Well, time to wrap up the hundreds of pictures I have taken in Budapest over two weeks, before I leave tomorrow.
Transit is good
The sun was starting to come out, and I found myself at a stop for the ‘boat bus’, so I just hopped on and spent two hours cruising the Danube to the end of the line, and back (and all included in my $25/week transit card!)
Party like it’s 1896
Hungary (officially Magyarorszag) was settled by the Central Asian Magyars in AD 896. In 1896, the country planned a big party, and most of the grand buildings that exist now were built for the celebration
- 96 meters tall, with 96 steps at the main entry.
St Istvan’s (Stephen) Basilica
96 meters tall as well, and no one is allowed to build a taller structure in Budapest
Great Market Hall
Notice as Frank Liszt becomes Liszt Ferenc as last names are put first.
Andrassy ut (boulevard) and all the grand houses and buildings along it
This was the first metro line on the continent. It is just down a few steps under Andrassi ut. There are newer lines as well, with M4 built in 2014. M2 was built during Communist times and designed to double as a bomb shelter. All I can say it going down 115 feet on a very fast escalator makes me feel a bit queasy…
Complete rebuilding of Matthias Church on Castle Hill
Vajdahunyad Castle (in City Park)
Also in City Park is the Szechenyi Bath, one of the natural hot spring baths in the city
History is brutal
Hungary, with it’s location between East and West, has a long history of invasion. But it is the last 100 years that tied in to what I knew something about. 1896, their grand party year, was their golden age. But the 1920 Treaty of Trianon saw them lose 2/3’s of their territory to Romania, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia after being on the losing side of World War 1. Unfortunately that bitterness and a desire to regain their territorial losses led them to ally with the Nazis. But resisting Hitler’s continuing demands for Hungarian soldiers, food and deportation of Jews to concentration camps led to the Nazi’s invading Hungary. The Soviet Army then ‘liberated’ and controlled them until 1989.
There is a museum ‘Terror Haza’ (House of Terror) that is in a former headquarters for the Arrow Cross (Nazi enforcers) the AVO (Soviet style secret police).
There is a Soviet tank in the atrium, along with 3,200 portraits of people who were murdered in the basement of this building. There was a very graphic description and reconstruction of the gallows.
They estimate 440,000 Jewish people were sent to Auschwitz after the Nazi’s invaded, thousands more murdered on the banks of the Danube, and hundreds executed in the building.
What was also disturbing was the desire for democracy, but it was always overrun by people with the military power. These are pictures from an exhibit at the Parliament from 1956 when Soviet tanks fired on people in the square
There were also millions that died in soviet gulag work camps.
This is a interesting statue – poor Hungary being attacked by the bad Nazi bird. Some people feel this is white washing of history, so have erected small memorials in front of people who perished.
The area of Budapest where I stayed is called the Seventh District, or the former Jewish Quarter. Gozsdu Udvar is the former ghetto area that has been revived as a hopping restaurant and bar scene. My first apartment was just above this area, and I was very happy to move and leave the hooting-hollering-late night drunks
The area is also full of ‘ruin pubs’, which are popular, especially with the younger crowds. They are basically an empty space converted to a drinking spot. They also like these ‘Locked Room’ escape places.
So, so long Budapest, it’s been great.
I have an 8 hour train trip tomorrow to Ljubijana, Slovenia. See you there!