Budapest – Hungary’s Capital
At the divergence between east and west lies a city where empires once roamed. Budapest carries a dynasty like no other in modern history. A mix of audacious regalia purged in amongst bland socialist architecture, this is what animates Hungary’s striking capital.
A divided city of two halves, ‘Buda’ to the west, and ‘Pest’ to the east, it’s connection lives on within its people. While one side has the distinction of being flat-as-a-pancake, the other sits purged in the bosom of a small mold of hilly outcrops overlooking the alluring Danube river.
With an urban population of just under 3 million, it is far Hungary’s largest urban center and the hub of century’s of European supremacy, as one of the co-founders of the Austro-Hungarian empire which ruled great swathes of land to the south of its current geographical position.
Budapest – A Dynasty That Lives On
A city like Budapest is an open storybook, a fairytale. Each tale carries its own enchanting fable of a city that once defined central and eastern European society.
Parliament building defines the city with its dazzling display of gothic spirals, and elaborate tiled roofs. Its herculean size gives testament to its influence over the empire, and as a statement that defined the royal house. Today, servicing the country’s federal government, it has stood the test of time remarkably with its ambitious colonial heritage.
The building overlooks the city’s Danube river, as though it is a great protector of her natural beauty. A park straddles the back entrance, marble tiles and the remnants of a once indomitable force. The Gothic spires tease like fingers as they gravitate to the sky. A pair of guards encircle the entrance, her secrets locked under wraps.
Budapest – Every Castle Has A Fairytale
Budapest is a city with striking odes to its hey-day as the city that defined a dynasty. A city splashed between it’s fairytale regal days, and the cold and economic defining socialist days under the iron curtain.
In the locale of Buda lies the spacious Buda Castle, an ode to power that cradles a rocky hilltop overseeing a panoramic view of the Danube.
These days a successful tourist attraction. It houses museums and heritage architecture,which once defined the empire. Rustic walls, cobblestoned centuries-old streets, and winter gardens give unprecedented glimpses into nature in urban landscapes. While the tapestry of statues serenading the parks, speaks to the ghosts that still inhabit these grounds.
Budapest’s castle is an impressively masterpiece. A time capsule with vast expanses into the deep crevasses of its western arms, and to the vista of eastern plains overlooking the Danube, it is part of something far greater.
Across the river, Pest holds the key to the city’s history. From behind the enchanting riches of the Heroes Square Monument lies the city’s best kept secret, Vajdahunyad Castle. Built in 1896 to commemorate a millennium of Hungarian history.
A city park with deciduous trees, and a stone bridge. The castle opens up to a cobblestoned draw bridge and beautiful paintings which ordain the ceilings. Inside a magnificent row of towers liberate a garden and square as balconies open up onto greenery. A sense of Paris ensues as the Parisian style architecture rivals its nature.
Budapest – A City Of Cold War Ghosts
While the 1700 and 1800’s lay spoils to Budapest, the twentieth century endured great heartache. This remains apparent in the Bunker Hospital, an underground medical facility defines this dark chapter in the city’s heritage, best.
The Hospital In The Rock, http://www.sziklakorhaz.eu/en, validates the secrecy and convoluted truth behind the iron curtain, with a war was against its own people. While the hospital offers a tourist attraction wrapped in a giftbox, what lies beyond is something more intriguing.
Visitors to the site are taken on a mandatory tour of the facility by a guide who speaks one of several languages. The tour offered is provided at various intervals throughout the day, taking people on 1-hour guided tour through the hospital’s purported purpose.
The Hospital In The Rock guides weary travelers through a bloody period in Hungary’s history, the 1950’s. During this tumultuous era, a hospital was concocted out of an old mine to house patients. It was during this time which doctor’s tended to a variety of patients.
It survived primarily on donations, and volunteers. The caves were constructed to withstand nuclear attacks, and to protect the lives of its inhabitants. Military-grade helicopters flew in the wounded, as the war waged on above.
A clever air-duct was built to ensure that patients received valuable oxygen. The device was switched on the evenings to alleviate the cacophony of sound that drew from the machine.
The Hospital In The Rock is a hostile reminder of the futility of this chapter in Hungarian national history.
Budapest – A City Of Parks
Budapest’s founding monument to its beauty is an island that idly straddles the Danube – Margaret Island.
A popular attraction where locals and tourists alike converge during the warmer summer months, this mystical island park acts as a buffer zone between Buda and Pest. A border walk is popular among fitness fanatics, while locals walking their pets can be seen enjoying the fruits of the city’s tranquil waterway.
Margaret Island houses its own zoo, as well as restaurants, and a colorful botanical garden that welcomes locals during the warmer summer months for festivals, as well as stargazers.
The park pays homage to the history of the city, with medieval ruins and abandoned churches. The silence is a welcome reprieve from the constant buzzing of engines, and idle chatter of people on phones.
Budapest immerses its parks in the unique traits of its architecture. Heavily influenced by the Habsburg family, and Gothic-infused construction, the green spaces add a delicate approach to immersible design.
While Varosliget and Nepliget entice urbanites with its wintry blues and simple approach, the valley offers a series of trails that take nature-lovers out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary world of Budapest’s story. An infinitesimal number of trails cross the hills that overlook the vast expanses of the Danube basin.
The fusion of history with nature offers somber parallels to our desire as human beings to connect with nature, and no other city in Europe pulls it off better than Budapest.
Budapest – An Adventurous Dream
From the vertigo-inducing soviet subway system, to its aesthetically pleasing volume of bridges, Budapest has a story to share. Whether it’s through the eyes of the hordes of tourists, or from the lustful innocence of a first time backpacker, the affair lives on long after a departure from Budapest.
The city boasts an charming selection of independent eateries. From the dense but tasty Hungarian gulash to fresh meaty dumplings from local food taverns, to exotic teas from around the world, Budapest excels with its diversity.
From a wealth of museums, there is a chance to discover the riches of this medieval city, as well as to embrace its statement as Central Europe’s most intrepid city. There is an art in its architecture, from the patronizing gloomy Soviet edifices, to the remarkable stone and marble creations of its predecessors. And from the instantly recognizable yellow Habsburg buildings that dictate the reach and dominance of the once fierce Austro-Hungarian Empire, this city is art.
Budapest may be famous for its castles and parliament tower, but venture beyond that and you will discover a powerful odyssey exists that stamps its mark on time. A city wedged between eastern and western influences, and one continuing to expand its reaches today.
Budapest is more than just a one-night stand, it’s the journey of a fairytale where you write your own happy ending.