Budapest is a European capital that takes time to understand its dynamics. Starting with the language, Hungarian. This city of approximately 1.8 million inhabitants is divided by the Danube River (the second longest in Europe, which also crosses two other capitals on the continent), and not just geographically. In practice, two different cities: Buda, where the most historic buildings are located, and Pest, which is more modern and also very attractive.
The most interesting way to get from one part to another is by the Széchenyi Lánchíd, the Chain Bridge, which guarantees good photos for tourists and the setting for many films. Inaugurated in 1848, it was an astonishment of modernity for the time. 380 meters long and 14.8 meters wide, it has 5,200 tons of iron.
It has a privileged view of other emblematic points of Budapest, such as Parliament (in Pest), the Danube River, the Church of São Matias and the Fisherman’s Bastion (in Buda).
Curious details are the statues of lions carved in stone, at the two ends of the bridge: the ones located in Pest are with closed faces and those on the Buddha side, with friendly faces. Buddha people say that the “smiling” lions are thanking the Buddha for visiting.
The imposing building on the banks of the Danube River draws attention for its beauty and grandeur. It took 17 years to build, at a cost of 38 million gold crowns. The building is 268 meters long, 123 wide and has a dome 96 meters high – similar in shape to the Washington Capitol (United States). The Hungarian Parliament has 152 statues on the inside and another 90 on the outside, adorned in gold that, together, weigh 40 kilos, 27 doors, 29 stairs, 13 elevators.
In addition to the Legislative Branch, the complex houses the office of the Prime Minister, in the north wing, and that of the President of the Republic, in the south wing. Another highlight of the building is its beautiful library, which has a collection of half a million volumes.
Very close to the Chain Bridge, the Buda Castle attracts curiosity for its architectural style and the stories it preserves. A 15th century building, in the past it was called the Royal Palace, and for a long time it was the residence of the Hungarian royal family. Throughout history, it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times (Ottoman attacks by Christians in World War II), but its main original features remain preserved. Buda Castle allows a privileged view of Budapest. Apart from the attraction are the street artists who perform at the place, characterized by typical clothes and taking ancestral instruments.
The Second World War is still present in various parts of the city, which was practically destroyed by bombings – 75% of the historic buildings were destroyed and then rebuilt, respecting the original architecture. The presence of Jews is also striking. About 450,000 were killed in concentration camps, most in Auschwitz. On the banks of the Danube River, there is an artistic installation that reminds the shooting victims in that place: dozens of shoes forged in metal, in an allusion to what is left of those Hungarians.
Another place that holds sad memories is the Terror Museum, installed in the building where the headquarters of the Hungarian National Socialist (Nazi) Party during World War II and the political police – the State Security Office (ÁVO) and later the State Security Authority (ÁVH). Everything about him is impressive, starting with the portraits of the victims tortured and killed during the communist regime, on the outer walls of the building, passing through the lobby that receives the visitor with funeral music and a tank of war in the first visiting environment.
The place is dark, claustrophobic, tragic. Throughout the rooms, the stories of people arrested, tortured and killed because of political differences.
Address: at Av. Andrássy, n. 60.
Budapest is the most beautiful cafe in the world. Café New York brought together the cream of Hungarian society and intellectuals in the early 20th century. Luxurious and glamorous, Café New York’s interior features gold-plated marble floors and columns, crystal chandeliers and beautiful ceiling murals. Tasty products and inviting prices, excellent service and some surprises for Brazilians. A pianist performs a repertoire that includes classics of classical music and Brazilian music, especially Bossa Nova.
Address: Erzsébet krt.9-11, Budapest
Before becoming fashionable in other parts of the world, Budapest was already notable for hosting several spas and thermal spas – a legacy of Turkish occupation during the 16th century. It is a very inviting attraction, as it allows bathing in hot water pools, while the temperature exterior can reach 2 degrees. The most emblematic spa is the Gellert Spa, which stands out for its size and architecture in Art Noveau style.
On the other side of the River Danube, the other part of the Hungarian capital stands out for the mixture of buildings in the Art Noveau style with more modern constructions. In the Liberty Square, where the United States Embassy is located, there is a monument built by the Soviets in honor of the Hungarians murdered by Nazis and also a statue of the former American President Rolando Reagan, for his performance by the end of the so-called Cold War.
Another striking feature of Budapest is the variety of religious aspects. The size of the Jewish community is noteworthy, so much so that the Hungarian capital is home to the Great Synagogue, the largest in all of Europe.
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