So it was a bit of a last minute decision to go to Budapest, but we thought, it is so close so we couldn't pass up the opportunity. It really was fantastic. I think the guide book described it as the Paris of Eastern Europe, and after visiting here I can see why. Although it isn't exactly like Paris it definitely has a unique charm. Every building has a historical significance and a beautiful presentation. Emily and I spent our time walking the streets seeing the sites that Budapest had to offer.
We started off at Parliament House, which quite frankly looks more like a masterpiece than a place of government. The neo-gothic exterior and tall towers and large dome roof stand high on the riverbank and is a focal point for the city. It kind of reminds me of the Parliament House in London, in appearance anyway. It is the third largest Parliament House in Europe.
We ventured towards Margaret Island, which sits between Buda and Pest on the Danube and is a lot bigger than it appears. It is sort of a haven of peace in the cities hustle and bustle. The whole island is a series of parks and footpaths. There is also a small zoo that had some amazing looking Peacocks. There was also a musical fountain that kept the crowds amused.
We went to visit some of the churches that seem to be everywhere here. The main ones that we visited were the St. Matthius and St. Stephen Basilica. St. Matthius was set high in the hills and was quite a trek to get to, but worth the pain. The usual routine of construction being underway ruined the exterior view but once we made our way though the heavy wooden doors, I was overwhelmed with the beauty that lay within. The space although dark by comparison to most churches was flooded with light through the surrounding stained glass windows. We were also lucky to arrive in time to here a visiting Men's Choir break into song. The whole place came alive and it gave me chills. There was also a museum that contained the crown jewels which was a definite must see.
Now even though St. Matthius was an amazing experience St. Stephens Basilica was better again. The monster of a building reminded me of St. Pauls in London from the exterior (and the fact that people were walking around the dome at the top). The story with this place is interesting. It took 5 decades and 3 architects to complete this building. The first died of natural causes early in the building process and was replaced by another architect. This guy almost completed it when the dome collapsed (noone was hurt) and then died of natural causes himself. The last guy was the one to complete the job. The basilica is dedicated to the First Hungarian King St. Stephen whose mummified hand is on display here. Bit gross.....looks like a prune! Inside is a picture of brilliance. Gold draped everywhere you look. You can see why it took so long to build.
After this we took a walk along the Rodeo Drive of Budapest to Heros Square which is a square with statues of the heros of Hungary and the statue of the unknown soldier.
We had a great time here and are now looking forward to heading back to Austria for the third time!