Budapest Welcomes Us with Its Royal Architecture
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. It is considered one of the most beautiful European cities, charming people with its magnificent architecture, and its cultural and culinary heritage. This city is the 9th largest city in the European Union.
In the Roman times the city was called Aquincum. For a long time there were three separate cities in the location of Budapest: Pest, Buda, and Obuda. In 1872 Buda and Obuda, located on the right bank, and Pest, located on the left bank, were joined into one city called Budapest.
You should spare 3 days for sightseeing in Budapest. It has a well-developed public transport infrastructure; you will be able to easily reach the popular tourist attractions. A single ticket suitable for metro, tram, or a bus costs 350 HUF (~1.1 Eur), a transfer ticket that can be used to switch from one type of public transport to another type costs 580 HUF (~1.85 Eur), and a 10-day ticket costs 3000 HUF (~10 Eur).
Places to see in Budapest:
Heroes’ Square is one of the most popular tourist attractions. On the right side of the Heroes’ Square you will see the Museum of Fine Arts and on the left side the Hall of Art. In the centre of the Square there is a 40 metre-tall monument. Its construction started in 1896 and it was completed in 1900. At the top of this monument the statue of Archangel Gabriel is located. In his left hand he holds the crown of the first king of Hungary and in his left hand he holds a double cross, given as gift to Saint Stephen by the Pope for his efforts to turn Hungary into a Christian country. The monument consists of two columns; on each one of them seven statues are placed representing the most famous historical figures of Hungry.
Metro stop: Hősök tere
Budapest Zoo is the oldest in Hungary park of this type. More than 2000 animals from every world region (from the African Savannah to the Arctic Zone) live in this park. This zoo is different from other zoos because the living conditions of every animal are made to be very similar to the ones of their natural habitat: moderate size sandy deserts, small forests, seashore, a lake or a rock provides a cosy home for the residents of the zoo. The residents seem to be very well looked-after and supplied with everything they need. The green lawn, trees, exceptional plants, and flowerbeds located in the zoo create a sense of a real oasis in the middle of a tumultuous city. The zoo is located close to the Heroes’ Square. The entry ticket for an adult costs 2100 HUF.
In the same park where the Budapest zoo is located one can also find the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. It is the largest complex of this type in Europe. The water for this Thermal Baths SPA Centre is provided by two hot springs. The water temperature is 74°C and 77°C.
The Neo-Baroque style building was built in 1913 in the city park and expanded a dozen years later. At the moment, 3 outdoor and 15 indoor swimming pools are available here. Their temperature is up to 18-36°C. One can also find different types of saunas here. Hot springs, rich with sulphates, calcium, magnesium, and fluoride acid, are considered a great remedy for joint pain, as well as for chronic pain and orthopaedic diseases, thus this complex is visited not only by tourists, but also by people suffering from health issues. The prices for swimming pools and saunas range from 3100 to 3950 HUF, depending on the duration and time of the visit.
Moreover, besides the zoo and thermal sauna, in this park you will also be able to see the Vajdahunyad Castle. This park occupies more than 1 square kilometre and is the largest park in Budapest. The castle was built from wood and carton as a temporary exhibit for the Thousandth Anniversary. Later the castle was rebuilt with bricks and rocks. It is an unusual combination of various architecture styles. Looking from one side you can see the Gothic style buildings, and from the other side the Baroque style buildings. Actually, this building complex combines the styles of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Romantic. This was done consciously; the goal being to show the world every style of architecture that can be seen in Budapest. A walk in the inner courtyard is free of charge, and the entrance fee to the museum located in the castle ranges from 300 to 600 HUF.
The House of Terror is a museum in which exhibitions about Fascism and Communism in the 20th century Hungary are displayed. It is a place for the commemoration of the victims of totalitarian regimes, interrogated, tortured, and killed in this building. Previously, a prison was located in the House of Terror.
The exhibitions displayed here are related to Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the Hungarian organisations that were promoting totalitarian regimes.
Metro stop: Vörösmarty utca
The West Station. There are three main train stations in Budapest. The most famous one is called The West Station. In 1846 the first train departed from this particular station, and in 1877 the station had undergone reconstruction work. Its architect was August De Serres, known for his work, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The glass and iron synthesis makes the building stand out and look more elegant. Old trains still run in the station, and the design of a nearby McDonald’s restaurant is matched to the one of the building.
Metro stop: Nyugati palyaudvar
The State Opera House is the largest Opera House building not only in Budapest, but in Hungary as well. It was built between 1875 and 1884 for the Thousand Anniversary of Hungary. The residents of Budapest consider this building to be one of the most important historic buildings in the city. The exterior is decorated with statues of sixteen most famous world composers; among them Ludwig van Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Monteverdi. The building is also decorated with statue of Hungary’s most famous composer Franz Liszt, and the country’s national Anthem and the first opera director and composer Ferenc Erkel statue. The interior of the building is not any less charming; inside of it one can see the work of the most famous Hungarian artists, such as Karoly Lotz, and Bertalan Szkely; the statues and murals. Various ballet and opera performances take place in the Opera House every day.
Metro stop: Opera
The Great Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Budapest and one of the largest synagogues in Europe. It is the 5th largest synagogue in the world. It was built between 1854 and 1859 in the style of Maurus Renaissance with the North Africa’s Islam and medieval Spain decorations. The building is 53 metre-long and about 26 metre-wide. In total it contains 2964 seats. There is a stained-glass window above the entrance, and two 43.6 metre-tall towers. Inside of it there is a huge 5000-pipe organ made in 1859, which is used for various concerts to this day.
Metro stop: Astoria
The Central Market Hall is the largest indoor market in Budapest founded in a beautiful 19th century architecture building. In 1990 the city’s government decided to refurbish this majestic building and the exterior and interior refurbishment work took place. At the market you can buy fruit, vegetables, fish products, and souvenirs.
Metro stop: Kalvin Ter
The Hungarian National Museum was founded in 1802, and in 1837-1847 it was reconstructed into a palace of the neoclassic style by the architect Mihaly Pollack. The stairs of the museum are famous because in 1848 standing on them the poet Sandor Petofi read the National Anthem. This was an inspiration to rise against the Habsburg Dynasty.
Exhibitions dating from the 11th century up to this day are displayed in the museum. Here you can find one of the oldest textile masterpieces in Europe; the coronation mantle given as a gift by Saint Stephen in 1031.
The Hungarian National Museum is open every day except Monday, from 10 am to 6 pm.
The ticket price for an adult is 1100 HUF.
Metro stop: Kalvin Ter
The St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Hungary, which was built in 1906. The Basilica is named in honour of the first Hungary’s king Stephen. The interior is decorated with many sculptures. The king’s preserved right hand is kept in the Basilica; with this hand the king once lifted up the crown, praying to Virgin Mary to watch over the Hungarian nation. The Sacred Hand can be found in a small chapel located on the left side of the main altar. Every year, on the 20th of August, Saint Stephen’s Day, in honour of the anniversary of Hungary, during a solemn procession the Sacred Right Hand is brought around the Basilica. The entrance fee to the Basilica is 1 Euro. For an extra fee one can also to take a lift to the second floor of the left tower. Here one can enjoy the panoramic view of Budapest. In the right tower the largest bell in the country, weighing 9 tons, is located.
Metro stop: Bajcsy-Zsilinszky ut
The Freedom Square of Budapest is considered one of the most charming places of the city. Impressive buildings built at the beginning of the 20th century are located there. In 1848 and 1849 many Hungary freedom fighters were killed in this place. In the centre of the Square one of the very few city’s monuments to the Soviets is located; a majority of monuments where moved to a sculptures park outside the city. The huge monument with a star symbolises the help of the Red Army during the 1944-1945 liberation of Budapest from the Nazis. Many Hungarians dislike this monument and wish it to be removed from the Square. Behind the Soviet monument a grand building of the U.S. Embassy is located; its construction was completed in 1900. On the East side of the Square a late Classicism style building, belonging to the National Bank, built in 1905, is situated. On the West side of the Square Hungary’s National Television central building can be found.
Metro stop: Arany Janos utca
Shoes on the Danube. Along the Danube a memorial monument dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust was built. This memorial, built in 2005, consists of pairs of shoes lined up on the river bank (between the Parliament Building and the Academy of Sciences).
In 1944-1945 many Jews were shot dead on this river bank and their bodies were simply thrown into the water. At the time shoes were a valuable thing; one could make quite a lot of money by selling footwear, thus before their death the Holocaust victims were forced to remove their shoes.
The memorial monument consists of 60 pairs of bronze shoes; men’s, women’s and children’s shoes are lined up on along the river bank.
Metro Stop: Kossuth Lajos Ter
The Hungarian Parliament. The grand building was built in the 19th century in 1902. This Neo-Gothic style building is as long as 268 metres along the river bank. It is one of the oldest buildings in Europe. It is the 2nd largest building in Europe and the largest building in Hungary. More than 40 kilograms of gold and half a million of jewels were used for its interior. There are more than 20 kilometres of stairs in the building, and 691 rooms. This elegant building’s dome is as tall as 69 metres.
The Hungarian Parliament Building is open for visitors all year round (except when important state protocol events or conferences take place there) from the 1st of October until the 30th of April, Mon – Fri 8 am – 4 pm, Sat 8 am – 4 pm, Sun 8 am – 2 pm; and from the 1st of May until the 30th of September, Mon – Fri 8 am – 6 pm, Sat 8 am – 4 pm, Sun 8 am – 2 pm. The building can be visited in organised groups, lead by a guide; the tours are in various languages. The adult ticket costs 2300 HUF.
Metro Stop: Kossuth Lajos Ter
The Margaret Island is a green relaxation zone in the middle of Danube River, not far from the city centre. It is widely liked among the locals. In the Medieval Ages the island used to be home for religious recluses. Only around the year 1800 this 2.5 metre-long piece of land became property of the Royal Family, which had turned the island into a decorative garden. Currently there is a small zoo located on it, as well as a musical fountain, a water tower, hot springs, medieval ruins, romantic pathways, and a Japanese garden. The island is 500 metre-wide and takes up an area of 225 hectares. It is connected by the Margaret and Arpad bridges. The island can be explored by taking a mini train (it costs 1000 HUF) or by an electric car (~ 4500 HUF for a group of 4-6 people).
The Matthias Church is the first church of the parish of Budapest, located on the side of Buda, next to the Fisherman’s Bastion. The church was built in 1015, but the current appearance of the building is a result of restoration that took place in the 19th century. It was the 2nd largest church in the Medieval Buda and the 7th largest church in the Medieval Kingdom of Hungary. In 1916 in the Matthias Church the last king of the Habsburg Dynasty King Charles IV was coronated, and two Matthias’ weddings took place. Inside the church the Art Museum is located. Going from the medieval crypt to the Saint Stephen’s chapel one can take a look at the exhibited sacred relics, the medieval time sculptures, and the reproductions of the Kings of Hungary crown and the Coronation jewels.
Metro stop: Batthyany ter
The Fisherman’s Bastion is located on the East side of the Castle Hill, next to a small fishermen’s town in which the fishermen used to sell their catch during the medieval times. It is a Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romantic style terrace, designed and built in 1905.The Fisherman’s Bastion consists of seven towers; each one of them symbolises one of the 7 Magyar Tribes that arrived to Hungary in 896. Supposedly, this tourist attraction is mostly popular because of the possibility to look at the panoramic view of the city. There is an entrance fee to enter the towers, but the view from the Bastion site, which can be entered free of charge, is not any less impressive.
Metro stop: Batthyany ter
The Buda Castle. The first Hungarian king that started building the Buda castle was Bela IV; having lead the construction from around 1247 to 1265. Later the castle was rebuilt in the styles of Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque. The castle suffered war damages. It was rebuilt in the 18th century and expanded to such an extent that it became one of the largest castles in Europe. The castle is built at the Southern part of the Castle Hill, from which a wonderful panoramic view can be seen. Currently various museums with valuable collections can be found here; the National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Library, and cafes.
Along the Buda castle C wing’s (central wing) wall the Matthias fountain is located. It is an impressive fountain depicting a group of hunters, lead by the king Matthias Corvinus, together with dogs, a killed deer, a historian Galeotto Marzio with a hawk on his wrist, and Szep Ilonka feeding a fawn. The group of these sculptures stands between falling rocks, from which the water into a fountain is flowing. After the war the damaged Matthias fountain was renovated.
Metro stop: Batthyany ter
The Chain Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Budapest. It was built in the 19th century over the Danube River between Pest and Buda, in time when these two cities were still separated. Taking the bridge over to the Buda side you will see the Clark Adam Square from where you will be able to take the funicular to get to the Castle Hill. The 375 metre-long and 16 metre-wide bridge was opened on the 20th of November in 1849. During the construction this object was considered to be one of the modern world engineering miracles. During the World War II the bridge was heavily damaged; therefore, in 1949, exactly 100 years since its opening, restoration work took place. The bridge’s decorations are made of cast iron. Because of its beautiful lighting it is worth seeing the bridge after dark.
Metro stop: Vörösmarty ter
The Liberty Statue was built on the Gellert Hill. After the World War II ended a 14 metre-tall bronze statue was built; a woman figure with raised hands, holding a palm twig. The statue was built at the time when the Red Army occupied Hungary, and this occupation was called “liberation”. Therefore, on the platform an inscription was added: “to the memory of the liberating Soviet heroes erected by the grateful Hungarian people in 1945.” Later, in light of dissatisfaction with the Soviet government, the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 took place. After the Uprising the inscription under the statue was change to “to the memory of those all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary”. A wonderful panoramic view of the city and 10 bridges of Budapest can be seen from the Gellert Hill.
Metro stop: Szent Gellert ter
- There is a Tourism Information Centre next to the Heroes’ Square. There you can get a free map of the city that will help you orientate when searching for the tourist attractions;
- At the Central Market we recommend you get geese and ducks pâtés, paprikas, and Tokaji wine;
- The food in cafes is fairly cheap;
- We recommend you take a boat ride on Danube River. The price is ~ 9 Eur;
- If you do not want to walk a lot or to use the public transport, you can reach the tourist attractions by using the Budapest Hop-On-Hop Off bus services which will take you to the tourist attractions. A 48-hour ticket costs 20 Euros. The price will also include a boat ride on the Danube River, and in a specified cafe you will be able to get a glass of beer, 2 „shots“ of alcoholic beverage, and some Hungarian goulash;
- A hotel that meets the price-quality ratio located in a beautiful place AnVa House