first stop in Hungary was the city of Esztergom. The first Magyar
tribes came from the east and settled in Hungary in 896. St. Stephen
became the first Christian king of Hungary in 1000.
He was born and crowned in Esztergom . The town remains the religious
center of the country and is often called the Hungarian Rome. We
visited the Basilica, built high on a hill above the town. This
is the third largest church in Europe and the fifth largest in the
world. It is the seat of the Hungarian cardinal. The famous anti-communist
cleric, Cardinal Josef Mindszenty is buried in the Basilica and
it has become a popular pilgrim destination.
the afternoon, we sailed down the Danube to Budapest, through the
Danube Bend which is considered one of the river's most enchanting
stretches. Unfortunately, once again, the weather did not cooperate
as we had a foggy and overcast day. However, the view coming into
Budapest at night was thrilling to see, with the Parliament Building,
Chain Bridge, and Castle area all lit up.
Then a Gypsy Band came aboard to entertain us with their unique
sound. (We had to buy their CD!)
To view more photos from Esztergom and the cruise through the Danube
Bend, go to the Esztergom Photo
spent three wonderful days in Budapest and there was still more
to see. Budapest is the capital of Hungary and home to 2 M people.
It is situated on both sides of the Danube with Buda on the western
bank and Pest on the eastern. A two minute ride on a Cable Car takes
you up to Castle Hill on the Buda side. This has been designated
a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Ramparts encircle and protect
the massive castle complex.The
palace was destroyed during WWII but has been restored and is now
a vast museum complex. You can still see bullet holes on some of
the buildings. The Fisherman's Bastion with its seven teepee-like
structures was built in the 1900's on the foundations of the old
fortress bastions near the old fish market. It provides a beautiful
view of the Danube and the Pest side of the city.
Pest side is the more modern, business center of the city. The Houses
of Parliament Building dominates the eastern bank. It is grouped
around ten courtyards, has 27 entrances and 29 staircases. We were
lucky enough to get tickets to tour the building and found it to
be as breathtaking inside as out. A wide ornamental staircase leads
to the domed hall where the crown of King Stephen is displayed.
We viewed the ornate assembly chamber and noticed the cigar holders
placed outside in the hallways.
also visited Hero's Square which was built in 1896 to commemorate
the 1000 year anniversary of Hungary's existence. The semicircular
colonnades contain the statues of 7 sovereigns on each side with
bronze reliefs below showing scenes from their lives. In front of
the main column is a tablet commemorating the heroes who sacrificed
their lives for freedom and independence. Foreign statesmen often
lay wreaths here during their official visits.
Opera House was built in 1884. The concert hall is spectacular with
its gold and scarlet domed ceiling and holds about 1200 lucky spectators.
also toured the Great Synagogue, Europe's largest and still functioning
synagogue seating 3000 worshippers.It was built in 1859 in a mixture
of Byzantine and Moorish styles.Seven rooms contain a collection
of historic and religious relics of Jews in Hungary and there is
a Holocaust Memorial in the courtyard.
The weeping willow tree is actually made of metal with each metal
leaf containing the name of a holocaust victim.
took a ride into the country for a tour of a Hungarian Horse Ranch.
The csikos or cowboys are incredibly skilled horsemen. After a traditional
lunch of Hungarian goulash and a ride around the ranch in a horse
drawn wagon, the csikos put on a show to demonstrate their skills.
also visited the small village of Szentendre. There were alot of
vendors and shops where we could purchase native arts and crafts.
We toured the Marzipan Museum where there were amazing creations
made of Marzipan.
To veiw additional photos from our time in Budapest, visit the
Budapest Photo Gallery.
Locations Visited Photos Map