My husband first came to Budapest in 1973, a long-haired, peacenik doing the Grand Tour in an orange, VW camper. He spent just two days in Budapest because all the buildings looked as black and grim as the top of this one.
Not a very pleasant city under Soviet rule in 1973. Fast forward 42 years and Budapest is a vastly different place.
The Pest side of Budapest (and if you want to sound Hungarian, it’s Pescht not Pest) is as flat as the Buda side is hilly. Makes for easy walking!
Andrássy Avenue is a nice place to stroll. Declared a World Heritage Site in 2002, the Avenue is the Budapest version of the Champs Elycees.
Built in 1872, Andrássy Avenue is lined with high-end, designer stores, old town homes, and upscale restaurants/cafes. The outbound end of the Avenue stops at Heroes’ Square, another World Heritage Site, which features a monument dedicated to the chieftains of the seven tribes that originally formed Hungary as well as other national heroes.
It’s a massive square bordered by grand museums and City Park. We ventured into the large park which features the Széchenyi Baths we visited a few days ago with Trevor and Eleanor and Vajdahunyad Castle.
The castle, built between 1896 and 1908 as part of a Millennial Exhibition celebrating the first 1,000 years of Hungary, features copies of several landmark buildings from different parts of Hungary in different time periods.
Believe it or not, Vajdahunyad Castle was originally made from cardboard and wood, but was rebuilt from stone and brick between 1904 and 1908. Today, it houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture.
As we strolled back up Andrássy Avenue, I spotted the Budapest Opera House which is, acoustically, one of the best in the world.
We didn’t venture inside, but made our way to St. Stephen’s Basilica instead.
Stephen was the first Christian king of Hungary, reigning in the early 11th century. The basilica which carries his name took 50 years to build, starting in 1851. It is impressive on the outside…
and absolutely gorgeous on the inside.
We bought tickets for an organ concert being held at the basilica tomorrow night. Considering the size of the organ,
the concert should be deafening…errr…defining.