Did you know that Budapest is a city divided by the Danube? On one side is Pest – the flat, busy, central district while on the other side is Buda, the hilly and more residential part of the city. Budapest is a young country that has a past of Communist ruler ship. Its current post-communist state brings about an interesting discussion of pro’s and con’s of the communist regime. Tourist who traverse this city in a few days would find it incredibly refreshing, in all sense; culturally, architecturally, traditions and its cuisines. There’s a tinge of Turkish, a tad of Russian and a slight flair of its current surfacing Budapestian flavor.
Once again filled with cathedrals and monuments throughout the city, the familiar gothic, neo-western style of buildings seemed to have disappeared. Instead sculptures of angels, saints and milder looking domes formed the shape of its edifices. I was drawn to the structural design of the city, and indeed appreciating it more than the previous European buildings seen in the last few weeks.
To add to these man-made beauties is the Danube; a massive river that sat magnificently between Buda & Pest. On either side was a guaranteed view to behold. Buda had rolling hills – one of which was the famous Castle Hill and the fairy-tale looking Fisherman’s Bastion, 200 mysterious labyrinths beneath, cathedrals atop and the Parliament on one end. Whilst standing on Buda’s side, Pest is brightly lit, buzzing with life and the old St. Stephen’s church in all its grandeur. Beneath the awesome western-European, our Hungarian guide plaintively explained that its post-communist governance has many rippling effects the people are left to face with. Nonetheless this beautiful city has a lot to look forward too.
The massive neo-classic structure of St. Stephen’s Basilica is not to be missed. We’ve been into dozens of churches around Europe, but this one knocks your socks off. The exterior is a grand statement in itself, however stepping inside will leave you awe struck. The mosaic pictures intricately lined the dome within and 24 carat gold trimmings gently framed each mosaic. Everything in the church looked costly and almost delicate to behold. The only bizarre thing about the basilica was it housed a highly regarded religious treasure – the right hand of St. Stephen’s. This mummified shrunken hand lay in a gold trimmed glass box and people were allowed to see it when you drop a few coins into a machine that would lit the box up for 2 minutes. I found it totally bizarre!