We began our tour on the Pest side of the city with a visit to Heroes’ Square and the Millennial Monument.
The Millennium was built in 1896 to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of Hungary. The 36 metre high Corinthian column dominates the square with Archangel Gabriel at its top holding the crown of St Stephen.
At the base of the column are statues of the seven Magyar tribal chieftains with their leader Arpad at the front.
Behind the column is a semi-circular colonnade with statues of Hungarian Kings. At the foot of each statue a small relief depicts the most important moments in the life of the person.
In front of the column lies the tomb of the unknown soldier.
At the other end of the road, Andrassy ut, we come to St Stephen’s Basilica.
St Stephen’s is the largest church in Budapest and work began on the building in 1851 but the dome collapsed in 1868. Construction was only completed between 1873 and 1905.
The interior is magnificent. especially the dome and some of the statues.
The patron Saint of the church is St Stephen, the first King of Hungary. His mummified right hand is kept in a case in the chapel next to the alter. The dome of the church is exactly 96 metres high, the same height as the Budapest Parliament Building. Having the same height as the parliament symbolises the balance between the state and the church in Hungary.
It was lunchtime and so we went into the old town. There are lots of cafes and restaurants and we sat at one of the tables that line the cobbled streets. What shall we order? We decided on traditional Hungarian Goulash with dumplings (gulyas) and I tried one of the local beers.
It had gone dark. A storm was approaching and there was thunder in the air.
Time to head back to the hotel.
We had quite a downpour, but it was not long before I was out again. I walked along the Danube Promenade passing Chain Bridge and the Parliament Buildings. Along the way I paused to look at some Iron Shoes set into the concrete.
Shoes on the Danube is a memorial to the people, many of them Budapest Jews, who were shot and killed by the fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during World War 11. They were ordered to take off their shoes and were shot at the edge of the water so that the bodies would fall into the water and be carried away. The memorial represents the shoes that were left behind on the bank.
I continued along as far as Margaret Bridge and halfway across I turned down a flight of steps onto Margaret Island, a peaceful place popular with both locals and tourists.
Continuing across the bridge I turned left to walk down the opposite (Buda) side of the river. It gave me a good view of the Parliament Buildings that I had passed earlier.
It was then left over chain Bridge back to my starting point.
That night we went out for a meal at a local restaurant. During the meal we were entertained by a ‘gypsy band’ and later folk dancing. The five course meal was good value but the wine was expensive!
We were back at the hotel by 11.00pm but I was not tired. Time for another walk. I wandered down to the Chain Bridge which was illuminated. A chance for some night shots.
It had been a fascinating day.