Our second day in Budapest, Travis and I went on walkabout. When our bus was driving to the hotel the night before, Narada and I saw an awesome square that we wanted to find in the morning, but he ended up not being able to come with me, so Travis offered to “guard” me as I walked the crazy Budapest streets…we didn’t want another Jenn-gets-lost situation like the day before!
Travis was in charge of the map, and we walked by many cool buildings, including this building below, which works with social services to assist the homeless, etc…
…as well as some churches, including Arpad St. Margaret Church…
To the right of the picture you can see the first Apostolic Cross of Hungary that I’ve seen. The most ancient element of the Hungarian coat of arms is the “double cross”. The history and the tradition of the double cross goes back to the early Egyptian Pharaohs. Throughout the ages it always signified power and authority. The Holy Roman Catholic Church used it from near the beginning. For a long time, it was thought to have been given to King Stephen (Saint Stephen of Hungary) from Pope Sylvester II for “the royal dignity and the power, demonstrating his determination to honour of God, the exaltation of His Church and to Christianise the people of Hungary and establish episcopal sees for promoting the glory of God and the good of his people”. Today, the most accepted theory is that it derives from Byzantine influence, as the cross appeared around 1190 during the reign of King Béla III, who was raised in the Byzantine court. The cross appears floating in the coat of arms and on the coins from this era. The symbol is also used in the coat of arms of Slovakia.
I thought this sight was funny…imagine the prices set in American dollars! Hah! Let’s hope this NEVER happens!!!
After about an hour walk, Travis and I arrive at the place we all remembered from the bus drive, HEROES’ SQUARE (in Hungarian, it is spelled Hősök tere).
Budapest’s grandest square closes off . The square lies at the end of Andrássy Avenue
(with which it comprises part of an extensive World Heritage
site), next to City Park
. The Millennium Monument construction started on the 1000th anniversary of the Magyar settlement, with statues of the leaders of the seven tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century and other outstanding figures of Hungarian history. The construction was finished in 1929 and the square got its name then. This monument was awarded Grand Prize at the Paris World Exposition in 1900. When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was a part of the Austrian Empire
and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. The monument was damaged in World War II and when it was rebuilt the Habsburgs were replaced by the current figures.
Again, I’m the ant in the middle of the picture above. I know you can’t really see me, but it’s fun to know I’m there, yet in the presence of structures that make me so small!
The bronze statue of Archangel Gabriel stands in the middle on a 36 meter high column. In his right hand the angel holds the Holy Crown
of St. Stephen
(Istvan), the first king of Hungary. In his left hand the angel holds a two barred apostolic cross
. Remember I defined that kind of cross earlier?
Also in the middle of the square is the Monument Of National Heroes (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, though it is not literally a burial tomb). Several memorable events were held on the square: the Eucharist World Congress (1938), the service before the re-burial of Prime Minister Imre Nagy (June 16, 1989-a crowd of 250,000 gathered at the square for the historic reburial of this martyr, who had been executed in June 1958), and a holy mass by Pope John Paul II (1991).
The seven mounted figures of the Monument of National Heros represent the Magyar chieftains who led the Hungarian people into the Carpathian basin. In the front is Árpád, considered the founder of the Hungarian nation. Behind him are the chieftains Előd, Ond, Kond, Tas, Huba, and Töhötöm (Tétény). Little survives in the historical record about these individuals and both their costumes and their horses are considered to be more fanciful than historically accurate.
The back of the monument consists of two matched colonnades. Topping the outer edge of the left colonnade is a statue of a man with a scythe and a woman sowing seed, representing Labor and Wealth.
In the corresponding position on the right colonnade is a statue of a man holding a statue and a woman with a palm frond representing Knowledge and Glory.
At the inner top edge of the left colonnade is a male figure driving a chariot using a snake as a whip representing War…
…while on the facing end of the right colonnade is a female figure in a chariot holding a palm frond representing Peace…
This is a list of the statesmen who are portrayed by the sculptures in the semi-circular arcades of the monument. The topic of the relief below each figure is given below the name:
St. Stephen receives the crown from an emissary of the Pope
St. Ladislaus slays the Cumanian abductor
Coloman prohibits the burning of witches
Andrew leads a crusade
Béla rebuilds the country after the Mongol invasion
Louis the Great occupies Naples
Matthias with his scholars
Hajdú soldiers defeat the imperial forces
Bethlen concludes a treaty with Bohemia
Rákóczi returns from Poland
His relief depicts when Kossuth rallies the peasants of the Great Plain.
Travis and I spent a while meandering around these great statues and reliefs, before we really focused on what was behind the monument…City Park, which has a CASTLE! Yes! We love castles:)
Vajdahunyad Castle, or Vajdahunyad vára, was built between 1896 and 1908, to facilitate the 1896 Millennium Expo’s exhibitions, and also to show Hungary’s dominant architectural styles to visitors. Its best known part was modelled after the largest knight’s castle in historical Hungary, the Hunyad-castle in Transylvania, also called Vajdahunyad, but all parts of the castle are copies of other buildings in Hungary, in order to display Romanic, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural styles.
The castle was originally constructed mainly from wood and cardboard, due to tight deadlines and the lack of funds. Due to its skyrocketing popularity, the whole complex was rebuilt from stone between 1904 and 1908. The main architect was Ignác Alpár, whose largest project was the castle.
The Hungarian Agricultural Museum occupies most of the interior of the building. The contemporary press had the following to say about the event: ‘It will be one of the biggest museums in the world and an apt reminder of its duty to represent the greatest industry that was decreed by nature’s will to an agricultural country’. Its founder, Minister Ignác Darányi, said the main task of the museum “is to present everything which is interesting and important for Hungarian agriculture, and from which Hungarian agriculture, horti- and viniculture and forestry can draw dependable and practical lessons”.
Many agricultural publications were also conceived here. Among these are the international bibliography of agricultural history, the museum’s proceedings and the Agricultural History Studies, but the museum also edits the Agrarian History Review, published by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Here I am chillin’ with the statue of Sándor Károlyi, an economist, in the courtyard…
The statue of Anonymus is also displayed in the castle court…
“Anonymus” represents the author of the Gesta Hungarorum
for The Deeds of the Hungarians
), which is a record of early Hungarian
history by an unknown author who describes himself as Anonymi Bele Regis Notarii
(‘the anonymous notary of King Bela’). Anonymus was schooled at the University of Paris
and was employed at the time of writing as a notarias
, presumably in the court of Bela III of Hungary
The chronicle was written probably between 1196 and 1203, though some scholars claim that its author wrote the Gesta earlier in the 12th century. Gesta Hungarorum is preserved in a manuscript from about 1200.
Superstition says that by touching his pen you will receive good luck…
My 1st attempt to take a picture of the face of “Anonymous” resulted in a creepy darkness of nothing, which I believe is more appropriate than…
…the ACTUAL face that showed up in my 2nd attempt! Now that’s what I call “Ominous Anonymous”!
Travis and I crossed the back bridge out of the castle and headed around the park to the next big building, the Szechenyi Bath and Spa…
Budapest can rightly be called the city of spas, and the Szechenyi Bath and Spa was its first thermal baths on the Pest side. At the time, back in 1881, it was called “Artesian Bath”, and was only a temporary establishment. In 1913, it was converted into a permanent bath, and received its present name and most parts of its pretty yellow building complex. In 1927, beach sites, as well as public bathing departments for gentlemen and ladies were added. In 1960, another expansion added a group thermal section (for use in bathing suites), and a daytime outpatient hospital. The year of 1999 saw a complete reconstruction of the swimming pools. Water filtering and circulation devices were added, and the fancy bath received high standard equipment and modern elements. The renovation and reconstruction work continues, partially closing down different sections each year.
This bathhouse’s significance is not merely on the basis of its medicinal water…the sculptures and glass mosaics decorating the building are creations of Hungary’s most considerable artists.
Second to last stop, the City Park Pond (Városligeti-tó), used as an ice rink in winter, the largest outdoor skating-rink in Central Europe (1926). Travis and I rested near the steaming waters where the ducks rested and people fished.
The area was formerly called Ökör-dűlő, meaning “Oxmeadow”. The first mention of the name comes from 1241 in the archaic form, Ukurföld. In the 18th century the area was called Ochsenried in German. Around 1800 the official name was changed to Batthyány-erdő (Batthyány Forest) after its tenants, the Batthyány family. The first trees and walkways were established in 1751 and after the public park was created in the first decades of the 19th century the present-day name, Városliget (and its German version, Stadtwäldchen) was accepted. It became the first public park in the world! To the left of the ducks (pictured above) is the ice rink. To the right is the zoo, our last stop…
Actually, we saw this big boulder-like structure in the distance, walked towards it, and found out it’s the zoo, which is one of Travis’ favorite places to visit. Alas, we had no money, so poor Travis had to squeeze his face through the gate bars and mourn the animals he won’t be seeing on this tour. Let’s all have a moment for Travis’ loss…
…Alrighty then! That being done, so is my newsletter! Whew! Lots going on in Budapest, and like I’ve recently said, I didn’t even see half of the monuments, bathhouses, and other amazing sights to behold in Hungary! But I had a very memorable walk, absorbing what I saw every step of the way:)
Next stop, Regensburg, Germany…this was the place we rested for about a week. It’s the first German town we’ve stopped where the streets in the old section are very small, cobblestone, and buildings are quite close together. But even there…there was a McDonald’s! More on that soon.
Love and miss ya!