My Budapest Bucketlist

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1
Not many cities can boast a Parliament Building this photogenic. Sitting on the banks of the Danube, built in a grand Neo-Gothic style, this is Parliament done palatially.The idea for the construction of the Budapest Parliament House - or Orszaghaz - came in 1873 when the three cities that made up Budapest were united. A competition was held and won by Imre Steindl. His design mixed Gothic, Medieval and Baroque elements with a lavish hand. The building was not finished until 1902, by which time Steindl was blind. The grand building contains many items of interest, including frescoes the Hungarian Coronation Regalia with its Renaissance sword mythical eagles and an impressive staircase.
2
This beautiful neo-classical cathedral is the biggest church in Budapest and sits on the imposing square of Szent Istv?n. Its serene fa?ade is decorated with statues of the 12 Apostles and has twin clock towers, a vast cupola and an imposing colonnaded doorway leading on to a barn-like interior illuminated through jewel-like stained-glass windows. Among the carved wooden pews, marble statuary, frescoed ceilings and gilded ornamentation, the opulent basilica's most holy relic is found in the small dark chapel to the left of the elaborate main altar. The mummified and bejeweled hand of St Stephen, who was both first king and patron saint of Hungary back in the ninth century, lies preserved in a delicate glass cabinet.The basilica can accommodate 8,500 worshippers and was built during the late 19th century during the expansion of Budapest for the Millennium celebrations. Much of the later design work was by Mikl?s Ybl, designer of the Hungarian State Opera House.
3
From $53.89
Combine the riverside sights of Budapest with wine tastings on this relaxing 2 hour early evening cruise! Sail along the Danube and watch the landmarks as you taste delicious numbers from some of Hungary's renowned organic wineries such as Szajki or Tier Tokaj. Treat your tastebuds to seven tastings of Hungarian wines as you enjoy magnificent views over Parliament House, the Chain Bridge, Royal Palace and other monuments. With further drinks available to buy from the onboard bar, it’s the perfect start to a magical Budapest evening!
4
Open since 1870, the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular carries passengers from Clark Adam Square and the Szechenyi Chain Bridge up to Buda Castle nearly 200 feet 61 m above. Just the second funicular railway built in Europe, it was destroyed in World War II and reopened in 1986. More than 300 feet long, the funicular runs at a 40-degree incline and takes passengers up the equivalent of 30 flights of stairs. Two cars carry 24 passengers each and run in opposite directions one is running uphill while the other runs downhill. On clear days, passengers enjoy superb views of the Danube River and the west side of Budapest as they ascend the funicular. There are also two pedestrian bridges crossing over the funicular tracks which offer closer views of the cars for those walking down from Buda Castle.
5
V?ci utca utca simply means 'street' is Budapest's most upmarket shopping precinct. Once upon a time it was all about the antique shops and was famous for its bookstores nowadays it's more about high-end designer fashion and European chain stores, and you'll struggle to find a bargain here. For the traveler - at least those that don't want to join their fellow visitors in the hunt for just one more Zara dress or an overpriced meal in one of the many tourist-trap restaurants - the main pleasure of strolling V?ci utca is the street's polished good looks and architecture. Window-shop and people-watch your way down the pedestrian street, which opens into squares, and take in ceramic reliefs, stained glass and Art Nouveau interiors.
6
Rising 140 m 460 ft over the western flank of the River Danube, Gell?rt Hill is riddled with underground cave complexes and around 130 hot springs, which feed Budapest's famous spa baths. Formed in karstic limestone, the springs have therapeutic properties and provide 70 million liters 18.5 million gallons of hot, calcium-rich water - temperature ranges between 70?F 21?C and 168?F 76?C - daily to power the seven major spa complexes in the city. Of these, the elegant, Art Nouveau-cum-Secessionist-style Gell?rt Thermal Bath and Spa opened in 1918 behind its undulating exterior is a confection of magical, turquoise-and-gold, mosaic-ed saunas, steam rooms and colonnaded indoor and outdoor pools. As well as a series of plunge pools and mineral baths of differing temperatures, there's a wave pool on the roof and a panoramic terrace for sunbathing and al fresco lunching in summer.
7
Margit-sziget Margaret Island is a magical little piece of heaven poised between Buda and Pest. Being there always gives you the sense of taking some time off from the real world. It's small - only 2.5 km 1.4 mi long - but you'd be surprised how much the island manages to pack in and still feel like an oasis. Margaret Island was once three islands they were put together to stem the flow of the Danube in the 19th century. In the middle ages, Margaret Island was called the Island of Rabbits. It was named Margaret after a saint who lived in one of the many nunneries.The Ottoman rulers kicked out the monks and nuns and took over the island for their harems. There's still plenty of lolling about and pleasure seeking to be done on the island today. It has a pool and lido, a thermal spa, concerts and a Japanese garden to help you relax.
8
Located up at Buda Castle, the Hungarian National Gallery is the country's premier fine-art gallery, housed in the vast, colonnaded former Royal Palace, a restored Renaissance building of massive proportions. The gallery is chronologically laid out over four levels and follows the development of Hungarian art from medieval times to present day. With around 25,000 artifacts in the collections, the gallery divides between nine permanent exhibitions. To many western eyes, much of the work will be by unknown artists but the dynamism and skill of the work will more than compensate as the development of Hungarian art unfolds through the gallery. The 19th-century portraits are fascinating as they provide a glimpse into the rarified world of pre-World War I Hungarian aristocracy, but the show is totally stolen by the gleaming, gilded medieval wooden altarpieces depicting the Madonna and various ecclesiastic scenes.
9
Matthias Church, with the bright color of its tiled roof and its fantastic Neo-Gothic ornamentation, is one of the stand-out attractions of Castle Hill. Most of it dates from the late 19th century, but parts of the church are much older than that. It's named the Matthias Church because King Matthias I married Beatrice of Naples here in 1474. It was here, in 1867, that Franz Liszt's Coronation Mass was first performed, and the church still has a strong musical tradition try and catch a concert here if you can.On the exterior of the church, check out the unusual diamond-patterned tiles of the roof and the Matthias Tower, which bears the king's crest animal, a raven with a gold ring in its beak. Also look out for the medieval columns on the bottom of the B?la Tower, with their studious monks and devilish animals. Inside the church you'll find rich frescoes and a legendary Madonna statue - this Virgin is said to have saved the Castle from Turkish invasion when her face.
10
Budapest's main opera house is a lavish neo-Renaissance confection with an interior so ornate that it could only have been built at the height of the wealthy Austro-Hungarian Empire. The opera house was designed by the Hungarian architect Mik?s Ybl, while the Baroque ornamentation, sweeping marble staircases, the frescoed ceilings, vast chandeliers, rich velvets and gilded tiers of seats in the auditorium were mainly contributed by K?roly Lotz and Bertalan Sz?kely. It opened with great fanfare on September 27, 1884, in the presence of the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I and in time for the Millennium celebrations of 1896. Gustave Mahler was director at the opera house between 1887-1891 and its reputation as one the world's leading cultural houses was cemented. After decades of riding high on the international stage, the proud opera house fell into disrepair under the Communist regime in the 1970s.





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