Elizabeth chain bridge testifies a unique achievement by Hungarian bridge engineers and industry.
For quite a while this was the only bridge to cross the river with a centre span of 290 meters without having pylons at the bottom of the river. The bridge was exploded by retreating German troops during World War II, just like all the other bridges over the Danube. This was the last one to be reconstructed (between 1961-64), based on the plans of Pál Sávoly, who dreamt a bridge with a modern shape, using the original pillars. From the Pest direction, the bridge “runs” into the side of Gellért Hill, where a small waterfall offers a refreshing sight, especially in the summer, when it’s green all around. In 2009 the bridge was equipped with decorative lighting. The special led lighting was designed by a Japanese architect, whose basic concept was to make the bridge look as white at night as in daylight. Nearly half the cost was covered by Japanese businessmen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the two countries renewing their diplomatic relations.
The Parliament had had numerous seats during the past millennium when the idea came in the second half of the 1800’s that it should be moved to Pest-Buda as the city was called at the time.
The tender in 1882 was won by Imre Steindl, whose plan was born under the egis of historic eclectics, with a baroque delineation, baroque measures and neo-Gothic style regarding its details. Its style with its richly ornamented walls covered by decorative stones that form a stone lace when looked at from a distance can be linked to the Gothic Revival started at the 1830’s in England. This was the style in which the Parliament in London was also built. The Hungarian architect was not scared of innovations: He placed a dome in the focus of his creation, an element virtually unknown in Gothic style. The main façade is from the riverside, while the official entrance opens from Kossuth square. There are altogether 242 statues inside and on the building, the walls and ceilings are decorated by frescos and paintings of significant artists. The Holy Crown and the other Crown jewels (except for the royal mantle) are kept and exhibited in the Parliament. Other things to see here:
staircase hall, dome foyer, Glass paintings and mosaics made by Miksa Róth, and
paintings by Hungarian painters.
Some impressive numbers:
its floorspace is 18 000 m2, it has 27 gates, 29 stairhalls within, 13
elevators, over 200 offices.
The biggest green spot in downtown is Erzsébet tér (Elizabeth Square). It has a classic well – Danubius well – in its centre.
In 1997 the National Theatre was planned to be built here but (preliminary) construction works were stopped in 1998 and the theatre was finally built at a completely different part of the city. The place was used for the construction of an underground parking place and an entertainment facility, the so called Gödör Club (Pit Club) was opened at the spot. Gödör is a central spot for sizzling summer evenings: many come here just to laze the afternoon away, for chatting, cramming for exams, watching people, or at the tables placed on the stairs and in the actual pit listening to concerts and sipping “fröccs”, a typical Hungarian drink made from wine and sparkling water. Behind Gödör there is a skatepark, but you can also find a dog walk and a playground in Erzsébet tér.
The biggest and perhaps most beautiful synagogue in Europe is to be found in Dohány Street in district VI of Budapest.
The building is not just enormous but it is magnificent together with the adjacent courtyard, built in Romantic style in 1854-59. The construction works were led by Frigyes Feszl, based on the plans made by Ludwig Förster. This is a 3-nave hall church with over 3000 seats. Although it was built in accordance with Romantic style rules, it also represents a strong influence of Byzantian architecture: raw bricks, ceramic decorations and domes. The synagogue had a most sad role in history: Its territory with the adjacent blocks of flats was designated as the Ghetto of Pest during World War II, when thousands of people died here. This is why there had to be a cemetery next to the church, in contrast with Jewish traditions. Next to the garden stands the Holocaust memorial park with a metal willow tree designed by Imre Varga (a major Hungarian sculptor), commemoration the victims of Holocaust. One can engrave the name of their deceased relatives on its leaves. The synagogue plays an active role in the cultural life of the capital city too: it often houses classical concerts and cultural festivals.
Western Railway Station is one of the most frequently used meeting points in Budapest, on the line of tram 4-6, in the vicinity of West End shopping center.
The station building – first called Budapest then Western Railway Station—follows the architectural tradition of the French renaissance as well as that of the contemporary French station architecture. The architecture plans were made by Gustave Eiffel’s office in Paris – which later became famous for the building of the Eiffel Tower. Based on these plans, the building was built between 1874-77. The glass façade looking at the street is its best-known feature, with the typical French railway station pentagon shape. The station connects Budapest with the rest of the country, and also there are direct trains to the Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport as well.
Margaret island is one of the islands on the River Danube in Budapest, an extremely popular part of the city.
It was named after the daughter of Béla IV of Hungary in the 14th century. It boasts numerous landmarks and other sights: the ruins of a Dominican convent, the grave of St. Margaret, Palatinus water park (the largest open-air swimming complex in Budapest), Alfréd Hajós national swimming stadium, Water Tower, Music Fountain, Music Well, Open air theater, a small Japanese garden, a tiny zoo, two hotels, (open-air) bars and gardens. The island is a major spot for runners with its built running tracks (for the so-called island-rounds). Traffic is limited to a bus-line and taxis, so you could sasy that Margaret island is the biggest park in Budapest. Instead of travelling in a car, you can walk, ride a bike, roller-skate or rent a “bringóhintó” (four-person cycle cars).
Buda Castle – formerly known as Royal Castle – is a major landmark of the capitol, a part of the World Heritage.
Situated on the Buda bank of the Danube on the Castle Hill, its emblematic green dome can be spotted from quite a distance. This gorgeous, Gothic palace was built between the middle of the 13th and the end of the 14th century. The siege in 1686 (Turkish conquest era) and World War II both caused considerable damage in the castle itself and in the castle district. The building received baroque and ne-baroque features during reconstruction works, such as the dome and the façade. Buda Castle has evolved into a major cultural and touristic centre of Budapest: Here you can find the National Gallery, the Historical Museum of Budapest and the National Széchenyi Library. Savoya terrace within the castle hosts several festivals for days in the summer and autumn every year.
If you had enough of the hustle-and-bustle of downtown, you don’t have to run as far as the forests and hills around Buda for a little peace and quiet, it’s enough to walk up to the Tomb of Gül baba in district II.
Close to the Buda end of Margaret-bridge, there’s an old-fashioned small street that leads there. Climb the stairs and there you are at the Turkish sepulcher. Stepping in through the gate, you’ll find yourself in a garden with the tomb (türbe) in the middle and various different details all around: a drinking-trough, taps on the wall, glazed tile decorations on the walls, an archway, from where you will see the city lying at your feet. Gül baba (a dervish) was a great horticulturalist and it was him who introduced cultivated roses to Hungary. He had a beautiful rose garden, after which this part of the city, Rózsadomb (Rose-hill) was named after. This is a moslim pilgrimage site even today.
The origins of the Király Thermal Bath traces back to the mid-16th century Turkish reign, while its name comes from its owners following the reoccupation of Buda at the very end of the 18th century, the König family.
The bath has no direct hot water base, the Turks built the bath far from the springs in order to ensure water supply in the castle in case of an eventual siege. The bath gains its water base from the springs around Lukács Bath. Apart from the four thermal bath units there are medical bath tubs, thermal treatments, sauna and massage to enjoy and improve your health condition. Regarding water composition, it is hot spring water with calcium, magnesium, hydrogen-carbonate and sulphate, also containing sodium and with a substantial content of fluoride ions, recommended for illnesses affecting the bones and joints especially.
Margaret Bridge connects Szent Stephen’s boulevard in Pest and Margaret boulevard in the Buda side over the Danube touching the wonderful Margaret island.
You could only get to the island in a boat until a side bridge connected the island and the bridge (in 1900). The bridge – just like all the bridges in Budapest – was exploded during World War II. It was rebuilt and opened in 1948. Though it was later renovated, reconstruction works of a greater volume were carried out between 2009-2011, when a lane for bikers was also separated. The bridge received a fascinatig lighting, and the pedestrian underpass at the Buda end was given an exquisite look with a glazed tile covering.