Budapest, Hungary

Budapest richly deserves the nickname “The Heart of Europe.” Although large and cosmopolitan, Hungary’s capital city is also beautiful and elegant. Come find out why Budapest is always ranked among Europe’s top ten cities to visit.

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1 Introduction to Budapest, Hungary

This is the “Pearl of Danube.” What a jewel it is! The stunning cityscape of the West Bank was originally Buda and Óbuda before merging with Pest on the East Bank in 1873. Budapest is consistently ranked among the prettiest and top European cities to live, work and visit. The ferry boat is floating towards the iconic Chain Bridge. The tall spire on Castle Hill is Matthias Church. The white, Neo-Romanesque towers in the center are part of Fisherman’s Bastion. The terrace offers the best panoramic view of the Pest side.

Budapest, Apáczai Csere János u. 12, 1052 Hungary

2 Brief History of Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

The Buda Castle majestically watches over the Danube from the top of Castle Hill. The 1,000 foot long Royal Palace is a testament to Hungarian history. Béla IV, who was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1235 to 1270, was the first to build a castle on the west bank as part of a defense against devastating Mongolian invasions. In 1361, Buda became the country’s capital. While the King of Hungary (1387 – 1437), Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg spent lavishly to enlarge the castle. Next King Mátyás expanded it in the second half of the 15th century. In 1686, Buda Castle was destroyed during the siege by the Holy League’s army, partially rebuilt by the Hapsburgs in the early 18th century and then engulfed in flames in 1849 during the War of Independence. In 1891, architect Alajos Hauszmann was commissioned to give the castle a Neo-Baroque design. During WWII, the Germans used Budavári Palota as a stronghold until brutally attacked by the Russians in 1945. The reconstruction you see today reflects elements of these 750 years of historical events.

Budapest, Vigadó tér 8, 1051 Hungary

3 Funicular to Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

After crossing the Chain Bridge onto the Buda side, you reach a square named after Adam Clark. He was the engineer who managed the bridge’s construction. There you will find the Buda Hill Funicular. This transportation up Castle Hill opened in 1870, was destroyed during WWII and reconstructed in 1986. It takes only about 90 seconds for the passenger car to lift you and 23 others about 167 feet. When you exit, you have this first glimpse of Buda Castle.

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary

4 Buda Castle Gate in Budapest, Hungary

The most frequently used entrance to Buda Castle and the Hapsburg Steps is through this ornamental gate. Although you will be in a hurry to start exploring the Royal Palace, take a moment to examine the gateway’s ornate reliefs. On the left is a bronze sculpture. At first glance, it appears to be an eagle in flight. It is a mythical bird called Turul. According to lore, this giant falcon is god’s messenger and sired the birth of the Hungarian Árpád dynasty of kings. The Turul is also Hungary’s national symbol.

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary

5 Western Forecourt of Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

The Western Forecourt lets you savor the splendor of Buda Castle. On the left is the Grand Ballroom. The Neoclassical Baroque style was constructed in the mid-19th century during the reign of Franz Joseph I, the King of Hungary and Emperor of Australia. It now houses part of the Hungarian National Gallery. The copper-topped, Neoclassical dome may look old. However, it was constructed in the early 1960s by architect Lajos Hidasi. In the center is a statue of a horse wrangler. Hortobágy Horseheard was sculpted by György Vastagh in 1901 and moved to this courtyard in 1983. On the right is the Matthias Fountain.

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary

6 Matthias Fountain at Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

The Matthias Fountain at Buda Castle protrays a large stag at the feet of the 15th century king. At the base of the waterfall are hunters with their dogs. Depicted in the right corner is Ilonka, a poor girl King Matthias met and fell in love with during this hunting trip. The Mátyás Kúitja was designed by Alajos Stróbl and erected in the northern courtyard in 1904.

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary

7 Lions’ Gate at Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

Lions’ Gate is the transition from the Western Forecourt to the Lion’s Courtyard. Between the four columns with Corinthian capitals are two sculptures representing Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Anchoring the sides are two statues in niches crowned with Turuls from Hungarian mythology. On top of the arch is the small coat of arms of Hungary as it appeared in the mid-19th century until 1918.

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary

8 Lion Statue at Inner Court of Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

A pair of lions stands vigilant on either side of Lion’s Gate. The two guarding Oroszlános Kapu are ferocious. After you pass beneath the ornate archway, however, you are greeted by two friendly lions. Sculptor János Fadrusz created the animals in 1901.

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary

9 Hungarian National Gallery at Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

During the reign of Maria Theresa – Queen of Hungary and Croatia from 1740 until 1780 – a U-shaped palace was added to the castle with a central courtyard (cour d’honneur). The façade was designed by Franz Hillebrandt in 1765. This is one of four buildings at Buda Castle constituting the Hungarian National Gallery. Magyar Nemzeti Galéria was founded in 1957, yet the museum’s collection of over 100,000 pieces began in 1839. The permanent exhibits include Hungarian art and artifacts, some dating back over 500 years.

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary

10 Mace Tower at Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

Mace Tower (Buzogánytorony) is located along the southern wall of Buda Castle near the Ferdinand Gate. The fortification was constructed in the 14th century during the reign of King Louis I of Hungary (1342 – 1382). Most of the medieval palace was destroyed in 1686 during the Battle of Buda when the Holy League (also called the Christian forces) attacked the Ottoman Empire. This tower, along with several other sections of Buda Castle, was rebuilt during a major reconstruction in the 1950s and 1960s.

Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary

11 St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Budapest, Hungary

Initially, Tabán was a Medieval village below the Buda Castle populated by Turks. It later became a Bohemian neighborhood. Franciscans established a Catholic parish here in the 17th century and built St. Catherine of Alexandria in 1736. This clock tower was added in 1753 and restored in the late 19th century. During the 1930s, most of the surroundings buildings were leveled as part of an urban development program. Fortunately, this church was spared.

Budapest, Attila út 11, 1013 Hungary

12 Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary

The Church of Our Lady was built on Castle Hill in the mid-13th century. Over 200 years later, it assumed the name of King Matthias. In 1541 and again in 1686, this Catholic church was plundered by the Turks. In the late 19th century, its original design was lovingly restored by Frigyes Schulek. The diamond pattern roof crowns Béla Tower, named after King Béla IV who founded the church. The tall, white Gothic spire is Matthias Tower. In the foreground where the two women are sitting is Trinity Column. This Baroque creation by Philipp Ungleich has been the centerpiece of Holy Trinity Square since 1713.

Budapest, Szentháromság tér 2, 1014 Hungary

13 Elevated View of Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest, Hungary

The architectural gem anchoring the East Bank of the Danube is the Hungarian Parliament Building in Pest. Architect Imre Steindl created this stunning Gothic Revival design. The house for the National Assembly of Hungary opened in 1896. This panoramic view is from the terrace of Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side. In the foreground is the Reformed Church. The tower of the Buda Calvinist Church stands 203 feet in sharp contrast to its pyramid-shaped roof covered with colorful Zsolnay tiles.

Budapest, Jezsuita lépcső 1, 1011 Hungary

14 Pest Side of Budapest, Hungary

The East Bank of Budapest was called Pest prior to 1873. This is where the majority of the city’s population and landmarks are located. This elevated view from Castle Hill shows a few highlights you must explore. The Chain Bridge spanning the Danube leads to István Széchenyi Square. Here is where you will find the Gresham Palace on the left (now a Four Seasons Hotel) and the Ministry of Interior Building (on the right). The dome is St. Stephen’s Basilica. Inside are the relics of Saint Stephen, the first King of Hungary.

Szent György tér 3 Budapest, 1014 Hungary

15 People Crossing Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary

Prior to the mid-19th century, the only way to cross the Danube between Buda and Pest was by boat. Count István Széchenyi fixed the problem. He was an influential politician who was called the Greatest Hungarian. Széchenyi spearheaded several projects to tame the Danube for navigation and transportation. He hired William Tierney Clark to design a permanent bridge. The 1,230 foot span was Europe’s largest when it opened in 1849. The Hungarian name is Széchenyi Iánchid. The latter word means “chain” in recognition of the iron cables.

Széchenyi Lánchíd Budapest, 1011 Hungary

16 Lion at Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary

János Marschalkó was commissioned to create lions for the Chain Bridge. They were added to both sides of the river in 1852, about three years after the bridge was finished. Their presence implied protection of this critical transportation link between Buda and Pest. However, they could not guard against the Germans. The retreating Nazis blew up the bridge in 1945 during the waning days of World War II. The current Széchenyi Iánchid (Chain Bridge) was reconstructed within four years. Yet these are the original lion sculptures.

Széchenyi Lánchíd Budapest, 1011 Hungary

17 Ministry of Interior Building in Budapest, Hungary

Zsigmond Quittner designed this eclectic building for the Hungarian Commerce Bank. It opened near the Chain Bridge in 1905. More recently it has been the headquarters for the Ministry of Interior, one of eight ministry offices of the Hungarian government. As of this writing in 2017, plans were under way to move the Ministries of the Interior and Economy from the East Bank across the Danube to Castle Hill in Buda.

Széchenyi István tér 3 Budapest, 1051 Hungary

18 Gresham Palace now Four Seasons Hotel in Budapest, Hungary

Sir Thomas Gresham was a 16th century English financier who established London’s Royal Exchange. In 1880, the Gresham Life Assurance Company purchased the Nako House at Széchenyi Square and tore it down to create their lavish foreign headquarters. The Art Nouveau design by architect Zsigmond Quittner opened in 1907. During WWII and extending into 1990, this landmark building facing the Chain Bridge steadily deteriorated. After an extensive renovation, the former Gresham Palace reopened in 2004 as the Four Seasons Hotel.

Budapest, Széchenyi István tér 5, 1051 Hungary

19 Danube Promenade in Budapest, Hungary

The Danube Promenade has been a popular path for a riverside stroll on the Pest side since the 19th century. You will leisurely pass several prominent hotels, quaint cafes and public artworks while marveling at the view of the Buda Castle across the river. Dunakorzó extends from the Elizabeth Bridge (south end) to the Chain Bridge (north end) where this photo was taken. But don’t stop there. Keep walking on this quay with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on the right and the Hungarian Parliament Building on the left. The scenic esplanade is about one mile long.

Széchenyi rkp. 1, Budapest, 1054 Hungary

20 Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, Hungary

An architectural cornerstone of Széchenyi Square is the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The Renaissance Revival design by Fredrich Stüler was built in 1865. The mission of this national academy is to monitor, promote and cultivate eleven scientific disciplines. These include linguistics, history, medicine, engineering and biology. The prestigious learned society was founded in 1825 by István Széchenyi. The count was the same influential politician who spearheaded construction of the Chain Bridge where the couple is sitting.

Budapest, Széchenyi István tér 9, 1051 Hungary

21 Buda Side of Budapest, Hungary

This scenic view is often called the Castle District because the Buda Castle (also called the Royal Palace) is located here. Before merging to become Budapest in 1873, the West Bank consisted of two cities: Buda and Óbuda. A few of its top attractions are visible across the Danube. On the left are Matthias Church and the white towers of Fisherman’s Bastion. Along the embankment is the Reformed Church. In the foreground are some of the bronze shoes from the Danube Holocaust Memorial. They are scattered across the Danube Promenade on the East Bank of the city.

Budapest, Széchenyi rkp. 8, 1054 Hungary

22 Bronze Shoes Memorial on Danube Promenade in Budapest, Hungary

From October through December, 1944, The Arrow Cross Party killed 38,000 Hungarians and sent 80,000 into slave labor or death camps. When 200 Jews resisted in January of 1945, they were handcuffed in twos, led to the Danube River, told to remove their shoes and then were shot and floated away. The 60 pairs of bronze shoes on the Danube Promenade are a Holocaust Memorial to that event in Budapest. They were sculpted by Gyula Pauer in 2005.

Budapest, Széchenyi rkp. 8, 1054 Hungary

23 West Façade of Parliament Building in Budapest, Hungary

The exterior of the Parliament Building is profound but the interior is remarkable. The building has nearly 700 rooms. During your tour, you will be impressed with the ornate staircase, the assembly halls plus the frescos, mosaics and stained-glass windows. Most exciting is seeing the crown jewels including the Holy Crown of Hungary. Tours are suspended when the National Assembly is in session, so check the website for availability.

Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary

24 Dome of Parliament Building in Budapest, Hungary

The Renaissance Revival dome of the Hungarian Parliament Building reaches a height of 315 feet. This makes it Budapest’s tallest building, a distinction it shares with St. Stephen’s Basilica. This measurement of 96 meters symbolizes the 1896 Millennium Celebration of Hungary’s formation.

Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary

25 East Façade of Parliament Building in Budapest, Hungary

The famous view of the Hungarian Parliament Building faces the Danube. This eastern façade adjoining Lajos Kossuth Square is equally impressive. This is the Parliament’s main entrance. Arrive early for your tour so you have extra time to study the intricate details. Two lions guard the three-arched portal. Your eye will travel up to statues of historic Hungarian leaders plus the crests of nobility and dukes. At the pinnacle is Hungary’s coat of arms. It features two angels holding a shield topped with the Crown of Saint Stephen. The Holy Crown was used since the 12th century to coronate over 50 Hungarian kings.

Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary

26 Museum of Ethnography in Budapest, Hungary

You will be impressed with the people you meet in Budapest. They are charming, gracious and welcoming. If you want to learn more about Hungarians, then enter the Museum of Ethnography in Kossuth Square across from the Parliament Building. Established by the Hungarian National Museum in 1872, the Nėprajzi Mėzeum has exhibits on the country’s people, culture, folklore, lifestyles and customs. Since 1973, the museum has been housed in the former Ministry of Justice building (the equivalent of the Supreme Court). The Neoclassical design with twin towers, Corinthian columns and plenty of statuary by Alajos Hauszmann was finished in 1896.

Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 12, 1055 Hungary

27 St. Stephen’s Basilica West Façade in Budapest, Hungary

St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of Budapest’s most important religious landmarks. Planning and construction of the Catholic church required 95 years. Although fundraising began in 1810, the project did not begin until 1851 and was completed in 1905. The structure’s Neoclassical style was initially designed by József Hild. Two other architects supervised this co-cathedral of the Esztergom-Budapest Archdiocese, giving it some Neo-Renaissance features. In the south tower (on the right) is the country’s largest bell weighing 9.5 tons.

Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary

28 St. Stephen’s Basilica Wooden Door in Budapest, Hungary

Beneath the twin bell towers of St. Stephen’s Basilica is an impressive entrance. Most of this western portal is the work of Léo Fessler. It features statues along the colonnade, an intricate tympanum and this wooden door with medallions of the Twelve Apostles.

Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary

29 Cupola inside St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

The interior of St. Stephen’s Basilica is adorned with marble, statuary, paintings and mosaics. Especially beautiful is the artwork reaching towards the cupola. The most honored possession is from the basilica’s namesake. Saint Stephen was the Grand Prince of the Hungarians before becoming the country’s founder and first king from 1000 – 1038 AD. In 1083, during his canonization, numerous miracles occurred including healing of the sick. His right hand, also called the Holy Dexter or Holy Right, is enshrined in the basilica and carried in procession on his Hungarian feast day of August 20.

Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary

30 St. Stephen’s Basilica Southeast Façade in Budapest, Hungary

St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Budapest because of its architectural beauty. Another reason is the observation deck. You can climb 364 steps or take an elevator to the top in order to enjoy a 360° view of the city. Szent István Bazilika is 315 feet tall, the same height as the Hungarian Parliament dome. This equality symbolizes the balance between church and state. No building in Budapest can be taller than these two landmarks.

Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary

31 Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest, Hungary

Miklós Ybl is considered to be the best 19th century, Hungarian architect. He designed several Budapest landmarks such as St. Stephen’s Basilica. His masterstroke is the State Opera House. Across the third-story balustrade are sculptures of famous composers. Among the 16 likenesses are Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. On the first level are statues by Alajos Stróbl of two Hungarian musicians: pianist Franz Liszt and national anthem composer Ferenc Erkel. Erkel was the opera house’s first director when it opened in 1884.

Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061 Hungary

32 Guard Reading Paper in State Opera House in Budapest, Hungary

Magyar Állami Operaház (State Opera House in Hungarian) hosts wonderful operas, ballets and concerts. The façade is impressive. The interior is spectacular. The 1,261-seat, performing arts venue is adorned in red velvet, chandeliers, columns, a gorgeous fresco plus paintings of muses. Juxtaposed against this opulence was the bored security guard who was reading his newspaper.

Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061 Hungary

33 Anker Palace in Budapest, Hungary

Tourists often find themselves in Deák Ferenc tér because several metros intersect here. The square is named after a mid-19th century politician who helped create the Hungarian Assembly. “The Wise Man of the Nation” also promoted the Reformist’s “Ten Points” of freedom which led to the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The Anker Palace faces this square. Ignác Alpár designed the Anker House in 1910 as apartments. The investor was the Anker Life and Pension Company. The building was later converted into the Anker Palace Hotel but has since closed.

Budapest, Deák Ferenc tér 6, 1061 Hungary

34 St Anne’s Church in Budapest, Hungary

The Friar Servants of Mary is a Catholic order established in Italy in 1233. While the Servite Friars were spreading across central Europe, one monastery was established in Budapest in 1686. Their Church of St Anne, located in Servite Square, was constructed in 1732. The bell tower of the Servite Church was added to the Baroque façade in 1871. Below the spire are the statues of St. Augustine and St. Philip.

Budapest, Szervita tér 6, 1052 Hungary

35 Párizsi Udvar Arcade in Budapest, Hungary

In 1817, merchant József Brudern commissioned architect Mihály Pollack to build an elaborate store with a glass arcade. The building was called Brudern House. The locals nicknamed it the Paris House. When the Belváros Savings Bank rebuilt it as their headquarters in 1913, the lower two levels received a more ornate glass ceiling designed by Miksa Róth. The collection of stores is called Párisi udvar meaning the Parisian Court. Located at the Square of the Franciscans (Ferenciek tere), this is part of the tourist-oriented shopping district along Váci Street.

Budapest, Petőfi Sándor u. 2, 1052 Hungary

36 Great Market Hall in Budapest, Hungary

On the east terminus of Liberty Bridge in Fὄvám Square is a colorful façade resembling a train station. This is Great Market Hall … a tourist’s fascination and a local’s essential. Designed by Samu Pecz, it was Hungary’s largest indoor marketplace when it opened in 1897. Beneath a steel roof is over 100,000 square feet of merchant space. Scattered across three levels are stalls offering just about anything you want to eat. Probably not on your list but something you should try are the pickled vegetables.

Budapest, Vámház krt. 1, 1093 Hungary

37 Liberty Bridge in Budapest, Hungary

In 1896, Franz Joseph – the Emperor of Australia and King of Hungary – opened this bridge designed by Virgil Nagy. The 1,100 foot span over the Danube was named in the king’s honor. The bridge was destroyed by Germans troops in 1945 and reconstructed within a year after WWII ended. The cantilever truss was then renamed the Liberty or Freedom Bridge. Notice the birds atop the spires on either side of the lamppost. This falcon-like bird is a Turul, the country’s national symbol.

Budapest, Szabadság híd, 1118 Hungary

38 Kunsthalle Hall of Art in Budapest, Hungary

The Kunsthalle, known in English as the Hall of Art, features contemporary art. Unlike most museums, however, it does not have a permanent collection. Instead, the exhibition hall rotates the work of local and regional artists. This Neoclassical structure created by Albert Schickedanz opened in 1896 as part of the country’s 1000th year anniversary. In the pediment is a mosaic featuring St. Stephen, the patron saint of Hungary. Art Hall is located at Heroes’ Square across from the Museum of Fine Arts which was designed by the same architect.

Budapest, Dózsa György út 37, 1146 Hungary

39 Heroes’ Square in Budapest, Hungary

Since its creation in the late 19th century, Heroes’ Square has been a tribute to Hungary’s past. On top of the 118 foot column is Gabriel created by György Zala. According to lore, the Archangel promised Stephen the Kingdom of Hungary. Below the column is the Millennium Monument featuring equestrian statues of seven Magyar chieftains. Their commander, Árpád, is credited with being the founder of Hungary in the late 9th century. Flanking either side are concave colonnades with statues of more historical leaders. Hὄsök Tere (Hungarian for Heroes’ Square) has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a main entrance to the 302 acre City Park.

Budapest, Hősök tere 1, 1146 Hungary

40 Peace Statue at Heroes’ Square in Budapest, Hungary

This woman riding a horse-drawn chariot above the delicate frieze represents Peace. There are three other allegorical sculptures on top of the colonnades at Heroes’ Square. They symbolize Labor and Wealth, War plus Glory and Knowledge. Beneath them are 14 bronze images of men who made significant contributions to Hungarian history. Among the most famous are Stephen I and King Matthias Corvinus.

Budapest, Hősök tere 1, 1146 Hungary

41 Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary

Aficionados of classic, European masters should plan to visit the Museum of Fine Arts at the north end of Heroes’ Square. As you approach its Neoclassical façade with Corinthian columns supporting a sculptured pediment, you know you are in for a visual sensation. The collection consists of over 100,000 pieces. Examples of artwork on display include those by Monet, Rembrandt, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. Szépművészeti Múzeum also features Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities.

Budapest, Dózsa György út 41, 1146 Hungary

42 City Park Pond in Budapest, Hungary

Behind Heroes’ Square and the two art museums is City Park Pond. During the warm months, people enjoy renting small boats to paddle around the three-acre artificial lake while admiring the odd artwork. In winter, this becomes one of Europe’s largest outdoor skating rinks. In the background is Vajdahunyad Castle.

Városligeti-tó, Budapest, 1146 Hungary

43 Brief Description of Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest, Hungary

Several tribes led by Árpád banded together to conquer the Carpathian Basin. The resulting Magyar Conquest of 895 marked the formation of Hungary. To help celebrate the country’s 1000th anniversary, architect Ignác Alpár created an amalgamation of 21 historical Hungarian architecture styles using wood and cardboard. The popularity of the temporary exhibit resulted in a permanent version of Vajdahunyad Castle being built in 1908. This fairytale landmark is located on Szechenyi Island within Budapest’s City Park. You will be thrilled to visit this attraction from the moment you see the lakeside reflection of Vajdahunyad Vára.

Budapest, Vajdahunyad vár, 1146 Hungary

44 Church of Ják Reproduction at Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest, Hungary

In 1256, the Benedictines built a monastery and abbey church in Ják, a small village in western Hungary. The Church of Ják was replicated at Vajdahunyad Castle in order to showcase Romanesque architecture from the 11th – 13th centuries. Above the elaborate tympanum are sculptures of the Twelve Apostles with Christ in the middle. This version of Jaki kapolna is a functioning Catholic chapel.

Budapest, Vajdahunyad vár, 1146 Hungary

45 Hunyadi Castle Reproduction at Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest, Hungary

The legend of Count Dracula was inspired by the Hunyadi Castle (also called the Corvin Castle) in present-day Transylvania, Romania. While owned by John Hunyadi in the first half of the 15th century, he imprisoned and tortured Vlad the Impaler. The latter’s name was Vlad III Dracul of Wallachia. The first version of the Dracula story was published in 1897. This was one year after Hunyadi Castle was replicated in Budapest as the Vajdahunyad Castle. Hunyadi Castle was chosen to demonstrate Hungarian Gothic architecture from the 15th century.

Budapest, Vajdahunyad vár, 1146 Hungary

46 Palace Reproduction at Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest, Hungary

During the 16th – 18th centuries, several gorgeous palaces were built across the Austro-Hungarian Empire featuring Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles. This building at Vajdahunyad Castle blends the finest features of many classic palaces. The complex also houses the main sections of the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture. Magyar Mezőgazdasági Múzeum is the largest agriculture museum in Europe.

Budapest, Vajdahunyad vár, 1146 Hungary

47 Széchenyi Baths in Budapest, Hungary

Apparently hope springs eternal, especially when searching for hot springs. Vilmos Zsigmondy spent a decade drilling over 3,000 feet within City Park before taping into thermal water in 1878. A temporary bathhouse was quickly established and then replaced by Széchenyi Baths in 1913 based on a design by Gyözὄ Czigler. The Czigler wing was expanded until this Neo-Baroque structure with three domed pavilions became Europe’s largest bath. The complex offers ten saunas and 18 pools. The three outdoor pools remain open all year. The natural mineral water is praised for its medicinal value.

Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9, 1146 Hungary

48 East African Crowned Crane at Budapest Zoo in Budapest, Hungary

The golden fanned crest, scarlet red throat pouch and three-foot graceful body of the East African Crowned Crane makes it stunning to watch. This beautiful bird is on the Uganda coat of arms but also lives in the savannahs across Africa. This one strolls the grounds of the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Gardens in City Park. The zoo celebrated its 150 birthday in 2016.

Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 6, 1146 Hungary

49 Western Lowland Gorilla in Budapest Zoo, Hungary

This western lowland gorilla looks like he is modeling for the famous bronze sculpture called “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin. This is the smallest of the gorilla subspecies yet still very big at 300 to 600 pounds. Although a native of Central Africa, there are over 500 in world zoos like this one in Budapest. The 26-acre Budapest Zoo and Botanical Gardens has about 5,000 animals from over 700 species.

Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 6, 1146 Hungary

50 Sunset over West Bank in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is always rated among the top European cities to visit. The reasons are plentiful, such as its wonderful architecture, rich history and flowing Danube. You will be tired after exploring the marvelous sites all day. But don’t be too tired to miss the spectacular performance at dusk: sunset over the West Bank. The landmarks silhouetted at twilight include the Chain Bridge plus the spires of Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion perched high on Castle Hill.

Budapest, Apáczai Csere János u. 12, 1052 Hungary