Europe Road Trip – Day 9 – Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary

In September 2008 we did a circular road trip around Europe starting in Frankfurt, Germany and travelling through Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic and finally back to Frankfurt Germany.

Győr, Hungary

From Vienna we drove east towards our destination of Budapest in Hungary. We made a stop at Győr in Hungary on the way. Győr is the most important city of northwest Hungary, the capital of Győr-Moson-Sopron County and Western Transdanubia region, and—halfway between Budapest and Vienna—situated on one of the important roads of Central Europe.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is bisected by the River Danube. Its 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. A funicular runs up Castle Hill to Buda’s Old Town, where the Budapest History Museum traces city life from Roman times onward. Trinity Square is home to 13th-century Matthias Church and the turrets of the Fishermen’s Bastion, which offer sweeping views.

We arrived into Budapest by lunchtime and checked into Le Meridien Hotel where we would stay for 2 nights giving us a good opportunity to see the city. We immediately headed out to explore the city centre on foot.

We walked to St Stephen’s Basilica which is a Roman Catholic basilica and named in honour of Stephen, the first King of Hungary, whose supposed right hand is housed in the reliquary. It was the sixth largest church building in Hungary before 1920.

We then walked through the streets in this area and headed down closer to the River Danube.

We reached the Hungarian Academy of Sciences building and noticed some demonstrations going on which at the time we thought nothing of, but later that day this was to change.

Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Looking over the River Danube we could see the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Buda Castle over on the other side.

Walking along the riverside is when I started to take note of the large demonstrations and a huge police presence with shields, batons, etc. You can see more of this demo in a video I made here

Hungarian Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament Building, also known as the Parliament of Budapest after its location, is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, a notable landmark of Hungary and a popular tourist destination in Budapest. It is situated in Kossuth Square, in the Pest side of the city and on the banks of the Danube.

Liberty Square Park

Budapest was originally a Celtic settlement with an ancient history. The Hungarians moved in during the ninth century and have had a tumultuous existence beginning with domination by the Roman Empire and being pillaged by the Mongols and continuing through world wars and Communist revolutions. The plot of land has, obviously, seen all of this, but it only became “Liberty Square” recently.

In 1786, a massive troop barracks was built on the location by the Austrians. The barracks would go on to play a bloody role in the struggle for Hungarian independence from the Hapsburg dynasty. Many Hungarians were imprisoned and executed at the barracks, including a Prime Minister. After the Austria-Hungary Compromise in 1867, plans were made to demolish the barracks which were finally completed in 1897 when room was made for the square.

During the 20th Century, the square was the scene of protest and revolution and war. It became a monument to communist liberation (and is still the home to the last remaining communist statue) as well as a symbol of freedom from communism in the form of a statue of American President Ronald Reagan. The square itself is a part of, and symbolic of, the history of Hungary and Budapest over the last 250 years.

We found an interesting statue on a small iron bridge close to the Hungarian Parliament Building. The statue is of Imre Nagy who was a Hungarian communist politician who served as Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People’s Republic from 1953 to 1955 and in 1956 Nagy became leader of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against the Soviet-backed government, for which he was executed two years later.

We got away from the large crowds of demonstrators and headed down to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.

Four Seasons Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel

That evening we had a wonderful meal at the Rezkakas Restaurant accompanied by traditional Hungarian music. Tomorrow we would have another full day to explore this fascinating city.

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