Walking Off the Night Before in Budapest

It was a beautiful sunny day in Budapest, temperatures were soaring & we were stood outside our hostel, 30 of us about to go on a walking tour of the city. Starting from our hostel on the Pest side of the city, going across to Buda & taking in the views from the Castle Hill.

We walked around the corner from our hostel, to the Opera House and as our guide started talking the first few people drifted back to the hostel. We had definitely drunk too much the night before, but I was determined that I was going to get to the end of the tour- even if my water bottle was already warm & we'd only been out for ten minutes.

You know it's a bad hangover when sat in the shade everyone still has their sunglasses on!

Budapest, despite having such a long history, is a relatively new capital. Having started as three separate cities with the Celts and Romans settling in knowing the hills and Danube gave excellent defensive strategy. When the conquering tribes came to the city they called each side of the river Pest. Legend says it wasn't until Attila came with his Huns & named the other side Buda after his brother, though the name only spread after the Tatar invasion. Bela IV commanded that forts be built across the country and built his own palace on what is now known as Castle Hill.

In the middle ages, Castle Hill became the permanent residence of Hungarian Kings, and the palace that had been continuously increasing was completed by the time King Mathias came to reign. Pest also became a wealthy trade centre, and King Mathias declared that it was equal to Buda, it was the Golden Age in Budapest. Unfortunately, a Turkish invasion was right around the corner, and their regime stayed in place for over 100 years.

Thanks to the Hasburg Empire, families from German principalities moved to the area. By the 18th century Buda became the administrative centre by the rule of Marie- Therese and Joseph II. The architecture from this century shows best how the cities were once divided, with the baroque style in hills of Buda whilst there is a more classical style in Pest. It wasn't until the Chain Bridge was built that the two sides of the city, along with Old Buda, became one. From then on in the city functioned as one with the Compromise in 1867, and it became industrialised.

The World War's caused much damage to the city. In the first displaced Hungarian's came to the city and the first housing estates were built, though many people still lived in slums. In the second the retreating German's blew up all the bridges connecting each side of the city, as well as the The Buda Castle. Following the rebuilding of the city, there was a revolution against the communist regime & a new political system won over.

St. Stephen's Basilica, named for King Stephen I of Hungary. It stands at 315ft (96 m) tall, the same height as the Parlament building. Nothing in Budapest may be built taller than this.

The fat policeman stands just around the corner from St. Stephen's Basilica. It is said that it is lucky to rub his belly if you get pregnant, though our guide rubbed his belly and promised us that she was not pregnant (but it wasn't a risk I was willing to take).

View back across the Chain Bridge to St. Stephen's Basilica.

Matthias Church, Castle Hill, Budapest. Check out those shiny roof tiles made from porcelain to keep the shine even when it rains

Trinity Column.

A very warm, slightly sunburnt me, with Parlament in the background on the left & St. Stephen's Basilica on the right.

Beautiful view back up to the Palace.

Budapest is such a beautiful city, and in spite of the heat mixed with the hangover I loved walking around it and getting to know it better. My favourite part was that it didn't seem to be trying to be anything except what it is. Slightly dirty, and not rich, but embracing it's own beauty. It wasn't just another city in Europe, it was my favourite city.

After a long hot day walking around, we spent the evening relaxing in the Széchenyi Baths

Image used was taken under Creative Commons from Giam, on Flickr

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