A Travellerspoint blog

Hungary

Adam and Eve as you've never seen them before....

On two different days I visited the Hungarian National Museum, and the Hungarian National Gallery. I wasn't very impressed with the Museum, but thoroughly enjoyed the Gallery. The most impressive thing about the Museum I thought was the purpose built building it was housed in. The grand staircase and a couple of the display rooms were amazingly painted or decorated. They have done a lot to display the finds from caves and graves in the natural surroundings that they were found, but unfortunately there seem to be only a few things that have lasted thousands of years. Every Museum I have seen carries samples of pottery and tools and necklaces and weapons and gold items from the European stone age, bronze age, and iron age. When you have seen one, seeing more of the same becomes boring. There was a mini exhibition of 'treasures that were in pieces and were restored by the museum restorers to as new condition. In this display there were some nice looking pieces. To see the Hungarian National Gallery, first I had to find it. I was told it was in the castle/palace on the hill under the eagle. As I was crossing the Chain Bridge on foot I spotted the eagle high above and got a rough idea from that where I was headed. I found it without any trouble and spent an enjoyable three hours or more wandering around a lovely collection of Hungarian Paintings and Sculptures. I only took photos of those I liked and for the ability to take photos in the gallery I had to pay an extra 500 florints and wear a sticker on my shirt to show I had paid. I was approached twice on every floor by attendants who hadn't spotted my sticker. Woop te do, 500 florints is only $2.50. I make no excuses for my choice of subject matter. I don't always know what is good, but I know what I like.. Tomorrow morning I get a train to Prague, and so that just leaves a week in Prague and a week in Berlin. After that I am on my way back home again. I have to admit that I am keen to escape the 35 to 40 degree European summer temperatures, which have made my travelling seem quite intrepid this year....

Hungarian National Museum 1840

Hungarian National Museum 1840


on the steps

on the steps


Internal main staircase

Internal main staircase


with beautiful painted wall panels

with beautiful painted wall panels


and ceiling panels

and ceiling panels


like this one

like this one


room under central dome has 6 huge lamps

room under central dome has 6 huge lamps


and a patterned interior

and a patterned interior


all stone, bronze, and iron age tribes

all stone, bronze, and iron age tribes


leave behind pottery cattle and sheep

leave behind pottery cattle and sheep


and most museums have displays of weaponry

and most museums have displays of weaponry


helmets

helmets


and gold decorative pieces

and gold decorative pieces


from churches or kings

from churches or kings


this little fella was restored

this little fella was restored


this was broken too, and restored

this was broken too, and restored


and this

and this


and this

and this


and this

and this


eagle as seen from chain bridge

eagle as seen from chain bridge


later at the palace

later at the palace


taken from the dome of the Palace

taken from the dome of the Palace


the Victory statue

the Victory statue


under the eagle is the Palace Courtyard

under the eagle is the Palace Courtyard


The Palace, home to Hungarian National Gallery

The Palace, home to Hungarian National Gallery


Thirsty hunter

Thirsty hunter


a shepherd (didn't they dress funny)

a shepherd (didn't they dress funny)


The dancer

The dancer


The cutest Adam and Eve ever....

The cutest Adam and Eve ever....


worth another look

worth another look


social realism

social realism


siblings

siblings


boy with bread and butter

boy with bread and butter


what an expression, didn't get bread and butter?

what an expression, didn't get bread and butter?


departing

departing


Sunday afternoons, I remember them well..

Sunday afternoons, I remember them well..


mother and son

mother and son


Harvest in

Harvest in


The apple harvest

The apple harvest


the handshake

the handshake


husking corn

husking corn


Women pulling boat on river...

Women pulling boat on river...


Churning butter

Churning butter


yawning apprentice 1890

yawning apprentice 1890


Shepherd and peasant girl

Shepherd and peasant girl


Church on Sunday

Church on Sunday


Portrait of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt

Portrait of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt


helping dad

helping dad


orphans is the title

orphans is the title


boys skipping stones 1870

boys skipping stones 1870


two of four floors of art

two of four floors of art


title is the interrogation

title is the interrogation


part of a triptych

part of a triptych


desolation

desolation


lovely balance of colour

lovely balance of colour


the veil

the veil


father and uncle with red wine

father and uncle with red wine


coquette

coquette


light and colour

light and colour


artist's children

artist's children


cellist, one of my favourites

cellist, one of my favourites


I'm sure it carved itself

I'm sure it carved itself


talented sculptor

talented sculptor


Dying Mozart conducting his Requiem

Dying Mozart conducting his Requiem


Outside of a frame, inside a frame.

Outside of a frame, inside a frame.


I wondered where he'd got to.

I wondered where he'd got to.

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

"96 is a special number in Hungary"

There is a bylaw in the Budapest building code that prevents a building being over 96 metres high. There are only two buildings that reach that height in Budapest. One is the dome of Saint Stephens' Basilica, and the other is the dome of Parliament. When Parliament was built it was built to the same height as Saint Stephens' to show that in the country of Hungary the Church and the State hold equal power in the lives of it's citizens. The number 96 is special because it represents the year 896 when the seven Magyar Chieftains established the principality of Hungary. It also represents the year 1896 when Hungary celebrated 1000 years of statehood, and built lasting reminders that the country was at the height of its wealth and power in European affairs. The Basilica, the Houses of Parliament, Heroes's square and other beautiful but extravagant public buildings and works were completed in those 'Glory Years' before World War 1. Our walking tour guide put it succinctly when he said "We Hungarians have leaders that suck at picking winning sides in wars". The first World War in which Hungary (as part of the Habsburg Austrian Hungarian empire sided with Germany, ended in a complete military loss to Hungary. When the war was over The Treaty of Trianon punished Hungary severely by establishing new borders. New countries like Czechoslovakia and Poland were formed around the new borders and these took away 2/3 of the original land area known as Hungary. When the leaders of Hungary sided with Germany again during the second World War, they again lost and were taken over by the USSR, with further eradication of their wealth and status. I cannot put myself in the shoes of someone born here, who has read the history books, and has had to live with the consequences of those two disastrous decisions, even to the present day It must be so damaging to the psyche of the country and its people to have lost so much. I'm not sure how they cope, and I'm not sure how I would feel in the same circumstances. Europe is a very complex place. However they still have those wonderful remnants of their Glory Years, and I went to visit two of them. The Basilica of Saint Stephan is grand and lovely to see in all it's Roman Catholic splendour. It is one of a kind, unlike but just as wonderful as other major churches I have seen. Being inside it has the ability to make you feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things, tempered with the knowledge that people have created such visions of beauty, of angels, of saints, and of a better life to come. I know that a simple person could regain their faith by listening to a choir or organ playing in such surroundings. Ah, but there aren't that many simple peasants left in this complicated world we live in. Parliament too, is grand and lovely to see, but the power is much more apparent here with the uniformed and armed soldiers barring entry to all but tourist areas. The best room in the Houses of Parliament is the sixteen sided central Hall (under the central dome). Here is kept the 1000 year old Holy Crown Of Hungary together with the ceremonial Sword, Sceptre and Orb. It is forbidden to take a photo in that room and three armed guards stand around the room to remove anyone who tries to. No, they are there to protect the Crown jewels made of gold and precious stones ( they were given to America for safekeeping before the second World War, and were stored in Fort Knox until they were returned to the Government of Hungary in 1978). Parliament was built with two identical wings because in 1900 they had the house of Lords and the house of Commons, just like in Westminster. This means now that thousands of tourists a week can be taken around the unused house of Lords section, without imposing on the running of the country in the other section. My thoughts on the Houses of Parliament are that parts of the complex showed elegance and taste, although the use of gold leaf in the debating chamber was way over the top Liberace. My final words are about the Memorial in the forecourt of the Houses of Parliament. I was eight in 1956, and my life growing up in England in those years gave me no concrete indication of the evils and the misery in the world . I have read reports on the Massacre of Civilians on October the 25th 1956, which give figures of between 76 and 820 men, women, and children, who went to a public meeting in the square in front of Parliament and never returned. There are strong indications that because the new Government of Hungary was being supported by the people to take measures to leave the Communist Bloc, and the Warsaw Pact, the hardliners in the USSR took a decision to show the world that they would not stand for such rebellion. A massacre of unarmed innocent people was the result. As I said before Europe is a complicated place, and somewhere in Europe it is still going on.....

St Stephan's Basilica

St Stephan's Basilica


some of the marble mosaics in the square

some of the marble mosaics in the square


Huge pillars at entry doors (being oiled)

Huge pillars at entry doors (being oiled)


St Stephen above the door but below Jesus

St Stephen above the door but below Jesus


everywhere you look is grand and opulent

everywhere you look is grand and opulent


in every corner

in every corner


every nook and cranny

every nook and cranny


no surface is without decoration

no surface is without decoration


ornately finished

ornately finished


in exquisite detail

in exquisite detail


the high altar

the high altar


the organ loft

the organ loft


Statue of Saint Elizabeth

Statue of Saint Elizabeth


a side chapel

a side chapel


another chapel

another chapel


the glorious painted dome

the glorious painted dome


Front steps of Parliament

Front steps of Parliament


another view of Parliament buildings

another view of Parliament buildings


and another

and another


one of the corridors of power

one of the corridors of power


and another

and another


and another

and another


gold leaf everywhere

gold leaf everywhere


beautiful ceilings

beautiful ceilings


outside debating chamber

outside debating chamber


numbered trays used to leave MPs cigars burning

numbered trays used to leave MPs cigars burning


entry to debating chamber

entry to debating chamber


raised seat of speaker of the house

raised seat of speaker of the house


some of the 199 seats

some of the 199 seats


and the rest

and the rest


ceiling of debating chamber

ceiling of debating chamber


detail

detail


beautiful ornate doorways

beautiful ornate doorways


kings, queens and famous Hungarians

kings, queens and famous Hungarians


line main corridors

line main corridors


and reception rooms

and reception rooms


like this one

like this one


reception room

reception room


red carpeted main staircase

red carpeted main staircase


leading from front entrance to reception rooms

leading from front entrance to reception rooms


red carpet looks stunning against white marble

red carpet looks stunning against white marble


with golden ceilings

with golden ceilings


and painted panels

and painted panels


memorial in front of Parliament to 1956 massacre

memorial in front of Parliament to 1956 massacre


October 25th 1956 memorial

October 25th 1956 memorial


underground memorial with known names of killed

underground memorial with known names of killed


Words of some of the people

Words of some of the people


who were there

who were there


on that fateful day

on that fateful day


photos of some of the many civilians killed

photos of some of the many civilians killed


last words

last words

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Being a Guerrilla Tourist in Budapest

Guerrilla warfare is a form of attack that uses hit and run tactics. Because the temperatures have been hitting 35 to 40 degrees in Budapest, I have had to develop the hit and run strategies of a Guerrilla Tourist. My plan is to attack the two or three locations where I can do the most damage with my camera, and then run for the safety of an air conditioned space. No casualties so far, although the lens cover on my automatic camera stuck in a half open position and ruined a few photos today (could be the first casualty of this crazy heat war) Me and my camera took a subway ride to Heroes' square. The subway M1 that leads there was the first underground train tunnel to be built in Europe in 1900, and the stations are quaint in a sort of Sherlocky Holmes steampunk fashion, with antique tiling, polished wooden wall panels and painted steel girders with exposed nuts and bolts supporting the ceilings. As you climb the steps out of the station there is a Wow moment when you first see the square laid out before you with amazing statues and buildings everywhere you look. It too was built around 1900 for the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of the Hungarian State by the seven Magyar Chieftains in 896. It is such an impressive place, and I loved it. The column above the statues of the Chieftains holds a statue of the Archangel Gabriel holding in one hand the Holy crown of St. Stephen ( the first King of Hungary). In the other hand is the two barred apostolic double cross awarded to St Stephen by the Pope for his efforts in converting Hungary to Christianity. Unfortunately my faulty half-opened lens cover stuffed up the photos I took of Gabriel, but I was able to save the others, and I am especially pleased with the Charioteer of War photo. The square leads to a bridge over a boating lake/ skating rink and into the City park, which is also an amazing place. It is home to a large zoo, the largest mineral baths complex (with dozens of pools and saunas) in Europe, and the fabulous Vajdahunyad Castle. It is not a real castle, but it is still a beautiful complex of buildings. It too was built around 1900 as part of the anniversary celebrations, to feature copies of several landmark buildings in Hungary (especially the Hunyad castle in Transylvania). Originally it was made like a film set in cardboard and wood, but it was such a popular attraction that it was rebuilt from stone and bricks and reopened in 1908. The castle contains elements from a variety of time periods so in it you can find a mixture of Romaneque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural styles. Oh I almost forgot, the gold lettering on the Portcullis gate is advertising the world famous Hungarian Agricultural Museum which is located in one of the castle buildings. I'm sure it is a fascinating place to visit, but unfortunately I ran out of time. In the castle grounds is the statue of a 1200 scribe to one of the Hungarian Kings, who's name was Anonymous . He is a spooky apparition who belongs in a Lord of the Rings Movie, but he has been sitting here since 1908. I felt a little foolish but went ahead anyway and touched the pen held by Anonymous, which I read is supposed to improve your writing skills ( I guess it takes a while). It was starting to warm up a bit, so I turned around and walked back to the station. On the way I passed a gorgeous building which was the Museum of Contemporary Art. The building was stunning, inside and out, but was between exhibitions. I also spotted the cutest little Volkswagen, and took some photos of it for Leone to check out. I'm sure that her grandkids would be happy to help her paint hers to look the same... hehehe....

Heroes' Square

Heroes' Square


The seven Chieftains of the Magyars

The seven Chieftains of the Magyars


Led by Arpad founder of Hungarian nation

Led by Arpad founder of Hungarian nation


Other Chieftains Elod, Tas, and Huba

Other Chieftains Elod, Tas, and Huba


Charioteer with a snake 'symbol of war'

Charioteer with a snake 'symbol of war'


opposite female charioteer representing Peace

opposite female charioteer representing Peace


symbols of labour and wealth

symbols of labour and wealth


Colonnade with Hungarian Kings

Colonnade with Hungarian Kings


Colonnade with Heroes of battles

Colonnade with Heroes of battles


St. Stephen and St. Ladislaus

St. Stephen and St. Ladislaus


Charles 1st of Hungary and Louis 1st of Hungary

Charles 1st of Hungary and Louis 1st of Hungary


Back of gothic Vajdahunyad Castle

Back of gothic Vajdahunyad Castle


Bridge crossing over into City Park

Bridge crossing over into City Park


side of castle

side of castle


another view

another view


Coming up to Portcullis entrance

Coming up to Portcullis entrance


first full view of castle

first full view of castle


Portcullis sign has deep meaning (see text)

Portcullis sign has deep meaning (see text)


one of castle towers

one of castle towers


another

another


many different architectural styles used

many different architectural styles used


some of the detail

some of the detail


Gothic church used for weddings

Gothic church used for weddings


details

details


Hall of Art

Hall of Art


on the side

on the side


Contemporary art Museum

Contemporary art Museum


No current exhibition

No current exhibition


but inside and outside

but inside and outside


the building is stunning

the building is stunning


Spooky statue of Anonymous

Spooky statue of Anonymous


A 12th cent. writer of 'Deeds of the Hungarians'

A 12th cent. writer of 'Deeds of the Hungarians'


Spotted in Budapest

Spotted in Budapest


This is to inspire

This is to inspire


the lady who owns a yellow one

the lady who owns a yellow one


dashboard-artificial grass with plastic daisies?

dashboard-artificial grass with plastic daisies?

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

I'm not walking around in 42 degrees...

The days seem to be flying by during this time in Budapest. The truth is that you can't really get out and about when the temperatures get so high, all you can do is do as little as possible and survive. I attempted to head out on Sunday and see a couple of Museums, but as the temperature climbed to 42 degrees, it was like walking in an oven and after a while I gave up and came back to the coolness of my room. Monday dawned with a bit of cloud and a forecast of 32 degrees, so I set off to the city to join a 3 hour walking tour. It was a good experience and covered many of the best sightseeing attractions on both sides of the river. Budapest is a beautiful place to visit, and I can't help but feel that I have barely scratched the surface. I suppose for the next few days I should just keep scratching. I'll let my photos show you some of sights I saw yesterday.

Parliament

Parliament


and more

and more


Museum across road from Parliament

Museum across road from Parliament


Holy trinity column 1790 (end of plague)

Holy trinity column 1790 (end of plague)


spire of St Matthias church

spire of St Matthias church


another view

another view


another view

another view


and another

and another


Matthias Church

Matthias Church


St. Stephen outside Mathias church

St. Stephen outside Mathias church


St Stephan's statue

St Stephan's statue


Statue of St. Stephen at Fisherman's Bastion

Statue of St. Stephen at Fisherman's Bastion


Fisherman's Bastion lookout

Fisherman's Bastion lookout


Parliament framed in arches

Parliament framed in arches


view from Buda hill

view from Buda hill


another view

another view


and another

and another


and another

and another


view from the hill

view from the hill


something funny here

something funny here


I'm still not sure if she is a statue

I'm still not sure if she is a statue


have another look

have another look


St Stephen's basilica

St Stephen's basilica


another view

another view


St Stephen's Basilica

St Stephen's Basilica


building on St Stephan's square

building on St Stephan's square


Zoltan the tour guide

Zoltan the tour guide


The palace on the Buda side

The palace on the Buda side


crossing Chain bridge to Buda side

crossing Chain bridge to Buda side


walking back later to Pest side

walking back later to Pest side


beautiful buildings on beautiful Freedom square

beautiful buildings on beautiful Freedom square


more

more


and more

and more


sections of fountain randomly turning off and on

sections of fountain randomly turning off and on


Holocaust Memorial in Martyrs square

Holocaust Memorial in Martyrs square


hundreds of personal items at Holocaust Memorial

hundreds of personal items at Holocaust Memorial


In remembrance of Jews taken by Nazis in 1944

In remembrance of Jews taken by Nazis in 1944


Monument to Imre Nage in Martyr's square

Monument to Imre Nage in Martyr's square


In front of Arts and Sciences Museum

In front of Arts and Sciences Museum


changing guards at Buda palace

changing guards at Buda palace


more

more


more

more


and more

and more


We used to have curtains like that house

We used to have curtains like that house


Vorosmarty monument in Vorosmarty square

Vorosmarty monument in Vorosmarty square


A poet called Vorosmarty

A poet called Vorosmarty


Nyugati Railway station designed by Mr. Eiffel

Nyugati Railway station designed by Mr. Eiffel


art deco or art nouveau?

art deco or art nouveau?

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Budapest takes it to another level....

The last three days have been full of the highs and lows of travelling. The nine hour train journey from Belgrade to Budapest should have been a pleasant day relaxing in a comfortable airconditioned carriage watching the world go by. Perhaps a light meal with a glass of wine in the dining car and the occasional tea or coffee and biscuits from the attentive waiter......NO WAY JOSE. The reality was eleven hours stuck in a sauna like carriage with nothing to eat, and nothing to drink and nowhere to buy anything, while the train occasionally stopped for half an hour in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. It was lucky I had a small bottle of water, because it was that and six biscuits I found in my bag that kept me going for the whole day and night. We arrived at 10pm, not 8pm, and by the time I had changed some money and found the metro to take me to where I was staying, it was 11.15 when I rang the bell to get my host out of bed to let me in. The only way that I can look at the experience and not get angry, is to realise that it was all my fault really. It was silly of me to expect to have the ability to buy food and water on a long train trip. I have two more long train trips before this journey ends, and for those I will be carrying enough food and drink to last a week ( I don't care if they say a dining car is available, they won't trick me again) As you can imagine I was feeling a bit rough around the edges the next day, so I decided just to hang around the apartment after going to the supermarket across the road for some breakfast provisions. That was the plan, however where I am staying is in a great location because a hundred yards away, down a flight of steps, a tunnel leads to the metro and not one but two huge three story shopping malls. After filling up with yoghurt, cornflakes, orange juice and coffee, I decided to check out the shops. The temperatures in Budapest for the next 10 days are going to be between 35 and 40, so you need an airconditioned place to be able to escape the heat. I got two of them a short walk away, plus my room has aircon if I need it. I planned to take in a few classical concerts while I'm here so was looking for a white shirt with a collar, which I managed to find at a reasonable price. This was after two hours of walking around the shops, and I was feeling hungry again, so decided to grab some food at the foodcourt. I had a piece of fish with salad and a custard tart. It wasn't that great, but kept me going while I continued looking around the shops. Just as well I was close to toilets, because after another hour my stomach started rumbling and I needed to go badly. Bloody woman attendant made me wait while I found 90 florints in change, and that is when I almost didn't make it. I pity the poor bugger that had to use the stall after me. I rushed back to the apartment and stayed there the rest of the day, not eating, just drinking liquids. That is the first time in as long as I can remember that I have been hit by food poisoning. I slept well though and the next day was good as gold. One of the benefits of being in Budapest is that with my British EU passport I am old enough to get free travel on public transport, so it didn't cost me a cent to use the metro into the city. It is only a ten minute, 3 stop ride. My first impressions of central budapest were WOW what amazing buildings, and everywhere so clean and well looked after. It had to be a short walk because during the mall episode the previous day I lost the old straw hat I had been using since Seville, and the sun was blazing down on me. My main reason to go into the city was to buy a ticket for an organ and choir concert in one of the churches in central Budapest. I managed to do this and headed back to my local mall to get out of the heat and buy a prepared chicken salad for dinner ( risky I know, but no problems) The concert was really good with music by Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, and the choir rocked a Handel's Hallelujah chorus from the Messiah ( they just about lifted the roof off the church with the volume of their singing) Without the choir it could have been a little boring, cause organists can be a bit repetitive as they show off their virtuosity with deep chords and high pitched twiddly bits. On the way home after the concert I managed to buy a new 10 gallon hat which I fully intend to wear over the next few scorching weeks to keep the sun from blistering my ears. I don't care how many people ask me where I left my horse.....

Chain bridge across the Danube

Chain bridge across the Danube


lovely clean city squares

lovely clean city squares


just a taste

just a taste


of what this beautiful city

of what this beautiful city


has to offer

has to offer


Saint Michael's Church concert venue

Saint Michael's Church concert venue


A wonderful setting

A wonderful setting


they call it a baroque church

they call it a baroque church


another view

another view


How can ten people sounded like a hundred

How can ten people sounded like a hundred


How can one voice fill a room with beauty

How can one voice fill a room with beauty


I bet the little man in front was the reason

I bet the little man in front was the reason

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

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