Budapest, Hungary’s capital, combines a rich historical legacy with a modern culture. The best organized excursions in Budapest offer visitors to Budapest a wide range of itineraries, from visiting architectural monuments to baths with healing springs. The top five must-see attractions, even if you only have a day.
Basilica of St. Stephen
The Catholic cathedral, built in honor of the founder of the Hungarian state, King Stephen I, is located in the historical part of Pest and is impressive in its scale. It has the shape of an equilateral cross and is built in the architectural style of the Neo-Renaissance. Its central dome has a diameter of 22 m and rises to 96 m above the ground. It is the second tallest historical building in Budapest after the Parliament. On one of the two side bell towers is the largest bell in the country, weighing more than 9 tons. The temple delights by its luxurious interior with various elements of antiquity. The marble walls are decorated with mosaics by famous Hungarian masters. The reliquary containing the relics of St. Stephen is kept here.
If you take the elevator and the steps to the base of the dome, you can enjoy stunning views of the city. The idea of a viewing terrace framing the dome came about during the reconstruction work after the severe destruction during World War II. Currently, the cathedral is active. Masses, the sacraments of baptism, anointing and wedding ceremonies are held here.
Classical and organ music is often played inside the walls of the basilica. Often concerts are held in the church square.
The capital’s main avenue stretches for 2.5 km between Deák Square and Heroes’ Square. It is interesting not only because of the luxurious historic buildings above ground. Under the avenue runs the oldest subway line in Europe, the M1. The best way to explore Andrássy on foot is to visit the Opera and Puppet Theaters, museums, restaurants, cafes, and clothing stores.
Opposite the majestic state opera house stands the beautiful Drexler Palace, built in 1886. Another famous building on the avenue is the Terror Museum, the exhibition which focuses on the victims of fascism and communist regime. Classical music lovers cannot pass by the Franz Liszt House Museum and the Zoltan Kodály Memorial Museum.
On the avenue are the embassies of various countries, including Russia, Serbia, Austria, Spain, France, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and South Korea.
The residence is built on the picturesque eastern bank of the Danube, between the Szechenyi and Margit bridges. The largest building of the country has an area of about 18 thousand square meters and includes 700 rooms, 29 staircases and 10 courtyards. The construction was carried out from 1885 to 1904. To decorate the interior about 23 kg of gold and 30 thousand cubic meters of carved elements were used. The length of the red carpet inside the premises is about 3 km.
The royal symbols of power are kept inside the residence. The chic interior of the main domed hall is decorated in the medieval style. On the facade of the Parliament there are 90 sculptures depicting people who have played a huge role in the history of Hungary. Tours for tourists are available from Friday to Sunday.
With the onset of darkness the lights are turned on. The building is reflected in the waters of the Danube and looks like a magic palace.
Holocaust victims memorial
Adult shoes and children’s slippers cast in cast iron, arranged on the Danube promenade – it is the most emotionally powerful monument on the planet. It allows us to feel the pain of the sad events that took place at the end of World War II, when the Nazis massacred Jews in Budapest.
The executioners forced their victims to take off their shoes and tied them up and shot them on the banks of the Danube. The shoes left behind were cynically dismantled by the Nazis or sent to market. The exact number of those shot is unknown and was in the thousands, including children.
The idea of the monument in the form of cast-iron shoes on the river bank belongs to director Ken Togai. The artistic part was realized by sculptor Gyula Power.
Szechenyi Chain Bridge
The stationary bridge across the Danube was built in the middle of the 19th century and immediately became the wonder of the world. The stone construction is 375 m long and 16 m wide. The bridge connects the western and the eastern parts of the capital – Buda and Pest. It is suspended from its supports by massive iron chains. The entrance and exit are guarded by huge stone lions. During World War II the Nazis blew up the bridge, trying to stop the advance of Soviet troops. During peacetime, the bridge was rebuilt. Now it is one of the recognizable symbols of the city.
The author of the project is an English engineer Alan Clark, who designed London’s Hammersmith Bridge over the River Thames. There are a total of 8 bridges over the Danube in Budapest.
On the side of Buda erected at the exit of the bridge stands a sculpture in the shape of the number “0”. This is the reference point for the distance between Budapest and other settlements.
By yourself you can get to the Castle Mountain by an old cable car or by climbing the stairs. The hill with castles, towers and bastions is on the Buda side. The area is notable for the fact that here sat and crowned all the rulers of Hungary, from the 13th century until the end of the Second World War. Now there are many museums here. The mountain offers a stunning view of the eastern part of the city.
The Buda Fortress includes the century-old Royal Palace with the National Gallery and Historical Museum. The beautiful Catholic Church of Matyas has survived for seven centuries in virtually pristine condition (with some reconstructions). Architecturally, the church is complemented by the Fishermen’s Bastion, erected more than a hundred years ago.
This part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Locals call Castle Hill “the medieval heart of the capital”.