Our first full day in Budapest involved a whole lot of walking. We started out the day taking in the view from the Fisherman’s Bastion (named for the guild of fisherman who defended this part of the city walls during the Middle Ages). The Bastion is a terrace with seven towers on the Buda side of the Danube, up on Castle hill around Mathias Church. The view of the river and the Pest side (including the Hungarian Parliament Building) are beautiful. Next we went inside St. Matthias, which is a totally gorgeous Roman Catholic church. It was built in the second half of the 14th century and was the venue for the coronation of the last two Hungarian Habsburg kings, Franz Joseph and Charles IV. We were lucky they had just finished a 7 year renovation so the church is looking amazing inside and out. The inside is made even more amazing knowing that during the mid-1500’s when the Turks controlled the city they whitewashed over all the ornate frescoes and discarded all the interior furnishings. Thankfully in the late 19th century the church was restored by Rfigyes Schulek to its original plans, plus he added my favorite part – the colorful diamond patterned roof tiles. It was a little dark inside, so taking pictures was a little tricky and we even played with some filters on our cameras which turned out pretty cool.
Once we could tare ourselves away from the church, we headed down the hill to walk across the Chain Bridge to the Pest side – stopping half way down to see the funicular in action. We enjoyed some lunch sitting outside (thankfully under cover and with fans blowing on us..) before walking over to see the Parliament building up close. To get to it you have to walk across the road that the Line 2 tram runs along so look out – those things go fast! The Parliament Building is in the Gothic Revival style; it has a symmetrical façade and a central dome. It is the largest building in Hungary and the tallest in Budapest. While we were admiring the building, the misters installed in the pavement turned on – which felt AMAZING. This saved us from having to hop in the actual fountain to cool off! J From the square in front of Parliament, we could see the Museum of Ethnography (sadly we didn’t have time to go in) and we saw the wall commemorating the 1956 Hungarian Uprising against the Soviet backed government which is covered in bullet holes.
Our last stop of the day was dinner and a show at Old Man’s Pub. Every night they have a different band playing a different style of music – we were lucky we went on Jazz night. Half the songs were ones we knew in English, the other half were in Hungarian. It was an entertaining evening filled with good food and great music!