Before i start at the beginning you have to know that there are two sides to Budapest, Buda on one side and Pest on the other side of the river Danube. A little like the old town and Stadt am Hof at home in Regensburg.
The first day of my travels didn’t start out as easy for me as for my friends who joined me on the first leg of my trip. Shortly before i arrived in Budapest, my phone was stolen in the bus. But because of that i spoke to a lot of helpful tourists and locals.
When my friends arrived later that day at the flat we decided to relax the rest of the day in one of Pests thermal baths: the Széchenyi. Under the city there is a patchwork of almost 125 thermal springs. They are not just popular with tourists, for locals it’s been part of everyday life for a long time. There are still baths standing that date back to the Turkish occupation, others have been updated f.e. in a beautiful Art Nouveau style.
On Saturday we started our day strolling down the Andrássy street to the heroes square. Our hunger drove us to the food market, where you can get all kinds of Hungarian specialties like langos, fishsoup, goulash and more. And of course all ingredients to cook them yourself. We also found Café Frei, which does have typical coffees from all around the world.
As the day went on we tried to explore as much of the city center as we could. All around the city we noticed little bronze statues. For example the Little Princess at the riverside of the Danube. And an Installation of shoes on the river bank to remember the victims of the holocaust & those who survived it.
Next was the Royal Palace but to get in, we had to buy a festival ticket first. Why you ask? Because of the upcoming celebrations of the national holiday, a festival with traditional craftsmanship and music was held in the courts of the castle. Once we where in, it was worth it. There where not only local shoemakers, woodworkers, etc but also some from other parts of the world.
I had seen similar traditional dresses as our Bavarian ones but i never knew that the Hungarian had a tradition to make gingerbread hearts like we do too. Of course they differ and i was curious to find out why the had a mirror in them. The baker told me that the mirror protects you from bad luck. I found out later that the gingerbread craft is also part of the intangible world heritage since 2010.
In the next picture you can see the Buda Castle at sundown. What is fascinating about the Royal Palace to me, is it’s architectural history. Time and time again the palace was destroyed, rebuild or had to be redesigned, because there wasn’t enough left to go on. The monarchs could have given up and for example rebuild on the more secure Gellért Hill, but they wanted to stay near their people and the city center. So now there are literally layers of history beneath the Királyi Vár.
Close to the Royal Palace we got our hands on some traditional cakes like the Dobos cake. After relaxing we visited the Halászbástya – Fisherman’s Bastion. This neo-romanesque masterpiece was originally part of the castle and protected by the fisherman’s guild, which worked and lived near the Bastion. The seven towers represent the seven chiefs of the hungarian tribes.
Another thing to see in the world heritage Buda Castle district is the Matthias Church. The building has other names too but this one stuck. As did the many legends and tales about King Matthias of Hungary, which the building was named after.
After freshening up we explored the night life on the Pest side. The famous Ruin Pubs were just amazing. Rooms with bathtubs to sit in, rooms that looked like an abandoned botanical garden and so much more wondrous things. On the last day we hiked up the Gellért Hill. Named after a christian bishop, which was killed by the people of Budapest at the beginning of christianisation in the city.
In the evening we went on a boot tour up and down the river Danube and watched the city by night. I especially liked the neo-gothic parliament, embellished with 40 kilograms of gold. It looked even more majestic lit up at night.