Monday, December 27, 2010

Mystery Photo 1: Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary

     For those of you who pondered where this photo was taken, the answer is Budapest. Actually the view is of the Parliament Building in Pest, Hungary, the third largest Parliament building in the world. Perhaps not everyone knows that Budapest is really two cities. Buda is on the high hilly side of the Danube River. It is quieter, more hilly and more green, less urban. It is the side where the Imperial Palace (Buda Castle), Matthias Church, and the fortifications known as Fisherman's Bastion are located. It is from the Buda side that this photo of the Parliament Building was taken. The city of Pest is located on the flat plain on the other side of the Danube River. Pest is more bustling, commercial, and urban. It contains the government buildings including the Parliament. The two were separate in ancient times because there were no bridges to cross the wide Danube River. But in 1873 the two cities merged along with Obuda, or the Old City of Buda, and have been under the same administration since that time. But guides and some locals still talk about the two sides of the Danube as separate cities and it comes up in conversation of both historical and current nature.

     We were in Budapest about 4 years ago but the weather was bad. I recall running in the rain from the guide's car to the shelter of Fisherman's Bastion to get some photos. But we could barely see the Chain Bridge or Parliament Building below, it was so foggy and with the rain. As you can tell from our photos this time the weather was beautiful. Budapest is a very attractive city. It is filled with wonderful architecture, sidewalk cafes, beautiful government and public buildings, lots of churchs and the second largest synogogue in the world. It has monuments, and history, having been the Capitol of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for a time. The population was once 23% Jewish but World War I and II changed that. Still inspite of WWII there is still a fairly large and active Jewish population. We spent considerable time in the Jewish Quarter. Perhaps I will do another post later about the beautiful large synogogue and its surrounds. The city also has the oldest underground railway or Subway in Europe.  We enjoyed our stay in Budapest very much. Following are some photos of the sites we saw from perhaps a different perspective than the typical photos on Wikipedia, etc.

     Here's the old couple sitting at a sideway cafe savoring our soft drinks. Do we look like the world travelers that we are? Well, at least we weren't doing what the following man was doing, though we wondered what this would taste like.

                                                       St Stephen's  Basilica                                                        
 Danube River Promenade, along major hotels and outdoor cafes.

                                                  Gresham Palace, near Parliament                                   

The Parliament Building from the street side.

                                                Pariliament central tower, at night.
                                    Hero's Square
                                             Liberty Bridge across the Danube
Memorial Silver Leaf Tree, behind The Great Synogogue, seen above from the front..                  

Matthias Church and the Hilton to its right, Fishermans Bastion in midground.

Foot of Fisherman's Bastion on Buda's flank, along Danube River

The Chain Bridge at night.

The Imperial Palace which now houses 2 museums, and a library, Fisherman's Bastion in forground.

the modern Performing Art Center along the Danube River.
The Inner City Parish Church, often called The Church of Our Lady, thought to be oldest church in Pest, dating from the 1700s. There was a church on this site in the 12th century. The church built here in 1688 burnt down in 1723 and was replaced by this current church.

     How is this for the follow up on a mystery photo? As you can see Budapest is indeed a beautiful city. If I had a chance I would go back. There is lots to see. I didn't even put any photos of a trip we took out of the city to Lazar's Borthers Carriage Driving Farm, and to Godolla, the baroque palace of the Austro-Hungarian royalty when Budapest was the capitol for the Hungarian part of the empire, called the Dual Monarchy, from the mid 1800s to 1918 when the Autro Hungarian Empire was defeated in WWI. As on many of our trips there is much complex history to be learned and not always remembered.

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