Buda Castle, the Labrynth and Sunset on the Danube
Budapest Travel Blog› entry 9 of 11 › view all entries
Budapest rests on the Danube in two parts. From royal Castle Hill on the hilly Buda side, you can see the civilized, stately turn-of-the century buildings that line the Pest waterfront. The effect is like standing in one era and seeing into the next -- a pretty, arch-framed timeline of Budapest's varied past, with the timeless waters of the Danube flowing in between.
Our first stop on day 1 of sightseeing was Buda Castle, a concentration of monuments surrounding the Royal Palace, an aethetically varied testament to Budapest's long history. The medeival appearance of the castle wall quickly gives way to Baroque halls of the Royal Palace. All along the castle walls, you can see gorgeous views of the river, most notibly Budapest's many bridges and its domed parliament building.
Walking past proud statues and grand iron gates, we reached the Fisherman's bastion, a medieval-looking all-white structure of arches and open hallways, with a statue of St. Stephan on his horse presiding over. The structure was actually built in the late 19th century, but is meant to be a momument to the past.
Right next to the Fisherman's Bastion is Matthias Church. Like any of the structures on Catsle Hill, Matthias church was built over many years and respresents a confluence of styles. The interior is gorgeous, with a much more Eastern feel than the cathedrals of Vienna and Prague. Oh, and there's a real human skull in a box there too. We couldn't read the inscription in Hungarian so we were all confused about who the skull belonged to, but after we got home, I looked it up in wikipedia.
Our last stop in Castle Hill was the mysterious Labrynth, network of underground tunnels. Although the tunnels have been in use for hundreds of years, as secret passageways, wine cellars and shelter from war, it is now decorated as a haunted-house like tourist attraction, complete with spooky statues, weird music and fake cave paintings. Cheesy, but actually pretty fun.
The dark hallways were generally free of other people, and seeing what was around the next dark corner was fun. Of note were a room with a giant stone head, a completely dark room where you clung to a rope to find your way through, and a fountain of wine.
After the labrynth, we crossed over the famous Chain Bridge to the Pest side and walked up the waterfront to parliament. We had dinner at a "traditional Hungarian" restuarant near Deak station. The paprika chicken with sour cream was really good, although I still think my Mama makes it better. Yes, my Mama makes Hungarian paprika chicken. Because she has inadvertenly invented all cuisine.
After dinner, we went with Atousa back to the train station. Her flight back to London left from Salzburg the next day, so we saw her off and told her we'd meet her in London.... or so we hoped.