I’m not going to lie to you reader-friends, my Budapest coverage is all over the place. Earlier this week, I shared with you the pictures from our nighttime cruise and yesterday I detailed the highlights from the Buda side of Budapest. Today, I will be covering the last piece of the puzzle: Pest. Although these events aren’t in exact chronological order, they aren’t far off. Because of this, there might be a wee bit of repetition between the posts, so my apologies if you’ve read a few of these details a few times before.
Now, without further ado: Pest!
Budapest Keleti railway station
Our first glimpses of Budapest came courtesy of Keleti Railway Station (I may have mentioned this several times before). Following a four-hour train journey through the Slovakian countryside, we arrived in central Budapest and were welcomed by the open arms of it’s largest train station.
From Keleti Station, we made our way through Budapest, walking nearly an hour through Pest to meet our AirBnB host, who was lovely–more on our accommodations later.
We dropped off our things, found a good map and we were off to explore Budapest. We started wandering our way towards the Hungarian Parliament Building, which was only a few blocks away, and we so happily came across a few other noteworthy sites.
We came across Liberty Square by accident. We were walking towards Parliament and spied it down one of the streets. Intrigued, we made our way towards the Square, which is punctuated by a monument commemorating the Soviet liberation of Hungary in World War II from Nazi Germany occupation.
The square is home to a mix of residential dwellings and businesses, including the United States Embassy. It is also home to a statue of former-US president Ronald Reagan.
Imre Nagy Statue
Continuing our stroll towards the Parliament building (which can be seen just behind President Reagan’s head in the above photo) we came across that bronze statue of Imre Nagy. Nagy was a Hungarian politician who was twice appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People’s Republic who lead the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
Hungarian Parliament Building
After snapping a few photos with the Nagy statue (which is very popular with tourists) we found ourselves across the street from one of Budapest’s most iconic buildings: the Hungarian Parliament Building. Built in the Gothic Revival style, the Hungarian Parliament Building is a feast for the eyes. The largest and tallest building in Hungary, the Parliament Building stands at a height of 96m and spans 268m along the Danube. It contains 10 courtyards, 691 rooms and the walls (inside and out) are adorned with 242 sculptures.
It’s an impressive building, to say the least; and, one that could be seen from throughout the city.
Views from Parliament
We slowly made our way around the Parliament Building until we were standing on the banks of the Danube. From here we were offered unbelievable views of Buda, including the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and so much more.
Shoes on the Danube
We continued our afternoon by strolling along the Danube, admiring a different side of Budapest. Not long after leaving Parliament did we happen upon the Shoes on the Danube memorial.
Erected in 2005, the installation by sculptor Gyula Pauer was created “to honour the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.” (Wikipedia)
‘Shoes on the Danube’ was just one of the sombre reminders of the atrocities committed during the Second World War that we saw throughout our Central EuroTrip.
We continued walking along the Danube (which, FYI, has no guardrails along the edge) until we reached the Chain Bridge. A symbol synonymous with Budapest, the Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge to connect Buda and Pest across the Danube.
After seeing the Chain Bridge we decided to call it a day. We grabbed some food, took in the nighttime River Cruise (which you can read about here: Stunning and Spectacular: Budapest at Night) and prepare for an epic day of sightseeing the following day.
We woke up bright and early the next day, grabbed breakfast and hopped on the Giraffe Hop on Hop off bus tour that would squire us around the city that day. One of our first stops was Heroes Square.
Heroes Square is one of the major squares in Budapest and is famous for its iconic statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Solider (source). The Square has played an important role and has been a host to many political events throughout Hungarian History.
Located behind Heroes Square is a City Park, a man-made park built in the 18th century that is home to an ice-skating rink as well as the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, admiring the various buildings and monuments.
Great Market Hall
Following our tour around City Park, we were back on the bus, crossing bridges and zipping around Buda (which you can read all about here in part one of my travel diary: Budapest: Exploring Buda). After cruising along the Danube, taking in the sites and sun, we decided it was time for lunch. And there’s no better place to grab a bite (or two, or three) than the Great Market Hall.
The Great Market Hall, or Central Market Hall, is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. The market offers a variety of stalls — food, clothes, and more — that spans three floors. It was a feast for the eyes and the nose.
Overwhelmed at first by our options, we finally arrived at a stand that offered traditional Hungarian goulash, served with a side of delicious, delicious sauerkraut (which is one of my all-time favourite foods and has been in heavy rotation at our house since the trip) in a bread bowl, all for around €10.
It was amazing, and more food than I could ever imagine eating in one sitting. But I did, don’t you worry; not a single crumb was wasted.
The stuff of food dreams, I tell you.
After lunch, we hopped back on the bus only because we couldn’t imagine dragging our full bellies around on foot. As we zipped around the city, crossing from Pest to Buda and back again, we took in the beauty and the history of the Hungarian capital.
We’d planned to spend the following day by visiting the thermal baths and the House of Terror, but do to last minute flight changes we had to leave nine hours earlier than anticipated. Unfortunate, but these things happen.
Although our time in Budapest was cut short, we still loved the Hungarian capital. From exploring Buda Castle to eating goulash, we had a fabulous time exploring both Buda and Pest, and everywhere in between.
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