An Interlude in Budapest

October 22 - 26, 2006

We arrived in Budapest late on October 22, and October 23, 2006 was the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising.  The Revolution only lasted a couple of weeks, because Russia came in with troops and tanks.  The symbol of that uprising was the Hungarian flag with a hole.  At that time, the approved flag had the three colors with a hammer and sickle in the center.  The protesters cut the hammer and sickle out, leaving a hole, naturally.

This big replica was hanging on the Elisabeth Bridge, a 1903 bridge crossing the Danube River at a fairly narrow point.  The bridge is about 1000 feet long.
Elizabeth Bridge
Vorsmarty Square is a social center, with a concert hall on one side, a pedestrian shopping mall entering the other, and on this end, Cafe Gerbeaud, a stop in its own right for its coffee and pastries.
Verasmarty Square
And it has ice cream.  Who could resist this?
Budapest Ice Cream
Castle Hill is dominated by Buda Castle.  This has been destroyed and rebuilt frequently.  Budapest has found itself on the losing end of multiple European wars.  Buda is the older, hillier part of the city, on the west bank of the Danube.
Palace Hill
This facade of Buda Castle faces away from the river.
This is the Matthias Fountain, just to the left of the West Forecourt above.  It represents a hunting scene.

This fountain was sculpted in 1904, during the Hapsburg era.  It has survived the destruction of both World War I and World War II.
Palace Fountain
Matthias Church, about 700 years old, is just adjacent to the Buda Castle.  The statue in the foreground is King Steven I, founder of Hungary.
St. Mathias Church
The altar of Matthias Church.
St. Mathias Altar
Fisherman's Bastion, high on the hill overlooking the Danube.  This is between Matthias Church and the drop-off going down to the river.  This structure celebrates a fishermen's guild that was responsible for a stretch of the city wall.  It has seven towers for the seven original Magyar tribes that settled Budpest.
Fishermans' Bastion
Looking north from the Fisherman's Bastion, we see the Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament building.  The Chain Bridge, built over ten years between 1839 and 1849, was the first to connect the cities of Buda and Pest.
Chain Bridge
The Hungarian Parliament building seen from the Pest side of the Danube, with the hills of North Buda in the background.  This view is actually from the dome of St. Steven's Basilica.
Parliament from St. Stephens
The Hungarian Parliament, as seen from the Danube.  This is a Gothic Revival structure, which was completed in 1904.  It bears an uncanny resemblance to Westminster Palace in London.

You can see renovation to the right.  Apparently, some part of this building is always under renovation.
Parliment from Danube
This is the entrance to the Parliament building.  Guards were a little more obvious because of the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.

Extra security seems to have been justified.  The night of October 23 had crowds marching up and down the streets where the Revolution had taken place in 1956.  Riot police were out using tear gas.  Our hotel strongly recommended not walking that direction, because that action was about a block and a half away.
Parliament from front
Margit Island, which apparently was once known as Rabbit Island, is sort of a Central Park for Budapest.  Here Janet props up some boulders.
Margit Island
Margit Island was filled with churches and nunneries, including the Dominican Convent of St. Margaret, these ruins shown here.   When the Ottomans moved into Budapest, they made sure that all the religious buildings were knocked down.  Margaret was a daughter of one of the Hungarian rulers, Bela IV.  I don't know if she was there willingly or Russian style, as an alternative to assassination or exile.
St. Margarets Convent
St. Steven's Basilica is on the Pest side of town.  It is named after the first king of Hungary, Steven I, who ruled from 1001 until 1038.  This church was completed in 1904, after 54 years of work.  There was a huge "OOPS" in 1868, when the dome collapsed, and they had to start over.
St. Stephens
The dome.  Still in place, this time.
St. Stephens Dome
The altar of St. Steven's Basilica.
St. Stephens Altar
While most of the notable architecture in Budapest dates to the Hapsburgs and the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, there is some new architecture, too.  This building houses the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art.  This was one of our favorite stops in Budapest.  In part, because the art was lively and new, in contrast to the centuries old icons we had been seeing in Russia.  Another feature was self-cleaning toilets that could have been designed by Rube Goldberg.
Ludwig Museum
The Pest end of the Chain Bridge brings you to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.  It was founded in 1825, but its buildings date to around 1865. Those Hapsburgs at work again.
This statue of Imre Nagy stands in Martyr's Square, very near the Parliament.  Nagy was Prime Minister of Hungary twice.  The second time was most notable, because he was selected as PM by acclaim after the 1956 Revolution.  A week after the Revolution, he announced Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact.  When the Russians re-invaded the country, Nagy was sheltered briefly in the Yugoslav Embassy.  The Russians, ignoring their promise of safe passage, captured him and executed him in secret.
Imre Nagy

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