Budapest: ‘St. Stephen’s Basilica’, ‘Parliament’ and ‘Szentendre’

On Monday – my third day in Budapest – my friend and I set out to visit another part of the Pest Side of the city, with the St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Parliament and many other great buildings.

The tour in my “100 Boedapest” guide started at the Chain Bridge. From there, we went to Gresham Palace, which houses the Four Seasons Hotel. Don’t hesitate to go inside to take a look at the beautiful hall of the hotel.

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A two minute walk away from Gresham Palace, you’ll see the majestic St. Stephan’s Basilica, which is named after the holy King Istvan. Not only is the church really beautiful, you can also go up 96 meters (by taking 302 stairs, or by taking the elevator) to have an amazing view of the city. The price for the elevator is 500 florints, and if you take the stairs it’s only 400.

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After having explored every corner and place of the Basilica, we walked to the Parliament. On the way over, we passed Szabadság Ter, the square of Freedom, which has lovely buildings and fountains. But I was just too excited to visit the Parliament, so that’s where we headed.

When you want to visit the Parliament Building (with an English tour guide), I really recommend going to the Parliament immediately when it opens so you can book your tour for sometime in the afternoon (and then you go back of course). We arrived around noon and every English tour was full, expect the 4:30 pm one. Because we didn’t want to wait that long, we took the French tour at 1:30, which was still a pretty long wait. The Parliament offers tours in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and of course Hungarian. I’m lucky enough that I’m multilingual so I was able to just choose another language and enter the building earlier. So if you really want the English tour, keep in mind that you have to be early enough. Entrance to the parliament costs 3000 florints and it’s definitely worth it. You’ll get to see the Holy Crown of King Saint Stephen. Unforunately, for the protection of the crown, you aren’t allowed to take pictures of it.

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A small walk away from the Parliament, you can find the memorial called “Shoes on the Danube Bank”. It’s a memorial for the jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross Militiamen during World War II. The Jews were ordered to take their shoes off, and then were shot so their bodies fell into the water. It’s such a beautiful, but sad memorial.

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From this memorial, I moved immediately to the next monument; the memorial for Imre Nagy. Imre Nagy was Prime Minister of Hungary, and his second term was during the revolution in 1956. He was executed in 1958 for his involvement in the failed Hungarian Revolution.

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After posing with my new friend, we took the tram to Gül Baba Utca. This is a really steep street with cobble stones. (Not that we don’t have enough of those in Belgium yet). It’s a really nice street, and a nice thing to do if you have some time to spare.

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Our next stop was Margeret Island. We walked to the fountain, but other than that, there isn’t much to see on the island. It’s a lovely place for a picknick though, and in summer, there are many activities there. Also, in the evening, the fountain is lit up realy beautifully.

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My friend’s mother had planned to go for a walk to Szentendre that evening. Szentendre is a city along the Danube about 20 minutes out of Budapest, and is known for its museums and artists. But most of all, it’s just a really lovely, quiet place, which is perfect for an evening walk. So when my friend’s mother asked if I wanted to join, I quickly replied positively. And I certainly don’t regret it. It’s such a cute little city and it’s nice to be away from the big city for a while.

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Soon enough it was too cold to walk alongside the water any longer, so we headed back to my friend’s house.

Next blog post will be about my last full day in Budapest, and I’ll probably also include my last morning in Budapest as well.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

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