Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Budapest, Hungary

Hungary is a country at the heart of Europe, but it is certainly different too in so many ways!

While not large in terms of population (it has only 10 million inhabitants) Hungary has a wealth of culture and history, complemented by a language so completely different from its neighbours that almost no shared words exist! It can be said this is a land of great contrasts.

Hungary is landlocked like its neighbours Austria, Slovakia and Serbia though it still deserves the nickname "land of waters", as it holds the largest lake in Europe (Lake Balaton) and is crossed by mighty rivers which divide and define its regions. Even its capital city is split by the Danube River, with Buda on the Western side and Pest on the Eastern bank. As well as water to cool off in, Hungary can be the perfect place to keep warm, as it is located over a very active geo-thermic area and has over a thousand thermal water springs and the second largest thermal Lake in the world for bathing (Lake Hévíz). "Taking the waters" for relaxation or as clinical treatments, is an important part of the Hungarian culture.

Hungarians today are direct descendants of the Magyars that arrived here, by way of Russia, in the ninth century. Hailing originally from the Central Asian steppe, these Magyars brought with them a fiendishly difficult language that has few links to any other, except a very distant relationship to Finnish. Along with the language came a unique culture, which, despite invasion by Mongols in the 13th century, occupation by Turks in the 16th and 17th centuries, Austrian Hapsburg rule in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Communist domination following World War II, has survived more or less intact.

Most Hungarians display a quiet but stoic pride for their nation and cling determinedly to a culture that remains undiminished despite centuries of foreign domination. Such pride is not without foundation: the country is home to some outstanding historic towns and cities, numerous elegant castles, palaces and churches, as well as some attractive – albeit mostly flat – countryside. This bucolic rural landscape is also home to many highly regarded wine growing regions such as those at Tokaj. There are more than 150 thermal spas – some of which date back to Roman times – and elegant bathhouses in some urban areas, most notably in the capital, Budapest.

The Heroes' Square

The Heroes’ square is one of the most visited sights of the Hungarian capital, i is situated in front of the City park, at the end of the Andrássy Avenue, one of the most important streets of Budapest, a World Heritage site. 

The millennial monument was built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin. The monument consists of two semi- circles on top of which the symbols of War and Peace, Work and Welfare, Knowledge and Glory can be seen.  The niches are decorated by the statues of kings, governors and famous characters of the Hungarian history. At the foot of each statue a small relief depicts the important moment of the life of the personality.

                                     Women selling beautiful hand knitted sweaters

In the middle of Heroes' square  stands a 36 meters high Corinthian column with the statue of Archangel Gabriel on the top, the symbol of the Roman Catholic religion. At the pedestal the equestrian statues commemorate Arpad and the seven chieftains of the Hungarian tribes, who settled their people in the present territory of Hungary. His descendants formed the Hungarian Royal Dynasty.
The biggest gallery of Budapest and Hungary (1895). Temporary exhibitions of contemporary Hungarian and international arts, design, photography, and new artistic trends.

A walk along the Danube Promenade, stretching between Elizabeth Bridge and the Chain Bridge in Pest, provides a beautiful view of the Buda side. The Promenade dates back to the Millennium celebrations in 1896, and is  lined up with trees and benches and lovely colorful flowers in rows and rows of pots. You can see so many 5- star hotels/ restaurants standing  majestically along the walkway.
One can even take a tram (no.2)and enjoy the view of river Danube and the important buildings on its banks, it is cheap and fun.

This is doll we bought here.
These dolls are made of Bisque Porcelain
The handmade dolls and various other handicrafts sold here are simply irresistible. 
Hungary is also famous for its Chillies, they have mild, medium and hot, but don't let the redness fool you to think they are hot, for compared to our Indian chillies even their 'Hot' is no where as hot as our Guntur chillies.  We just had a piece of Pizza with with what they claimed to be the hottest chilli sauce, (it was not hot at all). You have various  roadside food stalls and you can have a variety of drinks here. We tried the Spanish Sangria, which was okay not so great. 
And when you are in Budapest don't miss the New York Cafe, which is famous for its special coffee and chocolates. There may be hundreds of reasons, people might recommend visiting Budapest, but according to me there is just one  reason you should make it a point to visit Budapest is because it is the most romantic city in world. I had to take this weird picture: it is the reflection of a building  on the opposite side. The building looks all broken up and joined together, but it is not.

Hope  you enjoyed the second part of our visit to Budapest.



  1. I like that idea of taking the tram and enjoying the Danube. Slowly and at a leisurely pace.

    1. Travelling by Tram is always interesting, it is slow, one can look at places in leisurely manner, take pictures, and can also get off the tram anytime, we get bored. I used love travelling by tram while I was in Calcutta.

  2. Your photos are beautiful. I have never been there, but thanks to your lovely tour, I feel as if I have! Your header is gorgeous!

    1. Thank you Linda. Me too, whenever I would read some travelogue with pictures, I would feel as if I had already seen it through the writer's eyes. It also inspires me to keep bugging my husband off and on to plan such trips, which after a lot of prodding, finally gets done. I am so glad you like my header picture. Though I have claimed Budapest is the most romantic country in the world, I am sure I would not hesitate saying the same about Prague, which was where the header picture was taken. Europe has its own charm.

  3. I MUST visit this place. We are planning for sometime next year, Rama. Your pictures and narration compels me to tour Budapest, sitting in a tram!

    Will read your earlier posts one by one, Rama!

    1. Plan, plan they are worth visiting. This central Europe trip was in our mind for a long time. It has lot of history, just like our own country, only difference is they have managed to progress and do well for themselves in every field, while we are still struggling, and lagging way behind them. We cannot do much with our situation, at least we can see these places and feel happy that they have succeeded where we have failed for no apparent reason. These people are very hard working, and they also know how to enjoy life to its fullest.Thanks Sandhya .

  4. Thanks for the nice travelogue and the beautiful photos.

  5. One more lovely post that I enjoyed Rama, loved that doll you got, I can visualize it in a prominent place at your lovely home!

  6. Rama, this post brought back the memories of Budapest which I had visited this year and yes the tram no2 ride is memorable along the banks of Danube as one passes by the Parliament, Chain Bridge et al. I saw a concert being performed at the Heros Square and a dip in Széchenyi Thermal Bath! Awesome city, it is!

  7. The Heroes' Square is really a wonderful place to be in Budapest, Rama. Have you visited the Hunyad Castle behind the square too?