Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and is home to nearly 2 million inhabitants, any one of whom will be able to tell you various reasons as to why it has ranked so highly on many livability scales, and voted Europe’s “7th most idyllic” place to life by Forbes Magazine. 37 million tourists per year travel to Budapest to see it’s attractions and architecture, or to experience it’s unique culture and distinctive character.
With a little bit of something for everyone, Budapest truly is a city to be experienced at least one. Whether you want to sip a coffee on the banks of the Danube, or go shopping in the new malls and old antique shops, you won’t be disappointed.
Budapest has a fantastic mix of Roman, Art Nouveau and Gothic architecture, to name just a few of the types of buildings to be found in this architectural paradise. For lovers of all things buildings, pop along to see some of the city’s best sights, such as the Neo-Gothic Parliament buildings, which can be found in Lajos Kossuth Square on the banks of the Danube. Inside this 19th Century building you’ll find the The Holy Crown of Hungary which has been in the central hall since 2000, as well as various pieces of art ranging from stained glass windows to frescoes on the ceiling.
For Renaissance architecture fans, you’ll be pleased to know that Hungary was one of the first places to be influenced by this style focusing on symmetry and geometry. Make sure you have a look at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, The Budapest Opera House and St. Stephen’s Basilica. Baroque buildings include Széchenyi Baths and the Royal Palace, while Classicism and Neo Classicism can be seen in the Hungarian National Museum and the Chain Bridge, the first bridge to permanently connect the two areas of West Bank Buda and East-Bank Pest.
Budapest is also home to the memory of The Roman Empire, which once covered a large part of Hungary. If you like your history and want to take a trip to the historical area of Óbuda, you’ll be able to enjoy the roman ruins of an amphitheater, mosaic floors, tombstones, statues and a bath complex.
Underneath this area of Pest runs continental Europe’s oldest and the world’s second oldest underground railway- the first metro line went through Andrássy Avenue and you can visit many stations that have retained their original appearence. Go to Heroes’ Square to visit The Millenary Monument and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or pop over to one of the many museums and parks. On this side of the river you’ll find the Dohány Street Synagogue, which is the largest synagogue in the world. The complex consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard, the Holocaust memorial and the Jewish Museum. On this side of the Danube you’ll find a memorial to the Jews killed during WW2 called ‘Shoes on the Danube’, created by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay.
A spot of shopping
Like any capital city, Budapest offers shops and boutiques to quell the fashion thirst of any shopping addict! As well as newer shopping malls that have been popping up since the ’90s, there are six large market halls, many antique shops and Hungary’s most famous pedestrian shopping street, Váci utca. A word of warning- b careful when mooching around the city with shopping bags aspick pockets can target tourists!
Where to stay
The 5 star deluxe Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal is one of Budapest’s newest, and arguably best hotels. Completely renovated in 2003 the hotel has a distinguished facade as well as a grand entrance hall that certainly has the “wow” factor! With outstanding levels of service the hotel does not only offer great value for money but also a luxurious and pleasurable stay that will last in the memory long after departure. Located in the heart of the city, the nearest metro station is only 100 metres away giving easy access to the cities must see sights. All of the hotel’s 414 rooms are well equipped with air conditioning, telephone, minibar, radio, safe, satellite, and pay television, hairdryer, modem connection, free internet and bath robe. The Royal Spa offers a wide range of facilities including a 15 metre swimming pool, saunas, steam baths, jacuzzis, fitness room, tropical rain showers and a variety of other treatments.
Congratulations to Caroline Russell who correctly entered ‘Budapest’ for this week’s Where in the World Wednesday competition, you have won a £20 alpharooms.com voucher.