Good, Better, Budapest!
Here's what we loved about Hungary's capital city, what we liked, and what we thought was "meh."
Brent and I recently spent two months living in Hungary, but we never got around to talking about Budapest, where we stayed for a week.
So here is what we loved about the city, what we liked, and what we thought was “meh.”
What We Loved
Fisherman’s Bastion/Matthias Church
This is a monument built in 1895 to commemorate the Millennial anniversary of the founding of Hungary, and I so loved it that I went back repeatedly to take photos — without Brent, of course.
Overlooking the Danube, Fisherman’s Bastion consists of seven white New Romanesque towers representing the seven Magyar chiefs who founded Hungary, as well as a 140 meter long promenade with impressive outlooks over the city, and the glorious Matthias Church.
Why is it called Fisherman’s Bastion? No one is quite sure. Different theories suggest it came from the fact that the Fisherman’s Guild had once protected this section of the city wall, while another suggests it’s because many fishermen used to live in Watertown on the banks below.
Wherever the name came from, you shouldn’t miss it.
I nearly skipped Matthias Church, which is part of Fisherman’s Bastion, but Brent insisted I go in, since he knew I was itching to take photos. The gorgeous interior consists of an orange, yellow, and light blue motif that glows as if lit from within.
Like most European travelers, I quickly get Cathedral Fatigue from all the “amazing” churches, but I’d really never seen anything quite like this place
St. Stephen’s Basilica
One of Budapest’s best attractions is simply the view of the city from the dome of this church.
Why is the view so amazing? Because the Pest side of the city is so flat, and the church is the second tallest structure in Budapest (after the Parliament Building), giving you unobstructed views of everything.
Fun fact: St. Stephen’s exterior stood in for Argentina in Alan Parker’s 1996 version of Evita. Parker wanted to shoot inside the basilica, but church officials said “Nincs.” (That’s Hungarian for: “No, you Hollywood heathen.”)
Szechenyi and Rudas Baths
True story: we came to Budapest in the first place because Brent had heard the city was full of hot springs and mineral baths.
And they definitely didn’t disappoint! Written records of such hot springs date all the way back to the Roman era. In the 16th century, the Turks occupied the city, and they left their mark as well: Rudas Baths is a Turkish style bathhouse with a gorgeous Ottoman-style domed ceiling (and is segregated by gender in certain bathing areas, and the entire facility is male or female-only on different days of the week).
Our favorite bathing complex was the massive Szechenyi Thermal Baths, which is the largest mineral spring facility in Europe. Szechenyi Baths helped Budapest become known throughout the world in the 1930s as the City of Spas.
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