I remember my geography classes when I was in elementary school. We used to learn the location of countries, capitals and notable features in a continent.
For exams, the teacher used to give us empty maps. We had to identify the name of the countries. I can’t forget about one particular exam where I was given a paper with Europe’s silhouette and a bunch of lines inside that form. That time, we had to identify the major rivers on the continent.
Years ago, those rivers were abstract, almost non-existent beings to me. As I grew up, they started to become part of my travel dreams. Who wouldn’t love to take a look at the Seine, Thames or Tiber Rivers?
That is why during my visit to Budapest I had one thing I wanted to do before all other things: walk along the banks of the Danube River.
When we arrived to the city, we proceeded to our accommodation. The attendant told us our apartment was located about half a mile (he said the distance in meters, of course) away from the hotel. The walk kind of got me disoriented.
That is why the last thing I asked him was: “Is the river towards this direction?”
“You got it. Just walk straight,” he replied with a big smile.
Ok, so, it wasn’t a straight walk to the river. We got distracted with the ruins pubs, the eclectic eateries of the Jewish Quarter, the big, open squares and the huge sausages sold around the city center.
But, I didn’t lose sight of my goal. It wasn’t that long before we made it to the river.
I took a deep breath when I saw the Danube. It was the fulfillment of many years of wait. The bridges, the boats, the glistening sun rays over the water’s surface. On top of that, the Buda Castle was standing right in front of me. All that combined was way more than I was expecting.
We reached the river at the Elizabeth River altitude. My husband and I agreed to cross the river through the Chain Bridge and explore the castle.
We stopped many times along the way to take a look at the boats and cruises. I guess we were getting ideas for our next trip.
The Chain Bridge has to be the most famous of the many bridges in Budapest. It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary and its construction bought the country a sense of advancement.
The bridge is known for its extensive cast iron work and for the lions guarding the span at both ends. During the Siege of Budapest in 1945, the bridge was blown up. It was rebuilt and reopened four years later.
I found the entire structure so elegant!
If you are not familiar with the city, Buda is the hilly side and Pest is the flat side. Some ascending is needed in order to reach the monuments on the Buda side. The Castle Hill Funicular, which is located across the Buda end of the Chain Bridge, takes passengers to the castle level.
I made the mistake of making the line without checking the ticket’s price. I thought it was going to be a couple of florins. I changed colors when I was charged several thousand florins. I did the math later and it ended being around 10 Euros per person (I am ashamed to write that, I blame jet lag). Take note and do not take the funicular if you want to save a good chunk of money! The stairs will do the trick.
There was no time to be sad about money when you have the imposing Buda Castle in front of you. Well, you are going to get a structure which resembles a capitol building, so, forget about the turrets and fairy tale entrances.
The original palace of the Hungarian kings was completed in 1265. Since the country has more than 1,000 years of history, the number of changes the castle has suffered are beyond the scope of this post. In summary, the structure was badly damaged under the Turkish occupation, was rebuilt during the Habsburgs time and destroyed during World War II. What we see today was rebuilt in the late 60s.
I am surprised we have a place to visit after the many invasions and occupations the country has gone through.
Without a doubt, the best asset of the Castle is its location. The views from up there are simply gorgeous. I get chills just by looking at the photos I took. Most of the city is visible from the vantage point.
You can see the bridges, Margaret Island, St. Stephens Cathedral and the Parliament.
There viewing area is extensive. You can walk around while taking in all the little details that make the city unique.
Do not forget to check the other side of the castle. It is worth a look too. It features the Matthias Fountain and other sculptures.
After that, you can walk to other areas in Castle Hill or enter the Castle (the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery and other exhibitions spaces are located inside).
Have you crossed the Chain Bridge or explored the Buda Castle?
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