To escape the heat of the mid-August Mediterranean, we left Golden Glow in the south of Italy and took a several week rail trip through the northern latitudes and higher altitudes. The Alps were a welcome break from the heat, but Budapest and Prague were gems we really are excited about. Budapest is such a wonderful city. We enjoyed the people, food, architecture, culture and could have easily stayed a week or more. With such a short amount of time, we focused our first visit on some of the ‘must-see’ locations in Budapest. For us, that included:
- National Opera House with a mini opera, one of the finest, acoustically, in Europe
- National Museum, the Picasso and Modigliani exhibits and the permanent exhibits were excellent
- Parliament, with the Changing of the Guard and tour of the inner workings
- St Matthias church and surrounding areas
- Folk Festival with blacksmiths, woodsmiths, weavers and musicians and oh so much food
- Basilica St Stephen’s
- Budapest Synagogue, the largest in Europe
- Couple good restaurants: we ended up at Menza and the Bors Gastro Bar
- We also visited the Hero’s square and many of the statues and bridges
We were happy we saw each of these and would suggest the same, at least to any first time visitor.
The St Matthias Church, known as Mátyás Templom in Hungarian, is in the old fortress of Buda. It was founded by King Béla IV in 1242, though it is storied that the first church here stood in 1012. Both the outside and inside are amazing in detail. King Matthias Corvinus is the name sake, he expanded and embellished the building in Renaissance style including the southern high tower (60 m high) called Matthias bell tower. The tower bears the Hunyadi’s coat of arms and a raven holding a golden ring in its beak adorns the peak.
Here is a photosphere of the church, if on lower bandwidth; it may take a moment to load (7meg). Use a mouse, rub your finger or tilt your phone to change the view. If you have VR equipment, you can click the goggles to get a virtual experience. (This is still in early phases of adoption, so many phones or computers will not show a thing, or crash. Apologies in advance if this is you, but wanted to try it out. These are the same images you may see on our facebook posts.)
We have some drone and internal and external video of the church we will post at some point.
We loved our time at the Hungary National Opera House. This is one of the finest opera houses in Europe, engineers did acoustical tests in 1970 and ranked it the second best in Europe at that time. Here is a photosphere of the inside of the opera house.
If you like Neoclassical cathedrals St. Stephen’s Basilica is worth a visit, dedicated to Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen it houses his mummified right hand: the Szent Jobb (Holy Right Hand). Holding over 8,000 people it is the largest church in Budapest.
We did the set menu at Menza, around $5 US per person for soup and pasta. Excellent lemonade.
The food at the Folk Festival seems to be unending, so arrive hungry.
We will be updating this post with more photographs and stories as time permits.