Budapest is famous not only for the monuments reflecting its own 1,000-year-old culture, but also for the relics of others who settled here. Remains from both Roman occupation and much later ruled by the Turks can still be seen in the city. After the Ottoman Empire the union with Austria has a particular influence on the city's form and style.
The capital has two sides, Buda and Pest, stretching along the banks of the Danube, representing two different characters of the city. Suburban Buda and its historic castle district offer medieval streets and houses, museums, caves and Roman ruins. The dynamic Pest side boasts the largest parliament building in Europe, riverside promenades, flea markets, bookstores, antique stores and café houses. Budapest has a lot to offer. Museums and galleries, churches and synagogues, palaces and historic buildings, baths and pools are presented together with the influence of Secession in the city. There is an unmistakable feeling that something out of the ordinary is just around the corner, but what it will be is up to you to find out...
Castle Hill - home to what you might call Buda's 'old town' - has been a cultural and strategic focal point of the city for centuries and was also the site of over 30 sieges. The inevitable damage resulted in several episodes of rebuilding, often re-using stones from the rubble and lending to the district a fascinating mix of architectural styles. The showpieces are the spectacular Mátyás Church and the Buda Royal Palace to the south. In addition, the views over Pest from the Fishermen's Bastion will take your breath away.
Buda Royal Palace
The enormous building at the southern end of Castle Hill has been the royal palace, in various styles and guises, since the 14th century. It was rebuilt 400 years later and required major reconstruction work after World War II. It now houses the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery and the National Széchenyi Library.
The Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya) is often the first stop for tourists visiting Budapest, the fairytale turrets offering an elevated vantage point from which to view the city. The minarets and walls look medieval, but they were actually built in 1902 by Frigyes Schulek to complement Mátyás Church.
The Chain Bridge
The Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) was the first permanent link between Buda and Pest and is a fitting monument to István Széchenyi - known as the 'Greatest Hungarian'. The bridge has a British connection too: it was designed by William Tierney Clark and constructed by Adam Clark, after whom the roundabout on the Buda side is named.
The world's second largest parliament building is a postcard favourite, particularly when reflected in the River Danube below it. It is equally lavish on the inside, but tourists must be part of an organized sightseeing tour to enter.
St Stephen's Basilica
Named after Szent István (St Stephen) founder of the Hungarian Christian state, the basilica is visible from all over Budapest. The dome, at 315 ft is the exact height as that of the Parliament, whose builders decided not to go higher.
The Great Synagogue
This synagogue is the second largest in the world (after the one in New York). It has three naves and following orthodox tradition, separate galleries for women. Together the naves and galleries can accommodate up to 3,000 worshippers. It is also a focal point of Budapest's thriving Jewish community, which holds an annual festival in and around the impressive building. The Jewish Museum can also be find here, and the Holocaust Documentation and Memorial Centre is an important and powerful reminder of one of the darkest periods in European history.
It was named after the former prime minister who had done much to make Budapest a true metropolis. He was determined that Budapest should have an elegant thoroughfare to emulate Paris's Champs Elysees. The cream of Eclectic architecture is to be seen along the Avenue including the outstanding Opera House and many beautiful tenement blocks with intimate inner courtyards, statues and fountains. One of the special features of Andrássy Avenue is barely visible on the surface. The only give-away is the occasional wrought iron balustrade leading underground. Europe's first sub-surface railway was built under the road, and the more than 125 year old underground is still carrying passengers today along a line only slightly longer than the original.
The Hungarian State Opera House is not only the sanctum of music and dance, but also a historical monument. The construction started in 1875 with the permission and financial support of Franz Joseph, emperor of Austria and king of Hungary. The plans and personal instructions were conducted by Nicholas Ybl. The Opera House opened its gate to the public on the 27th September, 1884. The Opera House can be visited with a local guide every day at 3&4 pm in 6 different languages.
The statues on Heros' Square (Hősök tere) are very much a who's who of Hungarian history (with the notable exception of the unpopular Habsburg monarchy, whose statues were removed and replaced) and its scale and grandeur is an indication of the pride Hungarians have for their country.