Pearl of the Danube. Heart of Europe. Capital of Freedom. Put these complimentary aliases together and you have one supreme result: Budapest. Clearly, the city has the best sobriquets on the continent. But much more than that, the political, cultural and commercial nexus of Hungary is a spectacular destination. Budapest is simply made to delight tourists and no better proof is at hand than the incredible fact that on average, over 20 million people visit the city every year.
Need more evidence that Budapest deserves a whirl? Held every August, the Sziget Festival is one of the most remarkable music and cultural festivals on the planet. The Hungarian capital is also full of UNESCO charm, with several landmarks on the notable list in one of the “world’s outstanding urban landscapes”. From the Banks of the Danube to Andrassy Avenue, Buda Castle and the Millennium Underground Railway, the heritage city is a thrill to explore. Check out ten must-see attractions in Budapest.
No other landmark in Budapest soars as high above the city as Saint Stephen’s Basilica. The Neoclassical beauty took over fifty years to build and finally opened in 1905. The interior contains remains of the first King of Hungary, who reigned a millenium ago. The panoramic views of Budapest from the lofty dome are phenomenal.
Where all the best stuff, inextricably Hungarian, winds up, the National Museum is a preserver of historical records, objects, art and artifacts. The fine Budapest institution is free of charge and quite near to busy Kalvin Square.
Impossible to ignore, the fabulous, brilliant State Opera House of Hungary rivals that of any other on the continent. Aside from the famous Paris and Milan incarnations, the Budapest opera house has the best acoustics in the world and many famous associations, from Gustav Mahler to native son Franz Liszt. The state opera and national ballet both perform here – both are well worth the price of admission.
Though decimated by the horrors of the Holocaust, with over 400,000 lost, Hungary’s Jewish heritage remains vibrant. The benevolence of people like Estee Lauder has led to restoration efforts of major community landmarks, of which the Great Synagogue in Doh?ny Street is the most notable. The remarkable place of worship seats 3,000 people and contains a museum, cemetery and Raul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park.
The Museum of Applied Arts is an Art Nouveau masterpiece on Grand Boulevard, with a resplendent interior and preeminent collection of important works.
A Gothic Revival edifice in the vein of London’s iconic Palace of Westminster, the Hungarian Parliament is a massive landmark and symbol of the nation. With a dramatic facade on the Danube, you can hardly beat the location. A tour of the awesome interior is a must.
From 1930 to 1948, Bauhaus was the dominant design in avant-garde Budapest, the remnants of which provide some of the most notable gems on the vast cityscape. These include the Heart of Jesus Church in Varosmajor, St. Stephen’s Park and the wonderful Pasaret area of the Buda side of the city.
Built between 1900 and 1906, the Neoclassical Museum of Fine Arts contains a splendid collection of works from every major European period and diverse international art.
Across from the Museum of Fine Arts in historic Heroes’ Square is Budapest’s magnificent Palace of Art. The facility is simply the most vital and prominent exhibition space in all of Hungary and has been so since 1895.
A worthy UNESCO World Heritage Site if ever there was one, the historic Castle District’s glorious lynchpin originates from the late 13th century. Most of what remains today however, was built up over later periods. Buda Castle, no matter what the timeframe, is a marvel, with grand interior halls, priceless works of art and two museums in the Budapest History Museum and Hungarian National Gallery. Reserve at least a day to fully appreciate the most iconic attraction in the city.
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