JUL 22,2011 - JUL 22,2011 (1 DAYS)
From Deák tér (Deák square) to Erzsébet tér ( Erzsébet square) circular route: 3/4 day - 1 day.
Start: Deák Ferenc tér metro station. End: Deák Ferenc tér metro station.
Attractions: St. Stephen's Basilica or Szent István-bazilika, Széchenyi István tér, Adam Clark Square, Shoes on the Danube Bank, Hungarian Parliament, Kossuth Lajos tér, Museum of Ethnography, Olimpia park, Jászai Mari tér, Margit híd, Alkotmány utca, House of Hungarian Art Nouveau, Liberty Square (Szabadság tér), Október 6. utca, Erzsébet Square (Erzsébet tér).
Tip 1: from Deák tér to Liberty Square (Szabadság tér).
Tip 2: from Október 6. utca to Deák tér.
Orientation: a preliminary itinerary, mainly in the Pest part of Budapest. Covering the main highlights of Pest. Suitable for your first half a day in this wonderful and magnificent city. A first-glance route for purely beginners.
Head west on Deák Ferenc tér and turn right to stay on Deák Ferenc tér,
180 m. The Deák Ferenc square (Deák Ferenc tér), named for Ferenc Deák -- 17 October 1803 – 28 January 1876, a Hungarian statesman and Minister of Justice. It is a major intersection and transport junction in Budapest. Károly körút, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, Király utca, Deák Ferenc utca, and Harmincad utca converge here. The three lines of the Budapest Metro each have a station under the square.
Anker House or Anker Palace or Anker-ház - 6 Deák Ferenc tér. The Anker House was the the first block of flats in Budapest (1907), offering home for many people. Its name was given after its constructor, the "Anker Life and Pension Insurance Company". Ignác Alpár was the designer of this building. The company desired a remarkable front for its promotions, so the plan of the building had two towers on both corner and tent-shaped roof ornamented with sculptures on the edges. Alpár substituted the roof with a huge pyramid, therefore he was strongly criticized by the the authority of the city.
The Erzsébet tér, a large green 19th century square/park is on both of your sides. Turn left onto József Attila utca, 80 m (Attila Jozsef, Hungary's most loved 20th century poet). The Erzsébet tér is on your left.
Turn right onto Sas utca, 160 m. The Rézkakas Bistro is on your right. A bit further the Misto Bistro, Sas Utica 9, is on your right. Lovely food and very reasonable cost:
Turn right onto Szent István tér, 80 m. The Danubius Centre (on the corner of Hercegprímás utca is on your left. Turn left to stay on Szent István tér. You've arrived to St. Stephen's Basilica or Szent István-bazilika.
It is named in honour of Stephen, the first King of Hungary (c 975–1038), whose right hand is housed in the reliquary. St. Stephen converted the nomad Hungarian tribes into Christianity, thus managed to found a strong state between Western and Eastern European empires of the era. Today, it is the third largest church building in present-day Hungary. It is 96 m. high. According to current regulations there cannot be taller building in Budapest than 96 metres. This is the most important church building in Hungary, one of the most significant tourist attractions. It was completed in 1905 after 54 years of construction, according to the plans of Miklós Ybl, and was completed by József Kauser. It took more than 5 decades and 3 architects to build Budapest's Basilica. Several misfortunate events delayed the works. József Hild made the designs in 1845 but because of the 1848/49 Revolution and War of Independence works started only in 1851. József Hild designed a large neoclassical basilica similar to the basilica in Esztergom. The ground plan forms a Greek cross. Because of the vicinity of the Danube huge foundations had to be constructed that resulted in an underground cellar almost as large as the subsurface building.
After the death of Hild, Miklós Ybl, designer of the Opera House took over overseeing the construction. After Hild's death Ybl reworked the plans creating a neo-Renaissance style church. You can recognise Ybl's work at the main facade and the wall along Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út. In 1868 the dome collapsed, luckily nobody died. Ybl drew up new plans and building started again almost from scratch. He couldn't see his work completed, since he died in 1891. József Krauser finished St Stephen's Basilica in 1906. According to the rumor, at the consecration mass Emperor Francis Joseph kept looking upwards afraid of another collapse of the dome. The building suffered heavy damages during the bombings in World War II. Many art treasures and precious documents survived down there the second world war. Reconstructions have only started in the 1980-ies and were finished just recently.
The façade has two large bell towers. In the southern tower is Hungary's biggest bell. Visitors may access the dome by elevators or by climbing 303 stairs.
Also, the most famous Hungarian soccer player (considered to be one of the best in the World), Puskas, is buried here in the Basilika...
Buildings near St. Stephen's Basilica square:
Habsburg-Prusian soldier sculpture near Szent Istvan Ter in Zvinyi Utca:
From time to time there is a spectacular laser show projected onto the front of the cathedral.
Open: MON - FRI: 9.00 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00-13.00, SUN: 13.00-17.00.
Admission: free (except the lookout in the cupola, that can be visited from spring to autumn, you can enquire at Tel. (+36 1) 311 0839 about exact opening hours before visiting it). Free ... but, except been pressured into making a donation of 200 HUF in the entrance...
Guided Tours in English: Phone: (+36 1) 338 2151. MON-FRI: 10.00 - 15.00. The guided tour includes: Chapel and the floodlit Holy Right of St. Stephen, Treasury, Panorama view from the cupola (only between 1st April-31st October). Tickets: 1 600 HUF for an adult (without going up the cupola: 1100 HUF), 1 200 HUF for pensioners and students (without going up the cupola: 900 HUF). Remember: The look-out in the cupola can be visited between 1st April-31st October.
The church has a rooftop with a 360 view of the city. You have to pay small fee for climbing up there - (500 HUF). You can take lifts most of the way (there are 303 steps). The view from the top is amazing and a great way to get an overview of the city and sites as well as some terrific photos. From here you will have the best view of the Danube and the Parliament building:
It also has spiral stairs that make a great picture:
The 96 m high Dome stands out from the mass of office buildings and apartments in Pest. Four pillars hold the massive structure. A fresco of God the Father dominates the center of the cupola. Between 1st April-31st October you can admire one of Budapest's best panoramic views from the right tower. An elevator takes you up until halfway; from there you have to climb up on stairs. You'll climb out into the inside of the dome in a wrought iron construction and you'll get to the space between the outside and inside of the dome. Quite an exciting adventure, but the view will compensate you for the trouble:
Copper engravings at the top of the dome:
stained-glass windows at the top of the dome:
Music at the Basilica: In the past century the Basilica has been home to choral music, classical music as well as contemporary musical performances. The Basilica choir performs often in different parts of Europe as well as at home. In the summer months, every Sunday you can see performances from many distinguished Hungarian and foreign organ players alike. Concerts take place Thursday evenings and last a little over an hour. There are also 15 minute "mini concerts" on Fridays. You'll be moved by the gorgeous choir. The organ concerts (usually, on Mondays evenings) are performed by one of Hungary's most talented pipe organ players Kolos Kováts. Price of the Concert: 1st cat: 30 EUR/7 800 HUF, 2nd cat: 24.25 EUR/6 300 HUF, 3rd cat: 17.3 EUR/4 500 HUF. Students: 1st cat: 28 EUR/7 300, 2nd cat: 22.70 EUR/5 900 HUF, 3rd cat: 16.15 EUR/4 200 HUF.
Tip: come during a service on Sundays mornings.
The architecture and the interior decoration, as a whole, are stunning and breathtaking. Although it's a bit dark inside, you can still admire the marvelous frescoes, statues and mosaics. The incredibly ornate interior features about 50 different types of marble. The chapels are elaborately decorated with many sculptures, including a bust of the Basilica’s patron saint, who was the first Christian king of Hungary. The interior is lit by spotlights, highlighting the ceiling paintings, the high altar and some of the side chapels. Ionic columns and statues of the twelve apostles adorn the outside walls.
Main Altar: statue of St. Stephen carved out from Carrara marble by Alajos Strób. The Patrona Hungariae Altar by Gyula Benczúr depicts St Stephen offering the Hungarian Crown to the Virgin Mary and asking her to be a patron of Hungary:
The acoustics inside are superb. The magnificent organ sounds heavenly. Don't miss the stained-glass windows:
Window depicting St. Margaret:
Follow the transept to the back left side of the altar to a smaller rear chapel. Here you will find a reliquary with the hand of St. Stephen in it. This relic is considered national icon of Hungary – the right hand of St. Stephen. It is one thousand years old... On 20th August the Holy Right is carried around the Basilica in a procession.
The Szent Jobb (Holy Right Hand):
From Szent Istvan Ter (the square in front of the Basilica) we head to the Széchenyi István tér. These are two distinct squares (quite similar names...) with 600 m. (10 minutes) walk. Head north on Szent István tér
10 m. Turn left to stay on Szent István tér, 80 m. Turn left back onto Sas utca, 18 m. Turn right onto Zrínyi utca, 75 m. Turn left onto Október 6. utca, 95 m. Turn right onto Mérleg utca, 260 m and turn right onto Széchenyi István tér. A lovely patch of grass, flowers and trees - surrounded by heavy traffic. There are very few ways to get to this park, with few crosswalks, without risking being hit by a car. The square was named Roosevelt tér in 1947 after the American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This square has been recently renamed to honour the designer of the Chain Bridge, which it faces. It is beautifully nestled at the foot of the iconic Chain bridge of Budapest and offers among the best views of Castle Hill in Buda.
The buildings around the square - clockwise:
The Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia), founded by Count István Széchenyi, is at the northern end of the square.
The Art Nouveau building with the gold tiles to the east is Gresham Palace , built by an English insurance company in 1907. It now houses the aristocratic Four Seasons Gresham Palace Hotel:
On the southern end of Széchenyi István tér is a statue of Ferenc Deák , the Hungarian minister largely responsible for the Compromise of 1867, which brought about the Dual Monarchy of Austria and Hungary:
The statue on the western side is of an Austrian and a Hungarian child holding hands in peaceful bliss. The Danube and the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) are also on the west.
Step on the Chain Bridge ((Széchenyi Lánchíd)) to get a wonderful view of Széchenyi István tér (your face to the east and back to the west):
Crosss the Danube over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge from east to west - from Pest to Buda. Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary, and was opened in 1849. We start, crossing the bridge and the Danube, on the Pest side of the river in Széchenyi (formerly Roosevelt) Square, and we end it on the Buda side in Adam Clark Square, near the lower end of the Castle Hill Funicular, leading to Buda Castle. Its construction was proposed by Count István Széchenyi, one of the leading figures in 18th century Hungary. Its official name is Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Works were started in 1839 to the plans of English engineer William Tierney Clark with the financial support of Baron György Sina, a Viennese financier. The construction was supervised by Scottish engineer Adam Clark, who later on went on to marry a Hungarian girl and settled down in Hungary. The place at the Buda end of the bridge has been named after him. The inauguration of the Chain Bridge took place on 20 November 1849. At the time of its construction, the Chain Bridge was regarded as one of the modern world's engineering wonders. Its decorations made of cast iron, and its construction, radiating calm dignity and balance, have elevated the Chain Bridge to a high stature in Europe. It became a symbol of advancement, national awakening, and even of the linkage between East and West. The lions at each of the abutments were carved in stone by the sculptor, János Marschalkó. They are visibly similar in design to the famous bronze lions of Trafalgar Square - but, they are smaller, were installed 15 years before those of Trafalgar Square and appear from below to lack tongues. But it is only a legend: the lions do very well, have tongues, however, these can only be seen from above... At the Buda end, their plinth also contains the coats of arms of the families Széchenyi and Sina cast by András Gál. The lions sculptures have luckily survived the destruction of World War II. At the end of World War II, retreating German troops blew up all bridges of Budapest, among them also the Chain Bridge on 18 January 1945. The bridge was destroyed nearly completely, only its pillars remained intact. The decision to rebuild it was made in the spring of 1947. The construction work was started: pillar portals were being extended, abutments broadened, custom-houses pulled down, a pedestrian subway installed at the Buda end and the tram subway completed on the Pest side. The inhabitants of Budapest were finally able to repossess one of the most renowned buildings of the city on 20 November 1949, exactly hundred years after its initial inauguration.
The whole length of the bridge amounts to 380 meters, it is 14.8 meters in width. It contains two traffic lanes, being only 6.45 meters wide each, and pavements at the two rims. The two river piers are 48 meters high.
Before dropping off the bridge - give another look along the whole length of the Chain Bridge - from west to east:
At the Buda end we arrive to the Adam Clark square (named after the chief engineer of the bridge construction and who designed the all-important tunnel (alagút) under Castle Hill, which took just eight months to carve out of the limestone in 1853). Its centre is decorated with flower beds from spring to autumn. You can also find an oddly shaped oval stone here, the milestone "0" (easily missed) carved by Miklós Borsos. It has been placed on the south-western part of the square since 1975, and it marks the fact that the main roads of Hungary all set off here, making it the starting point for the counting of kilometers. The square also hosts one of the termini of the Buda Hill Funicular which takes you up to Buda Castle within a couple of minutes and 1100 HUF, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the panorama of Budapest with the Chain Bridge. This is kind of a "hub" where you can take a funicular up to the Castle Hill, take a bus or a walk over the Chain Bridge to Pest side. Really crowded and full of street vendors, roaring cars and buses and full with smoke and noise:
View of the Parliament from the Chain Bridge in Adam Clark square:
View of the Buda tunnel and funicular from the Chain Bridge in Adam Clark square:
From here we head for 1 km. to the Hungarian Parliament. Retrace your steps and cross back the Danube on the Chain Bridge - your back to the west and your face to the east - from Buda back to Pest. From the Pest end of the Széchenyi Lánchí - head northeast toward Belgrád rkp, 60 m.
Continue onto Belgrád rkp, 35 m. Slight left onto Széchenyi rkp., 500 m. (***) (see below the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial monument). When you cross Zoltan Utca, on your right - turn left to the Danube - to see the Shoes on the Danube Bank. No visit to Budapest is complete without visiting the Shoes on the Danube sculpture and hearing the haunted voices of the Holocaust in Hungary. If you're in the area, don't forget to walk through the Danube Promenade and pass by the Shoes on the Danube Bank, the memorial sculpture that honors the Jews who were killed by fascist militiamen in Budapest during WWII. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank. The memorial is by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay, and was erected on the east bank of the Danube in 2005:
Continue along Széchenyi rkp, north, 200 m. further. The Danube river is on your left. Turn right onto Kossuth Lajos tér. 70 m.
Turn (twice) left to stay on Kossuth Lajos tér, 280 m. You are facing the Hungarian Parliament Building. Opening hours: 1 APR – 31 OCT MON – FRI: 8.00 – 18.00. SAT - SUN: 8.00 – 16.00. 1 NOV - 31 MAR MON – SUN: 8.00 – 16.00. Visits to the House of Parliament are restricted during weeks in which the National Assembly holds its sittings. On the first day of the plenary, the building will be accessible to visitors from 8.00 to 10.00 and the ticket office will be open until 11.00. There are NO guided tours on national/bank holidays: 15 MAR, 20 AUG and 23 OCT. There are also NO visits to the House of Parliament on the following days: 1 JAN, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, 1 MAY, 1 NOV and 24 – 26 DEC. Prices: Full price - HUF 4000 (about $16 or 13 euros), Students (ages 6-24) - HUF 2000, EU citizens (adults) - HUF 2000, EU citizens (students) (ages 6-24) - HUF 1000, Visitors under 6 years of age - FREE. Same-day tickets can be purchased in limited numbers at our ticket office in the Visitor Center. (Please note that purchasing tickets on the spot might take a considerable amount of time.) Advance tickets are available online at www.jegymester.hu/parlament. Please be advised that the online provider charges an e-fee of HUF 200 (about 75 cents) per ticket in accordance with its Purchase Policy. If you get the tickets online, you have the option to select the time that matches the language of the tour. The numbers in a group are limited and so don't wait to the last minute. Guided tours times by Languages: • Hungarian: 10.30, 13.30, • English: 10.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, • French: 11.00, 13.30, • Hebrew: 12.30, • German: 10.00, 13.00, 14.00, • Russian: 12.30, 15.15, • Italian: 10.15, 13.15, 14.15, 15.30, • Spanish: 10.15, 13.15, 14.15, 16.00. Buying the tickets at the Visitor Center of the Parliament Building can be problematic as you might be disappointed about getting the tour time you want. You enter the Parliament Building Security Screening at the tour time selected, not before. The tour last about 50 minutes and the guides are very knowledgeable.
Getting to the Parliament Building: Take the Subway (M2) to Kossuth tér, or Streetcar 2, which runs along the Pest riverfront and has a stop at Kossuth tér.
Hungary, officially the Republic of Hungary, is a parliamentary republic. Its legislature is the unicameral National Assembly, which has 386 representatives, elected for a four-year term. The election system is said to be one of the most complicated in Europe. Half of the representatives are elected in single-seat constituencies, half of them on party lists. The Prime Minister is elected by a majority of votes of the members of parliament. The President of the Republic, elected for a five-year term, has more of a ceremonial role. Technically he is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces and he nominates the Prime Minister.
The Hungarian Parliament Building (Országház) is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, one of Europe's oldest legislative buildings, a popular tourist destination of Budapest. It lies in Lajos Kossuth Square, on the bank of the Danube. It is currently the largest building in Hungary and still the tallest building in Budapest. Nearly half a million visitors see the House of Parliament annually. The building is open nearly every day of the year for visits led by trained guides who speak numerous languages. After purchasing their tickets, groups depart from the newly inaugurated Visitor Centre to take a tour of approximately 50 minutes through the most beautiful rooms in the building.
The Hungarian Parliament, built in 1896 for the 1,000 year anniversary of the founding of Hungary is a huge and gorgeous building, both inside and outside. As the millennial celebrations of 1896 approached, the nation's demand for representation channeled the conception of a unique Parliament building. The Palace of Westminster in part inspired the design, but a well-known Hungarian architect, Imre Steindl, laid out the plans in their entirety. The building stretches 268 meters in its length, along the Danube embankment. Ornamented with white neo-Gothic turrets and arches, it forms the most outstanding landmark of the Pest side horizon. Statues of Hungarian monarchs and military commanders decorate the outer walls.
The commanding building of Budapest Parliament stretches between Chain Bridge and Margaret Bridge on the Pest bank of the Danube and is the 3rd largest in Europe. It is a very beautiful building with all its spires and towers. The building has 27 doors, 29 staircases, and 13 elevators. Over a thousand people worked on the construction of it, during which 40 million bricks, half a million precious stones and 40 kilograms (88 lb) of gold were used. In addition to planetary, conference and session rooms, it includes over 200 offices. The symmetrical arrangement of the building is designed to serve a double chamber system, similar to the Capitol in Washington. The huge dome hall in the middle was designed for joined sessions. This part of the building was the first to be completed, hosting the parliament millennial section of 1896. 16 statues of Hungarian kings and rulers, along with their coat of arms, ornate the walls: St. István, St. László, Kálmán Könyves, András the 2nd, Béla the 4th, Lajos Nagy, János Hunyadi and Mátyás Hunyadi, kings of Hungary, followed by Transylvanian monarchs: István Báthori, István Bocskai, Gábor Bethlen and György Rákóczi the first; and three Habsburg rulers: III. Károly the 3rd, Terézia Mária and Lipót the 2nd.
The façade of the parliament faces the river Danube, but the official main entrance is on the opposite side on Kossuth tér:
Stunning building to see at any time, especially at night:
The best if you see the parliament building, at night, from a cruise boat along the Danube:
As Hungary resorted to a single chamber system at the end of 1944, the northern conference room (once serving the upper chamber) is often used for international conferences. The southern conference room came to host the chamber of deputies. With excellent acoustics, the 25 meters long, 23 meters wide, and 17 meters high room originally seated 438 deputies, while an inner circle of velvet chairs seated the ministers. The pulpit seated the president and the notaries. Wall paintings depict historical events, statues represent allegoric figures of honoured virtues.
The Parliament also includes an extensive library of around half-a-million books and documents, handled by a modern information system. The huge reading-room is situated on the lower floor.
The square in front of the building, Kossuth Lajos tér, is also nice and there is a very nice park quite close to the building.
The Parliament is actually on the Pest side but it is right on the River so if you stand in front, you can't see most of it unless you look straight up (not the best view). The best views can be from the opposite (Buda) side of the river next to Batthyány tér metro station (only one stop by subway from Kossuth square on the M2 line) or from the Fisherman's Bastion or any place up on Castle Hill in Buda:
Changing of the guard is every hour by the hour and might be interesting considering the fact there are only 2-3 soldiers:
The Parliament interiors:
The design of the interior of the building is breathtaking, and as magnificent as the exterior. The interiors are rich and sunk in gold, everything is golden. The Parliament has about 691 rooms but you will only be taken to about four. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and is well worth the price. It covers the main entrance stairs and hall, one of the lobbies, the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels. The tour begins with a climb up the decorative, gold-plated Staircase XVII (the ceremonial staircase)
to the most spectacular floor of the building, the main floor. Framed by statues, stained glass windows and rich, decorative frescoes, this urban corridor offers a lovely view of the recently renovated Kossuth Square, the Main Square of the Nation.
The Hungarian Coronation Regalia is the most prized treasure; it includes the Holy Crown, the orb, the sceptre and a Renaissance sword. The Hungarian Crown Jewels were lost and stolen numerous times. After World War II, they were transported to Western Europe and eventually given to the American Army for safekeeping from the Soviet Union. For much of the Cold War, the Crown Jewels were held at the United States Bullion Depository (Fort Knox, Kentucky) alongside the bulk of America's gold reserves. They were eventually returned to Hungary under the presidency of Jimmy Carter in 1978. This is the coronation crown used to crown kings since the twelfth century. Our tour guide emphasized that the power to rule the country lays in this crown and if you weren’t crowned with it then you are not a legitimate king:
Afterwards, visitors can marvel at The Old Upper House Hall that once housed the Upper House and now hosts conferences and meetings. Although the tour doesn't take you to the currently used lower house chamber, you can see the similar chamber of the former upper house. Surrounding you in all directions are elaborate gold decorations and beautiful stain glass. The definition of opulence and wealth. They spared no expense in putting together this room. Or if they did, it certainly didn’t look like it. The Upper Hall boasts panels made of Slavonian oak, gold-plated decorations, excellent acoustics and a gallery of several floors. The seats have been arranged in a horseshoe shape. A huge oak podium with space for the Speaker and the Member speaking emerges at the heels. Paintings of the coats of arms of Hungary's royal families can be seen on the main wall behind the podium, with murals depicting the historical role of the nobility on both sides. The splendid composition of tables and benches with seating for 453 Members is arranged in seven neat rows, stunning in magnificent brown, green and red:
Having left the Upper House Hall, we enter the Upper House Lobby. The pyrogranite sculptures made of a special material considered to be an innovation in its day in the Zsolnay works in Pécs preserve the memory of old Hungarian national groups and crafts. In the media lobby of the Upper House, you can find beautiful wooden sculptures depicting different trades and professions to serve as a symbolic reminder to politicians about who they are there to represent. The crowning jewel of the room is the largest hand-knotted carpet in Europe, resplendent in turquoise beneath one's feet.
From here we proceed to the geometric centre of the House of Parliament and the symbolic centre of Hungary, the Dome Hall. This is where the Hungarian Holy Crown and the Coronation Insignia, among the oldest coronation regalia in Europe, have been kept since 1 January 2000 and where they are protected 24 hours a day by the Crown Guard of the Hungarian Armed Forces. The building features an impressive interior dome reaching about 226 feet (69 meters) high. The Dome Hall itself, which is almost 27 metres tall, is complemented by an ambulatory at the lowest level. This is linked to a splendid, sixteen-rib vaulted ceiling with colourful stained glass windows interspersed between the ribs. At the base of the rib-like pillars, statues of Hungarian rulers occupy golden pedestals accompanied by their pages under canopies of gold:
The stain glass windows are the work of the famous Hungarian artist, Miksa Róth:
Hunters' Hall is one of the fascinating rooms surrounding the Dome Hall from the Danube side, stunning frescoes adorn its walls:
The tour of the House of Parliament closes with a visit to the other pearl of the building, the Grand Stairway. The 96 stairs that dominate the space covered with red carpeting leads from the main entrance to the Dome Hall. Two large frescoes and one small one made by master painter Károly Lotz adorn the ceiling of the main stairway. However, the jewel in the crown is a collection of eight, four-tonne granite columns, of a type of which only 12 can be found in the entire world. The decorative stained glass windows that frame the space on both sides represent outstanding works of art from the workshop of Miksa Róth:
Other notable attractions are the numbered cigar-holders that line the window sills outside the debate chambers. Smoking politicians left their cigars in the holders, when they went in to vote. When they returned they could easily find their cigars, if they remembered the number of the holder:
The area in the immediate vicinity of the Hungarian Parliament contains numerous buildings and statues, which speak volumes about the city and its history.
Kossuth Lajos tér: The square where the Hungarian Parliament stands was named after Lajos Kossuth, the leader of Hungary’s 1848-49 War of Independence against Hapsburg rule, a Hungarian lawyer, journalist, politician and Governor-President of Hungary in 1849. He was widely honored during his lifetime, including in the United States, as a freedom fighter and a bellwether of democracy in Europe. His memorial, as well as a memorial for the 1956 Hungarian Revolution can be seen in front of the Parliament building.
Walking towards the center of the square, you encounter “The Flame of Revolution,” a somewhat severe marble block with eternal flame, placed here in 1996 to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. Across the main part of the square a symbolic grave recalls a notorious massacre of Hungarian demonstrators, which occurred here during the uprising:
To its right is the imposing building of the Museum of Ethnography (12 Kossuth Lajos tér; www.neprajz.hu), originally constructed in the late 19th century as the Supreme Court. Its attractive, permanent exhibition covers the history of Hungarian folk art and customs. Opening hours:
TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: Adult: HUF 1,000, Child & senior: HUF 500.
Also on the north side of Parliament is a statue of Mihály Károlyi, the first president of independent Hungary for five months before he was driven into exile in 1919:
In front of the Parliament building, more to the south is the equestrian statue of Francis II Rákóczi:
The Statue of Attila Jozsef – popular, much-loved, working-class Hungarian poet in the 1950s - has been moved to the embankment south of the Parliament square. A sad figure he was, as he showed signs of schizophrenia and withdrew into his poetry. At the age of 32 he was crushed by a starting train while crawling through the railway tracks. Whether this was an accident or a suicide nobody knows:
It is 1.2 km, 15-20 minutes walk further north to Margit hid (Margaret Bridge). Head north on Kossuth Lajos tér, 170 m. Turn left to stay on Kossuth Lajos tér, 100 m. Continue onto Balassi Bálint utca, 170 m.
Turn left onto Olimpia park, 60 m. Turn right to stay on Olimpia park,
100 m. Easily recognizable by the giant Olympic rings at it's center. This is one of the most recently renovated of the city's parks (Spring 2014). It's clean, well-maintained, and good for family time.
Turn right toward Jászai Mari tér, 10 m. Turn left onto Jászai Mari tér, 100 m. Turn right to stay on Jászai Mari tér, 75 m. Turn left to stay on Jászai Mari tér, 70 m. This is the northern terminus of tram nr. 2 at the Pest bridgehead of Margit híd. Jászai Mari tér is split in two by the foot of Margaret Bridge. The white building between the tram stop and the Danube is the office building of the Hungarian Parliament (once the headquarters of the Central Committee of the ruling Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party). There is an extensive bunker system directly underneath the area, built by the German army in WWII, a part of which has been transformed into an art gallery - look for the stairs in front of the adjacent McDonalds. To the north of the square is an elegant apartment block forming part of the Palatinus Houses , built in 1912 and facing the Danube. They contain some of the most expensive flats for sale or rent in Budapest.
Turn left onto Szent István krt, 37 m. Continue onto Margit híd, 350 m
Turn right to stay on Margit híd (Margaret Bridge) and the bridge is on your right. Connecting Pest and Buda across the Danube. It is the second northernmost and second oldest public bridge in Budapest. Margaret Bridge is the second permanent bridge in Budapest after Széchenyi Chain Bridge. This bridge leads up to Margaret Island (there is an embranchment from the middle pillar onto Margaret Island). It is 637.5 m in length and 25 m in width. It was built between 1872 and 1876 by French engineer Ernest Gouin's company Societé de Construction des Battignolles. The bridge structure rests on seven pillars altogether: one central pillar, two riverside pillars and four riverbed pillars. Their ornated statues were carved by French sculptor Thabard in 1874. A plaque is embedded at the southern side of the central pillar, commemorating the date of the construction, as well as the name of the designer. As the time had passed, the Margaret Bridge became the most congested bridge of the Hungarian capital. The horse tramway line dating from 1879 was replaced by a much heavier electric tramway line in 1894. In 1920, the demolished wood-blocks were removed and substituted by a much heavier stone pavement. All these reasons and the rapid growth of public traffic made some structural changes necessary. Between 1935 and 1937, the bridge was fortified and extended southwards, so that it became possible to place two more traffic lanes onto it. During World War II, on 4 November 1944 the three Pest side pillars were blown up in unexplained circumstances during the afternoon rush-hours, demanding numerous victims. Like all other bridges over the Danube in Budapest, the Margaret bridge was destroyed by the retreating Nazis in 1944. The bridge's two ends are: Jászai Mari tér (Pest) (northern end of Grand Boulevard) and Gyóni Géza tér and Germanus Gyula park in the Buda side. The complete length of the bridge amounts to 607 meters, it is 25 meters in width. It contains four traffic lanes (two in each direction), two tramway lines in the middle and one pavement each at both sides. Tram lines 4 and 6 cross the bridge, stopping also at the middle of the bridge, at the passage to Margaret Island. At the moment, Margaret Bridge is the worst worn bridge in Budapest. It is in urgent need of total overhaul, but the Budapest traffic would be seriously affected by the elimination of this important road. It could not be shut down until a new Northern bridge, the Megyeri Bridge was completed at the end of September 2008. According to current plans, reconstruction will be started in the first half of the year 2009. One of the most important aspects of the renovation will be the protection of the historical features of Margaret Bridge, among others the reinstallation of the sculptures that once decorated it:
We don't walk along the bridge and DO NOT pass to the Buda part (see other blogs on Budapest). We stay in the Pest side of the Danube. We change direction and return southward. It is 1.3 km walk to Alkotmány utca. Head southeast on Margit híd back toward Jászai Mari tér, 350 m. Continue onto Szent István krt., 350 m. Turn right onto Hegedűs Gyula utca, 15 m. Continue onto Szemere utca, 500 m. Turn left onto Alkotmány utca, 45 m.
We are a bit east to the Parliament complex. Walk east to the end of this road - just not to miss the Hummus Bar, Alkotmány St 20, in this road, Hummus is known to be one of the oldest Middle Eastern foods. Made from chickpeas, sesame, lemon and garlic, it can be enjoyed as a dip, spread, or combined with meats and vegetables. Hummus is healthy and nutritious which is high in Vitamin C, iron and fiber and is perfect to be eaten during breakfast, lunch, dinner or simply as a snack:
Retrace (a bit ) your steps. Head west on Alkotmány u. toward Vadász utca, 110 m. Turn left onto Vadász utca, 85 m. Turn right onto Kálmán Imre utca, 270 m. Turn left onto Honvéd utca, 120 m. Note the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau (Magyar Szecesszio Haza), Honved utca 3. Opening times: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 17.00, Sunday is closed. Prices: Adult ticket: 2000 HUF, Senior, student: 1500 HUF. Free admission for ages 6 and under. The building is a stunning example of Hungarian Art Nouveau with its specially designed murals and stained glass. It is not quite a museum. It holds 3 stories of amazing Art Nouveau furniture, décor, etc. However, it is in no discernible order and generally lacks textual information about the pieces. It is more random collection of objects and furniture crammed into an splendid Art Nouveau house. Note: The café charming. You get to see plenty by just visiting the cafe, especially on the trip to the toilets...
Head south on Honvéd utca toward Szabadság tér, 40 m. Slight right onto Szabadság tér another 40 m. Liberty Square (Szabadság tér) is a public square with a mix of business and residential: The United States Embassy in Hungary and the headquarters for the Hungarian National Bank are located in the square. The Bank of Hungary building is in the historicist style of architecture. Some buildings on the square are designed in the Art Nouveau style.
There is also a monument for Soviet liberation of Hungary in World War II from Nazi German occupation. It was designed by Károly Antal and honors the soldiers of the Red Army who died in 1944-1945 during the liberation of Budapest. The monument consists of an obelisk with a crest showing the Communist hammer and sickle. At the bottom is a bas-relief of Soviet soldiers engaged in battle. The obelisk is crowned with a five-pointed Communist star. Many modern-day Hungarians are not terribly fond of this monument and would prefer to see it removed. Not only is it a reminder of the Soviet occupation, but to add insult to injury, the monument stands at the exact location of an early twentieth century monument that was erected in protest of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, which resulted in the loss of almost three quarters of Hungary's territory:
Two buildings were designed by Ignác Alpár. Both buildings, which stand opposite one another, were completed in 1905. The grandest of the two, the former Stock Exchange Building (Tőzsdepalota), graces the west side of Freedom Square. Its design is neoclassical in style with Secessionist decorations. This is particularly noticeable at the building's impressive entrance which is crowned with two temple-like towers. In 1948 the Communists closed down the stock exchange and the building became the (former) headquarters of the Hungarian Television:
Ignác Alpár's other building, located at the square's eastern side is the Hungarian National Bank Building (Magyar Nemzetí Bank). The structure was built in the late classical style and includes elegant limestone reliefs by sculptor Károly Sennyei on the exterior, depicting various aspects of money, commerce and trade:
Another interesting building is the U.S. Embassy Building (Chancery Building), completed in 1900 and housing U.S. diplomats since 1935. Designed by architects Aladár Kármán and Gyula Ullman. This building was first the home of the Hungarian Hall of Commerce:
Behind the US Embassy, facing hold street, stands the Post Office Savings Bank Building. Built in Art Nouveau style, it was designed by a favorite architect of that period, Ödön Lechner. The facade is decorated with flower and bee motifs, symbolizing the bank's activity. The building's cornice is stunning as is the majolica (earthenware with a white tin glaze) roof ornamentation. The building is hard to photograph because the most extravagant element is the roof. You can see why Lechner picked up the label "Hungarian Gaudi:
In the square there is a monument for Ronald Reagan. It was unveiled In 2011. The bronze statue, a work of the Hungarian sculptor Istvan Mate, was created to honor Reagan for his role in bringing an end to the Cold War:
and a monument of Harry Hill Bandholtz. It is near the Hungarian National Bank and honoring the American general Harry Bandholtz, who in 1919 prevented Romanian troops from looting the Hungarian National Museum:
The famous fountain of the Liberation square:
A prison ("Újépület") that had previously occupied the space, was the site of the execution of Prime Minister Lajos Batthyány in 1849, following the Hungarian Revolution. The building was destroyed in 1897 and the square was built thereafter.
The parliament from Szabadság tér:
From Liberty Square (Szabadság tér) to Deák tér::
We leave the Liberty Square and continue southward along Október 6. utca. An interesting street with historical buildings:
# 3: Three-story, romantic style house with classicist elements:
# 7a: The big and rich architecture building built by József Hild Martin Marczibanyi. The Marczibanyi palace was bought in 1866 by the Hungarian Geological Institute:
# 13: was designed in year 1909 by Alexander Kriegler:
# 15: Schiffer house. Designed by Erno - in 1911. Builder: Schiffer Miklós:
# 16-18: designed by Building: Louis Wolf, Louis Marcus and built at 1912:
Note the Hummus bar in Október 6. str. 19. Vegetarian friendly.
Open: MON - FRI 11.30 - 22.00. SAT, SUN: 12.00 - 20.00. Price is more than reasonable for the quality and size of the portions. A really busy popular place with informal seating and complementary mint tea on arrival:
In the intersection of Oktober utca and Zrinyu utca look to your left to see, again, the St. Stephen's Basilica:
In the end of Október 6. utca, on your left - you arrive to Erzsébet tér. Erzsébet Square (Erzsébet tér) was named after Elisabeth, 'Sisi', wife of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph, in 1858. In Budapest's varied history, Erzsébet tér was first renamed to Stalin in 1946 and to then to Engels in 1953, only to get its original name back in 1990. Erzsébet Square (Erzsébet tér) is the largest green area in Budapest's inner city. The square's main attraction is the Danubius Fountain, located in the middle of the square, symbolizing Hungary's rivers. The fountain, built in 1880, originally stood on Kálvin tér. When Kálvin tér was rebuilt after WWII the fountain was relocated to Erzsébet tér:
Today, Erzsébet tér gives home to the Design Terminal, the former bus depot turned design center, a Bauhaus style building featuring design and fashion related exhibitions, to WAMP, Budapest's monthly design fair and to a cultural center called Akvárium Club:
In the spring Erzsébet tér transforms into one of the nicest green spots in the city center:
Walking several steps further southward, in the south-west edge of the park is the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus. Behind it is Deák tér:
Gelarto Rosa, Szent Istvan ter 3 - Ice Cream:
This nice little ice-cream place shapes each scoop into a rose, hence the name. In summer taste the delicious Italian-style ice cream at Gelarto Rosa just a few steps from the St. Stephen's Basilica: numerous flavors, delicious tastes, beautiful shapes. Lactose and gluten free options are also available. Hand-made Italian ice cream produced fresh on the premises every morning. A find. Price of one scoop: between HUF 400 and HUF 600, depending on the size:
Oliva Restaurant & Pizzeria, Lazar utca 1 - at the southern edge of St. Stephen's basilica:
The portions at this place are huge. Wide range of Italian/Hungarian dishes on the menu.Good service and reasonable prices. 12,000 HUFs for dinner for two, including a bottle of wine. Limited English. I don't recommend the Pizzas.
Első Pesti Rétesház (First Strudel House of Pest), Október 6. utca 22., district V. Open: everyday 9.00-23.00 (closed on 24th-25th December).
If you like strudel (rétes in Hungarian), the traditional pastry of Austro-Hungarian cuisine that dates back to the 17th century, the First Strudel House of Pest is the place to visit. Home-style strudels are made here in the traditional way using old recipes. There are over 10 type of strudels to choose from daily, including strudels filled with apple, sour cherry, poppy seed, plum, apricot and cottage cheese.
Besides tasting a variety of strudel pastries (with cottage cheese, fruit, ground poppy seed or cabbage filling, price: 360 HUF), you can have lunch or dine at the Rétesház.
They have a 3-course daily menu for 1190 HUF (available only from 12.00 till 14.00).
Hummus bar in Október 6. utca. 19: Vegetarian friendly.
Open: MON - FRI 11.30 - 22.00. SAT, SUN: 12.00 - 20.00. Price is more than reasonable for the quality and size of the portions: