the one with the many construction sites

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.

the one at the beginning

Regensburg – you beautiful beast. As others before me I will start my journey in a city I’m studying and living in. I’m very lucky to stay in such a diverse city. Here you meet the traditional Bavarian sitting next to the extroverted student. Buildings and incorporated ruins from the middle ages and even roman times. My favorite place at the moment is right behind the gothic dome: the stonemason hut. It is surrounded by many trees and ivy. Right in the busy heart of the city hides a quiet oasis.

At midnight I’m gonna start my trip and my first destination will be Budapest. I’m curious how my view on the Regensburg and it’s world heritage will change through out visiting other cities. Because I’m already used to Regensburgs world heritage, which is the whole old town. Of course the streets still amaze me after two years with their small and contorted alley ways. But often I don’t realize, that every building I walk by has so many stories from the past to tell. Many World Heritage Sites are just one or two buildings, we are in luck that we have a whole district of preserved, wonderful architecture.

So at the end of my journey I will write about Regensburg again and we will see if something has changed.

The Adventure Begins – Discovering Vienna, Austria

 

Welcome to Vienna – the ‘heart’ and the ‘musical capital’ of Europe. There are many reasons why I chose this city not only to be my first destination for my UNESCO adventure, but also to be my second home.

I had previously visited the city when I was very young, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. This is when I knew that I wanted to move here for at least some time and spend my students years in this beautiful place. I have been in Vienna for 4 years now, and I knew I wanted my journey to start exactly here. Behind its gorgeous castles and facades, Vienna has so much more to offer.

The historic centre of Vienna was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001 and is considered one of the most beautiful city landmarks in Europe. The city presents an unreplicable mixture of old and new, ancient and modern. Vienna is also extremely rich in beautiful architecture, stunning castles and churches, and historic monuments.

I was very lucky to get the chance to explore the Vienna City Hall closely and meet Ernst Woller – the first president of the Landtag. Getting to see some of the halls in the Rathaus, that are normally closed for visitors, was a surreal experience. And let me tell you – the building is gorgeous, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. An interesting fact is that the hallways of the City Hall are open for visitors for free.

Meeting with Ernst Woller in the Vienna City Hall

The hallways of Vienna City Hall

My warm welcome in the City Hall was a great beginning of my day and my trip as a whole. I then went on a walk around the historic centre and took some photos of my most favourite places around town.

Vienna City Hall
Burgtheater

One of the iconic places is the Maria-Theresien-Platz and the twin museums. The Natural History Museum and the Museum of Art History are situated across from each other, and the buildings are just one of the many examples of how stunning the architecture in Vienna is.

 

Art History Museum
Art History Museum
Natural History Museum

 

Right next to the museums, you will find Hofburg – the former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers. Nowadays, it serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. The National Library is also situated in the same building.

 

Hofburg

 

If you keep walking, you will find yourself at Michaelerplatz – the place with the many horses and carriages. Here you can see a display of excavated ruins of a Roman wall.

 

Michaelerplatz
The view from the street in front of Michaelerplatz

 

Continuing straight ahead of Michaelerplatz, in just a few minutes you will see the gorgeous Graben Street – a place where many locals and tourists love walking around, sitting down for a coffee and admiring the view.

 

Graben Street
The plague monument on Graben Street

 

At the end of Graben Street is located one of the most symbolic and impressive buildings in all of Vienna – St. Stephen’s cathedral (Stephansdom). The cathedral was built in Romanesque and Gothic style and impresses just as much on the outside, as well as on the inside.

 

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

 

Many people visit Vienna because it’s among the popular capital cities in Europe. But only few realise why is this place so special and important. On one hand, the urban and architectural qualities of the historical center of Vienna are testimonies of a constant change of values ​​during the 2nd millennium. Secondly, three main periods of European culture and political development – medieval, baroque and early days – are presented in an exceptional way by the urban and architectural heritage of the historical center of Vienna. And last but not least, Vienna has been recognized worldwide as the musical capital of Europe since the 16th century.