A Weekend Getaway To Budapest
The city successfully mixes its fascinating history with a brilliant, laid-back contemporary artistic style. There are a wide range of different things for visitors to see and do, from museums to thermal spas, so everyone should be able to find something that tickles their fancy. Let’s explore what the city has to offer for a weekend getaway (Friday- Sunday):
House of Terror
The House of Terror holds exhibitions about the successive Fascist and Communist regimes which ruled Hungary during the 20th Century. The building itself was the former headquarters of the Fascist Arrow Cross party, and the building was subsequently used as a prison and torture venue by the State Security services of Hungary.
There is the opportunity to tour some of the prison areas in the basement. The exhibition includes information about both regimes, as well as testimonials from some of the victims. As well as exhibitions about the fascist and communist “security services”, the building often houses other temporary exhibitions.
Hungarian State Opera House
This Neo-Renaissance building was first opened in 1884, following a commission from Emperor Franz Joseph. Outside of the building, you can see statues to Ferenc Erkel (composer of the Hungarian National Anthem) and Ferenc Liszt (Hungarian composer).
The 1200 seat auditorium is considered to be one of the best in the world for operatic performances, and it is well worth it to buy a ticket to a show.
Ticket prices start from as low as 500ft. If you cannot find time to see a show, guided tours of the Opera House are available during the day, although these usually need to be booked in advance.
The Invisible Exhibition aims to give visitors the chance to experience what life is like for people who are completely blind. A registered blind guide will take you on a tour through various different artificially created environments (garden, supermarket, bar etc) which are in completely dark rooms.
On arrival, you will be asked to turn off any potential light sources, such as mobile phones or digital watches, so that there will be no light at all in the rooms. After the exhibition, you can enjoy dinner in the dark, served by blind waiters, who will help you to find your way around your dinner plate.
This stretch of the Danube walkway goes from the Elizabeth Bridge to the Chain Bridge, and is perfect for those who want a short, but interesting walk. Promenading along the Danube is a great way to see many of the most famous sights in the capital.
Looking over towards the Buda side of the river, you will see the Buda Castle, the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill and the Fisherman’s Bastion. On the Promenade side of the river you can enjoy restaurants, cafes, Szechenyi Istvan Square and a range of different sculptures, including the Little Princess.
One of the grandest spas in the city is the Gellert Bath and Spa centre, which includes an open-air pool (which turns into a wave pool), an effervescent swimming pool, a Finnish sauna, and a range of other saunas and plunge pools.
Massages and other spa treatments are also available at an extra fee. The complex was originally built between 1912 and 1918 in an Art Nouveau style, but it sustained serious damage during World War II. The whole spa was extensively renovated in 2008 to bring the baths back to their former glory. The baths are open all week for mixed bathing.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
This basilica is one of the most important religious buildings in Hungary, and visitors to the reliquary can see the (reported) right hand of Stephen, first King of Hungary. As this is a holy site, visitors who plan on entering the church are asked to keep their knees and shoulders covered.
Those with a head for heights can travel up to the base of the dome and look out over the city. On a clear day, this is a great vantage point from which to survey Budapest from the air. Classical music concerts and organ concerts regularly take place inside the Basilica, and sometimes spill out into the square outside.
The Hungarian Parliament Building, which was designed and built in the Gothic Revival style, is one of the largest buildings in Hungary, and is home to hundreds of parliamentary offices. Although the impressive building looks fantastic from every angle, to see the whole building in its full glory, it is worth viewing it from the other side of the Danube.
Tours of certain areas of the building are available daily, and run in different languages. You will need identification to get in, and your bag may be searched on entry.
Heroes’ Square (Hosök tere), which marks the end of Andrássy Avenue is home to an iconic monument which features depictions of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, who are believed to have led the Hungarian people from central Asia to the Carpathian basin.
Atop the central pillar is the Archangel Gabriel, who is holding the Hungarian crown. On either side of the central column are two matching colonnades, which depict a variety of other historical Hungarian figures. The impressive buildings on either side of the square are art galleries. Take care when crossing to the statue, because traffic around the monument can be erratic.
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