Hungary’s capital and popular tourist destination. With almost 2 million inhabitants, it is not only one of the larger capitals in Europe, but also certainly one of the most beautiful. Budapest is best known for its historic buildings, thermal baths, castle palace and hip neighborhoods. However, there are indeed far more sights in Budapest that are worth seeing. And the best part is that the city on the Danube can be explored very well during a (long) weekend. For Budapest – which is made up of the two districts of Buda and Pest and separated by the Danube – there are numerous insider tips and new ones are added every year, but there are a few “must-see” sights that you should see on a visit.
Tip 1: Parliament Building
The Parliament of Hungary is one of the largest and most beautiful parliament buildings in the world. The huge building is located in the center of Budapest, almost directly on the Danube. It is the most visited sight in Hungary by tourists.
Already the size of the building in more than impressive. It is incredible 286 meters long, the large dome is 95 meters high. Almost 40 million bricks were needed for its construction. There are about 700 rooms in the building, many of them offices of the 199 Hungarian MPs and their staff. The corridors seem endless, and the 700 rooms have a total area of 18,000 m² on 4 floors.
The model for the Parliament in Budapest was the British Parliament in London, the Palace of Westminster. In the Parliament in Hungary there are 2 almost identical meeting rooms for parliaments, formerly one each for the lower house and the upper house. Today Hungary has only one parliament. As a visitor, you usually get to see the second parliamentary chamber, which is no longer needed.
The Hungarian Parliament was built approximately between 1885 and 1904. It was the great time of Hungary. Also the first subway on the European continent in Budapest and some bridges over the Danube were built in this era. The architect of the grandiose parliament building for the proud Hungarian people was Imre Steindl from Budapest. Almost everything in and on the building was made in Hungary. The construction time was 19 years, at the end the architect went blind and could not see his masterpiece. Outside the Parliament of Budapest has a neoclassical facade, inside also elements of Baroque and Renaissance.
Tip 2: Buda Castle
One of the most sought-after Budapest sights is the Royal Castle, which, at 400 meters long and 200 meters wide, is also the largest structure in the country. In 1242, King Béla IV first built a royal residence on Castle Hill. The castle occupies the southern part of the castle hill.
Since then it has been constantly rebuilt by different rulers and therefore combines Gothic and Renaissance style elements. Today, in addition to government buildings, the castle houses museums, such as the National Gallery, which extends over four floors, some of whose works date back to the Middle Ages. The Vár castle district is also home to the Matthias Church, whose construction is said to have begun in 1015. Like the Royal Castle, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tip 3: Fisherman’s Bastion
Undoubtedly, the fabulous Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most famous sights of the Hungarian capital. On the one hand, people like to visit this structure to have a beautiful view over Budapest and on the other hand, it is the unique architecture. The design of the Fisherman’s Bastion goes back to the architect Frigyes Schulek. It was built between 1895 and 1902 and the architecture combines neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque elements. The location on the city wall corresponds to the area where a protective bastion of the local fishermen’s guild was located in the Middle Ages.
To commemorate the efforts of this fishermen’s guild, the name Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya in Hungarian) was chosen. Moreover, in the Middle Ages the fish market was located near the former protective bastion. After extensive renovation work, the building can be admired again in all its beauty since 2003. This includes the typical seven towers of the bastion. Each of these towers is dedicated to one of the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the area that now corresponds to Hungary towards the end of the 9th century. The spiral structure of the towers, on the other hand, symbolizes the shape of tents, which probably also served as shelters for the Magyars. The main facade, measuring almost 140 meters, is located parallel to the Danube – between the Matthias Church and the Hilton Budapest. The Fishermen’s Bastion is considered an eclectic building, as different stylistic elements meet here. The bastion makes it possible to trace the history of architecture, which covers the period from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century.
Tip 4: Matthias Church
Matthias Church is one of the landmarks of Budapest. Its magnificent building with its colorfully glazed roof tiles rises on Szentháromság tér (Trinity Square) of Buda’s Old Town with its richly decorated Baroque Plague Column and the Fishermen’s Bastion. The church was built in the middle of the 13th century by King Béla IV. It got its present appearance in neo-Gothic style by the reconstruction of 1873-1896 by Frigyes Schulek.
At that time the church was also called the Coronation Church, because several Hungarian kings were crowned here. The church received its present name from King Matthias Corvinus, who crowned his wife Beatrix in 1474.
The west side of the church is adorned by two towers of unequal size. Between the two is a Gothic pediment, below which is a rose window.
The church is entered through the south portal – it dates back to the 14th century – (entrance fee is charged). It has three naves and a transept. After entering, on the left are a series of chapels with remarkable winged altars. In the Trinity Chapel, King Béla III and his wife Anna of Antioch rest in a magnificent sarcophagus.
The main altar in the choir was created by Frigyes Schulek on the model of Gothic triptychs. In the center of the altar is a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary with a copy of St. Stephen’s crown.
To the right of the altar is the neo-Romanesque Holy Cross Chapel with Christ on the cross flanked by the Mother of God and Mary Magdalene, with a Pietà below. Here is also the descent into the crypt with the sarcophagus of the Hungarian kings.
Tip 5: Great Market Hall
An important sight in Budapest is undoubtedly the Market Hall. Meant is the Great Market Hall near the Freedom Bridge, because Budapest has several other market halls. The famous tourist magnet is really worth seeing and still popular marketplace for many Hungarians to buy fresh food.
Impressive is already the brick facade with the two lateral turrets and the colorful roof tiles made of Zsolnay ceramics and the decoration in Secession style. The true grandeur of the market hall, however, is only revealed inside.
It was built in the neo-Gothic style according to the plans of Samu Pecz between 1894 and 1896, completed in 1897 and thoroughly reconstructed in 1994 after a long period of decay during the socialist period.
More than 60 meters wide and about 150 meters long, the Great Market Hall is constructed similar to a three-nave hall church. The built-up area is about 10,000 m². The filigree steel construction is the architectural highlight and allows plenty of daylight to enter the hall at all times, giving it a harmonious and airy appearance.
The first floor of the Great Market Hall Budapest is not only a tourist magnet, but also one of the best addresses for buying delicacies. The offer naturally varies greatly depending on the season. Often the goods are piled up almost artistically. In summer and autumn, the selection of fresh peppers is overwhelming.