Budapest Off The Beaten Path Tips by Heniko
Budapest Off The Beaten Path: 396 reviews and 713 photos
A short walk from the Citadel is the 14-metre high liberation monument commissioned by Admiral Horthy, Hungary's pre-war and World War II dictator. Zigmond Kisfaludy-Strobl's original design, which featured a female figure holding an aircraft propeller, was commissioned after the death of Horthy's son István who was killed in a plane crash during World War II. It's said that when the Red Army arrived in 1945, a palm replaced the propeller and the monument came instead to symbolise liberation from Fascist rule. In truth, the Russian version of the monument is a different design by the same sculptor. Ironically, the statue of the Red Army soldier that stood guard at the foot of the monument has been unceremoniously carted off to Statue Park on the outskirts of the city.
Today, all that remains of the 13th-century Franciscan church which once stood here is the Mary Magdelene Tower. Both the chancel and nave of the church were destroyed during allied bombing raids in World War II and although the tower itself is largely a post-war reconstruction, the building has a rich turbulent history. For a short time, under Turkish occupation, it continued to hold Christian services, with Protestants using the nave and Catholics the chancel. Eventually, it too was converted into a mosque, although following the expulsion of the Turks in 1686 it reverted back to a church in which Franz I was crowned here in 1872. Later on it served as the garrison church for men stationed at the neighbouring army barracks
The labyrinth of caves and tunnels which stretch for over 10 kilometres beneath Castle Hill are said to have been joined together by the Turks during the middle ages for military purposes. In the 17th century, parts of the catacombs were used to store wine. More recently, the immediate area under ?ri utca served as an air-raid shelter during World War II. Today, about 1.5 kilometres are open to the general public, with an area of the labyrinth set aside for a waxwork exhibition on early Hungarian history.
Unfortunately, there's no way of visiting the caves unless you pay to see the exhibition (which we found disappointing and pricey). One plus point however, is the Labyrinth caf? which has live music performances during the summer from blues and jazz artists. Guided tours of the caves - which start every 10-20 minutes - are given in four languages including English
Think of two heavyweight boxers in the ring and you'll get some idea as to the size and style of these two buildings, which stand opposite each other on Bank utca.
Whilst neither can be considered among Budapest's finest, Ignac Alpar's 1905 Hungarian National bank is undoubtedly the grander of the two. On the first floor level are elegant limestone reliefs depicting every aspect of money, commerce and trading in the early 20th century.
Other Contact: V. Szabadsag ter 8-9 and Bank u
Treated as just another snapshot by the coach loads of tourists that descend on Castle Hill during the summer, the solemn meaning behind the Baroque style Holy Trinity column is often lost amidst the frantic clicking of camera shutters.
The column, which stands in the centre of Szenth?roms?g t?r (Trinity Square) was built by Buda's Council in the early part of the 18th century to serve as a lasting memorial to those who died in the devastating plague of 1691.
At the foot of the column, the biblical King David is depicted praying for an end to the plague, while on the main body a multitude of saints and cherubs can be seen under the golden Holy Trinity.
The square itself, which used to be a market place in medieval times, is the highest point of Castle Hill.
Opened in 1992 on the site of the former French Embassy, George Maurois' elegant post modernist building (1989) is a welcome addition to Buda's embankment. The institute, which organises a wide variety of cultural events including classical performances, jazz concerts, exhibitions and lectures, also houses a French language library, theatre and bookshop. The views of downtown Pest from the library are magnificent. What's more the institute's chic cafe provides a relaxing and interesting way to spend an hour.
Other Contact: I. Fo utca 17
On the west side of Batthyhany tar is the former White Cross Inn. Dating back to the late 17th century, this fine Baroque building was, at the time, a popular and important venue for theatrical performance. Today it's named Casanova House - apparently after the great man himself, who is said to have stayed here. As far as latter day entertainment is concerned, there's a fairly uninspiring disco/bar on the ground floor.
Believed to date back to the late 14th century, this is one of the oldest buildings in the Castle District. During the 18th century the building (which derives its name from the hedgehog relief above the door) was used for theatrical performances and balls. Moreover, the Inn has been re-modelled several times - three medieval houses were joined together in the 17th century and in the early part of the 19th century neo-classical elements were added.
Other Contact: I. kerulet Buda Castle District,
Just through the Vienna gate and off to the right lies Europa Grove. 16 different types of tree were planted here by European mayors back in 1972, to commemorate the centenary of the unification of Buda, Óbuda and Pest. The grove is best seen in blossom during early spring.
Other Contact: I. kerulet Becsi Kapu ter
Without a hint of irony, the old lady selling tickets to this curious outdoor museum puts on a tape of stirring Soviet music as you pass through the main entrance. Visitors to Szobor Park seem to fall into two categories - those intrigued by the idea of a dumping ground for Soviet and Communist statues and others making a bizarre sort of pilgrimage to wallow in what remains of the good old days of 'goulash communism'.
Back then, the statues represented, albeit superficially, a powerful symbol of Soviet strength and unity. Today, stuck out on the edge of town, they've lost much of their dignity, instead being brutally exposed as the idealistic follies that ordinary Hungarians always knew them to be. Worth a look, but not as impressive as most guide books would have you believe.
Other Contact: XXII. Balatoni út
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