Highlights of Budapest
Castle Hill - home to what you might call Buda's 'old town' - has been a cultural and strategic focal point of the city for centuries and has also been the site of more than 30 sieges. The inevitable damage resulted in several periods of rebuilding, often re-using stones from the rubble and lending to the district a fascinating mix of architectural styles. Hidden tunnels underneath the castle kept people and goods safe- check out the guided tours at the "Hospital in the Rock". The showpieces are the spectacular Mátyás (or Matthias) Church and the Buda Royal Palace to the south. In addition, the views over Pest from the Fishermen's Bastion will take your breath away. TIP: Enjoy a self-guided walking tour of Buda Castle with your smartphone!
Buda Royal Palace
The enormous building at the southern end of Castle Hill has been the royal palace, in various styles and guises, since the 14th century. It was rebuilt 400 years later and required major reconstruction work after World War II. It now houses the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery and the National Széchenyi Library.
The Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya) is often the first stop for tourists visiting Budapest, the fairytale turrets offering an elevated vantage point from which to view the city. The minarets and walls look medieval, but they were actually built in 1902 by Frigyes Schulek to complement Mátyás Church.
Visible from almost everywhere in Budapest, Gellért Hill (Gellért hegy), with the impressive Freedom Monument on its peak, is one of the city's memorable landmarks. The 14-metre monument was originally commissioned by Miklós Horthy as a memorial to his son, who died in a wartime air accident. When the Russians arrived, they replaced the propeller that the figure was originally meant to hold aloft with a palm frond to symbolize the country's liberation from the Nazis. Just beyond the monument is the Citadella, a fortress constructed by the Habsburgs following the 1848-1849 war of independence. It now houses an open-air museum chronicling the history of the hill.
The Chain Bridge
The Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) was the first permanent link between Buda and Pest and is a fitting monument to István Széchenyi - known as the 'Greatest Hungarian'. The bridge has a British connection too: it was designed by an Englishman William Tierney Clark and constructed by a Scot, Adam Clark, after whom the roundabout on the Buda side is named.
Margaret Island Budapest's playground, car-free Margaret Island (Margitsziget) has everything you need to enjoy a relaxing day - including sport stadium, numerous tennis courts, outdoor swimming complex, an open air theatre, Japanese and Rose gardens, early medieval ruins, two spa hotels and a beer garden.
The world's second largest parliament building is a postcard favourite, particularly when reflected in the River Danube below it. It is equally lavish on the inside, but tourists must be part of an organized sightseeing tour to enter.
St Stephen's Basilica
Named after Szent István (St Stephen) founder of the Hungarian Christian state, the basilica is visible from all over Budapest. The dome, at 315 ft is the exact height as that of the Parliament, as it was decided that mo biuildings should be any higher.
The Great Synagogue
This synagogue is the second largest in the world (after the one in New York). It has three naves and following orthodox tradition, separate galleries for women. Together the naves and galleries can accommodate up to 3,000 worshippers. It is also a focal point of Budapest's thriving Jewish community, which holds an annual festival, the Jewish Summer Festival, in and around the impressive building. The Jewish Museum can also be find here, and the Holocaust Documentation and Memorial Centre is an important and powerful reminder of one of the darkest periods in European history.
It was named after the former prime minister who had done much to make Budapest a true