Saint Stephen’s Basilica is the largest Roman Catholic church in Budapest, it has the second highest ecclesiastical status in Hungary.
St Stephen Basilica
The building was planned and built in 1851 by József Hild in classical style and continued by Miklós Ybl, who added a neo-renaissance taste to the original concepts. The inner layout and the completion of the building in 1905 is the work of József Krausz. Famous Hungarian painters and sculptors decorated the inner side, using 50 different types of marble.
The statue of the basilica’s patron saint by Alajos Stróbl can be seen on the high altar. It is quite unique to have the statue of a human on the altar, but on special Papal permission the statue of our first king, who converted the Hungarians to Christianity is displayed here.
St Stephen Basilica
An elevator takes up the visitors in the left tower, from where a magnificent panorama of the city can be enjoyed. Not only the streets and squares of downtown Pest, but also the Castle hill
and the other Buda hills are visible. In the right tower the largest bell of the country – weighs 9 tons – can be found.
The Chapel of the Holy Right is behind the sanctuary, where the right hand of the first Hungarian king, St. Stephen is held in a delicatly ornated reliquary.
The Holy Right
The Basilica has been recently renovated, its huge walls have been cleaned and the surroundings have been nicely arranged too. Hotel Central Basilica
is a recently opened nice hotel in front of the Basilica. The square in front of the church became a beautiful pedestrian area with some cafés and benches to sit on.
The Parliament and its treasures
Built between 1885 and 1904 the Parliament building soon became the symbol of the Hungarian capital. Not just becuse its sheer size – nearly 18000 square metres – but because of its detailed decoration, inside splendour and eclectic diversity.
The Hungarian Parliament
It is the most expensive building ever built in Hungary. It has 691 rooms, 10 courtyards, 27 gates and 29 staircases. It also houses a public library with 500.000 volumes. The walls from outside are decorated by the statues of the most important historical figures of Hungary. The building is 268 metres long and 118 metres wide, it stretches along the Pest side of the Danube between the Chainbridge and Margaret Bridge.
The dome is 96 metres hight, exactly the same height as that of the St Stephen Basilica
, located also on the Pest side, only 5 minutes walk away.
The Holy Crown
Until the 19th century the Hungarian diet held its sessions on various places in the country, depending on which part was not under occupation or foreign rule. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867, Hungary received more independence and an own constitution. The establishment of a parliament building was also initiated. Since its handover, the Parliament is the seat of the leading governmental bodies. In Hungary the legislative body is unicameral.
You can visit the building when the Parliament is not in session. The chamber of former Upper House is shown to the visitors. You can actually sit on the benches of the MPs.
The Parliament from inside
Visiting the parlament: Guided tours in English daily at 10.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00. Tickets can be purchased at Gate X. (Kossuth square side), the visit lasts about 50 minutes. During the tour the Main Staircase, the Dome Hall, the Coronation Jewels, the Deputy Council Chamber or the former session room of the Upper House can be seen.
The Heroes’ Square
The Heroes’ square is one of the most visited sights of the Hungarian capital, i is situated in front of the City Park, at the end of the Andrássy Avenue, one of the most important streets of Budapest, a World Heritage site.
The Millennium Monument
The millenial 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 Wellfare, Knowledge and Glory can be seen. The niches are decorated by the statues of kings, governors and famous characters of the Hungarian history. At the foot of each statue a small relief depicts the most important moment of the life of the personality.
In the middle of Heroes’ square stands a 36 metres high corinthian column with the statue of Archangel Gabriel on the top, the symbol of the Roman Catholic religion. At the pedestal the equestrian statues commemorate Árpád and the seven chieftains of the Hungarian tribes, who settled their people in the present territory of Hungary. His decendants formed the Hungarian royal dinasty.
The Museum of Fine Arts
The tomb of the unknown soldier can also be found in the square. At the two sides the representative buildings of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery both worth a visit. Since the last couple of years, the two museums have been competing for the attention of visitors with high standard temporary exhibitions, such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt and the collections of Spanish and French paintings.
The Opera House was opened in 1884 among great splendour in the presence of King Franz Joseph. The building was planned and constructed by Miklós Ybl, who won the tender among other famous contemporary architects.
It was built in neo-renaissance style along the famous Andrássy Avenue. The facade is decorated with the statues of renowned composers and the Greek Godesses of art. The statues of Erkel and Liszt by Alajos Stróbl decorate the niches next to the main entrance. Ferenc Erkel was the first director of the Opera House and the founder of the Hungarian opera.
The inner decoration was designed to reflect elegance and pomp. Thus the staircase is covered with marble, the walls are decorated by the frescoes of illostrious Hungarian painters, the horse-shoe shaped audience hall is fitted with red and gold and the chandellier from Mainz also contributes to the elegant atmosphere. The construction took 9 years to be completed, but when finished, the Operahouse of Budapest was the most modern one in Europe.
Visiting the Opera House:
Guided tours daily at 3&4 pm.
For groups above 10 persons tours are offered with previous reservation throughout the day.
The Opera House can be visited only with a local guide. Tours are available in 6 languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Hungarian. Tours take appr. 45-50 minutes.
More info: www.opera.hu
After the Mongolian conquest in the 13th century, King Béla IV. ordered fortresses from stone to be built. The fortress of Buda was also founded at that time. The castle reached its golden age during the rule of the renaissance king, Matthias. He had it enlarged and transformed to a palace.
Later, during the Turkish occupation of Hungary, it was under Turkish rule for over 150 years. Not even the Habsburgs cared much about it, as the empire was ruled from Vienna. During the second world war it was badly damaged. The Palace was founded around 1247, but the royal seat was in Visegráduntil the 15th century. It went under major reconstructions several times.
Firstly, King Matthias converted the fortification to a palace, later Maria Theresahad it rebuilt and enlarged. In the 19th century the famous Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl got the comission to reconstruct it. From the original fittings unfortunately nothing was left. Today the buildings house the National Gallery, the National Library and the Historical Museum. From the panorama terrace there is a magnificent view of the Pest side.
One way of getting to the palace is by the funicular
next to the Tunnel, which has a 95 metres long, 48% steep track and offers one of the most astonishing panoramas in the World – as mentioned in a populartravel blog
The Dísz tér
is to be found on the northern side of the palace. It was the place of the market during the middle ages, the place where executions were performed too.
(Holy Trinity square)
is situated in front of the Matthias Church
, it is the place, where all major streets of the castle district meet. In the middle of the Szentháromság tér a Holy Trinity coloumn
was erected to commemorate the plague epidemic in 1709.
The first Town Hall of Buda faces the square, which was built after the end of the Turkish occupation. Off the beaten track in the smaller side streets one can still feel the atmosphere of old ages, you can see hidden courtyards, signs of the guilds, beautifully reconstructed citizenhouses. A range of Amsterdam holiday apartments
to rent in Central Amsterdam. Tóth Árpád sétány also worth a walk. The Castle district of Buda is part of the World Heritage
The Matthias Church
The building of the Matthias church (aka Church of Our Lady) was started in 1255 in Gothic style. The north tower still preserves some parts of the original church. Under the reign of King Matthias it was enlarged and renewed.
The king had both of his weddings here. His coat of arms with the black raven is still visible on the south tower. That’s why the commonly used name of the church is Matthias Church. During six centuries it used to be the coronation church. The first king crowned here in 1308 was Charles Robert and the last one Charles IV. of Habsburg in 1916. During the Turkish occupation it was converted to a mosque, and after the reconquest of Buda it was reconstructed in baroque style but it still preserves some of its oriental atmosphere.
The final major rebuilding took place in 1895-1903 lead by Frigyes Schulek. At that time the church received its present neo-gothic style and was lavishly decorated with frescoes by famous contemporary painters. The church has a unique atmosphere, which worth visiting, not to mention the organ concerts which are organised regularly. The crypt and the treasure house also avait the visitors.
The Fishermans Bastion
On the top of the old fortress walls, the Fishermen’s bastion was only constructed between 1895-1902. It is named after the fishermen’s guild because according to customs in the middle ages this guild was in charge of defending this part of the castle wall. As a matter of fact it has never had a defending function. The architect was Frigyes Schulek, who planned the building in neo-gothic style.
The seven towers symbolise the seven chieftains, who conquerred the land for the Hungarians. The Fishermen’s bastion greatly contributes to the cityscape and offers a breathtaking panorama on the Pest side. In front of the Fishermen’s bastion, the equestrian statue depicts our first king, St Stephen. The Matthias Church and the Fishermens bastion are the most beloved sights of the Buda Castle District
The Gellért Hill and the Citadel
The Gellért hill received its name after St. Gellért who came to Hungary as a missionary bishop upon the invitation of King St. Stephen I. around 1000 a.d.
His task was helping the Hungarians convert to Christianity. Some pagan leaders who did not want to convert captured St. Gellért and rolled him down from the hill in a barrel. The St. Gellért monument and its fountain representing his martyrdom can be found on the Northeastern slope of the hill facing the Elisabeth bridge.
The fortress of the Citadel was built by the Habsburgs in 1851 to demonstrate their control over the Hungarians.
The top of the Gellért Hill is a strategical point from where they had an overview of both Buda and Pest. Though it was equipped with 60 cannons, it was used as threat rather than a working fortification. After the reconciliation with the Habsburgs the Hungarians wanted to demolish the buildings, but after all it did not happen. In the mid 20th century it was converted to a tourist center.
From the panorama terraces one can have a stunning view of the city. By a short walk one can reach the Liberation Monument.
The statue was erected in 1947 after the second world war. The main figure is a woman, holding an olive branch, the symbol of peace in her hands. On both sides symbolic figures can be seen: the young man’s victory over the dragon represents the defeat of fascism.
The Citadel can be reached by bus 27 from Móricz Zsigmond körtér.
The Váci street and the very downtown
The Váci utca is the heart of the downtown. It is an elegant shopping street with several restaurants, bank offices, cafés, souvenir- and bookshops.
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 tyles that make each building different and worth noting. At the north end of the Vörösmarty sqare with the famous Gerbeaud café can be found.
Street musicians, portrait drawers and folklore fairs make the sqaure vivid. Paralell with the Váci street runs the Danube Promenade
, from where one can have a beautiful view of the Buda castle
and the Gellért Hill
Walking along the Danube one will pass by the Redout, built in romantic style and at the foot of the Chainbridge, the representative palace of the Hungarian Academy of Science worth mentioning. The Váci utca area is the “very downtown” of Budapest, in Váci utca there are usually more tourists than locals.
Along the Danube promenade and close to Vörösmarty tér the most prominent hotels of the city can be found.
Behind the monument of the Heros’ Square one of the largest green areas of Budapest can be found. It’s worth mentioning not just becuse of its hundred years old oak trees and relaxing pathways but some intresting buildings and important amusement places also hide there.
In the Middle Ages there was a swamp in the area, which belonged to the Hungarian kings and was used as a hunting place. In the 18th century Queen Maria Theresia ordered the swamp to be canalised and trees to be planted. The territory witnessed a great development, when in 1896 it became the place of the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian conquest.
The Széchényi thermal bath
is one of the largest bath complexes in Europe. It was built in neo-baroque style between 1909 and 1913 and later enlarged. It consits of an indoor and an open-air part with several pools. Its water originates from the artesian springs of the City Park, which are 74 Celsius warm. The thermal water is effective in healing gynealogical, dermatological and nerve problems.
is relatively small in comparison with other famous zoos in the world. What makes it interesting that it has an Art Nouveau style decoration and some parts are covered with Zsolnay tiles. It is the second oldest zoo in Europe. The Amusement Park
, and the Circus
are also situated here, which contribute to the fact that the City Park is a beloved place to spend free time in Budapest.
The lake of the city park makes the whole park a romantic spot. It is possible to row a boat on it when the weather is nice. During wintertime the lake is drained and serves as the biggest artificial ice rink
of the city.
Other things to see and do:
Memento Park is a unique attraction of Budapest, presenting the statues and other relics of the communist era with guided tours, gift shop, cinema, photo exhibition and many more.
Margaret Island is a traffic free green spot in the middle of the downtown. It is a beloved place for leisure and recreation both for locals and foreigners.
The second oldest zoo in Europe offers not only rare animal and plant species, but an architectural beauty, too. The zoo is one of the key attractions of the City Park
, where many places of interest can be found.
During winter time the biggest ice rink of the city operates here. In the summer pairs can enjoy paddling in the lake next to Vajdahunyad castle in the City Park
The recently opened park is located on the Buda side, close to Moszkva tér. It hosts some important establishments, such as the House of Future and the Palace of Miracles. There is a concert hall in the park as well, making it a beloved place for young people.
The Palace of Arts is the newest cultural establishment of Budapest, opened in 2005. It consists of three important institutions: the Festival Theatre, the National Concert Hall and the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Arts.