Friday 13 June 2014


This majestic sculpture on top of a building was the first thing that we saw as we got off the metro on Arany Janos Utca in the Lipotvaros district in Budapest.

The area started to develop in the late 18th century, first as a financial centre and later as the seat of government and bureaucracy. Several institutions of national significance are found here, including Parliament, St Stephen's Basilica, the National Bank and the TV headquarters.

First stop, St Stephen's Basilica.

In the middle of the square in front of the Basilica stood this tower which was in the process of being made out of Lego. We later found out that it was a successful attempt to build the tallest Lego tower for the Guinness Book of Records - we saw children building sections before those were added by crane to the tower

One of the buildings in the square

and another - so much Art Nouveau in the city

The mirrored-glass and granite Bank Centre

inside the lobby

sculpture outside the Bank Centre.

The National Bank, designed by Ignac Alpar. The stones for the columns of the building were hauled all the way from Transylvania by oxen. 

Looking closer at one the bas-reliefs that adorn the building on all sides and which depict diverse aspects of wealth creation from the Magyars ploughing and herding, to Egyptians harvesting wheat and Vikings loading longships with loot.

One more aspect of the building

The grand entrance

We then walked on to a square where lots of fun was to be had by children cooling off from the heat of 31oC

To the left you can see an ad hoc Holocaust Memorial

looking closer - photographs, monuments, shoes, toys, flowers and of course, stones

one more photograph

When we reached Vertanuk Tere (Martyr's Square) we saw a pool with this sculpture: a figure standing on a footbridge. This is Imre Nagy, the reform Communist who became Prime Minister during the 1956 Uprising and was shot in secret two years afterwards.

looking closer

walking on the bridge was a challenge

Kossuth Ter and Parliament building, designed by Imre Steindl. A mixture of Gothic Revival, Renaissance and Baroque, it dominates the Embankment.

It's a grand building and so imposing

a closer look

the flat pool in Kossuth Ter

another imposing entrance

and a closer look at this magnificent wrought iron door 

We saw a lot of buildings like this one where the bullet holes have been kept intact, a reminder of the tempestuous history of Hungary

I tried to get close to this magnificent Art Nouveau building but it was impossible - it's near the US Embassy which is like a fortress: the road is closed off and you can't get anywhere near it. In fact, if you look closely at this photograph, you will see the fence that surrounds the whole area

you can also see the fence on the right hand corner of this photograph 

but, there are enough beautiful buildings in Budapest

 The Hungarian State Treasury, originally the Post Office Savings Bank, designed by Odon Lecher

a fine example of Hungarian Art Nouveau

with a magnificent entrance

a closer look at the wrought iron door

The polychromatic roof with its beehives and dragon tails is the wildest part of the building. Lechner once asked why birds shouldn't enjoy his buildings too, and amazing roofs are features of his other masterpieces in Budapest, the Geological Institute and the Applied Arts Museum

detail from another building

Another very ornate Art Nouveau building

looking closer.

The Bedo House, built by Emil Vidor, it now holds the Museum of Hungarian Art Nouveau. 

Wonderful Art Nouveau buildings on the embankment

a closer look

and another gorgeous door

The Holocaust Memorial - dozens of shoes cast in iron, marking the spot where hundreds of Jewish adults and children were machine-gunned by the Arrow Cross and their bodies thrown into the Danube. Before being massacred they were made to remove their coats and footwear, which were earmarked for use by German civilians. 

a closer look

The embankment takes on a different quality at night - a magical feel

This is the view of Buda across the Danube, more specifically Matyas Church - it's like a fairy tale, is it not?

The Royal Palace and the lit-up bridge

and another view of the bridge.

Gresham Palace, another fantastic Art Nouveau building

walking up Zrinyi Utca with St Stephe's Basilica brought us full circle back to where we started from 

more wondrous Art Nouveau. 


  1. Thank you so much Eirene for this lovely tour of Budapest. I think that the Bedo House is my favourite.

    It's great that having survived the European wars the city was not destroyed by the Soviet era.

    1. The Bedo House is a gem, Olga. Lots of Art Nouveau treasures inside too: too many, so it was very messy, but lovely nonetheless.

      And as you say, it's very fortunate that the city was not destroyed.

    2. May I comment again, Eirene and Olga. Budapest WAS quite heavily destroyed in WW2, not as much as Coventry or Leipzig but still. If you google Budapest + 1945 and seach for images, there are some shocking ones. No bridges were left eg, the city was literally split into two for several months until a pedestrrian bridge was opened to connect Buda and Pest. A lot of the reconstruction work, particularly cleaning up the debris, was done by volunteers.
      I hope you don't take my comment as education. The photos, Eirene, are still wonderful just as the city.

    3. Thank you for getting in touch again, Polyak, it's so nice getting feedback from someone who lives in the city.

      The destruction and devastation that occurred in Budapest during WWII was one of the issues that kept coming up during our stay in Budapest, and maybe I should have made that clearer in my posts. We were aware of the destruction of so many buildings, and of all the bridges, and of the murder and hardship of so many of the Jewish and Roma people in the country. The difference with Budapest, I think, is that so much of it was lovingly restored so that the atmosphere of the city could be maintained. We found out that when Gresham palace was restored for instance, they tried to find some of the original workshops so that things could be done as close to the original as possible. This did not happen with Coventry for instance: I worked in the city for 25 years and I know it well. No attempts were made at restoration or trying to reproduce any of its previous beauty - the result is a city that is not beautiful at all, but one that has the worst kind of 20th century architecture. It's a pity, and Budapest is a perfect example of attempts to celebrate the beauty of the city as it was in the past.

      I did not know that so much of the work in Budapest was done by volunteers - it's an admirable fact and an example of the kind of spirit that grows and flourishes during times of adversity.

      Thank you again for your comment - it's greatly appreciated.