliament House, the St. Stephan Basilica and the large indoor food market, ˝Central Market Hall˝ at Fővám tér.
Vaci Street is in the heart of downtown, it is an elegant shopping street with several restaurants, bank offices, cafés, souvenir- and book shops. In the middle Ages, the length of this street (1300 metres, just under a mile) equaled the length of the city of Pest. The two separate parts of Váci Street, to the north and the south of Elizabeth Bridge, are totally different. The northern part is overcrowded with tourists and shop windows in every building, while the southern part, which is also pedestrian, has a quieter and more historical atmosphere.
The majority of the buildings were constructed at the turn of the 20th century but there are minor details that add to the special atmosphere. There are small hidden passages, cast iron balconies, art nouveau style decoration and Zsolnay ceramic tiles that make each building different and worth noting.
Central Market Hall
One of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest is the Central Market Hall, situated on the Pest side on Fővám tér. According to its main architect, Samu Petz “a beautiful building must be both harmonious and useful” – and he came very close to perfection with this piece of work.
The ventilation caps and chimney pots of the roof are made of Zsolnay pyrogranite. Upon stepping into the building, where selling started in February 1897, its sheer size and train station-like interior are amazing, but what really catches the eye is the number of people constantly moving around from stall to stall, to buy fresh goods, directly from the producer.
The first floor of the market has mainly foodstuffs on offer, and the second floor has traditional Hungarian folk art items and other typical products of Hungarian origin on sale. In the basement, a huge modern supermarket was opened in the 1990-s. (Located just 2 minute walk from the hotel).
Gellért Thermal Bath
We find records about the "miraculous" springs spurting up on the territory of the Bath from as early a date as the 15th century. These springs were later favoured by the Turks as well, as they were larger and hotter than the Buda baths of the period. In the 17th century the site was named Sárosfürdő (Mud bath) because of the fine spring silt that was pushed up together with the spring water and settled at the bottom of the pools.
The Gellért Thermal Bath and Hotel, known world-wide and highly favoured by foreigners, was built in a secession style, opened its gates in 1918 and was expanded in 1927 by the wave-bath and in 1934 by the effervescent bath. In the course of the modernisation accomplished in our days, the sitting-pool in the swimming complex, the outdoor sitting pool and the children's pool were renovated; they were equipped with a state-of-the art water filtering and circulation device. At present, nearly all healing facilities may be used in the Gellért Thermal Bath. The Bath includes a department offering complex thermal bath facilities (daytime/outpatient hospital), it also has an inhalatorium.
St. Stephan Basilica
This church is said to be second in size only to St. Peter's in Rome and can allegedly hold 7,000 people. It was completed in 1905 and has been undergoing in restoration work for the last eight years. It contains the mummified hand of St. Stephen himself, which is paraded around the city on his name day. The cathedral has a height of 96 meters - exactly the same as the Parliament building. As part of the guided tour you can visit the viewing platform above the cupola from where, needless to say, you will be able to enjoy splendid views.
After long discussion, the construction of Parliament began in 1885 according to plans by Imre Steindl. It was completed in 1904 and it is one of Europe's most splendid Parliament buildings, reflecting its designer's taste and the nation's demands for representation. At the same time it is one of the landmarks of the capital. The neo-Gothic palace is 268 meters long and its dome is 96 meters high. The outer walls are decorated with statues of Hungarian monarchs and military commanders.
Budapest Zoo is a must-see attraction for tourists coming to our city with their kids. The main entrance is located right next to the famous Gundel restaurant, and a nice combination is to stop in there for a coffee before or after your visit. The zoo is just one major attractions of the city. Within a few hundred meters you will also find Heroes' Square, two excellent museums, a huge park, an amusement park, thermal baths and more. The entrance is a delightful art-deco whimsy. There are elephants, giraffes, monkeys, rhinos and of course, ice cream stands.
The National Theatre is the most distinguished venue for plays in Hungary. Although there has been a Hungarian theatre in Budapest for the last 150 years, it has only had a permanent and suitable home for theatregoers since 15th March 2002.
The establishment of a permanent National Theatre has a long history. Funded by donations, the building of the Pest Hungarian Theatre (Pesti Magyar Színház) was opened in Pest on 22nd August 1837. The 1840 Parliament gave the establishment its name, the National Theatre. Its temporary building, built in 1837, became out of date and therefore had to be pulled down and the National Theatre moved into the empty building of the People's Theatre (Népszínház) on Lujza Blaha Square in 1908. After hosting the theatre for half a century, the graceful, old building was blown up in March 1965 in order to build the underground railway. The theatre temporarily moved into Nagymező Street, and then into the building of the Hungarian Theatre (Magyar Színház) on Sándor Hevesi Square.
Located on a 2,5 km-long central Island on the Danube, the historical Margaret Island is a special landmark of Budapest. It was a wise decision from the city fathers of Budapest to ban all motorized traffic on this island (except for a single bus line and police cars), as it is the primary place of recreation in Budapest.Complete with an outdoor summer thermal spa, and a professional swimming pool where the Olympic champion water polo team trains tirelessly, the island also features a small wildlife park, the ruins of a 13th century Dominican cloister, a Japanese garden with sunbathing turtles, an 5 km-long professional jogging circle along the sides of the island, several nice restaurants, two luxury thermal hotels and a rose garden.
The Buda castle is one of the most famous and most visited sights of Budapest, it is a UNESCO World Heritage location, offering many interesting attractions, museums, evocative streets, squares, restaurants and shops.
The Royal Palace is one of the symbols of the country. It has seen many battles and wars since the 13th century. In its buildings there are three museums and it also gives home to the Széchenyi Library. The nearby, beautifully renovated Sándor Palace is the residence and workplace of the Head of the State. The 700-year-old Matthias Church is the jewel of the Hungarian capital. The Fisherman’s Bastion is not only a special and characteristic building but also an excellent point from where the view of the city is spectacular; visitors from all over the world are attracted to it.
The Austo-Hungarian Emperor and Hungarian King, Franz Joseph, had the stronghold built in 1851 following the suppression of the 1848 to 1849 War of Independence to keep the rebellious city under control of his cannons. Today the complex is a tourist destination. The Citadel, designed by Emánuel Zita and Ferenc Kasselik, was never suited to the requirements of modern warfare, even at the time of its construction, and served rather as a deterrent to the Hungarians. Sixty cannons were placed in this 220 metre-long, 60 metre-wide and 4 metre-tall fortress.
Following the Compromise with the Habsburgs in 1867 (Hungarian Kiegyezés, German Ausgleich) the Hungarians demanded the destruction of the Citadel but the garrison troops left only in 1897, when the main gate was symbolically damaged. In the 1960's following much debate the decision was made to turn it into a tourist centre. A wonderful view over the city opens up from the terraces and the walls of the Citadel.
The synagogue on Dohány Street in Pest is not only the most impressive one in the country but it's the largest synagogue of Europe, the second largest one in the world. (The largest Jewish house of worship in the world is the Temple Emanu-El in New York). The walks in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest all have their departure point at the Dohany Synagogue. This recently restored, magnificent, twin-towered building celebrates 150 years of existence soon. Let it take your breath away with its beautiful interior, see why it is among the top ten sights of Budapest.
The Fishermen's Bastion is one of the most popular spots of the Castle District with visitors, as it offers a grand panorama of almost the entire city. It is situated ac the eastern side of Castle Hill and its architecture is characteristic of the turn of the century; its flights of stairs, projections, turrets, and ambulatory-like galleries make it a mixture of the neo-Gothic and neo-Roman- esque styles and of the romantic baronial castles.
The Heroes’ square is one of the most visited sights of the Hungarian capital; it is situated in front of City Park, at the end of Andrássy Avenue and a World Heritage site. The millennial monument was built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin. The monument consists of two semi-circles on the top of which the symbols of War and Peace, Work and Welfare, Knowledge and Glory.
One of the most prominent of the historic buildings along Andrássy Avenue, it was designed by Miklós Ybl. Erected between 1875 and 1884, this Eclectic, Neo-Renaissance style building is, even on an international scale, an outstanding creation for its time – both in the terms of its exterior and its interior decoration. Its auditorium is one of the most attractive in Europe and its acoustics are first-class.
Now responsible for the safe keeping of over a million objects, the National Museum traces its own history back to 1802 when it was founded with the medal, book and manuscript collection belonging to Count Ferenc Széchenyi. In 1846 it moved into the fine neo-Classical building designed by Mihály Pollack where it has been ever since. Permanent exhibitions: Hungarian History from the Founding of the State until 1990, Lapidarium – Roman Stonework, and Coronation Jewels and Robes.
The church is officially called The Church of Our Lady, and served as a coronation church from the 16th century on. Its vast ecclesiastical collection and treasury is open for visitors. During the centuries, the church underwent several major transformations, the first of which was the addendum of the Mary-gate (Mária-kapu), and in 1470 the 60-metre south side tower, with the King’s raven ensign, was established.
Museum of Fine Arts
Hungary’s premier gallery of non-Hungarian works of art from early times right up to the present day is on display in a stately neo-Classical gallery at Heroes’ Square. The gallery began with a collection donated by Archbishop Pyrker of Eger and an extensive art collection purchased by the State in the 1870’s from the Esterházy family. Today, as well as Egyptian, Roman and Greek exhibits there is a particularly fine collection of Italian art, affording a comprehensive survey of the various schools of painting from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries. The Spanish collection includes no fewer than seven masterpieces by El Greco.
Standing in Budapest’s City Park behind Heroes’ Square and the ice-skating rink, the Vajdahunyad Castle (official name: Historical Building Complex) was built to facilitate the 1896 Millennium Expo’s exhibitions, and also to show Hungary’s dominant architectural styles to visitors. Its best known part was modelled after the largest knight’s castle in historical Hungary, the Hunyad-castle in Transylvania, but all parts of the castle are copies of other buildings in Hungary.
The park is dominated by the Vajdahunyad Castle - originally built for the 1896 millennium celebrations - which represents every style of Hungarian architecture. In summer, there is a lake for boating, which in winter is turned into a huge and very popular skating rink. It also houses the Museum of Agriculture, the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Széchenyi Baths and a statue of George Washington. This was established to thank America for taking in so many Hungarian immigrants in the early twentieth century.
Right across from Széchenyi Thermal Bath is the Amusement Park, whose history dates back to the beginning of the 1800's. The original park was called Vurstli. At the beginning of the 1900's, the so-called English Park was built directly adjacent to it, and today’s Amusement Park was born from the merger of the two. Some establishments inside the park are over a hundred years old and still functional: the Ferris Wheel was built in 1906 and the Roller-Coaster in 1922.