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Budapest Tour of Scenic & Historic Sights


Buda, Pest, St. Andrew, Danube River, & Hungary

Castle Hill, Royal Palace, & Matthias Church

Parliament, St. Stephen's Church, & Heroes' Square

National Jewish Museum & Holocaust Memorial Center

Wallenberg Memorial, Artists Colony, & Open-Air Museum

Globus, Avalon Waterways, & River Cruise

Tours

We use the best tour operators to book all kinds of tours to Budapest and Hungary including independent tours, escorted tours, and packages. Contact us to book your travel. We book travel worldwide. Check out our Special Promotions.

Globus Avalon River-Cruise Tour

The river cruise on the Avalon Waterways Tapestry began in Budapest where we spent two nights, and which is described here. For a stretch of 58 miles (93 kilometers) west the Danube River was the dividing line between Hungary to the south and Slovakia to the north. Next we cruised through Austria, then into Germany. The seven-night cruise ended in Nuremberg. We were then taken by motor coach to Prague where we spent two nights. For a description of the ship and onboard activities see the Avalon Waterways Ships. Contact Us for more information.

Buda building showing bullet holes from World War II.

Buda building showing bullet holes from World War II.

Budapest

The Danube River separated the cities of Buda and Obuda from Pest. Buda and Obuda are in the hilly area west of the river, whereas Pest is to the east and has gentle relief, lacking in hills. In 1873 the cities joined together as one, with the name Budapest. Unfortunately, Budapest suffered a great deal of damage during the Second World War. Much of the city had to be rebuilt. The building pictured above is a stark reminder of the war with many visible bullet holes.

Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge was the first one to span the Danube River between Buda and Pest. The bridge opened in 1849, and it is centrally located in Budapest. However, it had to be rebuilt. All of the bridges in the city crossing the Danube River were destroyed by the Nazis close to the end of the Second World War in an attempt to stop the Allied forces. Entering the bridge from either side you see statues of lions. There are walkways for foot traffic on the bridge. So take a walk across the bridge.

Buda

Buda Royal Palace on Castle Hill.

Buda Royal Palace on Castle Hill.

Royal Palace

Looking from Pest on the East bank towards the Buda hills you see the Royal Palace on Castle Hill, which is pictured above. The castle that once stood there was destroyed during the Second World War. It was replaced by the Royal Palace, which houses museums including the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Museum. The National Archives is found there as well.

Buda Medieval Wall from inside.

Buda Medieval Wall from inside the Wall.

Walking around Buda

The National Dance Theater and the Office of the President of the Republic of Hungary are near the Royal Palace and close to the end of the Chain Bridge. To the north is an area that includes the Matthias Church, and this is a nice area to visit that is easy to walk around. It has largely been rebuilt since the war, including the Medieval Wall pictured above. If you walk from the church towards the river you find a great view of Pest, including a view of the beautiful Parliament. Walking further north and away from the river there is a Museum of Military History and a Telephone Museum.

Matthias Church observed by a horseman.

Matthias Church observed by a horseman.

Matthias Church

The very attractive Matthias Church, pictured above, originated with King Bela IV in the 1200s. But it is named after King Matthias Corvinus, who reigned in the 1400s. The church has been rebuilt a number of times. Tombs containing King Bela and his wife are found in the church. The church also includes an art collection, a museum, and is used for concerts.

Pest

Pest is where you find most of the attractions in Budapest. It is also the largest area of the city. There are many parts of the city where the best way to get around is to walk. A nice walk is down Andrassy Boulevard. It starts not far from St. Stephen's Church and goes to Heroes' Square and City Park (both described below). Along the boulevard are interesting and attractive sights.

Hungary Parliament on the Danube River.

Hungary Parliament on the Danube River at dusk.

Parliament

The seat of government for Hungary is the Parliament building in Budapest. This is a gorgeous building with a dome that overlooks the Danube River. Notice the picture above, which was taken from the river cruise ship close to dusk. In Europe the Parliament building is exceeded in size by only Westminster in London. Both are very similar in design because they were both designed by the same architect. It dates from l884. On display are a jeweled crown and scepter, said to be that of King St. Stephen. To view the jewels or the inside of the building it is necessary to take a guided tour.

St. Stephen's Church.

St. Stephen's Church.

St. Stephen's Church

St. Stephen's church is Roman Catholic. The church is named after King Saint Stephen I (975 - 1038), the first king of Hungary. He was made a Saint because he brought Christianity to Hungary. Construction on the church began in 1851, but due to the collapse of the dome it had to be entirely rebuilt and was not finished until 1905. The church is large, with seats for 8,500 people. It is considered the most important church building in Hungary. The church has two bell towers. See the picture above. The bell in the south tower weighs more than 9 tons. The church attracts top musicians, and concerts are presented on Thursday evenings. In case you want to see it, the church has on display St. Stephen's mummified right hand.

Monument in Heroes' Square.

Monument in Heroes' Square.


Statues in Heroes' Square seen at left.

Statues in Heroes' Square seen above.

Heroes' Square, City Park, & nearby attractions

The statues in Heroes' Square constitute a monument to the millennium in 1896 following the arrival of the Maygar tribes in 896. See the pictures above. The tall column in the center has a statue of Gabriel, the Archangel. In his hands he holds a crown. At the base of the column are seven Maygar tribal leaders on horseback. They were conquerors of the land. To the left are statues of seven Hungarian kings, and on the right are seven statues of seven famous Hungarians.

Across from Heroes' Square is the Museum of Fine Art, which is renowned for its collection of art. It opened in the early 1900s, and the building has a classic Greek design including three Greek temples.

Approximately a little east of Heroes' Square is City Park, which had its origin in the 1800s. This popular park includes a zoo, an amusement park, a circus, a lake, Vajdahunyad Castle, and the Szechenyl Baths. The zoo is home to numerous animals. You can go boating on the lake. Within the castle is the Museum of Agriculture. The Szechenyl Baths is one of the largest spa centers in Europe. It contains segregated pools, mixed pools, and a large outdoor pool used by families and visitors. There is also an area for medical patients. The water in the pools is fed by thermal springs.

National Jewish Museum.

National Jewish Museum.

National Jewish Museum and Holocaust Memorial Center

The Holocaust Memorial Center was opened in 2004, sixty years after the holocaust. It was formerly the Pava Synagogue which dates from the 1920s, and which was renovated to become the new center. The complex includes the National Jewish Museum, a synagogue, and a courtyard with memorials. The history told here is important, if not pleasant, and should never be forgotten. The entrance to the National Jewish Museum is shown above. Objects and art telling the history of Hungarian Jewry are on display. There is a bookshop with English selections. A special synagogue, pictured below but separate from the main synagogue, is also on display.

Synagogue in the Holocaust Memorial Center.

Synagogue in the Holocaust Memorial Center.

The Dohany Synagogue is located next door to the National Jewish Museum. It dates from 1859, and seats 2,964 people. Of all synagogues currently in use in the world there is only one that is larger. The Dohany Synagogue was used as a detention center for Jews during the Holocaust. Both Orthodox and Reformed Jews use the synagogue.

Courtyard in Holocaust Memorial Center.

Courtyard in Holocaust Memorial Center.

There are many tombstones for Jews that were buried in the complex. Most of these were Jews that were held there during the Second World War. By Jewish law they have to be buried within twenty-four hours after death. Although burial is not allowed in a synagogue, the rule had to be broken. A wall surrounding the courtyard has the names of more than 500,000 Hungarian victims engraved on it. A picture of the courtyard is above. Inside the courtyard there is an important Holocaust Memorial. The design is that of an inverted menorah with seven attached branches. On the branches are approximately 600,000 metal leaves with the names of the Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust. See the picture below. In the courtyard there is also a dedication to the many gentiles that saved many Jews during the Second World War in Budapest.

Holocaust Memorial.

Holocaust Memorial.

Raoul Wallenberg Memorial

During World War II Raoul Wallenberg was a diplomat from Sweden in Budapest. At great risk to his life he worked to save numerous Jews from death. Because of his heroic efforts the Hungarians built a memorial in his honor. It is pictured below, in which he is shown as the "Snake Killer." The statue is located in St. Istvan Park.

Raoul Wallenberg Memorial.

Raoul Wallenberg Memorial.

Bronze Shoes

In Pest on the Danube River between the Parliament and the Chain Bridge is a row of sixty pairs of bronze shoes, but nothing else. Many people no doubt wonder why they are there. The bronze shoes are another memorial to the Second World War. As the allies were marching to Budapest the Nazis rounded up Jews and shot them to death on the riverbank. The shoes are a memorial to these unfortunate victims.

House of Terror

What is now called the House of Terror was the headquarters of the secret police for both the Nazis' and the Communists. The Nazi secret police targeted mostly Jews and the Communists were after anyone that did not agree with them. Through both regimes many people were tortured and killed in this building. The Communist regime did not end until 1989. Hungary has not been free for very many years. The building is now a museum and memorial to those that were killed by both regimes.

Margaret Island

Margaret Island is a a narrow island in the Danube River, which is a popular city park. It has a long history, being named after the daughter of King Bela. Margaret became a nun and lived on the island in the 1200s in a Dominican Convent. Today the island offers a number of attractions including the Palatinus Strand with pools fed by thermal springs and a large swimming pool. There are attractive flower gardens and many places to relax on the grass. You can go for walks or ride bicycles. There is also a petting zoo.

Hungarian Composers

Famous Hungarian composers in classical music are Bela Bartok (1881-1945) and Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967). But Franz Liszt (1811-1896), born before them, is far more popular. He was not only a great composer but a great pianist and performer. His music is widely performed today. The place on Andrassy Boulevard where Liszt lived the last years of his life is a museum where you can see his pianos and other personal possessions. At times concerts are presented there. Kodaly also lived on Andrassy Boulevard, and the place where he lived is now a museum dedicated to him. The final home of Bartok in Buda is also a museum dedicated to the composer. Concerts are offered at the museum.

Hungarian State Opera House

The Hungarian State Opera House is renowned as one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe and one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest. It opened in 1884. Frescoes are found in the building and there are statures of many famous composers inside and outside of the building. It seats 1,289 concert patrons. Both the State Opera and the State Ballet perform here. The State Opera House can be seen on guided tours.

Hungarian National Museum

The Hungarian National Museum dates from 1802, and the museum building was completed in 1846. Many documents and things relating to the history of Hungary are found here. One of the most popular objects is said to be the replica of the crown of King Saint Stephen, the first king of Hungary. He was made a Saint because he brought Christianity to Hungary. The "original crown" is found in the Parliament building, but there is considerable doubt that it was the king's crown.

St. Andrew's artist colony.

St. Andrew's artist colony.

St. Andrew

St. Andrew, pictured above, is an artist colony located about 13 miles (21 kilometers) north of Budapest. It is on the Danube River. Many artists are found here. There are galleries, many museums, churches, and restaurants. It is a city to walk around and also along the river. It is a very popular tourist destination, and a favorite of shoppers. Recommended museums to see are the Szanto Marzipan Museum (confections shaped into various forms), the Margit Kovacs Museum (ceramics), and the Open-Air Museum (described below). Recommended churches are the Szanto Jewish Memorial House and Temple and the Serbian Orthodox Museum.

Village in Open-Air Museum near St. Andrew.

Village in Open-Air Museum near St. Andrew.

Open-Air Museum

The Open-Air Museum is located about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from St. Andrew. This is a reconstructed village with homes, farm buildings, mills, shops, and churches that define village life in Hungary, some examples dating from the 1700s. It is a pleasant place to walk around, and you can go inside the buildings and houses to see how they were furnished at the time people lived that way. Note the picture above and the ones below.

Farm building in Open-Air Museum.

Farm building in Open-Air Museum.


Wagon in Open-Air Museum.

Wagon in Open-Air Museum.

River cruise Budapest to Prague

The river cruise on the Avalon Waterways Tapestry began in Budapest where we spent two nights, and which is described here. For a stretch of 58 miles (93 kilometers) west the Danube River was the dividing line between Hungary to the south and Slovakia to the north. Next we cruised through Austria, then into Germany. The seven-night cruise ended in Nuremberg. We were then taken by motor coach to Prague where we spent two nights. For a description of the ship and onboard activities see the Avalon Waterways Ships. Contact Us for more information.

Statue in Slovakia seen from Tapestry river cruise ship on the Danube River.

Statue in Slovakia seen from the Tapestry river cruise ship on the Danube River.

Photos by Sunny Breeding.