Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-11-08 11:28 Parliament House on the bank of Danube Our host Linda told us that Budapest is not a single city, Buda and Pest are two different towns separated by the river Danube. Both towns were merged in 1831. In existence since first century and having a population of about two million, Budapest is the capital of Hungary. After having lunch, we went to the Metro station nearby. Linda informed us that Budapest has one of the oldest metro systems in the world (Metro operations began in 1896), and the metro is listed as a World Heritage Site. We took a day-pass which we could use to avail multiple modes of transport. After a few minutes into the journey, we got down from the train. As we went up, we saw a majestic looking Church. St Stephen Basilica Shoe monument Linda said that we are in front of St. Stephen Basilica which was built in the early 19th Century in honour of the first King of Hungary St. Stephen – I. It contains the right hand of the king who was supposed to be incorruptible. Built in a neo-classical style, the church is almost 100ft high and was completed only in 1905. We took a tour inside the church which has the biggest bell in Hungary, weighing nine tons. We also saw the hand of the king, which is preserved. As we were thirsty, Linda took us to the iconic ice cream parlour opposite the church called ‘Gelato Rosa’. This parlour sells ice creams in the shape of rose in a cone. After tasting one of the best ice creams I had ever had, we walked towards the Freedom Square. This square, built by the Russians, has a huge brass statue commemorating those who died during the war. Millenium monument Hero's square Chain bridge Author posing with a statue Next, we walked towards the majestic Parliament House of Hungary. Construction started in 1885, this building is the biggest in Hungary and its Central Hall is used for Parliament sessions even now. The hall, which contains the Holy Crown of Hungary, has ten courtyards and 700 rooms. The main façade which displays statues of the rulers of Hungary overlooks the river Danube. After visiting this building, we went to the river shore where pairs of stone shoes on steps attracted my attention. Linda said the memorial commemorated the Budapest Jews killed by Nazis. In 1945, Jew prisoners were asked to take off their shoes and go to the edge of the river and were shot. The shoe monument is very moving indeed. Later, we crossed the river Danube through the iconic chain bridge. Built in 1849, this bridge was the most famous suspension bridge in Europe. After crossing the river, we came to the area known as ‘Buda’. We climbed a small hill called the Castle Hill, and when we reached the top, we were at the palace of Hungarian kings. Built in the 14th century, this palace houses the National Library, the National Art Gallery etc., One can get a panoramic view of ‘Pest’ and the river from the Castle Hill. After visiting the palace and fisherman’s building (from where we get a good view of the river), we returned to Pest and reached the famed Jewish Synagogue. Budapest had a large number of Jews and this synagogue is the second biggest in the world. The next day, we began our tour with Andrassay Avenue - the main street of Budapest, which is also a World Heritage Site. Built in 1817, this tree-lined Avenue is known for its boutiques, restaurants, and opera. This avenue ends at Hero’s Square. Noted for its statue complex housing chieftains of Magyars and other important national leaders, this square has the Museum of Fine Arts on the one side and the National Theatre on the other. The centre of attraction is the Millennium Monument, which is a large stone cenotaph surrounded by an ornamental chain. On the cenotaph is written, “To the memory of heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our National Independence”. Buda castle Near the Hero’s Square is the huge city park. Budapest is also known as the city of Baths. The largest bathing complexes in all of Europe, which houses medicinal baths and outdoor pools, is almost a century-old and is a part of the City Park. These baths are said to have been developed by Romans and the Turks and are visited by locals and tourists alike even now. Budapest is a lively and vibrant city. With a popular Hindi Movie having been shot there recently, the city is attracting many Indians.