The first and last full day in Budapest has come! Pop Pop and I ate at our hotel, which offered a lovely breakfast buffet, and then met our tour guide, Claudia. Claudia is a journalist, which I particularly liked, and she explained to me that she doesn’t regularly give tours, so she isn’t a book of knowledge about the city, but she loves showing people around her home.
Our walking tour lasted about nine hours, so we were able to cover a decent area. Similarly, to Prague, I know nothing about the history of this city. A brief history goes along the lines of this: The area was settled a long, long time ago and occupied by many different peoples. There were two cities, Buda and Pest. Like Prague, Buda was occupied by the Hapsburgs. In fact, Maria Theresa was the only woman ruler of the town and had sixteen daughters, one of them being Marie Antoinette. Both cities flourished during this time with the Germans ruling Buda and the Hungarians and Serbs ruling Pest. The two cities became one in 1873, which helped the area prosper even more. However, after the Austro-Hungarian monarchy fell, the area became an independent republic with Budapest as its capital. Jump ahead to after World War II and communist control of the region, Budapest became the lively city it is today. That was brief, right?
During our tour, we walked along the Danube Promenade and Pest’s version of Broadway and the Walk of Fame. We also saw places such as the 1800s Chain Bridge, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Hungarian State Opera House, Gresham Palace, Dohany Street Synagogue, and Vigado Concert Hall. We also went to Freedom Square, the royal photographer Mai Mano’s artsy looking home, and a ruin bar in the Jewish quarter, which is basically a bar made from the ruins of a building.
My favorite place to view, however, was the Buda Castle, which is on the western bank of the Danube. The Buda Castle was completed in 1265 and was occupied by the Hungarian kings who ruled the region. It sits alongside Matthias Church, which is beautiful with its vividly decorated roof. Another special thing we visited was the Parliament of Hungary. The building is gorgeous on the outside, and even more stunning on the inside with its both faux and genuine marble and gold designs. It was the first time I had ever been in a Parliament building.
I am so thankful Claudia showed us around Budapest (find her on WithLocals), one of many places I never thought I would visit. It is amazing to me that these modern cities form in buildings that are hundreds of years old and are simply renovated with each use. Although Claudia thought we would be with her until ten at night, we already had some exciting plans for the evening.