Richly ornamented, The Hungarian State Opera House is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. It also houses the Hungarian State Balett.
This fascinating palace planned by Miklós Ybl is a major monument in Budapest. It opened in 1884 and enjoyed decades of success and fame with directors such as Gustav Mahler. The palace was planned for musical performances in terms of acoustics as well. The architectural solutions used were revolutionary: the hydraulic stage was an innovation used here for the first time in the world. A major attraction in the auditorium is the stunning gigantic bronze chandelier with its 3000 kilograms (cca. 6 613.867 pounds), a gem of applied arts. The decorated staircase in the hall captures the eye instantly, no wonder this is where a major social event, the Opera Ball takes place every year. Next to the main entrance we find two big statues of Ferenc Erkel and Ferenc Liszt, major former composers in Hungary. (Ferenc Erkel composed the music of the Hungarian national anthem, among others.) The side entrances are “guarded” by two sphinxes sculpted from marble, keeping a masque and a laurel between their claws. We can also see statues of Puttos, Muses and composers. There are guided tours within the Opera House daily.
The Museum of Fine Arts dates back to over a 100 years ago, to 1906.
The building sits next to Heroes’ Square, opposite the Palace of Arts on a floorspace of 10300 m2, of which 6500 m2 houses the paintings, while the statue galleries occupy 3800 m2. This museum ranks among the major ones in Europe, its seasonal exhibitions have attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. Unlike the more lucky institutions whose public collections were mainly based on and then enriched by rulers, The Museum of Fine Arts can be thankful for its existence for the Hungarian nobility as only a few works of art got here from the court of Vienna or other rulers of Hungary.
St Stephen’s Basilica, built in Hellenistic and neo-Renaissant style, is to be found downtown, in the fifth district, surrounded by quiet little streets.
Surprisingly, the architectural structure is not that of a basilica, and its delineation has the shape of the Greek cross. The basilica is extremely rich in works of art, such as works by Bertalan Székely or Károly Lotz. It has five bells, of which even the smallest one weighs 500 kilograms! People started gathering money for its building already in the 1810’s, while construction works began in 1851 only and finished in 1905. Works were headed by József Hild, Miklós Ybl and József Kauser. From its consecration, the church has been the main stage for the Saint Stephen cult, and the Sacred Right arm has been kept here since 1971. Every year on August 20, the Sacred Right arm procession takes place here, when this relic is carried around.
The story of Vajdahunyad Castle – just like that of Heroes’ Square – started with the Millennium Exhibition preparations.
A bidding competition was organized, in which it was fixed that the group of buildings have to be constituted from a Roman, a Gothic and a Renaissant-Baroque unit, Ignácz Alpár won this competition, who then travelled extensively in order to study the most relevant architectural features. Finally, a unique building was erected, since features of several remarkable buildings were put together here in one building: the stairs of the castle in Keresd (Criș), the well of the Town Hall in Bratislava, the clock tower in Segesvár (Sighișoara), the gate of the castle in Diakovár (Đakovo), the balcony of the Rákóczi house in Eperjes (Prešov), Katalin bastion in Brasov, Banská Bystrica and Bardejov Town Hall, the Knight hall in the castle of Vajdahunyad, Bakócz chapel in Esztergom, the ceiling of Queen Mary’s house in Kremnica, and paintings from the church in Mezőtelegd (Tileagd). This building houses the biggest agricultural museum in Europe.
Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) is an awe-inspiring space in District XIV, enthralling its visitors. This vast space is surrounded by classical monuments such as the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) and the Palace of Arts (Műcsarnok), lying in the vicinity of City Park (Városliget).
The Millenium Monumet replaced the Gloriette quelle in 1895, while the crescent shaped colonnade with the statues of kings and statesmen were erected between 1905-1910. The construction of the square was still not quite finished in 1929 when the Memorial of the Heroes of the nation (in the form of a marble stone) was placed in its centre, hence the name. The square used to be a park with trees but was finally covered by a decorated stone surface for the Eucharistic Congress in 1938, creating room for the masses. This is not only a place with monuments, it also serves as start-finish point for several national or international running races too.
A widely-known monument and major symbol of Budapest, the Fishermen’s Bastion is to be found in the Castle District.
It was built in neo-Romanesque style between 1895-1902, based on the plans of Frigyes Schulek. It offers a magnificent view of the city, no wonder its walls are always “lined’ with visitors. It is a less-known fact that its peaked towers represent the seven chieftains of Hungary (they led the Magyars or Hungarians to the Carpathian Basin where soon Hungary was founded). Its name is a riddle no one can be sure of, but there are two likely explanations. According to one of these, the bastion was named after the trade of the people living below in the Víziváros or Halászváros (City on water or City of fishermen). The other explanation says it got its name from the Guild of Fishermen of Buda, since they defended the bastion in times of enemy attack.
Citadel is a fortress built under the rule of Franz Joseph I. after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49, in order to deter with its guns the rebellious city.
Thus it once was a much-hated symbol of repression. However, it went into Hungarian hands following the Austro-Hungaria Compromise of 1867, and people started to deconstruct its walls, signaling its loss of martial role. Most of the damage caused under World war II. was finally repaired in the 1950-60’s, mainly through voluntary social work. Budapest’s chief symbol, the Statue of Liberty stands here. Citadel is now part of the World Heritage within the Buda Castle District.
Széchenyi Spa, aka “Szecska”, is one of Europe’s greatest spa complexes.
The institution is not simply a medical resort, but a fascinating building reminiscent of the antique Roman and Greek baths. Already since 1881 it was in use in the form of an artesian bath, while the spa itself opened in 1913. It has a swimming pool section as well as a thermal bath section, with over 20 pools altogether. Anyone aiming for total relaxation can choose from and indulge in services such as various types of massage and beauty treatments. Moreover, the spa is not only there for bathing but you can consume its water and have curative water treatments.
Chain-Bridge, or officially Széchenyi Chain-Bridge, was named after the famous statesman Earl István Széchenyi, who initiated and supported the construction of this bridge over the River Danube.
He participated in its construction so actively that he himself fell into the river in an accident. This bridge was the first permanent bridge over the Danube south of Regensburg. The work began in 1839 and the bridge was inaugurated ten years later in 1849. Adam Clark lead the construction works based on William Tierney Clarks’s plans. The bridge was exploded during World War II, but its reconstruction was finished by the centennial anniversary. Chain-Bridge has become a major symbol of Budapest, it has also been imprinted on coins, such as the silver 200-HUF coin, which has been withdrawn by today. Every summer it is closed down from car traffic for one or two weekends, when pedestrians and various vendors selling handicrafts are allowed to take over the bridge.