Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Touring Budapest

Just got on the bus to go tour through Budapest.

The city is split in two parts; Buda and Pest. Pet is pronounced Pesht. Any word in Hungarian; an S is Sh and a SZ is S.

We are going to Hero's Square, then to the city center (Parliment), then over to Buda for the castle district and Fisherman's Bastion.

Our guide Monica jokes that the cafés in Hungary have such exorbitant prices because artists, writers and politicians used to meet all day and linger over one cup of coffee to discuss philosophy.

Lots of the old palace buildings have been converted to retail and apartments in 1890s. They are called eclectical buildings for a good reason.

The "house of terror" is now a museum but acted as the actual Nazi headquarters as well as the headquarters for the Hungarian Secret police.

The communist party collapsed in 1989 and the ensuing political changes lasted until 1991.

Andrashi ave and Hero's Square was built in 1896 to celebrate the millennium anniversary of Hungary as a country. Hero's Square was built to be the entrance to the city park. The city park was made for Maria Teresa long before the millennium festival.

Archangel Gabriel is at the top of the column. He gave the cross and crown to the Pope who converted the pagan Hungarians to Christianity. The men in the arches are the Kings, Princes and revolutionaries of Hungary. TheThe Hobsvourgs (sp?! An Austrian family whose empire extended from Hungary to Spain) occupied Hungary for 250 years after helping the Hungarians oust the Turks.

The opera house is built in the Italian style. Much of the city center is being renovated after being damaged in the world wars. The villas on Andrashi avenue were taken and confiscated from the residents in the Communist era. The residents were able to purchase them back after the fall of Communism. The state even compensated some who could prove they owned the buildings in the early nineties.

Saint Stephen's basilica is net the city center. It took over fifty years to build in the back half of the 1800s. It is one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches, about half the country is Roman Catholic.

During the communist era, the communists tried replacing church officials with their own people which dissuaded the citizens from worshipping.

Parliament is the largest building in Hungary. The Austrians and Hungarians reached a compromise during occupation and built parliament to house the new government. The dome is a very symbolic 896 meters high. parliament backs up to the Danube. The Danube is blue today which is very unusual. Margaret Island does not allow cars. There are a few hotels, lots of sport fields and the national pool.

We cross the Danube to get to the castle district. Buda is more suburban than Pest. The citizens tend to stick to their respective sides, Pest or Buda.

Saint Mathias church is at the top of castle hill (50-60m elev) and has a beautiful Multi-colored tile roof. As we head up to see it, our bus is stopped for what Monica thinks is a politician or prime minister passing through, in her words "the smart heads new to save Europe". Soon after she says this, a white tower de orated with flags passes by in an envoy of black sedans.

The statue commemorating the failed March 15 revolution against the Austrians (Havsbourgs). The monument is still decorated. It is a statue depicting a guardian angel, "For the strong women" is written on the statue.

The oldest building in use in this district is from the 1400s.

King Mathias used to put on a disguise to check on his subjects. He was very involved in the arts and architecture.

The raven on the spire was beloved by Mathias. Mathias went out, fell in love and left the girl a ring. The girl found out later he was the king, was very he would never be back and sent the ring back to him with a raven. raven is korvo in Hungarian, it pops up all over Mathias' history.

After journeying back to the hotel, Erin an I will be freshening up and heading out to one of the baths in the city park back by Hero's Square.

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