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Budapest Travel Guide - Sights to See
Budapest was originally three cities... Buda, Obuda, and Pest. Today, Buda is on one side of the Danube, and Pest is on the opposite side. And the city is beautiful!

Transportation: Budapest is difficult on foot. Try to learn the transportation system of buses, trams, and subway. The transportation is very efficient and extremely cheap. One can buy tickets at tobacco shops, kiosks, and ticket offices. Tickets are validated on board the bus or the tram. You validate your own ticket when entering the subway system. Always have small change when buying tickets, because they won't change large bills for you. Taxi's are not expensive, and are available at stands or can be hailed on the street. 20% tip to taxi drivers.

Castle Hill (Varhegy): Located in the heart of medieval Budapest... cobbled streets, narrow alleys, and lovely squares, Baroque and Classical buildings painted in lovely pastel shades. This area was rubble after WW2 and has been lovingly restored. Bus 16 from Erzsebet Ter... and the Cable Car to top. Also, the subway, and a 10 minute walk. Great!

Matthias Church: This Gothic Church of Our Lady dates from the 13th century. There are beautiful spires and a colored tile roof. This is the coronation church of Hungarian kings. High Mass is celebrated at 10 AM on Sunday with orchestra and choir. The remains of a nearby church have been successfully incorporated into the Hilton Hotel. Saturday is the day for weddings here. Try to be in attendance.

Fishermen's Bastion: On the edge of the hill surrounding the square of Matthias Church. The name came from medieval times when fishermen had to protect this area from siege. It's now a version of Romanesque ramparts, turrets, and columns. Some of the best views of Budapest will be seen from here. The statue in the square is St. Stephen, Hungary's first king. A favorite spot for tourists.

Ruszwurm Pastry Shop: 1 Szentharomsag, 1/2 block from Matthias Church. This world-famous pastry shop dates from the 17th century, and has been designated a historic monument. Everything looks great. Order anything that pleases you. It will be incredibly reasonable in price. In Budapest, one must visit this shop.

Royal Palace: Located on Castle Hill, a short walk from Matthias Church. The Palace has been carefully reconstructed and now houses the Historical Museum of Budapest and the National Gallery (Hungarian Artists). The equestrian statue in front of the Palace is Prince Eugene of Savoy. Re-construction on some buildings has not been completed, and you'll be able to see the shrapnel holes caused by bombs and/or bullets of WW2.

Cable Car: Located to the side of the Royal Palace... quick and pleasant method to get to the bottom of Castle Hill, and to the banks of the Danube. From the bottom, walk along the Danube, toward Gellert Hill.

Gellert Hill: Take public transportation or a taxi to the top for the best view of Budapest. If you walk... take your time, and begin the climb from Gellert Ter. As you walk, you'll come to the balustrade of a stone fort... the Citadella, built in 1851. Here, you'll enjoy a panorama of the Danube with its bridges. They were all destroyed in WW2 and took 20 years to rebuild. The bridge farthest north is railway bridge. The longest is Arpad, which connects Pest and Obuda. Margaret Bridge at the southern tip is unusual in shape and connects Margaret Island to Buda and Pest. Chain Bridge is the oldest. Elizabeth Bridge is the graceful suspension bridge with a single arch. Liberty Bridge leads to the foot of Gellert Hill. Continue your walk to the top and you'll come to the Liberation Monument.

Liberation Monument: This gigantic statue of a woman holding an olive branch, commemorates the Russian liberation of Budapest from Nazi occupation in 1945. It is typically Russian... very large, heroic, and bad art. Great views from here.

Parliament Building: This building is the city's most famous landmark. It is impressive, on the Pest side, and reminiscent of London's Houses of Parliament. Even though it appears ancient, it was built in 1904 and took 20 years to build. On clear days, there are beautiful reflections on the Danube. Around the building you'll find a maze of courtyards, staircases and statues. The area is also a favorite haunt for lovers after dark. If visiting dignitaries are in Budapest, tourists are kept at a distance from the Parliament Building.

Heroes Square (Hosok Tere): Located at the end of Andrassy Ut. Take the subway. This huge square was built in 1896 to celebrate Hungary's millennium. The gigantic semicircular colonnade in the center is the Millennary Monument, and displays a pantheon of historical figures. Also on this square are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Exhibition Hall.

Museum of Fine Arts: This is the greatest art collection in Hungary... 7 works by El Greco, 5 by Goya, 2 by Raphael... along with Breughel, Velasquez, Tintoretto, Hals, Rubens, Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, and a bronze attributed to Da Vinci. Surprisingly good!

City Park: This is the largest park in Budapest, and is located behind the Millenary Monument. Within the park are numerous, beautiful buildings which were built for a World Exhibition... plus fountains, a zoo, a circus, lake, and an amusement park. Crowded on weekends, but fun for people watching.

Roosevelt Square: Walk down Korzo, a promenade reserved for pedestrians, and you'll come to this large square. The statue in the center is Count Istvan Szechenyi, the "greatest Hungarian", and Ferenc Deak, the architect of the Hungarian monarchy. You'll enjoy the Korzo pedestrian street.

March 15 Square: The maze of narrow streets around this square were part of the old walled city. The statue in the center is Sandor Petofi, the greatest poet of Hungary. The churches on the square are greek orthodox church for fine woodcarvings and icons, and the Inner City Parrish, the oldest in Pest... 12th century.

National Museum: On Muzeum Korut... surrounded by a large garden. This is a history of the people museum. It's main attraction is the Holy Crown of St. Stephen, which, along with the scepter, orb, and sword, were returned to Hungary in 1978 by the U.S. who had held them during WW2 to prevent their falling into the hands of the Russians.

St. Stephen's Basilica: This large church from the 19th century, dominates Pest. The dome is very large... and 2 tall spires. Interior... interesting. Try to visit on Saturday. This is the traditional day of weddings, and you'll see one after another... assembly-line fashion. Notice the colorful way the wedding cars are decorated.

Margaret Island: This island in the middle of the Danube is a major park... with stadium, pool, gardens, fountains, etc. A nice place to rest.

Aquincum Museum: These are the most significant excavations of a Roman urban area outside Italy... streets, homes, temple, and amphitheatre have all been unearthed. The area is located 4 miles upstream on the right bank of Danube.

Boat cruise on the Danube: Full day or 1/2 day tours are available. The cruises travel 12 miles through an area rich in scenery. Boats depart about 7 AM... and the longer tours stop at various towns and villages. If you are part of a "package tour" and this is offered as an "optional", do not take it. The price will be triple what you can get it for if you just go to the departure point and buy your own ticket.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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