Hungary Trips

Budapest - from the Hungarian National Museum to Szabadság tér

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

Main attractions: The National Hungarian Museum, Gutenberg tér and Gutenberg-Otthon, Klauzál tér, Hajós utca 32 building, 29 Hold utca building, Hold utca Market or Belvárosi Piac, Budapesti Postatakarékpénztár (former Budapest Post Office Savings Bank), Hungarian National Bank (Magyar Nemzeti Bank), Szabadság tér.

Orientation: this route DOES NOT include first-class attractions. It may be suitable for a wet day (at least, if it rains during the first half of the day). It might be a nice itinerary for tourists who, already, spent 10-14 days in Budapest. This itinerary covers parts of the V and VI districts. Allow 2-4 hours for the National Hungarian Museum and additional 2-3 hours for the 2.5 - 3 km. leisurely-paced walk from the Museum to the Liberty Square. Included, several recommendations (in the itinerary itself AND in the subordinate Tips) on budget (still, quality) restaurants.

Duration: 3/4 day.

Start: The National Hungarian Museum.

Address: Muzeum korut 14-16, Budapest IX.

Getting there: Metro: M3 (Blue line), M4 (Green Line) Kálvin tér station  OR Buses: 47, 49. Buses: number 9 or 15. Quite close to the Astoria Metro station as well. A short walk also to the Central Market Hall and Vaci utca.

It is a 300 m. walk from Kálvin tér: Head north on Kálvin tér toward Kecskeméti utca, 60 m. Turn right onto Üllői út, 30 m. Turn left onto Kálvin tér, 25 m. Continue onto Baross u., 30 m. Continue onto Múzeum krt., 150 m.

Opening hours : Mondays - closed. Other days: from 10.00 to 18.00. 

Prices: adult - 1600 HUF, Students (betwen 6 – 26 years of age) and Pensioners (between 62 – 70 years of age): 800 HUF, 20 % discount with Budapest card. Children under 6: free.

Orientation: Make sure you devote a couple of hours to this museum. The museum resides in an impressive, imposing neoclassical building, built in 1847. Exhibits trace the history of the Carpathian Basin from earliest times to the end of Communism. The museum complex is rather complicated to navigate due to the many chambers and rooms, some of which have no English IDs. Don't miss King Stephen’s crimson silk coronation mantle (the Crown Jewels are on display in Budapest's Parliament). Another must-see relic of the museum is the piano that used to belong to Ferenc Liszt and Beethoven (can be seen in the permanent historical exhibition). Other highlights include Celtic gold and silver jewellery, a huge 2nd-century Roman mosaic and memorabilia from socialist times. Unbiased and thorough treatment and exhibitions relating to some of the less comfortable periods of Hungarian politics and history such as the days of the Warsaw Pact and World War II. Straight forward and open-eyed treatment of these periods  - allowing the visitor to form his/her own conclusions from the fairly and openly presented facts. The exhibits are very well presented with good explanations in English and Hungarian - BUT, the later you move into modern 20th century history: Arrow Cross, German and Soviet occupations rooms  - there is no more English signage and translations. In these parts of the museum - invest in an audio guide if you can't read Hungarian. There is also a cloakroom where you can leave coats and backpacks free of charge.

Permanent Exhibits in the Hungarian National Museum:

  • History of Hungary from the Foundation of State up to 1990.
  • Modern and Contemporary History.
  • Scholar Hungarians who Made the 20th Century.
  • On the East-West Frontier – History of the People of the Hungarian Lands from 400 000 BC to 804 AD.
  • The Coronation Mantle.
  • Medieval and Early Modern Lapidary.
  • Roman Lapidary.

History: It is the oldest public museum in Hungary. The museum's present building was built between 1837 and 1847, and it stands as a great example of Neo-Classicist architecture. Founded 200 years ago, the museum is dedicated to the history of Hungary and today it remains a symbol of Hungary's national identity.

The garden, surrounding the National Museum, is a beautiful green spot in the center of the city. There are a few statues of prominent Hungarians who made contributions to the arts, science and literature, along with some beautiful townhouses, built by the aristocracy in the 19th century, overlooking the garden.

The most impressive monument is that of writer János Arany, who is best known for his Toldi trilogy. The monument, created by Alajos Stróbl, is located right in front of the museum. It shows Arany seated atop a pedestal which is flanked by two main characters of his trilogy: Rozgonyi Piros on his right hand side and Miklós Toldi to his left:

Museum Interior - one of the main halls:

The main stairway:

Gold death mask found in the graves of the 10th century Hungarians who settled in the Carpathian Basin originated from Magna Hungaria, the Uralian territory of the Hungarians:

Crown of Monomachos:

Tomb of a Transsylvanian count:

Sculpted wooden choir benches from the Late Gothic and Renaissance periods:

Ottoman Turkish Carpets:

Albrecht Dürer -Emperor Sigmund:

Maria Theresa 1740 - 1780:

Hungarian Aristocarcy 17th Century:

Caricature on the Bolshevik regime of Béla Kun in Hungary 1919:

Miklós Horthy governed Hungary from 1919 until 1944-5:

Hungarian People's Republic from 1949 until 1989:

You can extend your visit in the museum into a short walk in the near surroundings. It is a 0.5 km. walk to Gutenberg tér (Gutenberg Square). Take the NORTH side of the museum, Bródy Sándor utca. Head east on Bródy Sándor u. toward Pollack Mihály tér, 500 m and you face Gutenberg tér:

The main attraction, in this square, is the Gutenberg-Otthon, a building that is well documented and in the past years more and more is restored to its former glory - but the facade still needs a restoration. The building is located at the Gutenberg tér 4. This is on walking distance of Metro 2 stop Blaha Lujza tér. In 1905 the plot for the building was purchased by the Hungarian book printers and typesetters organization. The purpose was to design a building that would contain both apartments, offices and shops of the organization. The contract for the design finally was awarded to the József and László Vágó brothers, whom had the difficult task to design a building that both would serve as an office, containing shops and which also generated revenues from the rental of apartments. It was not completely illogical that the Vágó brothers were asked to design the building: The printing industry and bookstores were in majority owned by Hungarians of Jewish origin and therefore the contract for the design also was awarded to a Jewish architect. The lowest two floors were once used as offices, shops and a coffee house. These 2 floors are, nowadays, both empty and in poor condition. The apartments are located above it. At the time of the opening, the building included, originally, 38 luxury, large, apartments. These were gradually transformed into more apartments so that the population of the inhabitants doubled. Also at the right wing of the courtyard a mini floor was added, something that is common for several buildings in Budapest. Originally the building had both a freight and residents' elevators for the tenants. Nowadays, there are 2 regular elevators. The courtyard is partially covered and contained, originally, a large theater that was also  used for other activities. This theater still exists but is no longer in use and lacks a part of the original ornamentation. In 1948 the independent Hungarian book printers and typesetters organization was nationalized by the government. After the Communist period the building was again owned by the Hungarian book printers and typesetters organization, but they were not able to handle it financially. Since that time the building is owned by an union of its tenants. The building had passed several restorations - including the years 1944, 1970 and 2001. The period 2001 - 2009 was the most significant period during which the building was restored to its former glory. Thus, in particular in the period from 2002 to 2009, all destroyed stained-glass windows were replaced with new ones with the original design. The fence in the stairwell, which once was painted black, was stripped of the paint which makes the details of the opal color of the flowers visible again and they are still striking. Once 2 statues stood on the roof , nowadays only the pedestals remained. The front / sides of the building, originally, contained paintings after a design by the artist Károly Kernstok. Above all, we see an impressive building that has a very playful facade with a mixture of rectangular and arched windows, 3 bay windows and a unifome layout. Also striking are the small balconies scattered over the facade. The Gutenberg-Otthon building has, unmistakably, Jewish influences -both, externally and internally. If you look closely you can see the Jewish Menora returning in the ornamentation on the facade. Today, the original shops and office floors are empty and are very neglected. Also the appearance of the roof has changed because there are windows placed for the apartments just under the roof. BUT the building general design and appearance are, still, unchanged. Several famous Hungarians have lived in this building, including the architects Ödön Lechner and József Vágó. Around the time of the construction of this building, the square was still called Sándor tér. It was changed to Gutenberg tér only in 1946.

Facade ornamentations:

The typical "Vágó birds" element:

The former theater in the courtyard:

The present courtyard:

View on the right side of the Gutenberg-Otthon courtyard:

Balconies:

The stairwell:

The restored stained-glass windows:

Head north on Gutenberg tér toward Kőfaragó utca. See Tip below on  the Fulemule Etterem (restaurant) in the middle of Kőfaragó utca , on your left (south). You walk westward in Kőfaragó utca, 120 m. Turn right onto Gyulai Pál u., 290 m.Note the Budapest Klauzál air Reformed Church ("Gyulai Pal u. Church") in Gyulai Pál utca No. 9:


Turn left onto Rákóczi út, 25 m. Turn immediately right onto Nagy Diófa u. (Big Walnut Street), 400 m (you cross Dohány Street on your left and right, next, cross Wesselényi St, later, Klauzál tér on your right, and, at last, you cross Dob utca). Continue straight onto Klauzál tér, 90 m. The Klauzál tér (or Klauzal Square) was the largest square in the former Jewish quarter of Budapest. Located in the seventh district, it was the heart of the city's old Jewish quarter. The original name of this square was Stephans Platz. After 1874, it was known as István tér. In 1907, the square was named after Gábor Klauzál (a Hungarian politician, who served as Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Trade during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 in the first government of Hungary). A theater opened in the square in the year of 1872, but was destroyed in an 1874 conflagration. A shopping hall (market) opened in 1897, in the place of former theater; this was the third shopping hall in Budapest:

Entrance to the closed market on Klauzal ter. A modern supermarket took up the place of the original market. Very few vegetable vendors during the day, however the grilled meat buffet is very popular around noon. A busy flea market operates on Saturday mornings. That’s all what remained of the classic grocery market hall where you could get smoked goose thigh, and kosher food stuff:

Interesting details on a building at the corner of Klauzal Square:

Curious about the dishes Hungarian families ate in the '70ies and '80ies ? Then visit Kádár Étkezdébe, Klauzál tér 9. (simple, good restaurant near Klauzál Square (see Tip below). Continue onto Kis Diófa utca, 190 m. Immediately on your left, as you start Kis Diófa utca, is the Kisuzem bar with good food and cool atmosphere. Very popular with the locals, Mainly, in the weekdays evenings.


Turn left onto Király u., 40 m. Turn right onto Vasvári Pál utca, 160 m. On your right, in the middle of Vasvári Pál utca is the Szász Chevra Lubavicsi zsinagógamore or Lubavicsi synagogue, Vasvári Pál utca 5.  



Turn right onto Paulay Ede u., 20 m. (note the Salsa club sign). Turn left onto Hajós utca, 550 m. First, you cross Andrássy út on your right and left. Next, you cross Lázár St on your left only. Then, you cross Ó Street on your left and right (Zubrowka cafe' on your right) (Imázs thai, japán és sushi étterem /restaurant on your left). Later, cross Zichy Jenő Street on your left and right. The pink-colored Opera Garden Hotel and restaurant on your left. The last street you cross is Dessewffy St, (on your left and right). A small drinking-water fountain on your right. Before you arrive to the end of the road - note the Art Nouveau building, on your left, at  Hajós utca 32. Built: ca. 1903-1904. Architect(-s): Malnai, Béla. It is one of the most special early Art Nouveau buildings in the city. But, the state of the building is very bad. This certainly applies to the façade but also in the stairwell and udvar (courtyard) which is clearly visible. The use of sunflowers in the ornamentation took mainly only place in the first 7-8 years of the Art Nouveau era in Budapest. The metal ornamentation, just under the roof, also indicates that it is a (very) early Art Nouveau building. According to sources the property would date from 1903-1904, but a bit earlier is not impossible. It is a is relatively small and shallow building with a minimal udvar (courtyard) which gives access to the second stairwell at the backside. Also the main stairwell is narrow and lacks an elevator.

In case you want to try a menu which offers a mix of Hungarian, Russian and Azerbaijan dishes - enter the Marquis De Salade, on your right at Hajós St 43 (into the basement). The restaurant serves various traditional Azerbaijani dishes, including shish kebab, lule kabab (made with ground lamb), yarpag dolmasi (stuffed grape leaves), badimjan dolmasi (stuffed eggplant), many kinds of plov (rice pilaf), ajab sandal (roasted eggplant, tomato and bell pepper with lamb), dushbare (a soup made with tiny dumplings), piti (a hearty lamb stew) and soyutma (roasted lamb pieces). The chef's specialty is a salad called "Sudaba Khanim":


‎Turn right onto Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, 75 m. Turn left onto Báthory utca, 220 m. The street is named after Stephen Báthory Transylvanian prince ( 1571 - 1586 ) and Poland King ( 1576 - 1586 ).First, turn RIGHT until you meet Alkotmány utca. Look at the pretty buildings in the cross-road (29 Hold St.):

Then trace back your steps and return 350 m. SOUTHWARD along Hold utca to meet the Hold utca Market or Belvárosi Piac / Inner City Market (a new name after its renovation), Hold utca 11. Opening hours: 06.00 - 17.00 MON, 06.30 - 18.00 TUE - FRI, 06.30 - 14.00 SAT. Hold utca market is a central market in Budapest. It offers vegetables, fruits and other grocery products as well as it has quite a few small eateries, buffets, bistros offering good, inexpensive food for the many office people working in the area. The new market’s aim is to attract more and more farmers and greengrocers from the countryside to come and sell their fresh, tasty produce and products to the city dwellers. As a result of the refurbishment, all buffets/bistros moved to the gallery. The original, 19th century details were preserved during the refurbishment works.

At 4 Hold St. stands the Budapesti Postatakarékpénztár (Budapest Post Office Savings Bank) built between 1899 - 1901 and designed by Ödön Lechner. One of the most beautiful buildings of Ödön Lechner. Many spots, elements and ornaments in this building - remind you of Gaudi works ! Most of the decorative details cannot be viewed from the street. The building is now owned by the National Bank of Hungary - externally freshly renovated. Here and there still seems to be a staging or scaffolding area that cannot be approached from all sides. But, if you are able to recognize the details behind the obscuring trees - you'll see bees, beehives and birds ornaments on the building sides. Ödön Lechner was asked why he hides these elements and replied: "The birds will see them":

Note, also, the ground floor of the Hold utca 6 building with its wrought iron masterpieces and beautiful corners of the gates with the sun motives:

Szabadság tér or Liberty Square is immediately WEST to Hold utca and you can cross directly to the square. If you continue until the most southern end of Hold utca and turn RIGHT to Szabadság tér road - you'll see, in the corner the imposing building of the Hungarian National Bank (Magyar Nemzeti Bank), Szabadság tér 8-9. You can enter this building from a side entrance (Bank utca) and take a breather into the Bank's ornate lobby (AC) which looks like a 5-star hotel lobby:

Szabadság tér or Liberty Square is described in the "Budapest - Circular route: from Deák Ferenc tér to Erzsébet tér" blog.

Gödöllő - Step back in time to the dual monarchy era

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

Gödöllő:

A great place for a day trip from Budapest. Gödöllő is a town situated about 30 km northeast from the outskirts of Budapest. Its population is about 35,000 residents and is growing rapidly.

Duration: 1 day. Distance: 5-6 km.

Orientation: a wonderful small city. You'll love the parks and royal estates here, the stunning central Liberty Square and several amazing attractions connected with beautiful art, handicrafts and gardening and aristocratic air and history all around. 

Attractions: The Royal Palace of Gödöllő (Gödöllői Királyi Kastély), The King's Hill Pavilion (Királyi domb pavilonja), Gödöllői Felső park (upper palace park) or Kastélypark, Palmhouse (Pálmaház), Erzsébet Park (Elizabeth's Park), The Baroque Theatre, Gödöllői Városi Múzeum (Town Museum of Gödöllő), Alsópark (Lower Park), Szabadság tér (Liberty Square), World Peace Gong (Világbéke Gong), Hotel Erzsébet Királyné (Hotel Queen Elizabeth), Reformed Church (Református templom), statue commemorating the victims of WWI (Első világháborús emlékmű), Scout Boy statue, The House of Arts (Művészetek Háza Gödöllő Kulturális és Konferencia Központ), Barracks of guards (Testőrlaktanya), GIM-House - Godollo Applied Arts Workshop (Gödöllői Iparművészeti Műhely), Holy Trinity Church (Szentháromság templom), Saint Mary Column (Maria Immaculata, Mária-oszlop), Royal Waiting Room (Királyi Váró),

Start:  Erzsébet park HÉV station.

End:     Erzsébet park HÉV station / Gödöllő MÁV station OR Gödöllő MÁV train stop (Gödöllő vasúti megállóhely) (Állomás tér 1-2, 700m. south-east of the Palace entrance).

Transportation: You can get there via the suburban commuter train (HÉV) or the country’s intercity train network (MÁV).

It can be easily reached from Budapest with the suburban railway (HÉV). The Hév suburban railway leaves regularly from Budapest’s Örs vezér tere station (the eastern terminus of the metro line 2), stopping at the Gödöllõ Szabadság tér station. Be sure to take train H8 towards Gödöllő and not one towards Csömör or Cinkota. There are 4 trains/hour during peak hours and 2 trains/hour at other times, and the trip from Örs Vezér tere takes approx. 50 min. Tickets can be bought at Örs Vezér tere or from the inspector on board. Prices:  745 HUF, with Budapest period travel card/pass, this is reduced to 370 HUF. Gödöllő has four HÉV stops: Erzsébet park (right in between the Felső Park and the scenic Erzsébet park), Szabadság tér (Liberty Square) (very close to Gödöllő Palace), (in the downtown and steps away from the royal palace and city museum), Palotakert (near the Palotakert housing development), and Gödöllő (connected to the MÁV station of the same name).

Alternatively, you can take a train from Budapest’s Keleti railway station: Gödöllő is also served by MÁV suburban trains on the Budapest - Gödöllő - Hatvan line, which originates at Keleti pályaudvar (metro line 2) in Budapest. There are generally 2 trains/hour Budapest - Gödöllő with 1 train/hour running onwards to Hatvan. The Hatvan trains will stop in all MÁV three stations: Gödöllő-Állami telepek, Gödöllő, and Máriabesnyő, the Gödöllő trains only at Állami telepek and Gödöllő station. The ride takes 38 minutes and costs 745 HUF or 370 HUF with Budapest travel card/pass.

It is 200 m. walk from the Szabadság tér to the Palace and park. Grassalkovich Kastély (Grassalkovich Palace) is located across the street SOUTH from the Szabadság tér HÉV stop. The royal palace is Gödöllő's main attraction.

It is 1.2 km. walk from the Gödöllő MÁV station to the City Museum: Head west toward Állomás tér, 15 m. Turn right onto Állomás tér, 20 m. Turn left to stay on Állomás tér, 5 m. Turn right onto Żywiec-sétány, 130 m. Sharp left to stay on Żywiec-sétány, 210 m. Continue onto Dunaszerdahely sétány, 240 m. Continue onto Forssa-sétány, 120 m. Slight right toward Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav-sétány, 70 m.  Slight left onto Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav-sétány, 45 m. Slight right to stay on Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav-sétány, 140 m. Turn left toward Szabadság tér, 15 m. Turn right onto Szabadság tér, 40 m.  Turn right toward Szabadság tér, 110 m. Turn left onto Szabadság tér, 30 m. and you'll face the entrance to Grassalkovich Kastély (Grassalkovich Palace - SOUTH to the square), Gödöllői Városi Múzeum (Town Museum of Gödöllő - EAST to the square) and the three main parks - which are all located around the palace: Alsó park (lower palace park - SOUTH-EAST to the Liberty Square and IN FRONT OF the Palace), Felső park (upper palace park, ADJACENT TO THE BACK OF THE PALACE, SOUTH-WEST to the square), and Erzsébet park, named after Queen Elizabeth (WEST to the square and the Palace).

Erzsébet park HÉV station:

History:
In Gödöllő the 250-year-old Royal Mansion is one of the largest palaces in the country and is a significant work of Hungarian Baroque architecture. It is the second largest baroque chateau of the world. The palace at Gödöllő was originally built for the aristocratic Grassalkovich family. Antal Grassalkovich I (1694–1771) was one of the greatest noblemen of 18th-century in Hungary. Grassalkovich, born of a family of the lesser nobility, began his career as a lawyer in 1715. A year later he was already working with the "Hofkammer" (The Royal Chamber, a body of the Habsburg financial administration in the 16–18th centuries). In 1727 he became president of the Commission of New Acquisitions (Neoaquistica Commissio) dealing with the revision and arrangement of the chaotic ownership rights after the Turkish rule. He first came across the estate of Gödöllő, whose then proprietress, Krisztina Bossányi, could verify her ownership rights. Increasing in political power and wealth, Grassalkovich planned the development of a large estate, having its centre in Gödöllő. This became possible after the death of Krisztina Bossányi (1737) when Grassalkovich successively purchased the properties from her heirs. He began to build his palatial residence as early as 1741, which, as the greatest Baroque manor house in Hungary is, even today the principle landmark of Gödöllő (see below). Grassalkovich, who curried favour with King Charles III and Queen Maria Theresa, also managed very successfully the properties of the Treasury. For his economic and political abilities he received first the title of baron and later on became a count. The son of Grassalkovich I, Antal Grassalkovich II (1734–1794), who was raised to the rank of prince, cared little for the estate. He leased out the properties one after the other, liquidated the household in Gödöllő and moved to Vienna. Following his death, the estate, heavily charged with debts, was inherited by his son, Antal Grassalkovich III. Grassalkovich III, who continued to increase the debts, died without opffspring, hence the properties were inherited on the female line.

In 1850 a banker, György Sina, purchased the estate of Gödöllő. He, and later on his son, rarely stayed in Gödöllő. They sold the whole of the property to a Belgian bank. The Hungarian state bought it back from this bank in March 1867 and gave it, together with the mansion house, to Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth of Austria ("Sissi") as a coronation gift. Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary and his wife Elisabeth ("Sisi") had their summer residence here and they frequently stayed here. The royal family stayed in Gödöllő mainly in spring and autumn, and this resulted in a significant upswing in the life of the town. Most of the buildings had been restored to their former glory. Classical concerts and major festivals were organized in the surrounding estates including the ceremonial court of the palace. Gödöllő became a country town from 1864 and grew into an increasingly popular summer resort, owing, in addition to the presence of the royal family, to its natural position and its clean, fresh air. Annually 300–400 families of Pest spent the summer season in Gödöllő, which was growing richer and richer with bathing places and restaurants or village inns. No big industry had settled in Gödöllő:  at the turn of the century, from 1901 to 1920 the only organized Hungarian artists' colony of the period was working here. In autumn 1918, King Charles IV accepted the resignation of the Hungarian government. In those days, several politicians turned up in the Gödöllő mansion, among others Mihály Károlyi who, after some discussions which ended in failure, was designated prime minister by the victorious revolution. In 1919 the military general staff of the Hungarian Soviet Republic had their headquarters in the Gödöllő mansion house. From 1920 the mansion house became a seat of the governor, Miklós Horthy. Gödöllő has records of a Jewish population since the first half of the 19th century. The Jews were suppliers of the court of Franz Joseph I since 1867. A synagogue was built in 1870 and a Jewish school operated from 1857 to 1944. The Jewish population was 195 in 1880, and 276 in 1930, after reaching a peak of 451 in 1920. After World War I, the Jews were severely persecuted, particularly after László Endre's 1923 appointment as district commissioner of the town. The Jewish population of Gödöllő was deported to Auschwitz on 12 June 1944 as part of the so-called "emergency" deportations from parts of southern Hungary.   This order came directly from Hungarian government circles to enable Miklós Horthy (the local governor) to walk around the town without having to see any Jews and to make it possible for him to personally experience the consequences of the anti-Jewish measures. The town was at this time the "summer residence" of Horthy, regent of Hungary. After World War II the development of the community took a new turn. Soviet troops were stationed in part of the Gödöllő mansion house, while in a larger part there was a social welfare home. In contrast to its earlier character as a summer-resort, industry started in Gödöllő. The first step in this direction was the building of the "Ganz" Factory of Electric Measuring Instruments in 1950, which was then followed by other industrial plants. In the same year the University of Agricultural Sciences moved into Gödöllő. This meant the completion of the community's character as an agrarian centre and resulted in a further expansion of the network of agricultural institutions linked to the university. On 1 January 1966, Gödöllő was promoted to the rank of a town. The old peasant houses disappeared one after the other, giving place to housing estates and public institutions. Political changes which came about at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s brought about significant changes in the life of Gödöllő. Some of the industrial projects settled here in the 1950s closed, while others which were viable were privatized. The number of industrial and service units in private ownership increased and quickly transformed the appearance of the town.

During the 2011 Hungarian EU Presidency, the informal ministerial meetings were held in the Royal Palace, because the government didn't want the delegation's moving to paralyze the traffic in Budapest.[citation needed] The main venues were the Baroque Palace's riding school and the reconstructed stables.[citation needed]

The town hosted The 10th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting which is an inter-regional forum. It consists of the 27 members of the European Union (EU), the European Commission, the 10 members of the ASEAN Secretariat, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, Australia, Russia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Norway, and Switzerland. The main components of the ASEM process are the following so-called three pillars: Political Pillar,Economical Pillar,Social, Cultural and Educational Pillar. In general, the process is considered by the parties involved to be a way of deepening the relations between Asia and Europe at all levels, which is deemed necessary to achieve a more balanced political and economic world order. The process is enhanced by the biennial meetings of heads of state, alternately in Europe and Asia, and political, economic, and socio-cultural meetings and events at various levels.

The Royal Palace of Gödöllő  (Gödöllői Királyi Kastély) is 180-200 m. SOUTH to the Szabadság tér. In the same location is also the local tourist information office. It is an imperial and royal Hungarian palace - famous for being a favourite place of Queen Elisabeth of Hungary. The construction began around 1733, under the direction of András Mayerhoffer (1690–1771) a famous builder from Salzburg who worked in Baroque and Zopf styles. During this period the palace became the symbol of independent Hungarian statehood, and, as a residential centre it had a political significance of it own. It was Queen Elisabeth (1837–1898) who specially loved staying in Gödöllő, where the Hungarian personnel and neighborhood of the palace always warmly welcomed her. She was able to converse fluently in Hungarian. Following her tragic death, a memorial park adjoining the upper-garden was built. During the period of the royal decades - the suites were made more comfortable, and a marble stable and coach house were built. The riding hall was re-modeled. Between the two world wars the palace served as the residence for Regent Miklós Horthy (see above). No significant building took place during this period, apart from an air-raid shelter in the southern front garden. After 1945 the palace, like many other buildings in Hungary, fell into decay. Soviet and Hungarian troops used the building, some of the beautifully decorated rooms were used for an old people's home, and the park was divided into smaller plots of land. In 1990, after the departure of the Soviet troops, clearing the almost ruined Grassalkovich mansion house started, which was essential if the restoration trend. As a result, the mansion house may, after a few years, receive guests visiting the town in its full splendor. The protection of the palace as a historical monument started in 1981, when the National Board for Monuments launched its palace project. The most important tasks of preservation began in 1986 and were completed in the end of 1991. During this time the palace was partly emptied. By 1990 the Soviet troops left the southern wing, then the old people's home was closed down. Reconstruction is the principle of the interiors completed so far creating the state as it was around the 1880s. One of the most striking features of the Empress Elisabeth Exhibition is its historical accuracy.

The palace has a double U shape, and is surrounded by an enormous park. The building underwent several enlargements and modifications during the 18th century; its present shape being established in the time of the third generation of the Grassalkovich family. By then the building had 8 wings, and - besides the residential part - it contained a church, a theatre, a riding-hall, a hothouse, a greenhouse for flowers and an orangery.

Presently, the visitor service units are situated on the ground floor: cloak-room, ticket office, tourist information centre, toilets (also for the disabled), payphone, etc. Various retail units are found on the northern side: a souvenir centre, photo studio. On the southern side there is a coffee/pastry shop (delicious cakes, reasonably priced) and several function rooms. 

Opening hours: Summer: from 1 April - until 31 October daily 10.00 - 18.00 (ticket office until 17:00). Winter: from 1 November  - until 31 March
MON - FRI 10.00 - 16.00 (ticket office until 15.00), SAT - SUN 10.00 - 17.00 (ticket office until 16:00).

Prices: Permanent exhibition (Royal apartments , The Era of the Grassalkovich,Queen Elisabeth memorial exhibition , “Centuries, Inhabitants,Stories” – the 20th century history of the palace): Adult 2.200  HUF, Student 1.100 HUF, Family ticket 4.600 HUF (two adults and children under 18.).  Guided tour prices for groups – 70-80 mins, 1-9 persons 5.300 HUF, 10-25 persons 6.500 HUF. Audio guides are available (multiple languages) 800 HUF. Baroque Theatre (only with guiding) – 30 mins, (SAT and SUN only): Adult 1.400 HUF, Student 800 HUF, Additional ticket/student - 650 HUF. 3D cinema "The Castle of Gödöllő ever and now"  and The horse culture of royals and aristocratics (Interactive exhibition in the Baroque stables and Stableman rooms) - From THU until SUN - 45 mins: Adult 1.200 HUF, Additional ticket 900 HUF, Student 600 HUF, Additional Student 450 HUF. Horthy Bunker (only with guiding) - 25-30 mins: Adult 800 HUF, Additional ticket – Adult 700 HUF, Student 500 HUF, Additional Student 450 HUF. Falconry and archery show
(12th MAY- 15th SEP only) – SUN 15.00 – 60 mins: Adults 1.500 HUF, Students 900,- HUF, Family ticket 3.500 HUF (two adults and children under 18).

Note: NO PICTURES INSIDE THE PALACE.

Gödöllő Palace permanent exhibition is housed in 31 galleries (26 rooms open to the public). The main section is filling six galleries: this is an exhibition of the first century of the Palace and the first three generations of the Grassalkovich family, with insight into the Baroque church. The wall paintings dating from this period have been restored or reconstructed. Do not expect the luxury and richness of other Imperial palaces in Europe, such as Versailles in France or Schönbrunn in Austria: interiors are rather plain and sparsely furnished. The Soviet occupation in WW2 and the Communist era had stripped the palace of most of its original charm, and not to mention, the original furnishings or artwork that may have existed in the glorious imperial past. Yet, count at least an hour. No photos. You are not allowed to enter into the palace rooms with: backpacks, umbrellas or strollers:

The cheerful inner court is a resting place, where various outdoor programmes are held:

The King's Hill Pavilion (Királyi domb pavilonja): located around 200 metres from the Palace, into the Gödöllői Felső park (upper palace park) or Kastélypark (see below). the King’s Hill pavilion is the only remaining building in the Palace park which dates from the Baroque period. It was Antal Grassalkovich I who had the hexagonal pavilion built in the 1760s. The pavilion was built on an artificial hill known as King’s Hill. (This name has historical significance. It used to be the name of a place where a new king would ride up following his coronation ceremony and swing his sword towards the four winds as a sign of his will to defend the country against attacks coming from any direction). The pavilion was in this condition at the beginning of the royal period in 1867, and it could be visited by the public. The building was reconstructed in 2002:

54 oil paintings depicting Hungarian leaders and kings were incorporated into the paneled walls of the pavilion. The majority of the pictures have been destroyed or have disappeared and in the 1980s, only the bare walls were left standing. The set of pictures was re-created by means of advanced photographic technology in 2004, and since then the pavilion may be visited on guided tours. The 54 oil paintings depicting the leaders and kings incorporated into the paneled walls of the pavilion all share a common frame structure of laurel wreaths and phylacteries. There are portraits of Hungarian leaders from the time of the Hungarian conquest and those of later Hungarian kings. Galleries of ancestors and kings would be created in the 17th and 18th centuries as ornamentation for aristocratic residences. On the one hand this was a way of expressing their sense of nobility, and on the other it was a pictorial representation of their attitude to history. A speciality of the series of pictures in Gödöllő is that Grassalkovich erected a separate building for the purpose of evoking the whole of Hungarian history with a near-complete set of former rulers. The displays include the name of the portrait’s subject in Latin, his number in the line of rulers and the dates of his reign. Rulers of greater significance have larger portraits and have been placed in special positions over the doors and the windows. The line starts with Attila’s portrait over the northern entrance. He is followed by Keve underneath him and then the portraits follow one after the other in a clockwise manner. (After a full turn, the lines of pictures continue spirally downwards, always taking one step down after each turn under the starting picture). Some of the pictures were damaged during the War of Independence in 1848–49. Baron Simon Sina, the new owner of the palace, had the pavilion renovated in 1857 in preparation for Francis Joseph I’s visit to Gödöllő. He had copies of the damaged pictures painted and also added to the collection portraits of the rulers from the century that had passed since the initial construction of the pavilion.

The three main parks are all located around the palace: Felső park (upper palace park), Erzsébet park, named after Queen Elizabeth and Alsó park (lower palace park). All in all, Gödöllő is a great place to visit and to have a feel for a royal Hungary by the countryside. It’s great escape to the country and to experience what life is like outside of the grand city of Budapest.
Gödöllői Felső park (upper palace park) or Kastélypark: Felső Park is located directly behind the palace and is mostly easily accessed from the Szabadság tér or Erzsébet Park HÉV stops. There is a wild chestnut path with a row of trees where it feels as though strolling through eras from long ago. The northern front garden, at the main façade with its so-called Italian bastions and walkways was reconstructed with historical authenticity in 1998. The 26-hectare English park, which is open to the public through the year, was declared a nature reserve in 1998. Its botanical curiosities are much appreciated by the visitors. Riding competitions are held in the park annually. Visiting of the park is free of charge. Garden and Park opening hours:  1 NOV - 31 MAR: 06.00 – 18.00. 1 APR - 31 OCT: 06.00 – 20.00:

The Upper Park hosts, during the year, various peasants' and handicrafts workshops, pony rides and flower market and, even, a small zoo, in the Palmhouse (Pálmaház), Martinovics u. 2/a. It is in the SOUTH part of the Upper Park. Daily 08:00-17:00.

The Erzsébet Park (Elizabeth's Park): Erzsébet Park was built in memory of Sisi, after she was assassinated. The park’s entrance is a long trail of lindens leading to her statue. Turning right at the entrance you'll find the Kálvária monument, which depicts the crucifixion and was commissioned by Grassalkovich and built in 1771. The cult of Queen
Elisabeth is mainly preserved in the park, which was named after her. After the queen’s death Gödöllő was the first to establish a memorial park in November 1898. The 2.5 m high statue of Elisabeth, created by József Róna, was revealed by Franz Joseph and Valéria Mária in 1901. The stone mound behind the statue was also raised in honour of Queen Elisabeth. The Calvary, built in 1771, can also be found in the Elisabeth Park. Such public creations of the Baroque religious art are usually placed on hills.   The so called Alsópark ( see below) also belonged to the castle in the past. In 1933 the world-meeting of scouts, the jamboree, was held here. In 1994 Zsigmond Kisfaludi Stróbl created a statue of a boy scout, as a memoir of the jamboree:

The Baroque Theatre: In the southernmost wing of the Palace, Count Antal Grassalkovich II (1734–1794) had a theatre auditorium constructed between 1782 and 1785. 24.5 m long, 8 m wide and 9.5 m high, the space resulted from making the formerly 3-storey wing into one. The walls were decorated with Neo-classical, late Baroque paintings. The theatre was in operation only when the Count was in residence at Gödöllő. The story of the theatre came to an end in 1867 when it was converted into rooms for the entourage of the royal family. There is no information on the theatre for around 7 decades after the death of Antal Grassalkovich II (1794). It ceased to exist in 1867, when the Palace was bought by the Hungarian state and free use of it made over as a coronation gift to Franz Joseph I and Queen Elizabeth. The building was hastily renovated in order to make it suitable for accommodating the royal family and the royal household. All the theatre furnishings were auctioned off and the inside of the theatre was once again divided into three separate floors by inserting two ceilings. A total of 15 rooms together with corridors were constructed on these floors. This palace layout remained unchanged until 1986, by which time the state of the building had deteriorated so badly due to improper usage following World War II that the ceiling fell in. The theatre building, previously known only from written sources, was identified when the wall-painting extending over all three floors was uncovered. Further examination of the walls also provided clear evidence of traces of the stage equipment of the age. Reconstruction was completed in August 2003, since then it has provided a venue for high standard performances, and it is now open to museum visitors. The various facilities necessary for running the theatre, such as changing rooms, store-rooms and machinery, have been established on two, newly-built cellar levels. The theatre, which can seat 95, once again became a venue for quality theatrical performances in August 2003. A curiosity of theatrical history, this part of the palace can be visited on guided tours. Your ticket includes visit in the stables and an interesting exhibition about horsemanship in Hungary.

Chandelier in the Baroque Theatre:

Gödöllői Városi Múzeum (Town Museum of Gödöllő)  is located on Szabadság tér, close to the HÉV station. The exhibit focuses primarily on the Gödöllő artists' colony from the early 1900s, and has several excellent examples of Hungarian Art Nouveau. There is also an ethnographic exhibit on Oceania, collected by Ferenc Ignácz, who worked at the university in Gödöllő. Another small room houses the private collection of Zoltán Mihály Csupor, a Catholic priest. This is the oldest building of Gödöllő in the centre and It is called Hamvay-mansion, and it hosts the Municipal Museum of Gödöllő. The mansion was built by Ferenc Hamvay,
the lord of the settlement in 1662. Antal Grassalkovich I. It had a storey
built onto the top of the building and used it as an inn. The first chemist’s was moved here in 1814 by Antal Grassalkovich III. During the royal times it functioned as Elisabeth Hotel, and became the most important social meeting place. Later the hotel was closed, and at first it
functioned as a high school from 1916, and then as an elementary school from 1948. In 1972 it stored the collection of local history, and in 1988 it officially became a museum. It has three permanent and several periodic exhibitions:

Alsópark, Gödöllő. Alsó Park is located directly in front of the palace and has a giant tree sculpture called the World Tree.

Szabadság tér: a marvelous square. A masterpiece of landscaping !!! It was voted the "Most beautiful Main Square in Hungary" in 2013.

World Peace Gong (Világbéke Gong) near the main square:

In the NORTH end of Szabadság tér (LIberety Square ), stands the former Town Hall (Járási Hivatal) - today, Hotel Erzsébet Királyné (Hotel Queen Elizabeth), 2 DózsaGyörgy street. Seccession architecture is represented by this monumental building.

Nearby is the Reformed Church (Református templom), 9 Szabadság square (Close to Hotel Erzsébet Királyné (Queen Elisabeth Hotel). This Baroque style church built in 1745 with the support of Antal Grassalkovich I. is an onion dome church. Massaes on Sundays.

Godollo Reformed Lyceum High School and Dormitory are also here. From the schoolyard is open a door to a tourist accommodation (four rooms).

In the NORTH-EAST edge of Szabadság tér, into the park, stands a statue commemorating the victims of WWI (Első világháborús emlékmű) - erected by Lőrinc Siklódy in 1931:

The Scout Boy statue, erected by István Paál in 1994 to commemorate the World Scout Jamboree in 1933 can be found right next to it:

The House of Arts (Művészetek Háza Gödöllő Kulturális és Konferencia Központ), Szabadság út 6 is a bit EAST to the Szabadság tér (cross Szabadság út). Open:  MON - FRI 08.30 -21.00. It might be open also in SAT - SUN - depending on current cultural events. Cultural and Conference Centre.Concerts, dance theater shows, Children and Youth Exhibition, festivals:

Return 100 m. back (WEST) to the square along Szabadság út to meet the Barracks of guards (Testőrlaktanya), Szabadság út, 2  - opposite the castle in the Lower park. In this one-story Baroque-style building lived Grassalkoviches cattle directors:

We offer you a short detour to the GIM-House  - Godollo Applied Arts Workshop (Gödöllői Iparművészeti Műhely), Körösfői Kriesch Aladár utca, 15-17 (EAST to the Haraszti temető - cemetery). A showroom and Handicraft Workshop of local contemporary artists. DO NOT MISS the GIM-House's park/garden with its exceptional, stunning colors and plants. In the garden is an open air exhibit place. From the Liberty Square head northwest on Szabadság tér towards Dózsa György út, 110 m. Continue onto Dózsa György út, 450 m. Turn left onto Körösfői Kriesch Aladár utca and the GIM-house is 160 m. further on your left. GIM-house and exhibitions regularly can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays 14.00  to 17.00 (1 NOV - 31 MAR), 14.00  to 18.00 (1 APR - 31 OCT). Other days - by appointment. RECOMMENDED !!! Inspiring place !!!

(Photos taken from the GIMHaz web site):

From here, on your way back to the Liberty Sqaure (Szabadság tér) visit also the Holy Trinity Church. From GIM HÁZ, Körösfői Kriesch Aladár utca 15-17 - head southwest on Körösfői Kriesch Aladár u. toward Szent Imre u., 130 m.  Turn left onto Szent Imre utca, 170 m. and the church will be on the right. The Holy Trinity Church (Szentháromság templom), Szent Imre utca, 15, is a simple yet a unique work of art, exciting architectural phenomenon: a series carpets showing the members of the Árpád House who were canonized. Erzsébet Szekeres, textile artist from Gödöllő made the series of 21 carpet pictures showing the 13 members of Árpád House canonised and beautified by the Roman Catholic Church: King Saint Stephen of Hungary, Duke Saint Emeric, Saint Margaret of Scotland, King Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary, Saint Margaret of Hungary, Saint Agnes of Prague, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint Elisabeth of Portugal, and those beutified: Erzsébet Tössi, Jolán and Gertrude. Three archangels belong here: Gabriel, Raphael and Michael and Bishop Saint Martin. The series inaugurated in 2008 also shows a picture of the Hungarian Golgotha and the Holy Mother of Jesus Christ. Opening hours: MON - SUN 17.00 - 18.00(!):

It is 500 m. walk back to Szabadság tér. Head southeast on Szent Imre u. toward Kossuth Lajos u., 40 m. Turn left 78 m. toward Szabadság tér. The square is consistently EASTWARD. Sharp right toward Szabadság tér, 45 m. Turn left toward Szabadság tér, 30 m. Turn right onto Szabadság tér, 140 m. Turn left to stay on Szabadság tér, 35 m. Turn right toward Szabadság tér, 35 m. Turn left toward Szabadság tér, 25 m. Turn right toward Szabadság tér, 15 m. Turn left toward Szabadság tér, 5 m. Turn right toward Szabadság tér, 35 m. Turn left toward Szabadság tér, 25 m.  Turn left onto Szabadság tér, 10 m.

In case you return to Budapest from the Szabadság tér suburban train station - walk a few metres WEST to this station to the Maria Garden. Saint Mary Column (Maria Immaculata, Mária-oszlop), inside the Maria garden is a beautiful statue, ornamented with the statues of some saints in beautiful Baroque bas-reliefs and erected by Martin Vögerl on Antal Grassalkovich's orders. It is the most beautiful statue of the city: four embossments are on the pedestal, showing the encounter of Mary and Elisabeth, the annunciation, the introduction of Mary in the temple and the assumption of the Blessed Virgin. On the corners the statues of four saints can be seen: Theresa, Anthony, Florian and Roch. Mary stands at the top of the pillar. Next is the Statue of Duke Saint Imre (Emeric) erected with public contributions by Ludvig Krausz. The sculpture, made of soft sandstone, has been renovated several times, most recently in 2006:

In case you return to Budapest from the Gödöllő végállomás, the HÉV suburban train terminal (connected to the MÁV station of the same name) - see, opposite (WEST) to this station the Royal Waiting Room (Királyi Váró), Állomás tér 1-2 (1100 m. south-east of the Palace entrance.It is a 1.1 km. walk from Gödöllő, Szabadság tér. Head southeast on Szabadság tér toward Szabadság út, 35 m. Turn left toward Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav-sétány, 15 m. Turn right toward Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav-sétány, 60 m. Slight left onto Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav-sétány, 190 m. Continue onto Forssa-sétány, 120 m. Continue onto Dunaszerdahely sétány, 240 m. Continue onto Żywiec-sétány, 210 m. Sharp right to stay on Żywiec-sétány, 15 m. Continue straight to stay on Żywiec-sétány, 120 m. Turn left onto Állomás tér, 5 m. Turn right to stay on Állomás tér, 55 m. The Royal Waiting Room (Királyi Váró) is on the left - a branch of the Town Museum of Gödöllő. The royal couple regularly traveled by train to Godollo. The Godollo station building was released on April 2, 1867. In 1868, a wooden, Tyrolean-style temporary pavilion was built for the royal couple as a waiting room. In the years of 1870's became more vivid the railway traffic. The royal family staying in Godollo made the town to a trendy, fashionable summer resort. In 1874, the station was converted into a two-story building. In addition to the rail office designed first-, second- and third-class waiting room and a restaurant with dance hall. In 1882, a new Royal Waiting house built in neo-Renaissance style. The building designed by a major Hungarian architect, Miklós Ybl. In the Franz Joseph's waiting room is an exhibition of the history of transport, a branch of the Hungarian Transport Museum. In Queen Elizabeth's waiting room and the Prince's waiting room can be see a local history museum focusing to the royal family cult. Open: 10.00–16.00. Price: 300 HUF:



Visegrád - first class attraction, worth the climb

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

Visegrád:

Visegrád (high fortress) is 40 km north of Budapest, situated halfway between Szentendre (see our blog on Szentendre) and Esztergom - where the Danube meanders though the Börzsöny and Visegrád hills with a sharp turn. Visegrád is famous for the remains of the Early Renaissance summer palace of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and the medieval citadel. Once, you arrived to Visegrád - you will be rewarded with unforgettable view of the historic fortress, the spectacles performed there, the stunning view of the mighty Danube, the green hills around and the quiet, picturesque village downstairs. There are many marked trails around for walking or cycling/biking.

Boat service between Budapest and Visegrád: Mahart (Mahart Passnave Passenger Shipping Ltd.)  is the largest company operating ferries and scheduled ships, including hydrofoils and sightseeing cruises from / to Budapest. More information on timetables, prices and routes can be found at www.mahartpassnave.hu. The most spectacular and enjoyable way to get to Visegrád - is by boat. Boats run between Budapest and Visegrád from April to September. They depart from Vigadó tér in Pest between Erzsébet Bridge and Szabadság Bridge. Mahart Passnave offers both boats (3.5 hours) and hydrofoils (1 hour) to  Visegrád. See http://www.mahartpassnave.hu/ for timetables. Both boat and hydrofoil services operate on a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday between June and August but on the weekends only in May and September.Timetable: Saturdays and Sundays, 6 April, 25 May, 20 August: at 14:00 (arrival 15.30),  Tuesday and Friday at 10:00 (arrival 15.30). Prices: ADULT: 1.500 HUF, CHILD (2-14 years): 750 HUF, CHILD (under age of 2): FREE OF CHARGE, DOG (leash required): 750 HUF:

The boat passes under the Chains Bridge:

The Fishermen Bastion from the booat to Visegrád:

The Calvinist Church in Buda from the boat:

St. Stephan Church and Buda Castle from the boat:

Batthyány tér from the boat:

Margit hid (Margaret Bridge) from the boat:

Vác is a town in Pest county with approximately 35,000 inhabitants. The boat calls at Vác before arriving to Visegrád:

Kismaras town - between Vác and Visegrád:

The Lower Castle and Solomon Tower from the boat approaching Visegrád:

To Visegrád by Train: There’s no direct train service to Visegrád from Budapest. Alternatively you can take a train to Nagymaros from Nyugati Railway Station - trains departing at 7 minutes past the hour (direction: Szob) taking 41 minutes. From Nagymaros take a ferry (rév in Hungarian) which will take you across the Danube to Visegrád. The ferry dock is a few minutes walk from the train station and a ferry leaves in every hour. Visegrad to Nagymaros also runs every hour at :50. The timetables can be found at http://elvira.mav-start.hu or http://www.mavcsoport.hu/en

By Bus:  Buses depart to Visegrád from Ujpest Városkapu vasútállomás (District XIII) Metro station - east to Árpád Bridge (M3, blue metroline, Árpád Híd station). Take the bus (runs every 20-60 minutes) that travels through a town called Dorog (75 minutes approx.). You can purchase your ticket in advance at the Árpád Bridge Bus Station up until half an hour before the departure of your bus. You can buy ticket from the driver too when you board the bus.
Find exact information about buses departures to Visegrad: http://ujmenetrend.cdata.hu/uj_menetrend/en/index.php (Hungarian only).

History: Visegrád played important strategic role in the eras of the Celts, Avars, Romans then in that of the Hungarians. Due to its favourable location with the Danube and the rocky hills - the Romans built a fortress here during the reign of Constantine the Great which became a significant part of their eastern defense lines along the flow of the Danube. Visegrád was first referred to in Latin documents in 1009. The Mongols destroyed the the first fortress during their raids in 1241-42. After they left Hungary King Béla IV (1235-1270) built the current fortress.  The hexagonal Solomon Tower (Salamon torony) was built in 1258. Visegrád gained international importance during the Anjous kings (1308-1387). King Charles I of Hungary made Visegrád, his hometown, the royal seat of Hungary in 1325. Charles Robert started to built its royal palace, earlier, in 1320, in the area near the Danube bank which became his and his court's favorite residence. Visegrád hosted the famous Royal Summit in 1335 when Charles Robert King of Hungary, John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia; Casimir III, King of Poland; Charles, the Moravian Marquis; Heinrich Wittelsbach, the Bavarian Prince, and Rudolph, the Saxon Prince made an agreement to protect the participating countires' financial and commercial independence from Vienna and from the Western countries. Mainly, it was an agreement securing an alliance between Poland and Hungary against Habsburg Austria. The glory days of Visegrád continued under the rule of Louis the Great (son of Robert the Charles), under whom the palace's current layout was formed. King Sigismund from the Luxembourg House extended the former palace building and added more courtyards and gardens. King Matthias (1458-1490) elaborated the whole complex and constructed a magnificent Renaissance palace around the fortress. King Matthias extended the palace with the courtyard on the 2nd terrace in the middle of which stood the Hercules well (Herkules kú) with the coat of arms of the King Matthias on its side. A chapel with gilded wooden ceiling stood on the the 3rd terrace of the palace. Vlad Tepes (Dracula) was imprisoned in Solomon Tower between 1462-1474. Visegrád lost importance after the partition of the Kingdom of Hungary following the Battle of Mohács in 1526: forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were defeated by forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The Turks put an end to Visegrád's heyday in 1543 when most of the 350-room palace and the Visegrád town were destroyed. Visegrád started to flourish again after the historical compromise between Hungary and Austria in 1867. After steam ship traffic begun on the Danube - Visegrád became increasingly more popular holiday and excursion spot until today. In 1991, the leading politicians of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland met here to form a periodical forum between these countries - "the Visegrád group" - distant memory to the famous meeting centuries earlier in 1335. The castle of Visegrád is called Fellegvár in Hungarian, meaning "cloud tower".

Walk in the town:

The boat lands at the MAHART boat station, where the pleasure boats are continuously arriving.

On the left side of the road the Renaissance Restaurant, Fő utca 11, is located near Salomon Tower, renovated in renaissance style. The waiters and waitresses of the restaurant are dressed in costumes and serving on earthenware dishes the specialities, which are made according to the contemporary recipes.

Just right next door is the Castle Hotel, situated at the bottom part of the Solomon Tower.

Continuing our journey on the main road, we pass the MOL petrol station and we reach the central car park of the town on the left side, from where we can take nice walks on the main street of the town, or if we stay on the main road we reach the ferry station. The ferry station is located opposite the Rév Street, on the no. 11 main road offering an hourly crossing to the neighbouring Nagymaros. Boats from/to Nagymaros/Visegrád (at 06.30, and between 08:00 and 21:00 hourly, cca. 15min). Schedules are indicative due to water, weather and other reasons. The Sirály Restaurant, Rév utca 15 is near the ferry station.

On the Danube embankment all along the town a shady promenade was established.

If we take the Rév Street towards the town - we see, on the left side, the popular Black Raven Restaurant and B&B and on the right side the Visegrád Hotel and Sea-gull Restaurant with its modern, but still assimilating building to the landscape, it offers high standards and delicious dishes for its customers. The Grill Garden is mainly a popular spot for the warm summer evenings, and the little shops of the Rév Street offer all sorts of souvenirs for the tourists. At the crossing, on the corner the 17th century Roman Catholic Church in late Baroque style is located, next to it the beautiful sculpture of Saint Margaret of the House of Arpad is situated in a well-maintained park. After that we reach the building of Don Vito Restaurant and Pizzeria, Fő utca 83 - delicious food and desserts, and even offers pizza delivery, reminding us of the 1920-30s atmosphere.

The next building is the Town Hall, which due to its recent reconstruction adapts very well to the street image. There are Information boards about the famous houses and former residents of the Main Street (Fő utca). The most famous building complex is the former Royal Palace (see above and below).  The King Matthias Museum (see below) introducing the history of the palace is situated in the building next to the entrance of the garden (Fő u. 29.), which was built from the stones of the palace. If we continue our walk on the Main Street (Fő utca) we pass the house 5 Fő utca, where Artúr Görgey (1818–1916) the General of the 1848/49 revolution lived his last 30 years in complete seclusion, he also died in here. Hotel Var is in No. 9:

Located at the end of the street, on a small square is the bronze bust of King Matthias, the composition of János Fadrusz, which is a copy of one part of the famous Matthias Monument in Kolozsvár erected in 1903. On the right side, if we take the Salamontorony Street we can reach the Lower Castle tower (see below). If we walk back down the Salamontorony Street towards the embankment, and we continue our walk to the right, we can find a square-shaped tower remnant. This is the round bastion or water bastion, (Kerekbástya Palotaház),  Fő utca 11-13. It was erected at the same time as the fortress system, representing its lowest part. This was an observation point for the Danube’s traffic and with the help of hoisting apparatus they were sending water to the lower castle. The top of the multi-storey building was ruined; János Schulek created the current form of the lower part in the 1930s. On the steps of the round bastion the fortress builder King Bela IV’s statue, and on the iron banisters the arms of Arpad-, Anjou-, Luxembourg- and Hunyadi-families are exhibited. The round bastion is connected with the lower castle and then to the upper castle through an outer wall built in the 13th century and it is still there today. The gate was cut in the wall around 1820, under which the road goes towards Budapest. The old route was located in the Lower Castle, next to the Solomon Tower and crossing the northern tower gate built in the 13th century. Today this is the Panoráma Street northern part, and if we continue along approx. 300 m we get to the Sibrik Hill. The Archdeacon Church (Főesperesi-templom), Mátyás Király út (Sibrik Hill), stands here. Open MAY - SEP: SAT and SUN (or on other days by appointment). Built in Romanesque style. At the beginning of the statehood Stephen the 1st have constituted the castle called Visegrád as county seat. The first parish church of the county was built on the hillside near the castle. The church of the archdeaconry was built on its site after 1063, in King Solomon's time. Price: adult 200 HUF:

If by the church we turn right (i.e. towards Esztergom direction) we can take a pleasant walk in the typical street of this small town. During our walk we can find two tourist agencies (the Bauer Reisen Travel Agency - Fő u. 46, and then the Hungaro Reisen Travel and Hunting Organizer Agency – Fő u. 68.  where the staff is more than happy to assist us, and it is also possible to purchase some souvenirs. Next to the well-kept bed of the Apátkúti Brook on a small walkway we can also make our way to the Visegrád Mountain.

We can find the Honti Hotel and B&B on the Main Street  which is very popular among visitors with its quiet, romantic and pretty surroundings, pleasant rooms and delicious cuisine.

The Caravan Camping is accessible from the no. 11 main road by the hotel’s entrance. If we carry on straight from the church we reach the well-kept King Matthias Street. The Goulash Country Tavern attracts its customers with its geranium covered windows and garden. We may continue our walk next to a pleasant park with a fountain, or we decide to turn to the Széchenyi Street, where the Community Centre and Library is situated in the old mansion house. The Library awaits people who would like to read or use the internet, and in the exhibition halls of the Community Centre temporary exhibitions are organized. If we carry on along King Matthias Street we pass the Pilisi Parkerdő Rt. central building

and then we reach the crossing with a lay-by where two buildings are of special interest. The excellent Brook Inn is located in the bend towards the town, and across the little wooden bridge over the brook towards the forest we can see the friendly buildings of the Forest School.

If we carry on the path of the Forest School we may take pleasant forest walks and excursions. After the Devil’s Mill Waterfall

and the Magda Spring we can reach the park located on the Telgárthy Meadow and the Miklós Bertényi Botanical Garden.

If we turn left at the crossing we reach the Nagy-Villám (Big Lightning) facility:

The Silvanus Conference & Sport Hotel is located on the 325 m. high Black Hill, offering 106 panoramic view rooms and a conference centre. Wellness- services, squash courts are providing full relaxation and recreation. For those interested in the gastronomy national and international specialities are offered.

The Nagy-villám Entertainment Centre offers various programs for those who are looking for an active relaxation: canopy-, bob-, mini golf- and during wintertime a ski slope is awaiting its customers.

Fun Extreme Canopy, Nagyvillám, Visegrád. Open MON - SUN 10.00 - 18.00:

The Visitor Centre and tourist spot in Mogyoróhegy is very popular among those who prefer the fresh air and pleasant surroundings; also the Danube Bend Forest School and Jurta Campsite are popular. Visegrád’s latest treasure is its thermal and mineral water, which are brought to the surface from 1400 m depth with the help of the wells of the Lepence Valley. This 39 °C thermal water supplies the swimming pool of Lepence, which was opened in 1977, where the Lepencei Brook reaches the Danube. From the terraced pools of the complex there is a beautiful view of the Danube Bend’s Dömös area. The most beautiful and highest-level hotel of the Danube Bend, the Thermal Hotel Visegrád opened its gates in 2003. The thermal-, wellness- and conference hotel offers 174 rooms, an excellent restaurant and many entertainment activities, therapies, fitness, wellness and spa services to its visitors:

Arriving to Visegrád Hill and its attractions:

All attractions (The Royal Palace, The Salomon Tower, the Lower Castle and the Upper Castle have commanding views over the Danube River. The Royal Palace, THe Salomon Tower and the Lower Castle lie all in ruins at the foot of the hill in the town premises. On the other hand It requires quite an effort to walk up the steep pathways and tracks to the Upper Castle/Citadel. But you can choose a path through the forests keeping things cooler. There are infrequent local bus services up to the Upper Castle from Visegrád town pier and also an expensive minibus option.

Really great views from above. Great for people who like to take photographs. There are 3 ways up. You can reach the Upper Castle/ Citadel via a trail marked ‘Fellegvár’ (Fortress) leading east from behind Solomon Tower. This one is a steep path through the forest starting right from the Solomon tower. I'd recommend taking this one, as it's much shorter and protected from direct sunlight. Unless it is raining or was raining the day before, as the path becomes very slippery and dirty. And do not take this path down, as it's dangerously steep.

An alternative, less steep path goes from the town centre area: find the trail marked 'Kálvária sétány' (Calvary Promenade) starting behind the Catholic church on Fő tér. 45 - 60 minutes walk up.

The third one is a regular road, much less steep, but open to direct sunlight and 3 times longer than the forest path. Take this one if you're really into hiking:

You will tired when you get to the top. Very tough trail. So if you have issues walking on tough terrain, figure out where the minibus is.

Consider taking a shuttle bus taxi, it's really worth it. There's only one shuttle service, just ask any hotel or restaurant to call them for you. The taxi from the top to the bottom cost us 2000 HUF.

For those with a car, there is a car park at the base of the Upper Citadel (300 HUF per hour for parking).

I realize these notes may make getting there sound onerous. It's not a difficult trip BUT a diable one. The whole area has a quiet, VERY relaxed air to it. One of the spots I remember well of my trip through Hungary. It's a very nice area of Hungary !!!

The Lower Castle:

The Lower Castle is the part of the fortification system that connects the Upper Castle with the Danube. It is located a few meters away from the port/pier on the main road. Matyas Kiraly muzeum Visegrad is housed on the lower castle. Most of the visitors come to Visegrad for the upper castle because of the view but it’s a pity not to visit this one too.THe tower got its name ’the Solomon Tower’ after a false story about Solomon’s captivity, as Solomon was not kept in this tower, but on the Sibrik Hill. The 31 m high, five-storey tower with its 3,5-8 m thick walls was the country’s strongest construction. It served as the earliest part of the protection system to control the route crossing through its gates and continuing on the Danube embankment. The five-stories were used as bedrooms, kitchens and storage areas (sometimes as prison). The building is currently a museum, where the most valuable findings from the palace are exhibited among others (see below).

Prices: Adult: 700 HUF,  Student, Senior: 350 HUF. For the Solomon’s Tower you need a separate ticket. Salomon tower closed NOV - MAR and all year Tuesdays:

King Béla IV statue between the boats' pier and the Lower Castle:

Start of the short ascent to the Lower Castle. Left: Solomon Tower:

The lower castle from the Danube bank:

The Danube from the Lower Castle:

In the lower Castle's centre rises the Solomon Tower, a large, hexagonal residential tower dating from the 13th century. In the 14th century, new curtain walls were built around the tower. During a Turkish raid in 1544, the southern part of the tower collapsed. Its renovation began only in the 1870s and was finished in the 1960s:


 
King Matthias Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum Mátyás Király Múzeuma), Visegrád, Fő u. 29. is actually located at the Lower Castle and Salomom Tower and part of it in the Royal Palace. Opening Hours: TUE - SUN 09.00 - 17.00, Closed: on Mondays. Salomon tower closed NOV - MAR and all year Tuesdays, the Royal Palace open till 16:00 (NOV - FEB). The exhibitions present the reconstructed Gothic fountains from the Royal Palace, Renaissance sculpture in Visegrád, and the history of Visegrád.

Interesting item is the Visegrad Madonna that was found in the 18th century among the ruins of the palace chapel. This red marble lunette relief belonged to the furnishings of the palace chapel. The Virgin holds the child in a gentle embrace, who, standing on a cushion, raises his right hand in blessing and with his left hand presses a small bird – a gold finch symbolic of his future Passion – to his breast. The masters of the Italian Renaissance depicted the Virgin and child on numerous 15th century reliefs in a similar arrangement. As to formal qualities, closest to the Madonna of Visegrád are two reliefs in the Ducal Palace in Urbino and the Bargello museum in Florence. The similarities are most apparent in the modelling of the drapery, the heads, and the hands.

Another highlight is the Fountain of Hercules. The fountain of the ceremonial courtyard is a unique masterpiece of Hungarian Renaissance art. Its prototypes were the fountains of the Italian 14th century. On the side walls of the octagonal basin, the coats of arms of Matthias appear among fruit garlands tied with ribbons. Above the round bowl of the fountain, decorated with jewel motifs, rose the central statue of the fountain representing the fight of Hercules and the hydra of Lerna. A stream of water sprang forth from the mouth of the animal. In the art of the Matthias period the figure of Hercules refers to the militant king. The leading master of the workshop responsible for this fountain may
have been Giovanni Dalmata, while the decoration of the bowl and the fruit garlands are related to the works of the Roman master Andrea Bregno:

There is a knight show held in the courtyard outside the Lower Castle. They have it in English, Russian and Hungarian. 1500 HUF. The knight show is put on by the people from the Renaissance Restaurant. It's pretty entertaining. They get volunteers from the crowd, so you may get to throw a spear or shoot an arrow:

Royal Palace:

The first royal house on this site was built by King Charles I of Hungary after 1325. In the second half of the 14th century, this was enlarged into a palace by his son, King Louis I of Hungary. In the last third of the 14th century, King Louis and his successor Sigismund of Luxembourg had the majority of the earlier buildings dismantled and created a new, sumptuous palace complex, the extensive ruins of which are still visible today. The palace complex was laid out on a square ground plan measuring 123 x 123 m. A garden adjoined to it from the north and a Franciscan friary, founded by King Sigismund in 1424, from the south. In the time of Louis I and Sigismund, the palace was the official residence of the kings of Hungary until about 1405-08. Between 1477-84 Matthias Corvinus had the palace complex reconstructed in late Gothic style. The Italian Renaissance architectural style was used for decoration, the first time the style appeared in Europe o

utside Italy. After the Ottoman Turks' siege in 1544 the palace fell into ruins, and by the 18th century it was completely covered by earth. Its excavation began in 1934 and continues today. At present, the reconstructed royal residence building is open to the public, and houses exhibitions on the history of the palace and reconstructed historical interiors. Royal Palace 1100 HUF (reduced 550 HUF).

Reconstructed high Gothic fountain in the royal palace at Visegrád:L

Upper Castle / Fellegvar / Fortress:

After the Mongol invasion, King Béla IV of Hungary and his wife had a new fortification system constructed in the 1240-50s near the one destroyed earlier. The first part of the new system was the Upper Castle on top of a high hill. The castle was laid out on a triangular ground plan and had three towers at its corners. In the 14th century, at the time of the Angevin kings of Hungary, the castle became a royal residence and was enlarged with a new curtain wall and palace buildings. Around 1400 King Sigismund also had a third curtain wall constructed and enlarged the palace buildings. At the end of the 15th century, King Matthias Corvinus had the interior part of the castle renovated. The Upper Castle also served for the safekeeping of the Hungarian royal insignia between the 14th century and 1526. In 1544 Visegrád was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, and, apart from a short period in 1595-1605, it remained in Turkish hands until 1685. The castle was seriously damaged by the Turks and was never used afterwards. The castle is now open to the public for visit.

The castle is open TUE - SUN 9.00-18.00. Price: - Adult 1,400 HUF
- student, senior: 700 HUF.

The 13th-century citadel sits on top of a 350m hill and is surrounded by thick rock moats. The real highlight is just walking along the ramparts of this fortress and admiring the sensational views of the bending Danube and its surrounding Börzsöny Hills:

Szentendre

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

Main Attractions: Main Square (Fő tér), Blagovesztenszka Church, the Lángos shop, Szentendre Keresztelő Szent János templom, Belgrade Szekesegyhaz Nagyboldogasszony Templom, Szerb Egyházi Múzeum, The House of Prisoner Ráby (Rab Ráby Ház), Dobos Chocolate Museum, Ferenczy Museum, Margit Kovács Museum, Szabó Marzipan Museum, Duna korzó promenade along the Danube, Skanzen open-air museum (Tip 2).

Szentendre (St Andrew): Szentendre is a small romantic riverside town 15 km from Budapest with picturesque cobbled streets, pastel-colored houses and tall Orthodox churches. Many artists fall in love with the small town's atmosphere and settled down during the 20th century years. Many museums and galleries attest this migration. It is a quaint town which boasts an abundance of excellent stores all selling local arts and crafts. The prices are reasonable.

Duration: The Szentendre town has some small galleries/museums/souvenir shops and restaurants so a full day if you want to do all of those, half a day if you just want to wander around the streets. Visiting Skanzen (recommended !) in Szentendre - will make it a BUSY, TIGHT, FULL day.

Transportation: Szentendre is easily reached (it is 25 kilometers from downtown Budapest) on the Budapest HÉV (HEV 5) suburban railway line from Batthyány tér (the M2 Metro RED line). Trains leave every 10-30 minutes and take 40 minutes to reach the small town of Szentendre. Szentendre is not on the state railway lines. You should buy a special ticket, as it's just outside the Budapest zones and so isn't covered by your day pass-tickets. List of stops: Batthyány tér M, Margit híd, budai hídfő,
Szépvölgyi út, Tímár utca, Szentlélek tér (formerly: Árpád híd), Filatorigát, Kaszásdűlő, Aquincum, Rómaifürdő (Roman Bath), Csillaghegy, Békásmegyer, Budakalász, Budakalász, Lenfonó, Szentistvántelep (Saint Stephen Estate), Pomáz, Pannóniatelep (Pannonia Estate), Szentendre.

Buses leave daily from Budapest's Újpest-Városkapu bus station (on the M3 Metro BLUE line) (east to Árpád Bridge) and take about 25-30 minutes to arrive. Yes, buses are quicker than trains in Hungary.

From May to September you can reach Szentendre by riverboat (along the Danube) every day from Budapest, Vigadó square (tér) or Batthyány square (tér). In April and October boats are operated only in Saturdays and Sundays. You can catch the boat at 10.00 at Vigado Square, at 10.10  it stops at Batthyany Ter and then after a long journey you will be in Szentendre at 11.30. You can catch a boat ride back which is recommended, as the sights coming back into Budapest are very nice, especially later in the day as lights begin to sparkle across the water. From Szentendre the boat departs at 17.00.

Szentendere was part of the the Eastern frontier of the Roman Empire under the name Ulcisia Castra from the 2nd century AD. The Mongols in the 13th century than the Turks in the 15-16th century destroyed the town. It was rebuilt in Baroque style in the 17th century and has preserved the townscape since than. After the Turks left mainly Serbian refugees settled down than Hungarians, Slovaks, Germans, Greeks and Romanians. Each ethnic group had establsihed its own town part adding a versatility to the townscape.

In Szentendre you'll experience a Mediterranean atmosphere that few other Hungarian settlements can offer you. No wander that lots of artists come to find inspiration and work here.

Tip: It is quite interesting in Skanzen (the open-air museum). Lots of walking – so go early and first to Skanzen - before visiting Szentendr. Then catch the bus back to Szentendre for lunch and tour the town itself. The times (back from Skanzen to Szentendr) are posted at the bus stop across from the entrance to the museum. Make suren you know them so you'll avoid a long wait to return.

In Szentendre: The HÉV and bus stations are located next to each other, about a ten minute walk (800 m.) from/to Fő tér, the main square in the middle of town. A few metres from the stations - there is a SPAR supermarket. There is also a WC.

From the train station just walk under the main highway.

and walk straight for about 15 minutes and you will be in the center (which is just north of the train/bus station). From there, walk east to Dózsa György út/ Dunakanyar körút (Danube Bend avenue), walk along this road northward, turn right at Római Sánc köz, and immediately LEFT onto Kossuth Lajos utca and continue NORTHWARD along it, turn right to Jókai Mór utca and, immediately, LEFT to Dumtsa Jenő utca which leads, northward to Fő tér.

Start your exploration in the quint, charming Main Square (Fő tér) where the Baroque cross was erected in 1763 to commemorate the lucky fact that plague avoided the town:

Old but well-kept merchant houses encircle Main Square like the block on the eastern side of the square (2-5. Fő tér) that was rebuilt under the same roof after a fire. On the ground floor the Szentendre Gallery (open: Tue-Sun: 10.00-18.00) provide exhibition opportunities for artists working in the town:

Winding streets lead off from the Main Square packed with architectural masterpieces, museums, restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops.

We head northward from the Fő tér/square, taking the road leading to Bogdányi út. Immediately, on our right (east) is the Blagovesztenszka Church - towered facade, Baroque and Rococo church. The church is open daily (except Mondays) during the tourist season. Opening hours: March: FRI-SUN 10.00 - 16.00, APR - OCT: TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 17.00, NOV: FRI - SUN: 10.00 - 16.00. Prices: 300 HUF. The name of the church means "Angelous Regards". 1690s wooden church stood on this site. The present church was built between 1752-1754 designed by architect Andreas Mayerhoffer. Out of the 9 churches of Szentendre the Baroque-Rococo Greek-Orthodox Blagovestenska church is the best known, built in the mid 18th century by settlers living in the Greek quarter next to the church. Above its wooden gate frescoes of St Helene and St Constantine greet you while inside you can admire the remarkable iconostase:

The last supper:

Now, turn west to Váralja lépcső  and take a stroll/climb along the steep road that lead upwards towards the hill overlooking the town. Insider Tip: within internal courtyard, halfway along a steep and narrow alley leading up to the church on the top of the hill, is one of the best Lángos vendors in Hungary. How to find it: from the main square locate and face the church on the top of the hill and look for the narrow alley leading up to it. There is a small sign on the wall pointing to the entrance of the alley with ‘Lángos’ written on it:

The hill was the site of a fortress in the Middle Ages. All that's left of it today is the walled early-Gothic Church of St John the Baptist (Szentendre Keresztelő Szent János templom), from where you get splendid views of the town. For the best views of the town climb the hill to the church. There is small viewing area overlooking the red-slate rooftops and if you look carefully you may even see the strange blue angel perched atop one of the nearby church roofs. Inside, note the frescoes painted by members of the artists' colony in the 1930s. Admission free, 10.00 - 16.00, TUE - SUN, APR - OCT:

Nearby (north-west corner of the hill) is the Czóbel Museum ("Czóbel" is written on the old-yellow front wall of the house), which contains the works of the impressionist Béla Czóbel (1883–1976), a friend of Pablo Picasso and student of Henri Matisse. Béla Czóbel lived in Paris and Szentendre alternately from the 1940s. He belonged to the group of painters following the Post-Impressionist movement. His style reflects the principles of the Nagybánya School of Painting. He met painters of the Fauves group in 1905, and incorporated strong colors in his works. Open: TUE - SUN 09.00 - 17.00 from March 15 to September 30:

Continue from the hilltop or from the Czóbel Museum northward to Alkotmány St arriving to the Serbian Ortodox Church - Belgrade Szekesegyhaz Nagyboldogasszony Templom. 1760s. Late Baroque, Rococo style. The church was constructed from 1741 till 1746. Some Greek, Serbian, Dalmatian and Bosnian fugitives, who were fleeing from the Turks, settled down in Szentendre. From the 1521 fall of Belgrade ("Nándorfehérvár") there were several Serbians coming to Szentendre but a significant number of settlers only arrived around 1690. In 1696 Csarnojevics Arszenije patriarch presented a request for the Administration Chamber of Buda for an accommodation in Pest. He did not obtain it, therefore the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Buda was founded with a centre of Szentendre (Izbég). A medieval church used to stand at the location of the current bishopric cathedral. The Belgrade settlers built their church of stone, therefore the church is still called Belgrade Cathedral. This is the only Church with a regular service. In 1980 the church appeared on a Hungarian postal stamp. Opening hours - applying to the church and the museum (below): from: January 01
till December 31: Mondays - closed. TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 16.00. But only in January- February: SAT - SUN - 10.00-16.00. Prices: 600 HUF for adults, 300 HUF for students and pensioners. Don't lose your ticket so you can get into the church (see the spectacular iconostasis) and the museum (rare artifacts) together on the same ticket:

Time to step inside, and this is a real experience. The church has a stunning interior (32 metres long, 14 metres wide and 15 metres high). To the left is massive icon, made between 1777 and 1781 by the famous painter of Syrmia, Ösztovics Vazul. The gilded pulpit and the Episcopal throne with the Baldachin are all worth a look. The church is divided into three sections, the "women church", the "men church" situated one step lower, and the sanctuary. The nave is capped by four sections of Czech vaults, which are divided by crosspieces. The elliptical arched area in front of the sanctuary is capped by a vaulted, flattered quarter-dome. The arched choir construction projecting in the centre settles on two Doric marble pillars. Here lies the body of the composer Vujicsics Tihamér. Walking in the church's garden by the stone wall, several stone and marble gravestones can be seen:

Take Alkotmány St to its most western end and turn right (north !) to the Serbian Ecclesiastical Art Collection in Pátriárka utca 5 - Szerb Egyházi Múzeum. The museum collection includes artwork from the 14th to the 19th centuries. The Serbian Ecclesiastical Art Collection is a treasure trove of icons, vestments and other sacred objects in precious metals. A 14th-century glass painting of the crucifixion is the oldest item on display; a ‘cotton icon’ of the life of Christ from the 18th century is unusual. Take a look at the defaced portrait of Christ on the wall upstairs – the story goes that a drunken kuruc (anti-Habsburg) mercenary slashed it and, when told the next morning what he had done, drowned himself in the Danube:

You can stroll around the narrow roads south to the Serb church and museum - they are charming:

You can make a shrt detour to the House of Prisoner Ráby. Head north on Pásztor köz toward Martinovics utca, 60 m. Turn right onto Martinovics u., 60 m. Turn right onto Rab Ráby tér (Restricted usage road), 20 m. The House of Prisoner Ráby (Rab Ráby Ház) stands on the Rab Ráby Square a centre of the former Dalmatian quarter. The Austrian Emperor sent Mátyás Ráby to look into local corruption issues. He lived in this modest Baroque house built in 1768. He found out tax evasions and other unlawful acts commited by the local noble men who tried to bribe Ráby. After refuring bribery he was imprisoned. The famous Hungarian writer, Mór Jókai wrote an epic about his story:

We head back to the main square. Head south on Pátriarka u. toward Alkotmány u., 45 m. Turn left onto Alkotmány u. (Partial restricted usage road), 190 m:

Alkotmány u. turns slightly right and becomes Fő tér.Before hitting the Fő tér - you see on your right the Dobos Chocolate Museum, Bogdányi utca 2. Dobos Chocolate Museum in Bogdányi utca introduces the work of the famous confectioner József Dobos who created the famous Dobos cake (Dobos torta), (rich chocolate cream between layers of sponge topped with crunchy caramel) which you can try in the museum's Nosztalgia cafe (attention: later, we'll meet another sweet attraction...). József Dobos endeavored and pioneered to create a cake which would last longer than other cakes (back in the 19th century, when cooling techniques were quite primitive).  The delicacy can be tasted at the museum's café. Open ONLY SAT - SUN 10.00 - 18.00, MON -  FRI on prior notice, Admission: 300 HUF/adult, 200 HUF for kids under 10:

In the eastern (or north-east) side of the square, at Fő tér 6 resides the Ferenczy Museum. Károly Ferenczy (1862-1917) was a Hungarian Impressionist, one of the leading painters of the famous Nagybánya School of Painting. He studied in Paris, and lived in Szentendre, Munich and Nagybánya. In 1906, he moved to Budapest and became the professor of the College of Fine Arts. His children, Valér Ferenczy (1885-1954), painter, Noémi Ferenczy (1890-1957), tapestry weaver, and Béni Ferenczy (1890-1967), sculptor, were famous representatives of Hungarian art. The museum is a tribute to the Ferenczy family. (Fő tér 6, open: 10.00 to 18.00, WED - SUN:

Return to Fő tér. Descend EAST onto Görög utca, 35 m. Turn right onto Vastagh György u. and the Margit Kovács Museum, Vastagh György utca 1, will be on your left after 20m. Margit Kovács Ceramic Collection Museum displays the works of one of Hungary's best ceramic artists. THe museum resides in an 18th-century salt house and dedicated to the work of Szentendre’s most famous artist. Margit Kovács (1902–1977). She was a ceramicist who combined Hungarian folk, religious and modern themes to create Gothic-like figures. Some of her works are overly sentimental, but many others are very powerful, especially the later ones in which mortality is a central theme. Margit Kovács (1902-1977) was a famous ceramic sculptor well-known through out Hungary. Her main themes were folk art and religious art, especially Bible stories. She donated the majority of her work, such as statues, pots, plates and plaques, to Szentendre. You can find several famous statues of her in Berlin. Open: 09.00 to 17.00, TUE - SUN. in June-July-August: 9.00 - 19.00 Prices: 700 HUF/adult, 350 HUF/students and pensioners:

From the Margit Kovács Museum you have 2 options: descending to the Danube promenade or visiting, first, the Szamos Marcipán Múzeum.

In case you continue to the Marcipán Múzeum: head south on Vastagh György u. toward Futó u., 20 m. Turn right onto Futó u., 25 m. Turn left onto Dumtsa Jenő u. for 100 m. and the Szabó Marzipan Museum, Dumtsa Jenő utca 12, will be on the left. Marzipan Museum, is a colorful exhibit made entirely out of marzipan. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of two outstanding Hungarian confectioners: Mátyás Szamos and Károly Szabó. The exhibition displays the art of marzipan making along with some of their masterpieces, such as a marzipan version of the Parliament building. Open daily: 10.00 - 18.00). On the 1st floor, the Marzipan Museum awaits its visitors with its rich exhibition. On the ground floor pastries, Hungarian wines, Paprika, salami, goose liver and ice-cream can be purchased. The store has many interesting candy likenesses of famous celebrities: Michael Jackson and Disney characters' like Little Mermaid, are the most popular or other artifacts (amazing cactus plants). Price: 450 HUF:

In case you continue from Margit Kovács Museum to the Danube - return to Görög utca and walk along it lined with apartments of Greek families:

and you'll reach the peaceful promenade on the the Danube bank (Duna korzó). A concrete pathway and some garden seats situated along the way. Strolling along this path will provide great views of the river, making this an enjoyable walk:

Stroll the fine boulevard along the river front with nice views of the town and Szentendre Island. The best section for walk or cycling is 900 m. long from Jókai Mór utca (in the south) to the Waterfront Hotel (in the north).

If you didn't visit Skanzen yet - head back to the bus station. From the southern end of the promenade - it is, approx., 1 km. walk. Here are the instruction from the southern point: head south on Duna korzó toward Futó u., 190 m. Turn right onto Jókai Mór utca, 170 m. Turn left onto Szabadság tér, 45 m. Continue onto Kossuth Lajos utca, 400 m. Take the pedestrian tunnel, 130 m and turn right onto Dunakanyar krt., 50 m,  turn right.

Budapest - Heroes' Square, The National Museum of Fine Arts, Palace of Art, the City Park, Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

1 day around the Heroes' Square: The Heroes' Square, The National Museum of Fine Arts (closed until May 2018), Palace of Art (the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, the Ludwig Museum, the Festival Theatre), Budapest City Park, Castle Vajdahunyad, the Ják chapel, The Statue of Anonymus, the city lake with its ice skating rink (winter only), Szechenyi Baths, Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Start & End: Hősök tere M1 Metro station.

Hősök tere - The Heroes' Square:

Heroes' Square is the largest and most impressive square of the city. Heroes’ Square in the 6th district is one of the most visited sights in Budapest. It is a World Heritage site. Whether you are a history buff, or a normal tourist, you cannot skip this place. It is a gem in it's own right, a simply fabulous monument.

Transport: Take the M1 (Yellow line) to Hősök tere.

Tips:

  • Square is almost always crowded with tourists, so if you want to take good pictures of the square and the Millennium monument, you should probably come very early in the morning. In the night the square is especially beautiful because of the amazing lighting - breathtaking !!!.
  • Combine the square with a stroll along Andrassy Avenue and / or a visit in the City Park/zoo (Városliget) and / or the National Gallery of Fine Arts. The Budapest Zoo, the Holnemvolt Park (past Amusement Park), the Municipal Circus, the Museum of Transport, the legendary Gundel Restaurant and the famous Széchenyi Baths are also located within City Park.
  • If you have the time, it's worthwhile to visit Heroes' Square at least twice: both during the day and at night.
  • There’s a Tourist Information stall in the building of the City Park Ice Rink.
  • Note: There are also three other squares in Budapest entitled Hősök tere, in Soroksár, Békásmegyer and Rákosliget.

Orientation: Hősök tere is surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Palace of Art (or more accurately Hall of Art) on the right. On the other side it faces Andrássy Avenue which has two buildings looking at the square — one is residential and the other one is the embassy of Serbia (former Yugoslavian embassy where Imre Nagy secured sanctuary in 1956).

History:

The square had been constructed in 1896 to mark the 1000th anniversary of Hungary. It is located at the end of Andrássy Avenue and next to City Park. It is  surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left (see Tip below) and Kunsthalle (Hall of Art) on the right, The square construction was part of a much larger construction project which also included the expansion and refurbishing of Andrássy Avenue and the construction of the first metro line in Budapest.

The central feature of Heroes' Square, as well as a landmark of Budapest, is the Millennium Memorial (Millenáriumi Emlékmű). The Millennium Monument, designed in 1894 by Albert Schickedanz and completed thirty-five years later. The many statues were designed by György Zala. The Millennium Monument in the middle of the square was erected (in 1896-7) to commemorate the 1000-year-old arrival of the Magyars to the Carpathian areas. Archangel Gabriel (the symbol of the Roman Catholic religion) stands on top of the center pillar (36 m. high), holding the holy St. Stephen’s Crown and the double cross of Christianity. According to the story, Gabriel appeared to St. Stephen in his dream and offered him the crown of Hungary. Pope Sylvester II indeed sent a crown to him acknowledging Hungary and King Stephen as a defender of Christendom. Today you can view the Holy Crown in Budapest Parliament. Árpád and the seven leaders who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary (Előd, Ond, Kond, Tas, Huba, and Töhötöm), around 896 AD,  can be seen on the stand below. Árpád's descendants formed the Hungarian royal dynasty. Statues of kings, governors and other important historical figures stand on top of the colonnades on either side of the center pillar. From left to right you can see: King St. Stephen – Hungary’s first king, founder of the Hungarian state, King St. László- a noble and  king, several miracles are attributed to him, King Kálmán Könyves King Coloman de Beaiclerc-annexed Croatia and Dalmatia to Hungary, King András II – participated in the Crusades, King Béla IV – rebuilt the country after the Mongol invade in the 13th century, King Charles Robert – created a strong and wealthy Hungary in the first half of the 14th century, King I Nagy Lajos - son of Charles Robert, during his reign Hungary reached the greatest expansion of its territory, King Matthias – a Renaissance King who made Buda Europe’s cultural centre in the 15th century, István Bocskai- as a result of his fight against the Habsburg reign Transylvania became independent in 1606, Gábor Bethlen – prince of Transylvania in the 17th century, leader of an anti-Habsburg uprising, Imre Thököly – leader of Hungarian Protestants against the Habsburg rule, Ferenc Rákócz I - leader of the War of Independence against the Habsburgs in the 18th century, Lajos Kossuth – leader of the 1848/49 War of Independence. At the foot of each statue a small relief depicts the most important moment of the life of the personality.

The monument consists of two semi-circles on the top of which the symbols of War and Peace, Work and Welfare, Knowledge and Glory can be seen. Statues of the right colonnade: John Hunyadi - The Siege of Belgrade (1456), Matthias Corvinus, Matthias with his scholars, István Bocskay, Hajdú soldiers defeat the imperial forces, Gabriel Bethlen who concluded a treaty with Bohemia, Imre Thököly - The battle of Szikszó, Francis II Rákóczi - who returned from Poland, Lajos Kossuth - who rallied the peasants of the Great Plain.

Since many of the attractions weren't ready in time, in 1896, the festivities were held one year later in 1897. When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. From left to right these were Ferdinand I (relief: Defense of the Castle at Eger); Leopold I (relief: Eugene of Savoy defeats the Turks at Zenta), Charles III, Maria Theresa (relief: The Hungarian Diet votes support "vitam et sanguinem") and Franz Joseph (relief: Franz Joseph crowned by Gyula Andrássy). The Habsburg emperors were replaced with Hungarian freedom fighters when the monument was rebuilt after World War II. The memorial won the first prize at the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. The monument was completely finished in 1929 and the square received its name 3 years later, in 1932.

During the Communist era the place saw many demonstrations on national Hungarian holidays. In 1989 a crowd of 250,000 gathered at the square for the reburial of Imre Nagy, former Prime Minister of Hungary, who was executed in 1958. Since 2002 the Millennium Monument together with Andrásy Avenue is part of UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage sites.

The tomb of the unknown soldier can also be found in the square. The Hungarian War Memorial stands in front of the column commemorating the heroes who died for the independence of Hungary. A popular spot for wreath-laying ceremonies on national holidays. At the two sides the representative buildings of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery both worth a visit with high standard temporary exhibitions, such as Van Gough, Rembrandt and the collections of Spanish and French paintings.

Budapest - Margaret Island - limited traffic with nature on your doorstep

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

Margaret Island:

Attractions: Margaret Bridge, Centennial Monument, Tamas Szechy Swimming Pools, musical fountain, the rubber running course around the island, Palatinus Strand, Franciscan church, the Dominican convent, the Artists' Promenade, St. Michael's Chapel, Danubius and Grand hotels, Water Tower, the Japanese Garden, the Music Well, Árpád bridge.

Duration: You can, easily, spend one full day in the island. In case you are tight - spare half a day.

Transportation: The best way to get to the island is by tram 4 or tram 6. Get off at Margit híd / Budai híd fő stop (híd means bridge in Hungarian) or take bus 26 or bus 234 from Nyugati tér (M2 blue metro, trams 4, 6) which travel through Margaret Island.  Only taxis and buses 26 and 234 are allowed to drive in and through the island. Driving through the island is not allowed. You can leave your car in the spacious guarded parking lot. Parking costs 525 HUF/1 hour both on weekdays and weekends or holidays. Start your walk at the southern part of the island at the Margaret Bridge end (this part is better accessible by public transport from the city centre than the northern part).

Weather and Season: The island is most beautiful in Spring, perhaps in April-May when nature is green again after the long winter months. It will also fascinate you in early Autumn (Sept-till mid-Oct) when the foliage turns into a mixture of colors from yellow and orange to reddish-brownish. Note that Margitsziget (Margaret Island) is very popular among Budapest citizens especially on weekends. Try to get to the island in the first half of morning on a bright, sunny day to find the park at its most beauty. The Budapest Summer Festival partly takes place on the Open-Air Stage on Margaret Island. Opera, Musical, Comedy, Concert and Dance performances take place during the three summer months: June, July and August.

Margaret Island (Margit-sziget) is an alongated island (2.5 km length and 500 m. width) in the middle of the Danube in central Budapest. Most of the island are colorful parks, and it is a very popular recreational area. There are several medieval ruins which are reminders of its importance in the Middle Ages as a religious centre. The island extends between the Margaret (south) and the Árpád (north) bridges. The Margaret Island does not belong to any district in Budapest. It is directly under the control of the city central municipality.

History: The island received its name after Saint Margaret (1242–1270), the daughter of king Béla IV of Hungary who lived in the Dominican convent on the island (see below). Other names of the island were Nagyboldogasszony-sziget (Island of Our Lady), Úr-sziget (Island of Nobles), Budai-sziget (Buda Island), Dunai-sziget (Danube Island), Nádor-sziget, Palatinus-sziget (Palatine Island) during different periods of its history. In the middle Ages it was called the Island of Rabbits (Nyulak szigete) and it functioned as royal hunting reserve. The Knights of St. John order settled on the island in the 12th century.  Members of the Augustinian order also lived on the island. In the 13th century King Béla IV. founded a nunnery on the island after the Mongol Invasion. The king made a vow to sent her daughter, Princess Margaret to a Dominican nunnery if he could rebuild the country devastated by the Mongols. The Mongols had to suddenly return to their homeland so King Béla had a chance to reorganize and rebuild the country. Faithful to his vow Béla sent the 11-year old Margaret to the convent. The island was dominated by nunneries, churches and cloisters until the 16th century. During the Ottoman wars the monks and nuns fled and the buildings were destroyed. In the 18th century it was chosen to be the resort of palatines. József palatine (nádor in Hungarian) started a large landscaping project of the island at the beginning of the 19th century and most of the area was turned into an English-style park with many trees, bushes and flowers. It was declared a public garden in 1908. Until 1901 the island could have been approached only by boat or ship. Part of the Margaret Bridge that now leads onto the island was constructed in 1901 while in the northern part Árpád Bridge was connected to the island only in 1950.  Margaret Island was declared a public park in 1908. At that time hot springs were discovered in the area that facilitated many developments, like the Grand Hotel Margitsziget. The island became a popular health resort. The II. World War left its marks on the island too, some scars still can be seen on the tree trunks. Since the 1980s, entry by cars has been limited; only a single bus line and taxis, alongside the service traffic of local stores and restaurants are allowed to enter. On the northern end of the island a car park houses the cars of hotel guests.

Means of transportation: four-person cycle cars or small electric cars ('bringóhintó' carts) can be rented for use on the area of the island. It’s also a convenient and fun way of exploring the island with kids. You can also rent bicycles and roller blades:

For people who settle down in Margaret Island (one of the hotels or hostels) - use bus #26 to get from/to the city (better, using weekly transport pass).

The main touristic attractions:

  • A small Japanese Garden with a mildly thermal fish pond;
  • The "Music Fountain" (Zenélő szökőkút). A fountain close to Margaret bridge.Nearby, music is played and light shows are performed in summer. The water springs out according to music, so that the fountain seems to dance at the various classical themes reproduced. The last piece played is always the Con te partirò sung by Andrea Bocelli (protected UNESCO site).
  • The "Music Well" (Zenélő kút), a small pavilion, close to Árpád bridge which was originally built for open-air concerts.
  • An octagonal Water Tower of 57 m., built in Art Nouveau style in 1911, today functioning as a lookout tower and an exhibition hall (protected UNESCO site).

  • The Centennial Memorial of 1973, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the city's unification.
  • A tiny zoo featuring a wide range of exotic waterfowl among other animals.

Historical monuments of the island are:

  • The 13th century ruins of a Franciscan church.
  • A Dominican church and convent. A marble plaque plaque indicates Princess Margaret’s burial place at the ruins of the church’ nave:
  • A Premonstratensian church from the 12th century.

Among the recreational and sportive attractions are:

  • The Palatinus water park (the largest open-air swimming complex in Budapest).
  • Open air theatre and cinema.
  • The Alfréd Hajós sports pool
  • A tennis stadium and an athletics centre.
  • An high-quality rubber-coated running track of 5.35 kilometers.

Walking the island: Strt walking at the southern edge. Walking the length of the island takes about 20-30 minutes, but most visitors spend far longer time at the various historical and recreational attractions. We shall browse the main attractions from south to north. It is a good idea since the sun, in a bright day, will be on your back:

Centennial Monument: Entering the island from the Margaret Bridge will put the visitor face-to-face with the Centenary Monument (Centenáriumi emlékmű), created in 1972 and erected the following year to commemorate the 100-year-anniversary of the joining of Buda and Pest in 1873. The bronze monument, designed by István Kiss, resembles two intertwining leafs. BTW, this island itself is a unification of three smaller ones:

More northward, on the western part of the island are the Tamas Szechy Swimming Pools. The Alfréd Hajós Tamas Szechy swimming complex is a world class location. This place hosted the European Championships in 2006. It has ten lanes, and an overall length of 50 meters. You can also find state of the art diving platforms, two fitness rooms, and a sauna here. The venue can hold up to 8000 spectators for some kind of event. As you tour the building, take note of all the plaques that hang on the wall, representing winning athletes that have trained here over the years. The whole swimming pool complex is named after two very famous Hungarians. The first is Alfred Hajós. He was born Arnold Guttmann, and took up the mission of becoming a good swimmer at the age of 13, after watching his dad drown in the Danube River. Later, he took the name Hajós (which means sailor in his native language.) He went on to win two gold medals in the Athens Olympics and many championships thereafter. The second person is Tamas Szechy. He was one of the most famous swimming coaches in the history of the country. His students have won 15 Olympic medals through the years. He is best known for the three macro-cycle training program he developed. It is still in use today. Tamas passed away in 2004.

Next you will see a stunning musical fountain that was completely renovated in 2013. If you want to hear the fountain’s music it is good to know the schedule of music playing: every day at 10.30 and 17.00 4 musical pieces, at 18.00 the complete music list is played, at 19.30 4 pieces, at 21.00 the complete list: Vivaldi’s Spring from the Four Seasons, Simon and Garfunkel: Cecilia, Verdi: Nabucco-Chorus of the Slaves, Creedence Clearwater Revival: Who’ll Stop the Rain, Brahms: Hungarian Dances, 1. piece, The Rolling Stones: Let Me Down Slow, Bocelli: Time to Say Goodbye. It is no secret that the city leaders wants the fountain on Margaret Island to be as popular as the one in Barcelona Spain's Square:

Further north, you arrive to at a spot with an abundance of spring flowers in colorful beds. Then, you pass tennis courts overgrown with grass:

Continuing northward the Parliament and the Castle Hill, as well as Margit Hid (bridge) are clearly visible - just to  remind you that it is still close to downtown Budapest. On your left (the eastern part of the island) - you'll see the running track that runs around the island. It appears very popular: many runners are training their body and legs here. On your left is also the Athletic complex / Sports club (Margitszigeti Atlétikai Centrum Szigetklub).

You are in the middle of the Margit island and  you arrive to the Palatinus Strand. One of the best public baths in Budapest, during the summer. Two swimming pools, one of them olympic size, lot of wellness pools: thermal, with waves (every hour at 45 minutes past the hour) and massage torrents. Lot of green space, good places to grab some food or ice cream. Very good food stands, private changing rooms. You can get a cabin, or just a locker. Prices: Weekdays - Adult: 2,600 HUF, Child, student, senior: 1,900. Weekends and holidays - Adult: 3,000, Child, student, senior: 1,900:

Just opposite Palatinus you’ll find the stunning Rose Garden, a wonderful place to visit especially in late spring, when the flowers are in full bloom:

If you want to step back in Margaret Island’s history, you can take a walk through the ruins of its past. Not far from Palatinus you’ll find the ruins of a Franciscan church, of which not much remains besides two walls.

Further north there are the ruins of the Dominican convent or nunnery, the one founded by King Béla where Margaret was sent to live (see above). According to the legends the desperate king Bela IV sacrificed his daughter to the God so that Mongol army doesn’t return to Budapest. His daughter, Margaret, a nine year old girl, was sent to this convent, where she stayed for the rest of her life without ever leaving it. She died here at the age of 29, and was buried in the convent:

Both cloisters were destroyed by the Turks in the sixteenth century. The ruins were excavated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During the excavations the body of Margit was found and exhumed.

Just north of the former Dominican convent is the Artists' Promenade (Művész-sétány), flanked with busts honoring Hungarian writers, artists and musicians.

The small chapel of St. Michael's Chapel (Szent Mihály kápolna) is further north and was built in Historical style on the place of the former Premonstratensian monastery of royal foundation on the Isle of Hares (former name of Margaret Island) at year 1225. The oldest bell of Hungary hangs in its tower. The bell was cast in the 15th century and it was found under the roots of a tree torn by a storm a few decades ago.

St. Michael's Chapel (Szent Mihály kápolna) - Margaret Island:

More to the east is the Danubius hotel and recreation complex. THere are, actually, two hotels: the danubius and the Grand. It seems that the Danubius hotel, the more modern one, is located on a forested piece of the island, provides a peaceful seclusion from bustling Budapest. There is plenty of room around for walks and jogs. Danubius Health Spa Resort Margitsziget was built in the 1970s at the site of a spa resort that was damaged during the Second World War. The spa and wellness area at the Danubius Health Spa features an indoor and an outdoor pool, four thermal pools, a steam room, an aroma cabin, separate saunas for men and women, a Jacuzzi and an exercise room. The thermal water on Margaret Island, known for its healing powers, was first brought to the surface in 1886. The 70°C warm, mineral rich, natural water comes from the Sigmund spring (Zsigmond forrás) that flows from the deep beneath the island. The water, rich in sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, hydro-carbonate and sulfate, exerts its healing effects both as thermal water in the spa's pools & baths and as drinking water. You don't have to have any ailments to appreciate the wonderful relaxing waters of Budapest. Locals enjoy the calming properties of the thermal baths and spas regularly. Opening hours: 06.30 to 21.30, daily. Day passes grant access to the swimming pool (indoor and outdoor), thermal pools, steam room, aroma cabin, sauna and exercise room. A day pass costs HUF 4,900 during the week (except Wednesdays when it's HUF 4,000) and HUF 5,900 on the weekends. After 19.00 tickets are HUF 3,900. A day pass with access to the salt cave is HUF 6,900 during the week and HUF 7,900 on the weekends. A 20-minute revitalizing massage is HUF 6,500 and a 50-minute deluxe massage is HUF 12,800:

Then you arrive to the octagonal water tower, built in Art Nouveau style in 1911. Designed by Hungarian architect Rezső Vilmos Ray, the water tower was the first building in Hungary where reinforced concrete, a new technology at the time, was used. The tower ensures the water supply for the tenants of the island and also functions as a lookout tower for visitors. It stands 57 meter high. The maintenance of the parks and the buildings in Margaret island requires(d) large quantities of water already in in the past (and at present) and that is why the decision was made to build a water tower there. It is no coincidence that Dr. Szilárd Zielinsky was named the “father of reinforced concrete”, the spread of the material in Hungary, considered to be revolutionary in those times is associated with his name. With untiring perseverance he popularised this novelty technique, the excellent qualities of which were pointed out first in 1900 by the French architect-inventor Francois Hennebique during the Paris World Expo where Zielinski himself learned about the technique. At the beginning, the Hungarian architect worked with the French patent and with French participation, but within a short time he had become independent and developed his knowledge. A good example illustrating his skill is that many buildings designed by him are not only still standing, but are still fulfilling their original functions !: To arrive to its top lookout level - you have to climb its spiral staircase:

On the northern tip of the island, adjacent to the Danubius and Grand hotels is a delightful Japanese garden with a fish pond, a rock garden and an artificial waterfall:

A bit further, near the northern tip of the island, stands a small pavilion known as the Music Well (Zenélő kút). Built in 1936, it is a replica of the original well that was created in 1820 by Péter Bodor. It is often called Bodor Well in honor of its creator. The well used to play music on the hour. At the same time the statue of Neptune on top of the pavilion started to circle. Unfortunately the mechanism was damaged during the Second World War:

It is a short walk from the Music Well to the Árpád bridge:

Budapest - Memento Park - The biggest statues of the Cold War

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

Memento Park, Budapest 22nd district (Southern Buda) corner of Balatoni ut and Szabadkai utca. This is is a sculpture park dedicated to the large and impressive sculptures erected in the time when Hungary was a Communist country. It is a historical theme park with it’s different sights and sections: the Statue Park, photo exhibition and film showing. Situated on the edge of the city, it does require some effort and time to get to the park.

Weather: It can get very cold if visiting in the autumn-winter months so wrap up well. You can find shelter in the park's museum BUT NOT in the park itself.

Public transport: Public Bus Transport to Memento Park from “Kelenfold vasutallomas – Metro 4″ (see below - access to this Metro station) – with BUS No. 101 (see below) and 150 to Budateteny vasutallomas (Campona). Start time: MON - FRI  every 10 minutes, SAT - SUN every 30 minutes. The ride to Memento Park is  approx. 10-15 min. Day passes, BKK-tickets (prepaid: 350 HUF, on the bus: 450 HUF) and Budapest Cards are valid. The ride takes 40 minutes. You get the chance to see some of the places on the way where real Hungarians live, not just the tourist joints.

The M4 is a brand new metro Line in Budapest opened in April 2014.
It may seem a little chaotic until 2015 when the reconstruction works will be completed. The “Kelenfold vasutallomas" is the departure place of number 150 bus that takes you to Memento Park. The number 101 bus also departes from here to Memento Park but its service is only
available in the weekdays and after 13.00. Please Take a bus seat in the buses -  preferably on the right hand side.

To access Kelenfold vasutallomas take one of the following metro stations: From Pest-side: - Keleti palyaudvar (Keleti Railway Station, Metro No.2), - Rakoczi ter (the grand boulevard, tram No.4 and 6.), - Kalvin ter (National Museum, tram No.47 and 49, Metro No.3), - Fovam ter (the Grand Market Hall, tram No.2). From Buda-side: - Gellert ter (Gellert Bath, tram No.18, 19, 41), - Moricz Zsigmond ter (tram No.61 from Szell Kalman ter), - Ujbuda Kozpont (Allee Shopping Center).

Direct Bus Transfer from Deak Ferenc ter: in the centre of Budapest (metro station: Deak Ferenc ter on the lines No 1, No 2, No 3). Bus departs from the stop bearing a “Memento Park” timetable, every day, (but 1st NOV - 31st MAR only SAT-SUN-MON, and every day 26th DEC - 6th JAN) at 11.00 (return at 13.00).

Opening hours: Every day from 10.00. till dusk. Prices: Adults: 1.500 HUF,
Students with ISIC CARD: 1.000 HUF. Budapest Card (-20%), Hungary Card (-33%).

Note: No context around every statue or exhibit. There's nothing else in the area - no restaurants, no bars, no public areas. Along ride to the park. It is a good idea to take the Deak Ferenc Ter direct bus which leaves at 11.00 every day - if you have 1/2/3-day public transport pass.

Memento Park is an open air museum dedicated to 42 monumental statues from the Communist period (1949–1989) that were removed from Budapest after the fall of Communism . There are statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, as well as several Hungarian Communist leaders. The park was designed by Hungarian architect Ákos Eleőd, who won the competition announced by the Budapest General Assembly (Fővárosi Közgyűlés) in 1991. The project's architect said on this park theme:  "This park is about dictatorship. but at the same time, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship". On June 29, the park celebrated a grand opening as a public outdoor museum. Above all - the park demonstrates the folly of an extreme ideology.

The second part of this park  Witness Square which holds a replica of Stalin's Boots which became a symbol of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 after the statue of Stalin was pulled down from its pedestal in 1956.  Year 2006 marked a new chapter in the history of Memento Park. A life-sized copy of the tribune of the Stalin Monument in Budapest was built in the Statue Park with the broken bronze shoes on top of the pedestal. This is not an accurate copy of the original but only an artistic recreation by Ákos Eleőd. In 2007 a new exhibition hall and a small movie theater were opened in the Witness Square of Memento Park. The photo exhibition called “Stalin’s Boots” in the exhibition hall takes the viewer through the history of the 1956 revolution, of the political changes of 1989-1990 and of Memento Park, with both English and Hungarian captions. In the barracks-theater one can see The Life of an Agent, a documentary on the methods used by the secret police, directed by Gábor Zsigmond Papp. The film is shown in Hungarian with English subtitles.

The main entrance:

Lenin statue by Pátzay Pál from year 1965 (bronze):

Liberation Monument (Felszabadulási emlékmű),  Kiss István, 1971 limestone:

The Buda Volunteers Regiment Memorial:

The Republic of Councils Monument, Kiss István, Year 1969, bronze:

Monument to the Martyrs of the Counter-Revolution:

The Hungarian Fighters in the Spanish International Brigades Memorial:

Red Army soldier statue, Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl, Year 1947, bronze:

Stalin's Boots (all that was left after a crowd pulled the enormous statue down during the 1956 Uprising):

Stalin's Boots in Park Memento Museum:

While waiting in Újbuda-központ for the bus to Memento Park - you can make a short detour to the Allee shopping centre. Head north on Fehérvári út toward Október huszonharmadika u., 35 m. Turn right onto Október huszonharmadika u., 190 m. The Allee, Október huszonharmadika utca 8-10, is good for having coffee or a light meal (the Guru restaurant). A bit before the mall, you pass through the Locals Market (Vasarcsarnok), Október huszonharmadika utca, 1117 Magyarország. A brilliant place to see the locals shopping produce, and upstairs, real authentic local food and drink places, full of locals, with local prices and delicious food. The building itself is unique:  a box - shaped building with an inner pyramid. The terraced stores are hidden. Vegetables, fruit, bread, meat, dairy products, cakes are not only available in the various stores, but they can be purchased from around 100 urban farmers. The upstairs bar offer food and drink, real Hungarian dishes (fried sausage, black pudding, stuffed cabbage) , not only nicer but cheaper than in restaurants. Mainly local people do their daily, weekly shopping here. Everyone is very friendly towards foreigners but please be aware: English is not spoken:

The bus passes through Bocskai út westward and arrives to Kosztolá nyi  Dezső tér. On the right side there is a park with the Feneketlen tó (Lake without a bed) (bottomless lake)  in the middle, which according to legend is very deep. In the wwest side of the park the famous Hemingway cafe'/restaurant.

The bus turns south to Vincellér utca. From there it continues north-west, turns more to the south and continues west along several busy streets. When it arrives onto Harasztos út - you see on your left the Amerikai katonai temető - a cemetery of American soldiers killed in Hungary during WW2. A monument is erected in the middle of the small park memorizes their glory. There are graves in the garden but the bodies of british pilots and american soldiers were brought back home by the end of 1946. This street continues as  Brassó út. The bus continues southward alond Sasadi Utca. This street terminates at Budaörsi Way. In this bustling junction stood the statue of Captain Ostapenko  until the late eighties. Ostepenko was a Soviet Red Army soldier. The memorial is now at Memento Park:


The whole area east to Balatoni street (Vőfély St, Kérő utca) is a typical So
viet housing buildings made with industrial pre-fabricated panels. They were built  between 1972 - 1984. Approx. 20% of the Hungarian population still lives in concrete panel-type flats. The forced industrialization resulted in that the population moving to the cities from 1970s onwards,  and this has caused housing shortages. To solve the problem - a sort of building technology had to be used which had to be a quick and inexpensive way to build homes. In many cases, the homes kitchen furniture, complete with bathrooms and cupboards were pre-fabricated in factories, and they were installed in buildings with concrete elements. Most of the flats are only of 1.5 - 2 bedroom homes. The buildings were normally surrounded by health and educational institutions, restaurants, service centers, which have been completely transformed into other uses. The result was a huge number of low level quality flats. Most of them are occupied by low-level income people:

More eastward is the Kelenföld vasútállomásmore Metro M4 (green) line station. A brand-new Metro station (opened in Spring 2014). With M$ line you can travel to/from Keleti railway station. Line 4 isn't connected to any other metro line. At Keleti pályaudvar, the station of line 4 isn't connected to line 2 via an underground passage, but just via the (partly open) mezzanine level. This is the departure place of number 150 bus that takes you to Memento Park. The number 101 bus also departes from here to Memento Park but its service is only available in the weekdays and after 13.00;

We head southward to Péterhegyi út. On our right we pass through Igmándi utca,

Őrmezei út and Bolygó utca,. WE turn eastward to Olajfa utca.
The surroundings are more rural:

We turn left (south) to Horogszegi határsor and ride southward along this street until its end. WE continue to the south along Tordai út.  We continue southward along the Balatoni street, pass through the Elza utcai játszótér (small park of Elza Street) 

and arrive to Memento Park.

Budapest - Along the Great Boulevards of Central Pest

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

The Westend, Nyugati ter, Teréz körút, Nagymező utca, Andrássy út, Erzsébet körút.

Main attractions: The Westend, Nyugati Railway Station, Eiffel tér, Radisson Blu Béke Hotel, Teréz körút 43, Teréz körút 36, Művész Mozi (ART cinema) at Terez Korut 30, Terez Korut 28, Teréz körút 25, Teréz körút 22 and Richard Court (Richárd udvar), Teréz körút 9, Teréz körút 7 - The Mahler House, Oktogon, Alexandra Könyvesház - Párizsi Nagyáruház, Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre, Thalia Theatre, Hungarian House of Photography (Mai Manó Ház), Liszt Ferenc tér, Hungarian State Opera, Avilai Szent Teréz templom (The Theresa Town Parish Church), Erzsébet körút 54, Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Erzsébet körút 44-46, Örökmozgó Filmmúzeum -  Erzsébet körút 49, Hunnia cinema, Erzsébet körút 39, Erzsébet körút 21, The New York Palace and Cafe, Blaha Lujza tér.

Start: Deák Ferenc tér. We arrive to the Westend by Metro or by walking.

End: Blaha Lujza tér (M2 Metro - Red line).

Weather: Any weather is good, even, a rainy day.

Duration: 1 day.

Orientation: Many hours along busy and bustling thoroughfares of Pest. Modern and historical architectural and cultural landmarks of Budapest.

Transportation to the start point:

Metro: From Deák Ferenc tér take Subway M3 (blue line) towards Újpest-Központ  for 3 stops. Stop at Lehel tér and walk about 6 min , 550 m to the Westend (directly from the underpass).

Bus or Tram: You can take tram number 14 and bus number 133 to Lehel tér and from there enter the Westend by the Westend’s Ferdinánd bridge side entrance.

Walk: From Deák Ferenc tér head north on Deák Ferenc tér toward Erzsébet tér, 10 m. Turn right to stay on Deák Ferenc tér, 75 m. Turn left to stay on Deák Ferenc tér, 60 m. Continue onto Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út
1.1 km. Slight right to stay on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky útca, 190 m. Continue onto Nyugati tér,75 m. Turn right onto Teréz krt., 30 m. Continue onto Váci út,
500 m. Turn right, 45 m. to arrive to the Westend. Named after an old hotel. The Westend is no longer Budapest's largest shopping centre, as it was when it was opened in 1999. It is a covered commercial small "town" with a 20-metre high artificial indoor Niagara fall (the waterfall is a nice decorative attraction), tens of restaurants and eateries, many cinemas and a bit less than 400 stores. Pest residents are using the site as their meeting-point, their coffee-house and their promenade. It is next (400 m. walk) to the Budapest-Nyugati Railway Terminal (Western Railway Station). Part of the mall is underground. There isn't much free seating and no many REAL bargains. Better prices in the most bottom floor. To avoid crowd drop in the shopping mall in the morning around 10-12 if you can. A very nice feature is the Baby-Mom Room (open every day from 11.00 to 19.00, use the escalator or elevator from the 2nd floor to the Semiramis Roof Garden). It has a comfortable armchair, changing table, and microwave should need to warm a meal for your little one.

Opening hours: The shopping mall is open every day from 08.00 to 23.00.  The roof garden is open every day between 08.00 and 23.00 .  Stores: MON-SAT: 10.00 - 20.00 or 21.00. SUN: 10.00 - 18.00 or 19.00. On the 24th and 31st of December: 10.00 - 14.00.

From the Westend complex head south on Váci útca toward Nyugati tér,
80 m. Turn left to stay onto Nyugati tér, 110 m. Budapest-Nyugati Railway Station. Budapest-Nyugati pályaudvar (Budapest Western railway station), is one of the three main railway terminals in Budapest. Known to locals and foreigners alike simply as the Nyugati it lies in front of the Western Square ('Nyugati tér'): a major intersection where Teréz körút (Theresia Boulevard), Szent István körút (Saint Stephen Boulevard), Váci útca (Váci Avenue), and Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Avenue) converge. The square also serves as a transport hub with several bus routes, tram routes 4 and 6, and a station on M3 of the Budapest Metro. Note: there are TWO streets called Váci utca. In our case, now, we mean the northern one and NOT the famous shopping street. The Westend City Center shopping mall resides, partially, above the Nyugati train and Metro station. West Railway Station provides rail services to Eastern Hungary. In recent years, trains departing from the Nyugati also stop at the Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport. Hungarian State Railways runs regular service between the station and Budapest Ferihegy International Airport's Terminal 1. The trip takes approximately 25 minutes, costs 365 HUF, and runs 2-3 times per hour. The station sits also on the Metro 3 line connecting north and south Budapest. In front of the square, on Teréz Boulevard, are the tram numbers 4-6 run along the Grand Boulevard (Teréz körút) of Budapest providing transport to the entire city as well as bus numbers 6, 26, 26A, 91, 191, and trolley buses numbers 72, 73. The impressive building of the train station was designed by the Gustave Eiffel Company and was opened in 1877. The building is grandiose and beautiful. It is worth to explore the surroundings of the station. Beyond the station stands the Nyugati Post Office dated from 1908 (Monday to Friday from 8.00  to 18.00:


From Nyugati tér head southeast on Teréz krt. toward Podmaniczky utca.
230 m. Turn left onto Podmaniczky utca, 130 m. You face the Eiffel tér. A lovely place where you can make a break after a long walk or ride with or without your luggage. There is a Costa Coffe shop and McDonalds nearby. A perfect meeting point with friends, families and other travellers - especially during weekends. On weekdays and Sundays, it's open from 10.00  until midnight, while on Friday sand Saturdays, from 10.00  until 02.00. I think that this is one of the most wonderful squares I saw in Europe !!! It is a quiet but, still, lively park in front of the bustling station and building - complete with a truly livable and enjoyable working environment adjacent to the the heart of Budapest Nyugati Railway Station:

There is Ice rink on Eiffel tér which is open from the second weekend of December and will welcome all the lovers of this winter sport until the end of February. Daily tickets are 700 HUF however with a student concession card it is only 600 HUF:

From Eiffel tér we head southwest on Podmaniczky u. toward Kármán utca, 130 m. Turn left onto Teréz krt, 140 m. Podmaniczky street was NOT named after the urban developer  Frigys Podmaniczky, but his relative the Count Laszio who relinquished the whole area of the railway station  to the city of Budapest for free. His past house stood at Teréz körút 54. 

We arrive to the Radisson Blu Béke Hotel, Teréz körút 43 on our left. It stands in the heart of the pulsating metropolis, on the Grand Boulevard, 200 metres south of the Western Railway Station. A successor to the legendary Britannia Hotel, which was established in the early 1900s. Wonderful combination of tradition, style and culture, complemented by excellent modern facilities. On its walls are frescoes from year 1550. A coffee trader Henrik Fabri opened here the Britannia hotel in 1913. The hotel was taken by Aladar Nemeth in 1926 and was cooperating by the artist Jeno Haranghy in decorating several halls of the hotel. Therefore, the hotel was called, for years, as Haranghy Museum. The hotel changed its name to Béke (Peace) hotel during WW2.  During 1983-1985 the hotel was completely rebuilt - but the frescoes on the facade and several decorations into the halls - had been preserved:

Our direction of walk along Teréz körút is from north-west to the south-east. We continue further southward and 140 m. further we arrive to the Teréz körút 36 house (on the right, south) side of the street. This is an elegant corner house designed by Zsigmond Quittner (who designed other 15 houses along Teréz körút). The house has a tower,a pediment, wrought-iron balconies and wooden lift-doors:

We continue further 110 m. on the same side of the street to arrive to Terez Korut 28. But, before, the Művész Mozi (ART cinema) stands at Terez Korut 30. Great small art cinema with book store and cafe inside. For local and foreign intellectuals. English-speaking movies from 5-10 years ago. Not the mainstream ones. For up-to-date information: http://muveszmozi.hu. The building at Terez Korut 28 is an upper-class apartment building built in 1898 (!). On the 1st floor the Saint Jerome Catholic Bible Society (Szent Jeromos Katolikus Bibliatársulat) holds lectures and sells biblical, religious books:

Continue 40 m. to Teréz körút 24:

Continue southeast on Teréz krt. toward Zichy Jenő utca, 25 m. Make a U-turn at Aradi utca and walk NORTHWARD (back) for 70 m. to arrive to Teréz körút 25. In famous building: no event connected with, no memorable residents, no prominent shop. It is a beautiful house with arched windows and pink facade. A typical building in the Grand Boulevard:

From Teréz körút 25 we head southeast on Teréz krt. toward Aradi u.
55 m. We turn right onto Aradi u., 15 m. Turn left onto Teréz krt. and walk 20-22 m. to arrive to Teréz körút 22 and Richard Court (Richárd udvar). An imposing building, run-down, but, beautiful in its exterior and interior.  in the corner of Teréz körút and Aradi road. Named after the Baron Richárd Drasche who built the building in 1887. A tower rises above the corner balconies. A clock on the battlements; next to the sun and moon pendant underneath the coat of arms of the Baron's initials read. Beautiful swans are molded into the the terrazzo flooring, yellow and white main staircase, glass doors, a little rusty handles but original, just as the most visible stair handrail rod holder. The Home-Made Hostel is located at this building and was elected as the best hostel around the globe:

From Teréz körút 22 head southeast on Teréz krt. toward Oktogon and Andrássy út, 120 m. Turn left onto Andrássy út, 15 m. Turn right onto Teréz krt., 130 m. The house in Teréz körút 9 will be on  the left. Built in 1885, and, still, it is a marvelous house - even if it looks very grim. There is an elegant rear staircase in the back and an outside loggia corridor. The walls are out of color and full with pigeon' droppings. Today, the Forras Gallery occupies the frontal hall:

The next building in Teréz körút 7 is The Mahler House. The  house is closed. This apartment block was built in 1887 and one of the first residents was Gustav Mahler. He lived here during the years 1889-1891 when he directed the Opera House Orchestra. He was living in the first floor in a front apartment. The Oktogon Pharamcy in the corner moved here in the end of the 19th century from Buda. 

We change direction and from Teréz körút 7 we head northwest on Teréz krt. toward Oktogon, 130 m. 2. Turn left onto Oktogon, 65 m. The name 'Oktogon' refers to the shape of the square. Here, Nagykörút. (the Grand Boulevard) meets the Andrássy út (Avenue). The four identical blocks around the square were built in 1873  and designed by Antalk  Skainitzky  and Henrik Koch. To many people this buildings recall Renaissance Venetian palaces. Oktogon is also a station on the yellow M1 (Millennium Underground) line of the Budapest Metro which runs underneath Andrássy Avenue to Heroes' Square (Hősök tere).


Turn left onto Andrássy út,  180 m (passing by Liszt Ferenc tér/square on your left. We'll return to this square a bit later) and the Alexandra Könyvesház - Párizsi Nagyáruház (Alexandra Book cafe'), Andrássy út 39 will be on the left. For many tourists - it is the most beautiful cafe' in Europe. The Párizsi Nagyáruház, which opened in 1910, was the first significant department store building in Budapest. Its facade towards Andrássy Avenue was built in Art Nouveau style, while the part facing Paulay Ede Street has the characteristic features of the Neo-Renaissance. The buildings first transformation took place in 1909 when the new owner, Samuel Goldberger renovated the building which had been damaged by a fire in 1903. The new building opened on the 3rd of March 1911 under the name Párizsi Nagy Áruház (Paris Department Store). The Párizsi Nagy Áruház was actually Hungary’s first modern department store, and thanks to its stunning architecture – an open plan atrium, a high glass vaulted ceiling, and a glass-mirrored elevator – it was soon known as one of the most beautiful buildings in the capital’s most beautiful avenue. The building survived the war undamaged, but as with the Pariszi Udvar – it was nationalized and more or less run down. The Párizsi Nagy Áruház was renamed into Divatcsarnok – Fashion Hall, and reopened to the public in 1958, and received a protected monument status in 1967. The Orco Property Group (a french real estate group) bought the building in 2005 and spent the next 4 years renovating the building. When the building reopened on the 10th of November 2010, the first tenant was the Alexandra Bookstore, which took over the ground and first floor, as well as the Lotz Hall – Lotz Terem (more to that in a moment). There is an antiques dealer/art gallery on one of the upper floors, while the rest of the building is planned to be let out as office space. After entering the Alexandra Bookstore on the ground floor you’ll find a pair of escalators...

which bring you up to the first floor, and throws you directly in front of the Lotz Hall (Lotz-Terem) – a fantastically ornate Neo-Renaissance ballroom turned into grandiose cafe. This is the breathtaking hall that makes the Párizsi Nagy Áruház so special - fantastically decorated with the paintings of Károly Lotz:



From Alexandra Könyvesház - Párizsi Nagyáruház, Andrássy út 39 we head southwest on Andrássy út toward Nagymező u., 85 m. We turn right onto Nagymező u., 65 m. and the The Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre, Nagymező utca 17  will be on the right. In the past years the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre has become a renowned and sought after theatre abroad. It tours with its musicals and operettas regularly in different theatres and festivals in Europe, travels regularly to Japan, but has also performed in the United States and in different countries of Asia, as well. Up-to-date information: http://www.operett.hu/operett.php?pid=repertoire.
In 1923 the city of Budapest decided to give the genre of operetta a home of its own. With the opening of the Metropolitan Operetta Theatre the Hungarian capital saw the beginning of the "silver operetta" period by giving a new and permanent home to the genre after Népszínház and Király Színház. In the history of the theatre the most important thing was to cherish the traditions of the classic operetta while enriching it with modern artistic solutions. Next to Vienna, Budapest is the other capital of the operetta and anyone who comes to our theatre can see the high quality of the genre represented here. The Operetta Theatre's present house was built after the plans of the famous Viennese architect-duo Fellner and Helmer in 1894. The spacious stage of the main auditorium were surrounded by intimate booths in a half-circle on both sides, while a dance floor ensured enough room for the waltz, polka, mazurka and the galopp. Its decorative winter garden housed the most exquisite French restaurant, while on the street front a concert café was opened. In 1966 the building was rearranged, whereby the inner architecture and rooms were changed to a great extent. Between 1999 and 2001 it was completely refurbished. The most modern European stage technology was built in and the beautiful original decoration was regained along with the balcony row of the auditorium. Today the theatre has 901 seats in an air-conditioned auditorium:

Nagymező street is also called theatre quarter or the Broadway of Pest. You’ll find a lot of restaurants along Nagymező street as well as a bunch of clubs. Imre Kálmán was the king of operetta/light opera in the 19th-20th century. His statue, with his cigar, stands in Nagymező 17:

In Nagymező utca 22 you find the Thalia Theatre (Thália Színház). Since 1996, Thália has been functioning partly as a presenting theatre, featuring guest performances and guest artists. The Theatre was opened in 1913 and was originally called Jardin d'Hiver (after the winter garden on the mezzanine). It has been through 12 name changes since its foundation. It hosted the shows of Madách Theatre and the Budapest Operetta Theatre during their reconstruction, and even the Hungarian State Opera exported some its premiers to Thália:

Hofi statue: Hofi’s (a Hungarian comedian from the 20th c.) was to make people laugh and here his head is joking with a skull. The title of this statue is actually „színház” which means theatre but Budapesters just call it Hofi statue. It stands in front of Thalya theatre:

The Hungarian House of Photography (Mai Manó Ház). The Hungarian House of Photography (Magyar Fotográfusok Háza), also known as Mai Manó Ház, stands in Nagymező Street 20. Its main goal is to provide a venue for Hungarian, international, historical and contemporary photo exhibitions. The Mai Manó Bookshop on the mezzazine floor functions as a photo gallery as well, so visitors can browse its photography-themed books in the unique atmosphere of the actual exhibitions. In the collections of the 3rd-floor Pécsi József Library of Photography, one can find national and foreign photo albums, professional books on the technology and history of photography. Opening hours: 14.00 - 19.00.

 

We change directions again and head, now, to the east. Our next destination is the Liszt Ferenc tér. It is 300 m. walk to this square. From the Magyar Fotográfusok Háza - Mai Manó Ház at Nagymező utca 20, we head southeast on Nagymező u. toward Andrássy út, 120 m. We turn left onto Paulay Ede utca, 180 m. We face Liszt Ferenc tér. This square is named after Franz Liszt (Liszt Ferenc in Hungarian), the world famous Hungarian composer. The square is around 200 meters long with a park in the middle and restaurants and cafés all around (most of them are pricey). Liszt Ferenc Square Budapest is a great place to meet up, relax, drink and eat. There is a wide choice of restaurants situated around the square.

The List Musical Academy (Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem) is at the south-east end of the long and cute square. The Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music is a concert hall and a world-famous music conservatory. The building was erected in 1907 in Art-Nouveau style. The seated statue above the main entrance depicts Ferenc Liszt, the first president of the Music University founded in 1875. Its interior is richly decorated with frescoes, stained glasses, and mosaics and its concert hall is considered the most beautiful of its kind in Budapest. Once the workplace of world-famous Hungarian musicians and composers, like Béla Bartók or Zoltán Kodály, the Academy today attracts students from the four corners of the world as one of the top music schools. Folllowing a 4-year reconstruction, the building was reopened to the public in the autumn of 2013 with its former beauty in contemporary quality. Inside is one of the city's most popular concert halls. It can host 1200 people. Opening hours: 11.00 - 18.00:

We head now to the Hungarian State Opera House in Andrássy út. We leave the Liszt Ferenc tér from the Menza Etterem (Restaurant), Liszt Ferenc tér 2.  Head northwest on Liszt Ferenc tér toward Andrássy út, 85 m., Turn left onto Andrássy út, 350 m (cross Nagymező utca) and the Hungarian State Opera, Andrássy út 22, is on your right. The decision to build the Opera House was made in 1873. Following a public tender, the jury selected the design submitted by famed architect Miklós Ybl (1814-1891), a major figure of 19th century Hungarian architecture. Construction began in 1875 and, despite minor delays, was completed nine years later. The project was funded by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary. The opening night – to which Emperor and King Franz Joseph was also invited – was held on 27 September 1884. The gala performance, conducted by Ferenc Erkel and his son Sándor, featured the first act of Bánk Bán, the overture from Hunyadi László and the first act from opera Lohengrin of Wagner. Today it is the largest opera house in Budapest and in Hungary. Miklós Ybl’s neo-renaissance palace has remained virtually unchanged in the 130 years since and continues to attract admirers of opera and ballet alike. Each year, thousands of tourists visit the building to take in one of Budapest’s most impressive 19th century national monuments. In beauty and the quality of acoustics the Budapest Opera House is considered to be amongst the finest opera houses in the world. It was built in neo-Renaissance style, with elements of Baroque. Ornamentation includes paintings and sculptures by leading figures of Hungarian art including Bertalan Székely, Mór Than and Károly Lotz. In front of the building are statues of Ferenc Erkel and Franz Liszt. Both were sculpted by Alajos Stróbl. Liszt is the best known Hungarian composer. Erkel composed the Hungarian national anthem, and was the first music director of the Opera House; he was also founder of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. Each year the season lasts from September to the end of June and, in addition to opera performances, the House is home to the Hungarian National Ballet. Today, the opera house is home to the Budapest Opera Ball, a society event dating back to 1886 (like in Vienna).

There are guided tours of the building in six languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Hungarian) almost every day:daily at 15.00 and at 16.00 (If rehearsal is on, then most probably there will be no tour).  Prices: Adults HUF 2900/ € 11,5/ person, Students (with International Student Card,ISIC) HUF 1900/ € 7,5/ person. The visitors are divided then into several groups according to the language, and gathered at different points of the entrance stair, and finally guided inside the building. Note: sometimes it is difficult to hear the guide. There are many groups in many languages. The guided tour may be carried out, sometimes, hastily.

The guests are offered a "Mini Concert" ticket together with the guided tours. The mini concert takes 5 minutes and includes 2 arias performed by one opera singer, right after the tour. Location of the concert is the Main Buffet of the Opera House (or another special room but not the auditorium). The program of the concert is varying since there are different performers. You can reach the Opera House easily using the yellow metro, Line 1.

I would suggest that even if you are not an opera devotee, going to the opera in Budapest is a great experience that you shouldn’t miss while visiting this wonderful city. Take advantage of the affordable prices of the performances, tickets costs ranging from 400 ft up to 16,900 ft (sometimes higher), depending on the production. The main season of the Budapest Opera runs from September until the end of June and includes over 50 major ballet and opera productions, many of which are familiar to international opera and ballet lovers . I recommend booking some weeks in advance, though cheaper seats are often available at the last minute. A tip: if you do stay in a box make sure you have one of the three seats in the front row. People sitting behind cannot see most of the stage and are forced to standing up to get a view. Up-to-date information: http://visitbudapest.travel/arts-entertainment/opera-performances

Online reservations: https://www.jegymester.hu/eng/PlaceInfo/3/Hungarian-State-Opera-House

If you’ve never seen the inside of an old-fashioned opera house , the interior of the Budapest Opera might make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s all purple velvet and ornate gold decorations, and the walls aren’t walls but row upon row of private boxes elegantly decorated with mirrors. The horseshoe-shaped, three-floored auditorium provides a breathtaking experience. The auditorium holds 1,261 people. It has – according to measurements done in the 1970s by a group of international engineers –  the third best acoustics in Europe after La Scala in Milan and the Palais Garnier in Paris. Although many opera houses have been built since, the Budapest Opera House is still among the best in terms of the acoustics. The gorgeous red-gold colours, the relaxed, harmonised composition with its ceiling fresco above and the lavish bronze chandelier make this the most memorable space in this representative building. Each level is decorated differently, but the overall picture is uniquely harmonious.

The Bertalan Székely Hall: The hall is decorated with rich oak carvings in which the dominant feature is Székely’s naked putti-ornamented rococo frieze, known as the Four Seasons. This room currently hosts recitals and press conferences:

The round ceiling is decorated with Károly Lotz’s monumental cupola fresco. The main hall is decorated with a

bronze chandelier weighing 3050 kg. It illuminates the above designated fresco by Károly Lotz - depicting the Greek gods on Olympus.

The foyer has marble columns and dominated by marble panels of various colors:

The Red Salon, which is the parlour for the royal box and received its name from its oak panels and sour cherry-coloured drapes, is situated on the first floor. Its walls and ceiling are decorated with a mythologically themed cycle by Mór Than. The royal box opens from the parlour, which to this day remains closed to the public. Performances can only be viewed from this box by Hungary’s three topmost dignitaries and their guests:

Going to the opera was a great social occasion in the 19th century. A vast, sweeping staircase was an important element of the opera house as it allowed ladies to show off their new gowns. The grand staircase is one of the most impressive aspects of the Opera House. The main branches of the staircase lead from the two sides of the foyer directly to the ground floor auditorium entrances, so the Opera House’s magnificent use of space is not fully revealed until one reaches the mezzanine. Wrought-iron lamps illuminate the wide stone staircase and the main entrance. The ceiling is covered with murals by Bertalan Székely and Mór Than. They depict the nine Muses (nine squares representing “The Awakening and Victory of Music”). The decorations featuring mythological scenes above the windows are also Mór Than's work:

The central stage proscenium arch employed the most modern technology of the time. It featured a revolving stage and metal hydraulic machinery:

The royal box is located centrally in the three-storey circle. It is decorated with sculptures symbolizing the four operatic voices - soprano, alto, tenor and bass:

From the Hungarian State Opera, Andrássy út 22 -head northeast on Andrássy út toward Hajós u., 160 m. 2. Turn right onto Nagymező u., 180 m. You pass (on your left) the Radnóti Miklós Színház (RadnótiTheatre), in Nagymező u. No. 11, which keeps its distance, remaining a literature-centered repertory theatre. Turn left onto Pethő Sándor u. 15 m and the
Avilai Szent Teréz templom (The Theresa Town Parish Church), Pethő Sándor utca 2,  is on your left. The church, designed by Fidel Kasselik and was built in 1809, replacing a wooden chapel. The statue of St. Theresa on the facade as well as other reliefs around are the work of Lorinc Dunaiszky. The church tower served as a fire-watch tower, and, thus, has a circular balcony. The interior altars were designed by Mihaly Pollack:

Head southwest on Pethő Sándor u. toward Nagymező u., 20 m., turn left onto Nagymező u., 40 m., turn left onto Király u., 290 m. Turn right onto Erzsébet krt., 85 m. The building in Erzsébet körút 54 is on the right - opposite the Royal Hotel. The house (Hungarian:lakóház) - eclectic block of apartments built in 1888 based on the plans of Gustav Lederer. Still preserves wooden windows' frames decorated with wrought-iron and flanked with guarding statues. Inside the entrance and in the staircase there are gilded stuccos. There are beautiful star-patterned floor tiles. Sándor Ferenczi (1873-1933), psychoanalyst lived here between 1905 and 1916 :

A bit further southward along Erzsébet Avenue, in the opposite side of the street - stands Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Erzsébet körút 43-49. Corinthia Hotel Budapest is one of the grandest hotels in the city. An impressive landmark building with an imposing Neo-classical façade and soaring glass atrium. Designed by Rezso Ray and opened in 1896. From 1915 a cinema (Royal Apollo) operated in the ballroom, changed its name to Red Star, and, finally, Apollo. The hotel still preserves its original facade and ballroom:

70 m. more southward move,again, to the opposite side (south) of the avenue to Erzsébet körút 44-46. Mor Jokai, a leading Hungarian writer of the 19th century lived in a corner flat in the 2nd floor of this building ( see a memorial plaque in the street corner).

Several cinemas have existed along the Erzsébet Boulevard. The film Museum, located at Erzsébet 39 (renamed Örökmozgó Filmmúzeum) screens renown cinema classics:

The Hunnia cinema, Erzsébet 39, (Hunnia Kávézó) is the last original, authentic cinema with its narrow, dull, small hall. Open: MON - SAT 17.30 - 01.00:

Try to sneak into the building in Erzsébet körút 21. Again, an eclectic  (see also the adjacent # 19house ) facade, Neo-Renaissance stuccos inside, and the beautiful loggias all around:

The New York Palace and Cafe is 500 m. further south, in Erzsébet körút 9-11. The New York Café has lived through many eras, political systems and historical turning points. It was designed by Alajos Hausmann and was built in 1894 for the NY Life Insurance company. Still, it has always been reborn, sparkling and occupied by those who longed for its comforts: artists, members of the nobility and commoners alike. Franc Molnar wrote his book Paul Street Boys in this cafe. Molnar threw the cafe keys into the Danube so the cafe would never close... The Boscolo Group has reconstructed it in a way which reflects the tendency to regain its old patina and reputation ranking it as the “Most Beautiful Coffee House in the World”. It is a striking, breath-taking place: alabster pillars, giant ceiling frescoes, gilded ornaments. BUT, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE PHOTOS INSIDE !

If you continue three minutes further (180 m.) south along Erzsébet körút - you arrive to the Blaha Lujza tér (M2 Metro - Red line). The domed corner building of the First Domestic Savings-bank of Pest has dominated the square for more than 100 years. The square is named after Lujza Blaha, an actress (1850–1926). The Hungarian National Theater was located on the square until 1964 when it was demolished (blown up actually) because of the subway construction. The Corvin department store, in the square, dates from 1926.

Budapest - Around Váci utca

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

Attractions: Egyetem Ter, Innovation Living Shop, Kálvin tér, Váci utca (from south to north) (Sörforrás Étterem / restaurant in Váci utca 15, Kristóf ter, Vörösmarty tér, Gerbeaud), 

Start: Egyetem Ter (University Square).

End:    Vörösmarty tér (square) / Vigadó tér,.

Distance: 3-4 km.

Duration: 3/4 day.

Weather: any weather.

How to arrive to Egyetem Ter: From Deák Ferenc tér - head south on Deák Ferenc tér toward Deák Ferenc utca, 80 m. Continue onto Sütő utca, 60 m. Turn left onto Szomory Dezső tér, 15 m. Turn right onto Bárczy István utca, 100 m. Continue straight onto Szervita tér, 50 m. Turn left onto Petőfi Sándor utca, 260 m. Continue onto Ferenciek tere, 55 m. Turn left onto Duna utca, 10 m. Turn right toward Ferenciek tere, 120 m.  Turn left onto Ferenciek tere, 7 m. Continue onto Károlyi utca, 180 m. Continue onto Egyetem tér, 5 m. The Egyetem tér or University Square derives its name from the branch of the prestigious Loránd Eötvös Science University located here. The building north of the square with the multicolored dome is the University Library. This is the first university library of the country which has been operating continually since the year of the foundation. In the middle of the 19th century the Library of ELTE was the 5th biggest library of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy with its 94 636 books. Now this is the 3rd biggest one of the capital with more than 1,6 million books and other documents (codices, maps, warrants, etc.):

This square has just, recently (2012), refurbished - with new lighting, seating and decoration facilities:

Attached to the main university building to the west is the lovely Baroque 1742 University Church. The church is very beautiful. The church is often full of young people. It is decorated with statues of saints, carvings and frescoes. Certainly an object worth a visit. Inside, you can a single elongated nave with modest Baroque decor. Highlights of the church include the attractive ceiling frescos depicting the life of Mary by Johann Bergl (1726).   You will also want to see the and ornately decorated Baroque pulpit (1924). Over the altar is a copy of the Black Madonna of Czȩstochowa so revered in Poland (1720):

In front of the law faculty building of the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences - there is a small fountain. The water spouts out from the book’s spine, imitating the view of turning pages. The highly creative water fountain was set up in 2012, facing another huge book-statue made out of red marble, making the square the perfect rendez-vous spot and a favorite location for skate- rollers:

South-east of the University Square, along Kecskeméti St, at #8 - note in the Innovation Living Shop:

Head southeast along Kecskeméti utca toward Kálvin tér,170 m. Turn right onto Kálvin tér. Calvin Square) is a major square and was named after the French Protestant Reformer John Calvin (Kálvin János in Hungarian) due to the large Reformed Church located there. It dominates the view from the direction of the National Museum and the Liberty Bridge, while its illuminated clock tower is one of the most pleasant dash of color in the urban panorama at night. The church was designed to have two towers, and the final tower was built on the internal edges of their foundations. The lobby, closed by a columnar tympanum was built after the flood of 1838; the two side galleries designed by József Hild were built between 1854 and 1855; and the helm roof was built in 1859.

The square is located in Pest at the junction of the 5th (Belváros-Lipótváros), 8th (Józsefváros) and 9th (Ferencváros) districts. Roads which converge at the square include the 'Kiskörút' (Inner Circuit, encompassing Múzeum körút ('Museum boulevard') north of the square, and Vámház körút to the south), Üllői út ('Üllő street'), Baross utca ('Baross street'), and Kecskeméti utca ('Kecskemét street').

Being a major thoroughfare and locality, the square is a major transport hub with tram, bus, and trolleybus routes serving the square. The Kálvin tér stations of the M3 and M4 lines of the Budapest Metro are located here. Other landmarks of the square are: hotel Mercure Korona and the glass business center.

View from the southern edge of the square - where Raday Street starts:


Continue south-west onto Vámház krt., 250 m. Before arriving to the the Central Market (on your left) (see the "A rainy day in South of Budapest" blog) you see nice reliefs on historical houses around:

On the most easteren end of Fővám tér (Fővám Square) turn right to Váci utca. It starts from Vörösmarty Square, where it is pedestrianized and leads to the Great Market Hall near Fõvám tér. We enter the famous street from the south. The northern, pedestrianized section is the most interesting, with plenty of shops and even some sights. Actually the south part of the street is open to cars but the north part is fully pedestrianized so more appealing for strolling.Actually, Váci Street consists of two parts: the stretch between the Market and Erzsébet Bridge is full of souvenir and book shops with a few cafes, while the part from Elisabeth Bridge to Vörösmarty tér offers shopping opportunities with shops of major international brands. Since Váci stretches parallel with the Danube, you can reach the river side through small side streets.

The street  was formed in the eighteenth century, though most of the often grand buildings along the street date from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Until the 1880-ies the main Promenade of Pest (Korzó) was the walkway lining the Danube between Eötvös Square and the Vigadó Square. By the turn of the 19th-20th centuries Váci utca took over the role of shopping street from Király utca, and the role of promenade fro the Korzó on the Danube embankment. Most of the protected buildings date from this period. As it became fashionable in the early decades of the twentieth century for the well-to-do to enjoy an early evening stroll down Vaci utca, the stores here had become more and more exclusive.

Today, it is, mainly, a pedestrian strip crammed largely with chain stores, touristy restaurants. Not only does it have many shops, but also many architecturally beautiful buildings from the 19th & 20th centuries, and the Little Boy fountain, Fisher Girl Fountain (at Kristóf Square nearby)  and the Greek god Hermes (see below). For me it was just a touristy area. The Danube river can be seen between the houses of the street. And the street itself is full of surprises.Use common sense at night and avoid girls that will ask you to go inside a bar for a drink, during the day just take care of pickpockets and check the menu before you order anything as the prices are a bit more expensive here. Gypsys selling their wares should be avoided but don't let that put you off a beautiful experience. Avoid also guys who are offering cheap Iphones (stolen or fakes). So, we just walked from south to north, we took some pictures of some nice corners (sculptures, flowers, some nice buildings) - and, that's all...

Note: If you need cash, never use the change offices; their exchange rates' commission is over 20%; use the ATMs whenever you can.

Some of the most interesting buildings facing Váci utca can be found near Vörösmarty Square. But, we start from the south. It is all in all 1.5 km walk along the famous street from the southern end (Fovam ter) to uts northern end (Vörösmarty tér).

Vaci Utca #8 (the MAC Cosmetics building):

At No. 9 was an inn that József Hild, the renowned architect of the era, rebuilt. a. Now, it is the Pest theater, housed in a large neoclassical building. Note also the Art Nouveau interior of the Philanthia flower shop at the same No 9 building. This was the site of the Inn of the Seven Electors, where in 1823, the then twelve-year-old Franz Lizt performed. Also the 11-year old Mozart gave a concert here:

The Thonet house at no 11, a masterpiece built by Ödön Lechner in 1890. It is the most eye-catching building along the street,, thanks to its colorful facade made of Zsolnay tiles:

No. 39 Three reliefs show that the Zsolnay’s had an office, apartment and store here (1, a man making pottery, 2, a poet 3, the five-tower porcelain factory emblem):

DO NOT MISS the Sörforrás Étterem (restaurant) BUILDING in Váci utca 15. The Sörforrás Restaurant has been operating since 1991. They offer a variety of Traditional Hungarian dishes including gulyásleves (Goulash Soup) served with their own 12 year old plum-pálinka and the finest wines of the Hungarian wineries. But the main portion - is the building itself...:

On the corner of Nyári Pál utca, Váci utca 47 (the 5th turn to the right, east - coming from the south, heading to the north) stands the Church of Saint Michael (Belvárosi Szent Mihály templom) a Baroque temple from the middle of the 18. century. BEAUTIFUL INTERIOR. The church hosts the Baroque Music Festival in autumn:

A bit further north, at the corner building at Váci utca 43, a bronze plaque commemorates that Charles XII king of Sweden took a rest there during its 14-day trip from Turkey to his home country:

No. 42- when you watch hard, you will see owl statuettes at the balconies. Once the house of a famous Hungarian doctor (Frigyes Korányi). The facade is covered in Zsolnay pyro-granite ceramic tiles. Pyrogranite was developed by Vilmos Zsolnay, the greatest Hungarian potter achieving international appreciation for his porcelain, eosin and pyro-granite products:

Further north, on your left (west), at Váci út 99, the Molinari kávé (Cafe'): everything you need for a good coffee. Ristretto, Espresso 270 HUF, Cappuccino 310 HUF, Caffe Latte 360 HUF.

The oldest building of Budapest stands at the corner of Régiposta utca, a small side street at the Hermes Fountain. One of the first McDonalds and McCafe-s in the city operates in Régiposta street too. There's a nice ceramic plaquette by the famous artist Margit Kovács depicting the old post coach, Régiposta utca 13:

At the same junction  stands a nineteenth-century fountain, with a bronze statue of the Greek god Hermes (fénykép):

If you continue more northward - you cross Kossuth Lajos St on your right and Szabad sajtó Way on your left. The next turn to the right is Kígyó St. At the junction of Váci utcá and Kígyó utcá is the  famous Little boy fountain (Kisfiús díszkút) and features a central statue of a nude boy - created in 1976 by Ottó Szenczi:

The next turn to the left, west - Piarista street (you have entrance also from Régiposta utca)  brings you to the Millenium Centre - a shops and offices centre. A three-storey shop house and additional eight-storey, flexible offices. It has three entrances (Váci u. U Barnabas u. and Régiposta u.) :

At last we arrive to Kristóf ter. Several fountains embellish the shopping street. The most famous is the Fisher Girl Fountain (Halászlány-kút), at Kristóf Square. It was created in 1862 by László Dunaiszky:

Our final landmark in Vaci utca is its most northern spot: Vörösmarty tér. Vörösmarty tér is the southern terminus of the yellow M1 Metro line. On the east side, a grandiose Art-Nouveau building stands, facing a masterpiece of modern architecture, a glass bubble with luxury apartments and stores:

At the north side is the iconic Gerbeaud cafe'-restaurant (see below). At the centre of the square facing west is a statue of poet Mihály Vörösmarty:

In the south corner of the square stands Váci1, the former Budapest Stock Exchange building transformed into a high-end department store, where you'll find the Hard Rock Café Budapest and the Szamos Gourmet Ház:

In December every year, you can find the Budapest Christmas Fair here with the delicious specialities of the winter season and artistic handicrafts:

The square has held many names since it was created. In 1812, it was called Theatro piatcza (because of the theatre formerly located there). From the 1830s, it was called Harmincad tér (Thirties Square), then Játékszín tér (another reference to the theatre) in 1833, and Séta tér (Promenade Square) in the 1840s. In 1846, it was called Német Színház tér (German Theatre Square), changed to just Színház tér in 1850, and then Régi Színház tér (Old Theatre Square) in 1866. In 1874, it was named Gizella tér (in honour of Archduchess Gisela of Austria), then briefly Károlyi Mihály tér between 1918 and 1920, then Gizella tér again until 1926 when it gained its current name. Today, a column in the square lists all its former names.

Gerbeaud,  Vörösmarty tér 7-8 (the northern side of the square): we include this cafe'/restaurant in this tip and not in the tips below- because it is not really a restaurant but, more,  a reminder of the Austro-Hungarian empire in Budapest. This is one of the places in Budapest with the oldest culinary traditions. The amazingly opulent cafe' interior is old-fashioned and the ambiance is very peculiar: high ceilings, heavy drapery and gold, uniformed waitresses and a lovely menu - all make you think you are in a time tunnel into the 19th century. The desserts are outstanding but pricey. Our best advice: walk through take a few pictures and move on. You can probably get the same or better quality elsewhere for cheaper but it's still worth a visit. The staff adds 15% cover charge as standard. The place is too crowded at all times:

If you leave Vörösmarty tér from its south-west edge and continue west a few minutes - you arrive to Vigadó tér - our final stop:

Budapest - Circular walk from Pest to Gellért Hill, Újbuda and Lágymányos

Hanna SZABÓ

Hungary

Circular walk from Pest to Gellért Hill, Újbuda and Lágymányos:

Main attractions: Deák Ferenc tér, Ferenciek tere, Klotild Palace, Párizsiudvar, The Inner city Franciscan church / The Kárpátia restaurant,  Március 15. tér (March 15 Square), Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth bridge), Rudas Baths, Döbrentei tér, statue of St. Gellért, (Szt Gellért Szobor), Gellért Hill lookout viewpoint, The Citadel (Citadella), The Hungarian Statue of Liberty (Szabadsag Szobor),  Szent Gellért rkp., Szazabad hid (Liberty/Liberation bridge), Szent Gellért tér (Gellért Square), Danubius Hotel Gellért, Gellért Hill Cave and church (Gellérthegyi Barlang) (Sziklatemplom), Móricz Zsigmond körtér (Móricz Zsigmond square), The Church of Szentimreváros or the Parish Church of St. Imre, Feneketlen tó (Lake without a bed) (bottomless lake), Október huszonharmadika utca, Lágymányos Info / Science Park, Petőfi híd or Petőfi Bridge, Budapest Technical University (Budapesti Műszaki Egyetem), Central Market Hall ("Nagycsarnok"), Váci utca (Váci street), Kristóf tér, Vörösmarty tér, Deák Ferenc tér.

Tip 1: From Deák Ferenc tér to Gellért Hill (north and south).

Tip 2: Gellért Hotel Baths.

Tip 3: From Danubius Hotel Gellért back to Pest centre via the southern parts of Buda.

Start and End: Deák Ferenc tér.

Distance: 13-15 km.

Duration:  1 day.

Orientation: we walk from Pest centre to the Gellért Hill at the Buda side. Most of the walk is in open spaces. So, reserve the route for a fine day. In the Buda side most of the itinerary is hiking (climbing up ) along the hill slopes. You'll enjoy the wonderful scenery, the panorama of the Danube and Pest from the hill heights, the flower beds along the paths of  Gellért Hill and its statues and other monuments. This route includes historic sights on top of the the hill and some of the best spots to take photos of the city. The second half of the day is along the southern parts of Buda - a mixture of old and modern architecture. In the late hours  of the afternoon we walk back to Pest through several iconic landmarks of Budapest: the Danube and 2 or 3 of its bridges, the Garnd Market, Váci utca and Vörösmarty tér. It is a long walking day in open spaces.

Weather: Avoid this route in  a rainy or very hot day. The ascent to Gellért Hill is quite demanding. Your sole shelters are in: Danubius Hotel Gellért (and its baths) and Gellért Hill Cave and underground church.

Our first destination is Ferenciek tere. We take not-the-shortest route from Deák Ferenc tér. Head east on Deák Ferenc tér toward Károly krt.
60 m. Turn right to stay on Deák Ferenc tér, 45 m. Continue onto Károly krt, (Charles Boulevard) 300 m. This si one of the main thorough-fairs of central Budapest. Walk along the north side of the avenue, raise your head to catch the wondeful mosaics on top of most of the buildings - mainly, on the southern side of the Boulevard:

Turn right onto Vitkovics Mihály utca, 250 m. Continue onto Pilvax köz
110 m. Turn left onto Petőfi Sándor utca, 70 m (named after famous poet of the 1848/49 Revolution and War of Independence). Continue onto Ferenciek tere, 70 m. You can arrive to Ferenciek tere from Deák Ferenc tér by taking the Metro M3 (North-South) line. The square was formally named Kígyó tér in 1874, then renamed Apponyi tér (for Albert Apponyi) in 1921, then Felszabadulás tér (Liberation Square) in 1953, then its earlier name of Ferenciek tere in 1991. It is an important junction, as several bus lines from Buda pass though or terminate here. It is also the station closest to the geographical city centre of Budapest. The station's name was Felszabadulás tér ("Liberation" Square) before 1990. Other means of transporet to this square: Bus: 5, 7 (BKV bus line number 7 connects Pest and southern Buda), 8, 15, 107, 110, 112, 115, 133, 178, 233, 239. Tram: 2. Ferenciek tere (Franciscans’ Square) is right in the middle of the city. The square hosts an posh gourmet restaurants and the fashionable shopping avenue Váci utca opens from here. The square gets its name from the Franciscan Church located in this square, first built in 1743. Among its important sights: the twin buildings of the Klotild Palace (Hotel Buddha Bar), one on each side of the Kossuth Lajos utca, and the Párizsiudvar (Paris Court ) with its dazzling decorations. The Court under the building - once a shopping passage - boasts of a hall with a gorgeous mosaic-glass dome for a roof. The Franciscan Church, the Nereids’ Well, and the University Library are also worth your attention.

The National Scientific Library in the square:

Klotild Palace: Distinguished architects Kálmán Giergl and Flóris Korb were commissioned to design and construct the four-floored neo-baroque twin palaces in 1889-99. The unique historical building stands on the corner of Váci Street since 1900, being the first one to feature an elevator in Hungary. Cheesy shops were opened downstairs, offices for rent operated on the 1st floor, the 2nd 3rd and 4th floors made rooms for luxurious residences.  During the siege of Budapest in 1945 the building was badly damaged. In 1950 the building interior was entirely redone. Around 1960 the facades were renovated. In autumn of 2003 Mérték Architectural Studio Ltd. got the assignment from Graziano Beghelli, who purchased the Klotild Development Ltd, to design the reconstruction and renovation of Klotild Palaces building II. The project took 8 years to finish. The unique historical building forms a perfect address for one of Hungary's most iconic boutique hotels, opened in June 2012 (Buddha Bar Hotel).  According to a legend, the contractor of the 2 palaces named them after his daughters, in order not to mix them with each other while delivering materials to the construction site. The truth is that Maria Klotild was the name of the Austrian Princess who owned the site and ordered the constructions. The building Matild just got her name from the citizens of Budapest, most likely because of the similar sounding. These two palaces are almost mirror images of each other and were both designed in Spanish-baroque style. They both act like the gates of Pest and as the guards of Elisabeth Bridge:

Parisi udvar is an early 20th century French style department store that was long time in state of disrepair, and, now, is presently in state of renovation. A small hall with shops, the inner part of an eclectic building. Párisi udvar's main entrance lies at a central location along Ferenciek tere, one of Budapest's oldest squares. In 1817, at a time when the area was one of the busiest in the city, József Brudern decided to build a large store here. The building, known as Brudern-has (Brudern House), was designed by the Hungarian architect Mihály Pollack. Inside was a shopping arcade that was modeled after the Passage des Panoramas, a glass-covered passage in Paris. This was probably the reason why the house was also known as Párisi-haz (Paris House). In 1907 the Belváros Savings Bank acquired the property and organized a competition for the construction of its new, prestigious headquarters. They received forty-three submissions and a design by Flóris Korb and Kálmán Griegl was chosen as the winner. The bank's board of directors however decided to select a different architect, German-born Henrik Schmahl. Construction started in 1909 and the building was completed in 1913, one year after Schmahl's death. The new building, also called Brudern House, was mixed-use, with a sumptuous shopping arcade on the two lower levels and room for offices on the upper levels. The arcade was named Párisi udvar (Parisian Court) as a reference to the original arcade. Today it is often written as Párizsi udvar (Párisi is the old spelling). You can easily miss the entrance to the Párizsiudvar building as it seems closed at the first glance. Exterior of the Párizsiudvar building is gorgeous, even if it is run-down. You just need to find the entrance (it is on the left side, when you are looking from the main street). The building exterior is magnificent.

The interior is so beautiful, it must have had great atmosphere when it was still in use. Definitely try to walk inside of Parisi Udvar. It is full with beauty and atmosphere: beautiful exterior facade, stunning glass roof lantern, wood panels, curved glass shop fronts, marble, iron work.

The Inner city Franciscan church: A 13th century a monastery and church used to be on where the Inner City Franciscan Church stands today. The current Baroque shape dates back to the 18th century. The relief on the left side wall of the church commemorates the Great Flood of the river Danube in 1838. The relief is dedicated to Miklós Wesselényi, a real Hungarian hero. He was saving people by his boat from drowning in the river. Some frescoes are the works of Károly Lotz. The Baroque main altar and the statues decorating the altar are worth attention:

Kárpátia étterem: The Kárpátia restaurant, in this building, is a 140-year-old restaurant, which started to operate in the late 19th century and became popular among the citizens of Pest very soon. The restaurant was decorated in the 1920’s by different famous Hungarian artists (frescoes, windows and furniture):

Coming from Petőfi Sándor utca to Ferenciek tere - you turn TO THE RIGHT (south-west)  at Ferenciek tere to Kossuth Lajos utca. Continue onto Szabad sajtó útca, 210 m. Continue onto Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth bridge) crossing the Danube from Pest to Buda. The bridge spans over the Danube at the narrowest part of the Danube in the Budapest area, spanning only 290 m. Elizabeth Bridge was named after Queen Elizabeth, the spouse of Francis Joseph I assassinated in Geneva in 1898. Today, her large bronze statue sits by the bridge's Buda side connection in the middle of a small garden (see later below). The original Erzsébet Bridge, along with many other bridges all over the country, was blown up at the end of World War II by retreating Wehrmacht sappers. The Elizabeth Bridge is the only Danube bridge in Budapest that would not be rebuilt after its destruction of World War II. Instead, a completely new bridge was built between 1960 and 1964, nearly two decades after the destruction of the original Elizabeth Bridge. the Elizabeth Bridge is the most elegant bridge of Budapest, attracting the well-deserved attention of tourists due to its charming shape and snow-white color:

On the Pest side of the bridge is the Március 15. tér (March 15 Square). 15 March was the day when the revolt against the Habsburgs in 1948-49 started - a national holiday in Hungary. Nearby (east side of the square) is the oldest church in Budapest, the Inner City Parish Church (Belvárosi plébániatemplom), which was built in the 13th century. It was built on the ruins of an ancient chapel where St Gellért was buried. At the entrance two statues welcome people; St. Jadwiga and St. Kinga are inviting you to the peaceful place. On the Eastern side of the church you can find a statue for St. Florian, wich was erected in 1723 to prevent fires:

There is a display of some ruins in the middle of the 15 March square: Those are the remains of the Roman fort, called Contra Aquincum. The Romans built a fort here in the 4th century AD, to make sure the “Barbarians”, who have been repeatedly attacking the Empire from the East, will not cross the river and take their camp on the Buda side by surprise:

In the NORTH side of the square, facing café, you’ll see a lower building, the Péterffy Palace, today called 100 éves restaurant (the 100-year-old restaurant) (Százéves Étterem). Unbelievable that this little house is a ‘palace’, since it lies below the current street level. When Pest was still enclosed by walls, all houses were like this size or even smaller.The building bears a Baroque-like look and impression. The restaurant was first opened in 1831. The picture right below is taken from Wikipedia:

Also interesting to know that this was the square where Franz Josef, the Emperor of the Astro-Hungarian Empire was crowned in 1867.

The view from the Pest side, near Erzsébet híd - to the Royal Palace in the Buda side (from south to north):

The view to Gellért Hill from the Pest side, on the Erzsébet híd:

Near the Buda end of the Elisabeth Bridge, before crossing the street to Gellert hill 

- you see the statue of Sissy, in a very quiet and small garden (Döbrentei tér). It was, originally, set up here in 1932. It was removed during the Communist era but re-installed later at Döbrentei tér where you can see it until today:

Almost at the foot of the bridge are the Rudas Baths. Opening hours: MON - SUN: 06.00 – 20.00, FRI - SAT: 22.00 - 042.00 ! Some days are exclusive for either of the sexes. The weekends are co-ed (bathing suits required); on alternating weekdays men only/women only (with suits or nothing). Prices: Daily thermal-pool-wellness ticket: weekdays -  4 500 HUF, weekends - 4 800 HUF. Daily thermal ticket with cabin usage: weekdays - 3 100 HUF, weekends -  3 400 HUF. Multinational, but, still local hangout, popular place. Might be crowded. Recommended when your are BACK from the Gellért hill:

The Buda side is down beneath the Gellért Hill. The ascent to the top of the hill is a bit of a trek in the heat or in the rain. A slightly challenging hike 900 m. - 1 km.). It might be a bit grueling or oppressing to climb the zigzaging path and the steps up to the top. Not for those with mobility issues. But, plenty of places to sit and catch your breath. It might be also more breezy  - compared with city centre heat. There are several stone benches where you can sit and enjoy the wonderful view.

All through and along the ascent path - wonderful views of the city of Budapest, the Danube river, the bridges and all of the surroundings. The trails are pretty easy to navigate up or down the hill.

Take water with you. There are sellers of bottled water - but they hike the prices. Some people prefer to go in the evening:  it's beautiful to watch the sun set over the city and all the lights come on. If it is too demanding for you to climb the hill - take bus 27 from the north-west corner of Moritz Zigismond ter. The bus has a stop near the restaurant on the hill - and from there you have to walk 7-10 minutes further up the hill till the Citadella.

Facing the bridge stands the elevated statue of St. Gellért, (Szt Gellért Szobor) with an artificial waterfall, marking the place from where the local pagans put him in a barrel and threw him to his death down the hill into the river Danube in the year 1046. The statue is situated halfway up the hill. The monument, designed by Gyula Jankovits and erected in 1904, is in honor of the 11th century bishop St Gellért who converted the Magyars to Christianity. Below the memorial is a man-made waterfall. We arrive to the statue by climbing the steps and the path that lead from Elizabeth Bridge:

The panoramic views of Buda hills from the bottom parts of Gellért Hill:

The Gellért Hill (Gellérthegy) is the largest hill in Budapest, and thus the prime site for the Citadella and the Liberty Statue, which can be seen from just about anywhere in Budapest. The former name, Pesti-hegy  referred to the large cave (now Gellért Hill Cave) in the hillside. The word is of Slavic origin and means "oven" or "cave". Gellért Hill is home to a great number of natural values. It has geological significance, as tectonic lines at its foot are responsible for thermal water springs found throughout Buda, such as the Árpád, Rákóczi and Mátyás springs. Caves in Gellért Hill are subject to national preservation, including Cave Iván and its chapel, as well as the spring caves of the Gellért and Rudas baths. In the 18th century the hillsides of Gellért Hill were covered with vineyards. The Tabán district at the foot of the hill was an important centre of wine-making in Buda.

The view is the most wonderful from the top of Gellért Hill towards the Castle of Buda and you can see the whole curve of the Danube:

The same view from year 1850:

and to Pest (the Parliament, St. Matthias Basilica, Chain bridge):

Now an affluent residential area, a number of embassies and ambassadorial residences line the streets which wind up the hill. Since 1987, the area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site as part of "the Banks of the Danube". Near and on the hilltop - you'll see several ornate mansions and houses:

At last you arrive to the lookout viewpoint. The site is approached via a very large number of tacky souvenir stalls, and is overwhelmed by coaches and herds of tourists:

The Citadel (Citadella) on the Gellert Hilll is one of the most emblematic locations of Budapest and it is also a popular lookout. Actually, at the top of the hill, from the Citadella (Citadel)there is a view down both directions of the Danube. From its terraces you have one of the best views of the city with the Buda Castle, the Parliament, the Danube bridges, the whole Pest side and the hills of Buda. The Citadel was built after the 1848–49 Hungarian uprising by the ruling Habsburg Austrians, as it was a prime, strategic site for shelling both Buda and Pest in the event of a future revolt. The Citadel was built by the Habsburgs to show their domination over the Hungarians after they were defeated in the War of Independence in 1848-49. In fact, the Citadel has never reached the requirements of modern warfare, the 220 meters long and 60 meters wide fortress with 4 meters high walls and 60 cannons only served to deter the Hungarians. Though it was equipped with 60 cannons, it was used as threat rather than a working fortification. After the Habsburgs and the Hungarian Conciliation they demanded the destruction of the Citadel, but the garrison marched out only in 1897, and then symbolically damaged the main gate. Gellért Hill also saw action in the Second World War and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, when Soviet tanks fired down into the city from the hill. After many debates in 1960 it was decided the formation of the tourist center.

You can get into the Citadella for free after 19.00. Do walk to both ends of the Citadella. Despite being a little small, the bunker museum in the Citadelle was interesting and worth the 3 € price as a very tidy toilet is included in the price. A few Soviet WW2 cannons are also situated on the top. The Citadel on the Gellert Hill has several exhibitions. Three of these can be seen in the glass cases in the courtyard of the fort and an other one is the outer north side of the Citadel. These four are free of charge. For the Second World War wax exhibition located in the building you have to buy ticket:

A view from the Citadella to the Chain and Margaret bridges:

A view from the Citadella to the Elizabeth bridge:

A view from the Citadella to the Szazabad hid (Liberty bridge) (south of Elizabeth bridge):

The Hungarian Statue of Liberty (Szabadsag Szobor): In 1945 the Communism captured Hungary and many statues were built to commemorate its glory. The Liberty Statue, a large monument, was  The Statue of Liberty by sculptor Zsigmond Kisfaludy Stróbl erected in 1947 by the Soviet Red Army to commemorate their victory in World War II, the end of the Nazi rule and the ’liberation’ of Hungary by the Red Army. It presents a woman Holding a palm leaf in her hand. On both sides symbolic figures can be seen: the young man's victory over the dragon represents the defeat of fascism. More statues were also built, but they have been relocated to the Memento Sculpture Park. After the fall of Communism, the statue received a new inscription which says: “Memorial for all those who sacrificed their lives for independence, freedom and the success of Hungary”.

If you had enough of stairs - you can take a different path back from the top of Gellért Hill to the bottom. This winds gently through flowers-beds and gardens:

On our way down - we see the Danube between Elizabeth bridge (Erzsébet híd) and the Liberty bridge (Szazabad hid):

One more photo of the statue of St. Gellért, (Szt Gellért Szobor)- on our way down the hill:

We return to the foot of Gellért hill at Szent Gellért rkp. We walk along Szent Gellért rkp. from (our back) north to (our face) south, from Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth bridge) (well, a bit south to the bridge...) to Szazabad hid (Liberty bridge). It is approx. 500-600 m. walk. The constuctions of the Ottoman occupation, that are still standing today are medicinal baths found at the foot of the hill:

Then, we arrive to the Szazabad hid (Liberty/Liberation bridge). The bridge was built to plans resulting from a design competition held in 1893. Originall, it was named Fővám Square Bridge after the Fővám Palace, which currently hosts the Budapest Corvinus University, formerly known as Budapest University of Economics. The bridge was designed by János Feketeházy, chief engineer of the Hungarian Railroads at that time. Construction was started in June 1894. It was inaugurated by Francis Joseph I, who hammered in the last silver rivet on the Pest side on 4 October 1896, at the festivities held for the thousand-year jubilee of Hungary. The bridge was named Francis Joseph after the Emperor. Two years later, in 1898 tramway traffic was started on the bridge. Liberty Bridge is the third oldest and shortest bridge of Budapest. During World War II, on 16 January 1945, Francis Joseph Bridge, as every other bridge in Budapest, was blown up by retreating German troops. After the end of the war, it would be the first bridge to be reconstructed. Its state was not irreparable, only its central parts had to be rebuilt. It was reopened for traffic on 20 August 1946, its new name being Liberty Bridge. It meant also the first time after the liberation of Hungary that a tram connecting Buda and Pest crossed the bridge:

Having reached the Buda end of the Liberty bridge, you get to Szent Gellért tér (Gellért Square) at the foot of Gellért Hill, at its southern tip. The square has several magnificent landmarks. Bear in mind that there is a path leading from here to the top of Gellért Hill with the Citadella and the Liberty Statue. It takes only a 20-25 minutes' comfortable walk. There is a Metro station of Line 4 (green line) beneath the square. In the square, in front of the Cave Church's entrance is a statue of Saint Istvan, for whom the grand basilica across the river is named:

The square is dominated by the Danubius Hotel Gellért, Szent Gellért tér 1 and its Baths, sometimes called the "Grand Old Lady" of Budapest. Danubius Hotel Gellért is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Hungary. Built between 1916 and 1918 in Art Nouveau style, it's an iconic four-star hotel with the most elegant thermal bathhouse of Budapest. In 1894, the construction of Szabadság Bridge, along with the reconstruction of Gellért Square, was under way. The building of St. Gellért Hotel and Spa started in 1911, but WWI delayed the works. The hotel, built in the Art Nouveau style of the palace-hotels of the turn of the century, was finally opened in September 1918. The traditional, one century-old hotel is still a symbol of Budapest. The building was built by Ármin Hegedűs, Artúr Sebestyén and Izidor Sterk, their style greatly influenced by the works of Ödön Lechner. The characteristic entrance is decorated by reliefs by Aladár Gárdos, while the main entrance to the bath holds grand statues representing the process of healing by József Róna. When the four-storey hotel opened, it had only 176 rooms. All suites had bathrooms, with the supply of both mineral and thermal waters. Soon after the inauguration of St. Gellért Hotel and Spa, the so-called Aster Revolution broke out and the building was utilized for military purposes. Later, consolidation of the political and societal situation enabled the general public to use the hotel and bath for its original function again. The hotel quickly became a hub for social life thanks to its grand interiors, terraces and pools. In October, 1921 the International Convention of Hoteliers was held here. The guestbook was signed by famous individuals. Along with the Governor of Hungary and government officials, European royal families’ dukes, duchesses, mayors, maharajas, poets, writers, musicians, and aristocrats all stayed in the Gellért. Juliana, Queen of the Netherlands, also spent her honeymoon here. In 1927, the outdoor wave pool was built by Artúr Sebestyén and in the same year 60 new rooms were added to the hotel. The wave pool produces waves to the cheers of bathers with the original machinery to this very day. The Jacuzzi pool was opened in 1934. Restaurants of the hotel have always been operated by the leading professionals in the field. From 1927 it was Károly Gundel, who rented and ran the dining rooms. His professionalism contributed greatly to the rise of the Gellért to the level of international grand hotels. Events in the Gellért were carried by newspapers around the world. Gundel created three famous dishes here: the Rothermere Zander, Bakony Mushrooms and Pittsburgh Veal Cutlets. World War II severely damaged the building. The Danube wing burned down completely, and the Gellért Hill wing partly. Reconstructions began in 1946 on the hill side, and in 1957 on the river side. Today’s rooms Duna, Márvány, Gobelin, and the Tea Saloon, as well as the Eszpresszó, were built in 1960. There are two famous dessert specialities from the Gellért. Posztobányi Pudding or Gellért Pudding, rich in dried fruits, and the chocolate-filled Gellért Roll, made by a secret recipe which so many have tried to duplicate. The real Gellért Roll can still only be tasted in the hotel. Until the 70’s, Hotel Gellért was at the forefront of Hungarian tourism. The hotel trained exceptional staff and was a pioneer in numerous innovations in the industry. It was the first hotel in Hungary where guests could pay with their own countries’ currencies, airport taxis were first employed here, and the Gellért was also the first to place minibars in the rooms. The hotel’s Brasserie Restaurant was also the first catering unit to start Swiss plate service. The Gellért accommodated world famous guests again. Violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin was the first among them after World War II. Richard Nixon, Julius Raab and Bruno Kreisky, Austrian chancellors, Shah Pahlavi from Iran and his family, the King of Nepal, the Dalai Lama, Agostino Casaroli, Secretary of State for the Vatican, Nobel Prize winner Heisenberg, American scientist Sabin, actors Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Marina Vlady, Alberto Sordi, Jane Fonda, cello virtuoso Pablo Casals, violinist Isaac Stern, pianist Arthur Rubinstein, conductors Carlo Zecchi, Gábor Carelli and Roberto Menzi, composer Dmitri Shostakovich, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hungarian-born Oscar award winning cameraman Vilmos Zsigmond. At present the Gellért has 234 rooms, out of which 13 are suites, 38 are superior doubles, 94 standard doubles, 49 singles with baths, and 40 singles with showers. The rooms, facing the Danube, have balconies with stunning views of Budapest. Today the bath and the hotel have different owners. Hotel Gellért is a member of the Danubius Hotels Group chain, and operates under the Danubius Classic Collection brand, which guarantees a special atmosphere and impeccable service. The bath is run by Budapest Thermal Waters Co. Ltd., and was recently renovated. The open-air wave pool and terrace is now supplemented by a thermal water pool. The Gellért is one of the most frequented and most well-known tourist sites in Budapest. Beautiful decorations of the hotel include the tiles produced by the Zsolnay factory, the columns in the Jacuzzi, and the colorful statues. In Gellért Bath most health spa treatments are available (such as balneo-therapy, mechano-therapy, electro-therapy, mud treatments, etc). It has a complex physio-therapy section and inhalatorium:

Diagonally opposite the bath entrance is the Gellért Hill Cave / Rock Chapel (Gellérthegyi Barlang) (Sziklatemplom), home to the only Hungarian-founded Christian order, the Paulines (the order of St Paul, the only monastic order in Hungary). Take about an hour from your schedule and visit the Cave Church. The design of this grotto church is based on the Shrine at Lourdes. During the Communist regime the chapel was walled in, and the order was disbanded and some leaders were prosecuted and jailed. For years, no one went into the church, but when it was announced that Pope John Paul II would be coming to Budapest, restoration work was quickly undertaken so that the chapel could receive papal blessing. At the same time, the church was dedicated to Polish victims of World War II in honor of the pope's home country. This church is very interesting and unique, as it consists of a number of chambers inside the cave. It has a very peaceful atmosphere and the audio commentary is very informative.  The last room is full of beautiful wood carvings, don't miss it. Quite cool inside, so make sure you dress appropriately. Prices: only 500 HUF (about £1.25) including an audiotape guide. Heartily recommended. A stunning site:

We leave, now, the Gellért hill area. We have, approximately, 900 -1000 m. walk from the Danubius Hotel Gellért to Móricz Zsigmond körtér (sqaure) via Bartók Béla útca. Skip, now, to Tip 3 below.