Oct 28, 2019

Visit Budapest

Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is bisected by the River Danube. The views from the Danube are stunning, day and night. One of my credit cards is with the InterContinental group of hotels (think Holiday Inn) so I used some points to stay at the InterContinental where I had an incredible view of the Castle Hill and the Chain Bridge. One of the first things I did was to take a
hop-on bus tour.  I had the Buda Card which allowed me to travel free on all public transportation and discounts for tours.  One of the things I like about the tours is the back stories.  Its 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest area.  It was the first bridge to connect the two side of the city. Before that they had to use ferries.  It seems
that Count Istvan Szechenyi was on one side of the river when his father died, it was winter and the ferry could not make the crossing so he missed his father’s funeral.  So he had the Chain Bridge constructed which was regarded as one the modern world’s engineering wonders. 

The last time I was in Budapest was in the mid-80s when it was behind the “Iron Curtain.”  Traveling at that time was very safe as long as one didn’t protest: it was inexpensive, and very interesting.  Today the city is bustling with tourists.  

One of the things I recall from my first visit was the story of the Holy Crown of Hungary, aka the
Crown of St. Stephen, circa 1526.  The crown had a varied history; it had been stolen, hidden, lost, recovered and travel abroad.  In 1848 the crown was buried in a wooden box in the forest in Transylvania, now Romania. When I was there what I saw was a replica because it was, at that time, in Fort Knox, which I found a bit strange.  At the end of the Second World War the crown made its way to the United States for safe keeping from the Russians. It was kept in Fort Knox until1978 when by order of President Carter it was returned to Budapest. Today the crown is on display in the Parliament building.  

The best way to see the Parliament is from a river cruise.  Again the Buda Pass came in handy. When I bought the discounted hop-on bus tour I bought the package that included the river cruise.  Not to miss in front of the Parliament are the shoes on the bank of Danube to honor the Jews who were killed by fascist militiamen in Budapest during World War II.

There is a lot to see, do, and learn. A funicular runs up Castle Hill to Buda’s Old Town, where the Budapest History Museum traces city life from Roman times onward. Trinity Square is home to 13th-century Matthias Church and the turrets of the Fishermen’s Bastion, which offer sweeping views of the area.

Hero’s Square is one of the major squares in Budapest, Hungary, noted for its iconic statue complex featuring the seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders, as well as the Memorial Stone of Heroes, often erroneously referred as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Seven chieftains of the Magyars were the leaders of the seven tribes of the Hungarians at the time of their arrival and settlement in the area in AD 895. The country has a fascinating history that includes being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At one time both Budapest and Vienna served capitals.