Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Last stop of the vacation - Budapest

A short 2.5 hours journey by a RailJet train brought us to Budapest. The first order of things was to buy a Budapest Card - after some research we had found that buying the card would make sense as it allows unlimited use of the public transport, free entrance to a lot of museums and significant discounts on variety of activities. Even though we we were in the city for 3 days, we bought a 2 day card instead as we had decided to keep the first day very light and had planned on exploring the sights near our hotel.
View from the hotel room

After we bought the cards, we located the bus stop and a short 15-minute ride later, we checked into our hotel. All the rooms at this hotel offer amazing views of the river Danube, Buda Castle & Chain Bridge and ours was no exception.

An exhibit en route 
While we were contemplating whether to step out again in the hot sun, the clouds gathered and it started raining heavily. The showers lasted for about 30 minutes and left the evening cool in its wake, making it a perfect weather for a walk.

We decided to see the 19th-century Chain Bridge that connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest (we were on the Pest side). This suspension bridge is the first permanent bridge to connect the two districts.
Chain bridge

We walked along the river along with hundreds of tourists equally interested in enjoying the evening breeze. As we reached the bridge, the crowds only increased. The side walks of the bridge were crowded with tourists taking pictures, cyclists and pedestrians.  
As soon as we crossed the bridge we saw a big crowd lined up in front of the funicular that runs from bridge level to Buda Castle above. Since we had plans to visit the castle next day, we decided to continue walking towards Fisherman's Bastion - a viewing terrace, with many stairs and walking paths.

Last set of steps leading to the terrace

The walk to the Fisherman's Bastion was again uphill but once there the views more than made up for the hard work. Last steps leading to the Bastion were a monumental double stairway, decorated with reliefs of coats-of-arms and various motifs.

Panoramic View from the terrace

The Bastion takes its name from the guild of fishermen that was responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls in the Middle Ages and is made up of seven towers - each one symbolizing one of the seven Magyar tribes that, in 896, settled in the area now known as Hungary.

Cafe on the terrace

The present day lovely lookout towers / decorative fortification of Fisherman’s Bastion were built in the 19th century to serve as a lookout tower for the best panoramic views. There used to be real castle walls where now we can take fantastic photos from, but the present day structure has never served as an actual fortification in Buda.

While the access to balconies is free but to visit the top turrets/towers one has to pay a fee. The terrace also houses a cafe, a pretty expensive one though!

The Matthias Church

The towers, though fairy-tale like, seem to be in sync with the style of the Church of Our Lady (Matthias Church) and nicely complement the church, which was the intention of the architect. Matthias Church was built in 13th century along Trinity Square, in the heart of the Castle District,

Trinity Square with its Trinity Column (far back a bit to the right)

Between the Bastion and the Matthias Church, there is a bronze statue of Stephen I of Hungary mounted on a horse. The pedestal of the statute has episodes illustrating the King's life.

Old Town Hall

To the south of the Trinity Square is a white Baroque building that was the town hall of Buda till late 1873 when the municipalities of Buda, Óbuda and Pest merged to form Budapest. 

View of Chain Bridge and Bastion (far left) from the hotel

After spending couple of hours at the Bastion, we walked back to our hotel to find an impressive view of the bridge and bastion waiting to greet us. We raised our glasses to this view and to the promise of a perfect end to our vacation!

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