The oldest part of Budapest is Buda. We used the Széchenyi Chain Bridge today to cross over to the Buda side for a walk through some Hungarian history.
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone bridge to span the river. It opened in 1849 and was expanded in 1915.
The Nazis blew it up when withdrawing from the city in 1945. After the war, the bridge was rebuilt, opening for traffic in 1949.
The bridge ends on the Buda side in a tunnel which was first opened in 1856. The tunnel saved people from having to go up and over or around Castle Hill to get to the part of town on the other side.
John and I climbed the hill this morning as the funicular that would normally take you to the top was closed for maintenance.
It was a steep climb up several sets of stone stairs, but we huffed and puffed to the top to visit Buda Castle, a World UNESCO Heritage site.
Buda Castle, first built in 1265, was home to Hungarian kings. It has been ravaged by war and rebuilt several times in the centuries since. The latest reconstruction was completed in 1967, an attempt to appease the Communist regime while repairing damage caused during WWII.
The views from the castle complex make the climb worth every step.
Buda Castle now houses three museums and the courtyards contain several prominent sculptures. I was particularly taken with the Matthias Fountain — a depiction of the 15th century Hungarian monarch, King Matthias Cornivus, stag hunting. That’s one grandiose deer hunt!
From Matthias Fountain, we ventured over to the 700-year-old Matthias Church. Hungarian kings were coronated and married here, including its namesake who tied the knot here twice.
The interior of the Catholic church was quite colorful, using a lot of Eastern motifs.
Yet, the truly stunning part of the structure was its tiled roof.
We capped off our time on the Buda side of Budapest doing what we seem to do best – eating. John enjoyed the Hungarian version of a hamburger, while I chowed down on some pretty amazing beef stroganoff.