a gem called Budapest🇧🇷 Yes, that’s right. The capital of Hungary is an absolutely fabulous destination that everyone who visits falls in love with.
Hungary has a rich history! People such as Celts, Romans, Slavs, Gepids and Avars lived here. The foundation of this country took place in the distant 9th century, making this nation millenary – and an incredible destination to discover.
In the year 1000, it became a Christian kingdom and in the 15th century it reached its apogee. During part of the 16th century and until the end of the 17th century, it was under Ottoman occupation. It was then under the rule of the Habsburgs, forming the great Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1867 and 1918, when the First World War ended. Since the subsequent Treaty of Trianon, its borders have not changed.
Joining the Axis Forces during World War II, it would suffer significant damage in terms of heritage and population. After the war, it became a satellite state of the Soviet Union for four decades.
In 1989, with the fall of the Eastern Bloc, Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic. Recently, in 2004, it joined the European Union and in 2007, it became part of the Schengen Area.
Budapest: the banks that the Danube united
The city’s location, on both banks of the strategic Danube River, leaves us with a choice: which bank to discover first. Mountainous, aristocratic Buda, or flat Pest?
Suburban Buda and its wonderful castle offer medieval cobbled streets, museums, caves and Roman ruins. Pest, on the other hand, is more dynamic and modern.
It is here that we find a long riverside promenade, street markets, bookshops and antique shops, huge avenues and the largest parliament in Europe. In fact, the differences don’t matter. Taking Budapest as a whole, the city is something of an architectural treasure trove of baroque, neoclassical, art nouveau, and more.
Do you know the fame of Paris? Well, the capital of Hungary is often called the “Paris of Eastern Europe”. No wonder, therefore, that Unesco distinguished as world Heritage the city itself, including the banks of the Danube, Buda Castle and Andrássy Avenue.
But let’s go by parts. A walk along the river on the Pest side might as well start at the beautiful Liberty Bridge. Right next door is the Budapest Central Market, on Fővám tér Square. Over 100 years old, this is the ideal place to find a souvenir that will help you remember this trip every time you use the ingredients bought here to try to replicate the delicious dishes you ate during your stay, which Budapest is famous for. . And not only goulash was built this fame! A can of paprika, one of the main ingredients of this delicacy, also serves the purpose of decorating your corner of memories at home.
We leave the market and continue walking towards the source of the river, close to it or along one of the main streets in this area, Váci utca. Enjoy life passing by from a cafe and do some shopping. Don’t worry, this city is much cheaper than many European capitals.
bridge of chains
Returning to the river from Vörösmarty Square, we find a statue with history, the Kiskirálylány-szobor, or Little Princess. The flow of water takes us to the beautiful Széchenyi Lánchíd, Chain Bridge.
If we don’t cross it now and walk a little further, we will arrive at the grandiose parliament. In front of this one, we can see some bronze shoes, a memorial to the Hungarian Jews who were executed by the fascist government during the Second World War. The next bridge connects to the verdant Ilha Margarida, where the locals love to exercise, walk around and simply relax.
Another route you can take is the one that leads to the castle. Start by crossing the Chain Bridge. Right in front of this you will find a historic funicular dating back to 1870. Use it to reach the top or go up the stairs on your right. In addition to the views, the upper part of the castle has a lot to entertain you. The clear highlight goes to the Fisherman’s Bastion, a viewpoint with fantastic views that was built in 1902 in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style. Enter the beautiful Matthias Church and wander through the ancient streets.
Still exploring this river bank, you should visit the Citadella, a fort built after the end of the Hungarian Revolution (1848), which became a symbol of the city. Further ahead, already close to the Liberty Bridge, we come across the Cave Church (Sziklatemplom), excavated in the natural caves of Mount Gellért, formed by thermal waters. Right next door, of course, are the Gellért Baths.
It is now time to mention one of the peculiarities of the Hungarian capital. Faithful to the heritage of the peoples who settled there, the city leaves no doubt regarding the presence of Romans and Ottomans – or were it not for these two peoples to be widely known for their fondness for “baths”.
This area has been blessed with a surprising abundance of hot springs. For this very reason, even today, the pools and spas are a mandatory stop for anyone who wants to live “THE” typical Budapest experience.
There are baths inspired by the Turkish (Ottoman) and art nouveau era, but there are also more modern ones. Two of the most famous are the Gellért Baths and the Szechenyi Baths. Whatever the air temperature… be sure to take a dip in the warm waters. You can even relax even more by playing, half immersed, a beautiful game of chess. I wanted to know what you really cannot miss in the Hungarian capital, right?
The third proposed route, of the many possible ones, is to start from Erzsébet Square and walk along Andrassy Avenue on foot. Get ready to discover the many neo-renaissance palaces and houses. And to see (or enter) one of the following points of interest: Budapest Opera House, Post Office Museum, Franz Liszt Square, Old Palace of Art, College of Fine Arts, Terror Háza (museum about oppressive regimes in Hungary), Puppet Theater, Heroes’ Square… The walk culminates in Városliget, the City Park, where we also find the aforementioned Szechenyi Baths.
What remains to see and do? So, so much. There are just 3 more suggestions, to leave something to discover by chance: St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Great Synagogue and… a cruise on the Danube. What is certain about this city is a feeling that we will always find something fantastic around the next corner.