Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and is home to some of the most amazing architecture within this magical country. The Danube River flows through the middle of the city. Historically, the two sides of the city were two separate towns; hilly Buda and flat-land Pest. These two towns were united into a big city in 1873. Buda and Pest are now connected by a whopping 10 bridges, the oldest being the Chain bridge that was built in 1849 and was the biggest iron bridge built in the world at the time. The bridges cross over the biggest river in Europe being 3000 km long, passing through 10 countries, including 4 Capital cities (Bratislava, Vienna, Belgrade and Budapest).
Locals make it very clear that it should pronounced BudapeSHT and not BudapeST, due to the bad connotation that ‘pest’ has in English. Who can blame them? Budapest, is the largest city in central Europe, consisting of 23 districts with 2 million inhabitants living within the city, and another million living at its rural area. Having said that, the most impressive sights are located close to one another. This makes touring Budapest a lovely place to visit on foot. If you have only a few hours in Budapest here is the best you can see in only 3 hours.
Pest has quite a few interesting places of interest. The Jewish quarters is naturally, where a lot of Jewish buildings can be seen. In its heart, the Jewish pedestrian passage is vibrant with restaurants, pubs, bazaars and games rooms. This area is also renowned for becoming alive at night due to its many bars in its surroundings.
One can see Pest’s religious diversity with, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant churches. One of the most churches that inspired me is a protestant church in which a Lutheran Pastor, Gabor Sztehlo saved 2000 children during the rule of the Fascist Arrow Cross Party. A nice monument of the Pastor hiding a child can be seen in front of this church.
The most beautiful religious building is St Stephen’s Basilica and its large square. This basilica is in Renaissance style and if you have time you can climb up to the dome for great views of the surroundings. Being flat, Pest had problems when the river flooded. In the floods of 1838 many people sought refuge on one of the only small hills present in Pest. This saved the lives of many people. To commemorate the lives that were saved, the Basilica was built on this spot. A very interesting fact about this basilica is that the oldest human hand of the 1st king is found inside. It’s not his Armour but literally his hand with nails and skin. Scientists can’t understand this miracle of how it didn’t decompose after just over 1000 years.
On Pest’s side there is also the most prominent building on the Danube River, the parliament building. This marvellous building is best seen from a distance, and therefore a sight to savour whilst on the other side of the river.
When you cross to Buda over Chain Bridge you get to a pretty area where the Zero Stone is found. From this exact spot, the distance from Budapest to all other cities within Hungary is measured, and depicted on this artistic monument. From here you can catch a funicular that runs to castle hill. Or you can opt to climb the stairs. Once you climb this hill, at Mount Castle you can find the glamorous Royal Palace, where you can get a panoramic view of the Danube River and of Pest. You can also see the Citadel and Liberty statue on the right hand side. The views from this location are truly spectacular.
At the back of the Royal Palace, there is also a beautiful garden with Matthias fountain and the President’s Palace. In the Castle district, once stood 6 churches. Now you can see 1 of the church ruins as you walk along toward the only church that survived WWII; the beautiful St Matthias church. This church stands tall over the panoramic views of the fishermen bastions. These bastions are another point from Mount castle from where you can get panoramic views of the River, this time also of the most prominent building - the Parliament. Its architecture is a magnificent example of Neo-Gothic architecture . And if you have time make sure you see it by night, when it transforms from beautiful to extraordinary.
This 3 hour tour was made possible by Adam Botta’s expertise, who is a tour guide with ‘Tourist Angel’. This small company has professional and qualified local tour guides and offers tailor-made tours of their city and show you the best in a short time. Their aim is to make you feel like you are their friend which makes exploring this city an unforgettable experience. I must admit it did feel like I have seen all the highlights of central Budapest in such a short time.
Here is a list of the top things to see and do in Budapest.