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1100 years in the heart of Europe | Map
Budapest and Surroundings
Eger–Tokaj Wine Region
The Puszta and Lake Tisza
Pannonia
Lake Balaton
 
     

Some fall in love with the city at first sight, others are won over only after a longer period of discovery; but all agree that it is one of the most beautiful locations in the world.
The metropolis with a population of two million is bisected by the mighty flow of the Danube with hills and valleys on the Buda side and the flat, low-lying Pest on the other. The riverside panorama has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Anybody who has ever seen it illuminated by night can understand why.
Here are some interesting facts about Budapest:
– Although initially inhabited fifty thousand years ago, it has only had its present name for a mere 128 years. Prior to 1873, Óbuda, Buda and Pest were separate towns.
– Under its hills there is a system of caves with thermal waters gushing from 80 thermal springs which supply 12 spas with 70 million litres of water daily.
– It's monuments include 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatres, 400-year-old Turkish baths and unique Hungarian Art Nouveau buildings from the 19th century. The cityscape owes its uniform appearance to the elegant mansions erected in Eclectic style in the early 20th century.
– The transport system also has some interesting features. The first underground railway of Europe has been connecting the downtown with the City Park for over 100 years. In the Buda hills you will find the world's third hill railway and a narrow-gauge forest railway operated by children.
– Lovers of culture are spoilt for choice with 237 monuments, 223 museums and galleries, 35 theatres, 90 cinemas, 2 opera houses and 12 concert halls. Around 200 excursion destinations offer a wide variety of things to do. Throughout the 365 days of the year, travel agencies organise walks and sightseeing tours by coach and boat, tailored to individual requirements.

 

 

Gellért Bath

Buda
The most important sights of the city can be found here, on the right bank of the Danube. Buda is the capital city's green belt with popular hiking destinations like the János-hegy ('hegy' meaning 'hill'), Normafa, Széchenyi-hegy, Kis- and Nagy-Hárs-hegy, Remete-hegy, Hármashatár-hegy and the Game Park in Budakeszi, all of them parts of the Buda Nature Reserve. We suggest the following route: take the cog-wheel railway (one stop from Moszkva tér by tram 56) to Széchenyi-hegy, then the children's railway to Hűvösvölgy. The train stops at Budapest's highest point on János-hegy (526 m). From here, take the chair lift to Zugliget, then bus 158 back to Moszkva tér. The only two caves open to the public in Budapest are the Pálvölgyi stalactite cave, which can be explored to a length of 500 m (entrance to the cave at 162 Szépvölgyi út) and Szemlő Hill cave (entrance to the cave at 35 Pusztaszeri út), a saline cave 300 m of which is open to visitors (reached by bus from Kolosy tér in Óbuda).

 

Concert in the Matthias Church

Óbuda
Aquincum (D2), the ruins of a two thousand years old forerunner of Budapest, can be found in the northern part of the city. The remains of this civil and military town of the Roman period include two amphitheatres, villas with superb mosaic works, a military bath-house and the stone pillars of an aqueduct. The Aquincum Museum (139 Szentendrei út) is a contiguous area of ruins, where the most valuable items include carved stones, wall paintings and an ancient organ. Old single-storey houses, taverns and fine museums create a unique ambience at Fő tér in Óbuda. Nearby are two museums: the Varga Imre Museum (7 Laktanya utca), exhibiting the works of a contemporary sculptor, and the Vasarely Museum (6 Szentlélek tér) housing the complete oeuvre of Victor Vasarely (originally: Győző Vásárhelyi), father of op-art. At the Kiscelli Museum (108 Kiscelli út) there is a rich collection of works depicting Budapest in addition to 20th-century Hungarian works of fine arts.

 

Aquincum

The Castle District in Buda
Erected in the 14th century and rebuilt in the Baroque style 400 years later, the royal palace at Szent György tér was the residence of the Hungarian monarchs for 700 years. Today it houses Budapest's most frequented museums and galleries. The Hungarian National Gallery (Buildings B, C, and D) offers a selection of the history of arts in Hungary from the 10th century to the present day. Exhibits include a collection of early medieval and Renaissance stone works, Gothic wood-carvings, panels and triptychs, Renaissance and Baroque art, 19th- and 20th-century painting, sculpture and collections of coins and medals. Guided tours are available to the crypt of the Hapsburg viceroys. At the History of Budapest Museum (Building E) restored sections of the medieval royal palace in Buda, its chapel and Gothic sculptures as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions on Budapest's history can be seen. The National Széchényi Library (Building F), the country's largest library, houses - among others - a rich collection of the Corvinas, medieval codices from King Matthias' library. In Building A the Museum of Contemporary Arts, also known as the Ludwig Museum, displays the works of outstanding Hungarian and foreign contemporary artists.
Topped by a tower of stone tracery, Matthias Church, also called the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (2 Szentháromság tér) was the scene of coronations and royal weddings. In the early 19th century it was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style. Its crypt now displays a collection of ecclesiastical artefacts. From spring to autumn concerts are organised here. The Fishermen's Bastion, a neo- Romanesque bulwark with seven towers built on medieval walls, offers an excellent view of the city. Further back the remains of the 13th-15th-century St. Nicholas Church with a Dominican monastery have been ingeniously incorporated into the interior of the stylish Hilton Hotel. The Dominican courtyard of the hotel hosts open-air performances. The urban middle-class houses in the streets connecting Bécsi kapu tér and Dísz tér, gates to the Castle District, were built on medieval foundations. The Gothic sedilia of their doorways lend a unique feature to them. The Castle Cave, a 1,800-m section of the 12-km cave system under Castle Hill (entrance at 16 Országház utca) is open to the public only by booking in advance. The Military History Museum (40 Tóth Árpád sétány) displays memories of Hungary's military past, and the medieval Jewish Chapel (26 Táncsics M. utca) offers an insight into the past life of the Jews in Buda. The Baroque Erdődy- Hatvany Mansion (7 Táncsics M. utca) keeps rare musical instruments from the Museum of Musical History as well as a rich collection of the manuscripts of the great Hungarian composer Béla Bartók (1881-1945).

 

The Fishermen's Bastion
 
Royal Palace
 

Gellért Hill
Not many cities have a hill rising from the city centre and protected as a national park. Gellért Hill has a fortress called the Citadel on top of it, which was built in 1851, and is now a tourist attraction with terraces offering the fullest panoramic view of the city.
The hot springs deep inside the hill supply three spas at the foot of the hill. The Gellért Thermal Baths, Hungary's grandest spa (2-4 Kelenhegyi út), where facilities include thermal and swimming pools, bath tubs, whirlpool baths, wave pools and a water park. The other two, Rudas Baths at 9 Döbrentei tér and Rác Baths at 8-10 Hadnagy utca, date back to the era of Turkish rule in Hungary. Facilities at both include tubs and thermal pools and as well 'Turkish' or steam baths. A swimming pool can also be found at the Rudas Baths.
Other monuments from the Turkish period include the tomb of Gül Baba, a Muslim shrine on Rózsadomb ('Hill of Roses') at 4 Mecset utca, and the domed Király Thermal Baths at 82-84 Fő utca, with facilities including thermal pools, tubs and steam baths.
Fertile hillside vineyards have made Budafok in the south of Budapest a city of wine and sparkling wine. Its highlights include a labyrinth of cellars and the Museum of the Törley Sparkling Wine Manufacturers at 82-94 Kossuth L. utca. The Szoborpark ('Park of Sculptures') at the junction of Balatoni út-Szabadkai út displays an unparalleled collection of socialist-era public sculptures. The Castle Museum in Nagytétény (9-11 Kastélypark utca, 22nd District of Budapest) has an interesting collection of furniture. Offering a glimpse of sea life, the Tropicarium at the Campona shopping mall is worth including in a day's programme.

 

Rudas Baths
Pest

Pest, on the left bank of the Danube, also has many historic districts, resorts and famous sights. There are nine bridges spanning the Danube, the oldest being the Széchenyi Chain Bridge built in 1849.

 

Royal Palace and Chain Bridge
Parliament
 
The State Opera House

Downtown - Pest
The Downtown Parish Church on Március 15. tér was the city's first church. Examples of all architectural styles, ranging from Romanesque to Classicist, blend into the interior of the church. At 2 Dohány utca Europe's largest synagogue is found, serving also as a concert hall of excellent acoustics. The Jewish Museum in the courtyard of the synagogue is a centre for Jewish studies. The Hungarian National Museum (14-16 Múzeum körút) is the finest example of Hungarian Classicist architecture. In existence since 1846, it is the most significant public collection in Hungary, tracing the history of the Hungarian people from prehistoric times to the present day. The Vásárcsarnok ('Grand Market Hall', 1-3 Fővám körút) is striking in its architectural inventiveness.
The finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Hungary include the Museum of Applied Arts (33-37 Üllői út) with its wide selection of permanent and temporary exhibitions, the houses on Szervita tér (Pest town centre) and the building of the former Postal Savings Bank (4 Hold utca). The Parliament (Kossuth Lajos tér) is the largest and the most lavishly decorated building in the country. Built between 1885 and 1902 by Imre Steindl, this exquisite edifice is 96-m high and 118-m wide, and has 10 courtyards, 29 staircases and 27 gates. Europe's first area heating system was put in service in this building. Seat of the Hungarian Parliament and government offices, it provides a place of safety for the Holy Crown and the royal insignia. It is accessible only by guided tours in groups. The neo-Renaissance St. Stephen's Basilica (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út), elevated to the rank of basilica minor, is the largest church in Budapest, and the second largest in Hungary. The right hand of St. Stephen, Hungary's first king (970?-1038), preserved intact for over 1,000 years, is the relic of the Chapel of the Holy Right. The tower balcony of the basilica offers a splendid uninterrupted panorama of the whole of the city.
It is worth taking a walk along the straight Andrássy út, a boulevard that is now a World Heritage site. It is lined with 19th- and 20th-century Eclectic-style palaces. The State Opera House (22 Andrássy út), with its frescoed interior, seating an audience of 1,200, is a splendid work of by Miklós Ybl, Hungary's most famous architect, and has been the centre of musical life in Hungary since 1864. There are guided tours.

 

The City Park
The famous buildings of the capital's premier park were erected by enthusiastic Budapest citizens to commemorate the country's millennium in 1896. At the imposing Hősök tere ('Heroes' square') the Archangel Gabriel raises the Holy Crown to a height of 36 m. The centre of the square is occupied by a colonnaded monument commemorating the millennium of Hungary's conquest. A group of sculptures represent the Magyar chieftains, including their legendary leader Árpád, who led the conquering tribes from Asia into the Carpathian Basin. Between the pillars statues of kings, generals and politicians of Hungary can be seen. On opposite sides of the square are the two principal art museums of Budapest.
The Museum of Fine Arts contains the country's prime art collection. Its old masters section boasts the largest collection of Spanish masters outside Spain as well as an equally superb collection of works by masters of other nationalities, including Bellini, Brueghel, Corregio, Dürer, El Greco, Giorgione, Goya, Murillo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian and Velasquez. Famous pieces from the 19th century include those by Delacroix, Gauguin, Monet, Renoir and Corot.
The other museum is called Műcsarnok ('Palace of Arts'), and it is the country's largest exhibition hall, a suitable venue for major temporary exhibitions.
Erected on Széchenyi Island, Vajdahunyad Castle is an imitative anthology of some of old Hungary's famous buildings and architectural styles ranging from the Romanesque to the Baroque. Of the imitation buildings, the most important is the replica of the Castle in Vajdahunyad in Transylvania (today in Romania). It houses the Agricultural Museum, the first of its kind, established in 1896. The nearby lake is a romantic setting for boating in summer and ice skating in winter.
The Széchenyi Baths complete with thermal pools, Turkish steam baths and tubs, swimming pools and a water park (11 Állatkerti körút) is Europe's largest spa baths.
The Transport Museum (11 Városligeti körút) houses one of Europe's oldest collections of transport history memorabilia.
The 135-year-old Budapest Zoo, built in the Art Nouveau style, was the first of its kind in the world. Two popular amusement facilities in the City Park are the Metropolitan Circus and the Amusement Park where a 100-year-old merry-go-round, winner of the Europa Nostra Award, is still in service. Two masterpieces of Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture are the Hungarian National Geological Institute (14 Stefánia út) and the Roman Catholic Parish Church in Kőbánya (25 Szent László tér). A design of geometrical regularity, the Wekerle Housing Estate in the 18th District, providing accommodation for minor officials, was an interesting social experiment. The Palace of Wonders at 19 Váci út is Central Europe's first interactive 'playhouse' of science, popular with children. So is the Park of Hungarian Railway History (95 Tatai út) with trains that visitors can drive.

 

Vajdahunyad Castle
 
Hősök tere (Heroes' Square)
 
Széchenyi Baths

Margaret Island
Lying in the centre of Budapest and the River Danube and closed to automobile traffic, the island can easily be accessed on foot from both banks of the river or by bus. A broad 2-km long green expanse of land stretching between Margaret Bridge and Árpád Bridge, the island is Budapest's most treasured and beloved park. Closed to automobile traffic, it can easily be accessed on foot from both banks or by bus 26 departing from Nyugati tér. It is a scenic island of peace and quiet with some trees that are hundreds of years old, the colourful tapestry of a rose garden, a thermal spring in an evocative Japanese-style garden and a waterfall. The little zoo is popular with children while the Hajós Alfréd Swimming Pool hosts international sporting events. For the ultimate summer pleasure there is the Palatinus Swimming Pool. Musicals are staged in the open-air theatre at the water tower. The ruins of a 700-year-old Dominican and a Franciscan church and monastery are the island's historical monuments. In the belfry of the Premonstratensian chapel, the oldest bell in the country can still be heard. In the high season minibuses are in service, offering faster and easier access to the sights of the island. Pedal vehicles can be rented year round at the Bringó vár ('Bike Castle') at the northern tip of the island near the hotels.

 

 
Donauknie

The Danube Bend offers some of the country's finest landscapes, where the river passes between the hills and turns south. Formerly the property of the Crown, this land was the scene of major historic events in Medieval Hungary.

Szentendre (D2), with its winding lanes, seven aspiring church towers, colourful houses, narrow sidestreets, genuine Mediterranean ambience and scores of museums, galleries, guest houses and warm restaurants, is the most frequented tourist destination of the Danube Bend.
Four of the churches erected by the Serbian colonies that fled from the Turks and settled here from the 14th to 17th centuries still belong to the Greek Orthodox Episcopal Church. The icons, the work of gold- and silversmiths and other treasures on display at the Museum of Serbian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Art at 5 Pátriárka utca complement the exhibits in the Serbian churches. On Templom Domb ('Church Hill') you will find the medieval Roman Catholic parish church (Templom tér) dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, with the country's oldest sundial on its wall. The Margit Kovács Museum at 1 Vastagh György utca is one of the most popular collections in the country. The artist's (1902-1977) charming ceramic figures radiate beauty, goodness and humanity. The Ferenczy Museum at 6 Fő tér exhibits the works of Károly Ferenczy (1862-1917), his wife and three children, the Gobelin tapestry artist Noémi, the sculptor Béni and the painter Valér. The Szentendre Gallery (2-5 Fő tér) and the Gallery of the Artists' Colony (51 Bogdányi út) house temporary exhibitions of contemporary artists working in the town.
The House of Folk Art (1 Rákóczi utca) details the ethnography of Pest County. A collection of Roman stonework (1 Dunakanyari körút) exhibits the remains of Ulcisia Castra, a Roman town from the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The Művészet Malom ('Mill of Arts') at 32 Bogdányi utca, a centre of fine arts and culture housed in an old flour mill, is a workshop for contemporary artists offering exhibitions enlivened by entertaining programmes. The Transport Museum at the HÉV railroad station boasts an incredibly rich collection of mass transport vehicles. Approximately 4 km from the town centre, the Open-Air Ethnographic Museum ('Skanzen') at 1 Sztaravodai út is Hungary's largest ethnographic collection. Monuments of folk art earmarked for preservation are transported here from across the country. Upon completion, a total of 340 buildings will be arranged in a breakdown of geographical regions detailing the characteristics of Hungarian folk architecture. Currently, seven geographical regions, a Greek Orthodox Church, a Protestant graveyard with tombstones and an ethnographic exhibition are open to the public from April to October. During the weekends, visitors can learn the art of traditional folk handicrafts. The notable days of Hungarian folk tradition are also celebrated. There is a ferry service and a bridge at Tahi (D-E2) to the 31-km Szentendre Island, a popular hiking destination. Of the four places on the island, the most popular is Kisoroszi (D-E2), where there is a golf course.

Visegrád (D2), from here the Papal Nuncio, well used to pomp and chivalry, headed his letters 'from Visegrád, a Paradise on Earth' when he stayed as a guest and saw the breathtaking palace of the great Renaissance monarch, King Matthias (1458-1490). With 350 rooms and two-tier fountains of red marble, it was one of the most luxurious royal residences of the age. The Renaissance courtyard of the palace and the so-called Hercules Fountain, which used to stream wine on various celebratory occasions, have been faithfully restored. The original fountains and sculptures are stored at the five-storey 13th-century Solomon Tower, which is one of Central Europe's largest and most intact Romanesque fortified dwellings. Battle scenes are re-enacted in its courtyard on occasion. The tower is part of a defence system with massive walls connecting the 13th-century water bastion on the Danube with the castle on top of the hill. This system defended the royal court that was relocated here from Buda in 1316.
The Holy Crown was kept at the Citadel built between 1245 and 1255 for nearly 200 years. It was also here in 1335 that the rulers of Eastern Europe met for the first time in history. The kings of Bohemia, Poland and Hungary concluded an economic agreement, to the exclusion of Vienna. On the nearby heights there are three notable things to see: the ruins of a Roman military encampment from around 330 AD on Sibrik Hill; the Nagyvillám ('Great Lightning') lookout tower on Fekete ('black') Hill; and Mogyoró ('hazelnut') Hill, a prime hiking destination with facilities including a bobsleigh course, a yurt camp, a camping site, forest restaurants, playgrounds and a game preserve open all the year round.
Ördögmalmi ('Devil's Mill') Waterfall, Magda Spring and Telgárthy Meadow, an ideal place for picnicking, are situated in the Apátkút Valley. A thermal spring in Lepence Valley (D2) supplies water to the 33-m long swimming pool of a terraced forest spa situated on a hillside.

 

The Danube Bend
 
Szentendre, Fő tér
("Main Square")
 
Szentendre, Programme in the Open-Air Ethnographic Museum
 
Royal Palace Visegrád

Esztergom (D2) is the seat of the archbishop of Esztergom, the primate of the Hungarian Catholic Church. St. Stephen (970?-1038), the first Hungarian king and founder of the country, was born in the castle erected here in around 970.
Built on Castle Hill in the first half of the 19th century, the Classicist cathedral on Szent István tér is the country's largest church with the world's largest altarpiece, painted on a single piece of canvas. The cathedral incorporates the early 16th-century red marble Bakócz Chapel, the only intact Renaissance edifice in Hungary. The Treasury of the Cathedral exhibits the richest collection of Hungarian ecclesiastical art of some 400 items. The private royal chapel, the frescoed castle chapel and a rose window in the vicinity of the cathedral are remainders of a Romanesque royal palace. The Castle Museum (1 Szent István tér) in the restored halls of the palace of Árpád kings traces the history of the castle in Esztergom. The head of the Hungarian Catholic Church resides at the Primate's Palace (2 Mindszenty hercegprímás tere), which also houses the Christian Museum exhibiting the most valuable pieces of medieval Hungarian fine arts. The Baroque ambience on Széchenyi tér is created by middle-class houses and the City Hall. Topped by two spires, its parish church (1724-28) is a unique monument of Italian Baroque architecture.

 

Esztergom

Vác (E2) is a one-thousand-year-old episcopal seat on the Danube bank. It was the terminus of the first railway service launched in Pest in 1846, at the time trains arrived here at a speed of 30 km per hour. The country's only triumphal arch, the Kőkapu ('Stone Gate'), can be seen here, erected in 1764 to celebrate the visit of the Empress Maria Theresa.
Konstantin tér is dominated by the imposing Classicist cathedral. The Episcopal palace (1 Migazzi tér) was built in the 18th century. The tabernacle of the Piarist Church and Monastery (Szentháromság tér) are also noteworthy.
All houses on Március 15. tér are protected Baroque monuments. The Church of the White Company (24 Március 15. tér) was named after the Dominicans in white habit. Its altar is a richly decorated Rococo masterpiece. Aptly entitled 'Memento mori', an exhibition in the air-conditioned cellar in the adjoining Baroque house displays rare 16th-18th-century burial memorabilia found in the vault. The bridge over the Gombás brook is the only Baroque stone bridge with statues in the country.

 

Gödöllő (E2)
Emperor Franz Joseph and his royal consort Queen Elisabeth, affectionately called Sissi by Hungarians, would often stay in the 250-year-old Baroque royal palace (1 Szabadság tér) of Gödöllő. Classical music concerts and festivals are held in the stateroom and on the ceremonial courtyard. After 200 years the restored Baroque Theatre is open to the public once again. The chapel and Calvary in Elisabeth Park are from the 18th century.
Because of the 700-year-old miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary, the devotional church in Máriabesnyő was elevated to the rank of basilica minor and became a famous shrine. The Hungarian Marlboro Grand Prix takes place at the Hungaroring in the outskirts of Mogyoród in mid-August. There is an aquapark adjoining Hungaroring.

 

Gödöllő, Royal Palace
Ráckeve (D3)
The Ráckeve Danube branch is a favourite area for anglers and water sport enthusiasts. The main attraction of the town is the fine Baroque mansion (95 Kossuth L. utca) of Eugene of Savoy, a great Austrian general, from the 18th century. The country's only Gothic-style Greek Orthodox Serbian church, boasting a star-vaulted ceiling, a Baroque icon screen and several medieval Byzantine frescoes, is at 1 Viola utca. The Árpád Museum (34 Kossuth L. utca) traces the life and history of millers along the Danube.
 
   
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