Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Budapest: Hungarian Grandeur on the Danube

Known as the 'Queen of the Danube', Budapest is a magnificent city exuding a cultural sophistication that entices and enchants. Gracing both sides of the legendary river with grand historic buildings, regal bridges and graceful tree-lined boulevards, it is the city's elegant beauty and romantic atmosphere that has given Budapest it's reputation as one of the most exciting cities in the world. From its river to its ruins, Budapest has a magnificence that is impossible to escape. Architecturally, this monarchical city of Mitteleuropa charm reveals a multi-cultural past rich with Roman, Renaissance, Turkish, German and Austrian influences, including Buda's grand Castle Hill District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing the city's most important medieval monuments and museums, including the National Gallery, Fisherman's Bastion and 700 year old Matthias Church. Across the Danube in Pest stands the impressive Parliament Building, 19th-century Central Market and Great Dohany Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. Famous not only for the monuments reflecting its own 1,000-year-old culture, the city's art scene and café culture, born from bohemian roots, is still at the heart of what makes this romantic city a cultural and culinary gem.

The Budapest Castle Hill funicular links the Adam Clark Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge 
to Buda Castle above

View of the neo-gothic Hungarian Parliament on Pest's riverbank

The Budapest National Gallery in Buda Castle with equestrian statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy

Founded 220 years ago, the museum is dedicated to the history of Hungary 
and today it remains the symbol of Hungary’s national identity

'Yawning Apprentice' by Mihaly Muncacsy 1844

'Woman Carrying Brushwood' by by Mihaly Muncacsy 1873

'The Baptism of Vajk, the future King Stephen I' by Gyula Benczur, 1875

'Harvesters Returning' by Lajos Deak-Ebner, 1881

Collection of wood altars from the 15th century

'Fallen Angels of the Apocalypse' installation in dome of the National Gallery 
by Rezso Berczeller, 1991

Contemporary Wing with 'May I Sink Upwards' by Altorjai Sandor, 1967

Saint Stephen I was the last Grand Prince of the Hungarians between 997 and 1000 or 1001, 
and the first King of Hungary from 1000 or 1001 until his death in 1038

The terrace and turrets of Fisherman's Bastion on Castle Hill

View over Buda and the Parliament Building on the Pest side

Falconer on Fisherman's Bastion

The Holy Trinity Column commemorates the people of Buda who died from the Black Plague

The 700 year old Matthias Church on Castle Hill was the scene of several coronations, 
including that of Charles IV in 1916, the last Habsburg king

St Matthias Church door detail with tympanum detail

Beautiful ceiling frescoes can be found throughout the church

The geometric and floral ornaments are a reminder of the Mosque that existed here before

Stained Glass detail

Chapel ceiling detail

Chapel fresco of St Stephen

Tomb of King Bela III and Anne de Chatillon

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Castle District contains Budapest’s most important 
medieval monuments and museums

We stopped for lunch at Var Speiz in Castle Hill as part of our Tauck walking tour

Exterior of the restaurant on a rainy afternoon

The interior of Var Speiz

A tall mug of cold Hungarian beer

Spiez Mixed Green Salad with Feta, Cherry Tomatoes, Croutons and Veal Meatballs

Trout Filet with Pea Purée and Roasted New Potatoes

Somali Galuska is rather like a Hungarian Trifle, made with three different-flavoured sponge cakes, pastry cream, raisins, walnuts, chocolate sauce and whipped cream

Budapest's Central Market Hall is housed in a majestic building originally built in 1896 and completely restored in 1999. When it opened at the end of the 19th-century, it was deemed one of the world's most modern market halls, with state of the art lighting and refrigeration. Vast and airy, it's been described as a cathedral in iron, with a canal that used to run through its centre so that barges could deliver fresh produce to the traders. The canal is no longer there, having been replaced by wide elegant thoroughfares between the stalls, with shop keepers selling everything from fresh produce, sausages, hams, salamis and lots of paprika products on the main floor with an enormous variety of Hungarian arts and crafts on the upper level.

Budapest Great Market Hall in the rain

The Great Market Hall or "Nagyvásárcsarnok" is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, opening in 1897

The egg lady at the market

Peppers are one of the main ingredients in Hungarian Goulash

Sausages are a big seller at the market

Row upon row of paprika 

The Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. Built between 1854 and 1859 in Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish style, in the wake of Romanticism. The buildings and the courtyards of the Synagogue include the Jewish Museum, the Heroes Temple, the Jewish Cemetery and the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park. Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, was born in one of the houses located where the Synagogue now stands and is home to the Jewish Museum.

The Dohany Street Great Synagogue, built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style,  is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world

The torah-ark and the internal frescoes made of colored and golden geometric shapes are the works of the famous Hungarian romantic architect Frigyes Feszl

Heroes Memorial Temple was built 1n 1929/31 to commemorate the Jews 
who died in the First World War

The Garden of Remembrance was erected in 1989 above the mass graves in the honour and memory of Hungarian Jewish martyrs who died during 1944/45

The Holocaust Memorial, also known as the Emanuel Tree, is a weeping willow tree by Imre Varga with the names of Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust inscribed on each leaf 

Detail of engraved leaves

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