In January 2020, Steve broke his pelvis while skiing in Bulgaria. What was meant to be a three-week winter-wonderland ski trip turned into twelve weeks of pain and disappointment.
By the time he was healed enough to travel, COVID-19 was becoming a serious concern throughout the world. Instead of returning to the U.S., we decided to go to the place we had planned to be: Budapest, Hungary.
The Hungarian government had declared a state of emergency the day before we arrived. Most of the businesses started closing down just a few days later.
We isolated from the middle of March through the middle of June. During this time, we were able to walk around and enjoy the architecture. That was when I fell in love with the beauty of Budapest.
I am excited to share some of my favorite exterior views of this city with you.
Budapest is divided into 23 districts. I have organized the photos by district. As a tourist, you are most likely to stay in and explore the following districts:
District 1 – The Castle District – this is where you will find the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Matthias Church. Traffic is limited to people who live or work there, guests of hotels in the area, taxis, and city buses, making it a great place to stroll.
District V -Belváros, which means Downtown in Hungarian. This district along the Pest side of the Danube River includes the incredible Hungarian Parliament building and St. Stephen’s Basilica.
District VI -Terézvaros – home to the elegant Andrássy Avenue, the Hungarian State Opera House, and upscale stores.
Of course, the other 20 districts also have a lot to offer. I hope you enjoy exploring the beauty of Budapest here and in person.
Here is an article that explains Budapest’s districts well.
It seems odd to have the very first photo be of a modern building, but since I decided to list the photos by district, this is the first. We came across this building while exploring the Buda side of the city.
The next building is also on the Buda side. Construction cranes are a common sight throughout Budapest.
This elegant building is the Four Seasons Gresham Palace Hotel. This 100-year-old Art Nouveau building originally contained apartments and offices for the Gresham Life Assurance Company of Great Britain.
The Parisi Udvar is a Bell Epoque beauty that was a shopping passage when it opened in 1817. After suffering from neglect, it has been transformed into a 5-star hotel with opulent dining areas.
I just love the clean look of this large white building next to the Parliament building, which you can see below.
This beauty overlooks Liberty Square.
And this building is part of the Nyugati Railway Station. There is a similar building which is also part of the railway station and houses a McDonalds.
One of the many impressive houses on Andrássy Avenue. This elegant street runs from Elisabeth Square to City Park. The Neo-renaissance mansions (many of which are now embassies) and high-end stores make for a lovely stroll.
The neo-gothic Stern House.
This frilly confection is the Vígszínház, the Comedy Theatre of Budapest.
Here are two buildings that I never tire of seeing. They are at the foot of the Elisabeth Bridge on the Pest side.
The Vigadó Concert Hall sits near the bank of the Danube River on the Pest side.
Like the two joined buildings above, these are at the foot of the Elisabeth Bridge on the Pest side of the city.
You can’t go wrong with a pretty pink house.
This bright, recently restored building is on a side street. Well worth the detour.
The Anantara New York Palace Budapest Hotel. It was built in 1894 as an office for the New York Life Insurance Company. In 2006 it became a luxury hotel. The ground floor houses the New York Cafe, as elegant today as it was over a century ago.
This lovely gem flanks the pond in City Park. It appears to have restaurants and shops, but they have been closed during the pandemic.
This is just part of the fairy-tale-like Fisherman’s Bastion. Interestingly, it was never intended to be used for defense. It was built between 1895 and 1902 as part of a campaign to construct several buildings in celebration of the 1,000th birthday of the Hungarian State. The bastion is on the Buda side of the Danube River.
The Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle (or the Matthias Church) is adjacent to Fisherman’s Bastion. The original church was built in 1,015. The current building was built in the 14th century and extensively restored in the 19th century. Be sure to take a guided tour of the tower.
Buda Castle sits on Castle Hill overlooking the Danube River on the Buda side of the city. As you can imagine, the castle has a long and complex history. It was destroyed in WWII and rebuilt during the 1950s and 60s. Unfortunately, the work was not done well. The castle is now undergoing restoration to bring it back to its pre-WWII splendor.
This sprawling neo-Gothic beauty is the Hungarian Parliament Building. It sits on the bank of the Danube River on the Pest side of the city.
St.Stephen’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica named in honor of the first king of Hungary.
Even though it is covered up while being renovated, I had to include the Hungarian State Opera House. We were able to have an abbreviated tour of the inside in the summer. It was magnificent.
The Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and the third-largest in the world. The Moorish Revival building is more than 160 years old.
The Keleti Railway Station (translates to East Railway Station) is a hub for local and long-distance trains and buses.
The Great Market Hall, also called the Central Market Hall, is a great place to admire architecture while shopping for food and souvenirs. Interestingly, there is a supermarket on the lower level.
This massive building is the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. Part of the building is painted a bright yellow, as you can see at the photo’s sides.
This is one part of the Vajdahunyad Castle. The entire castle features several architectural styles that celebrate the history of Hungary. Like Fisherman’s Bastion, this castle was built for the Millennial Exhibition in 1896.
The castle was initially built of wood and cardboard because it was not intended to be permanent. It proved to be so popular that it was rebuilt as a permanent structure that now houses the Hungarian Agricultural Museum.
Learn more about the history of Vajdahunyad Castle.
Part of the tiled roof of the Matthias Church. Many buildings in the city have patterned roofs.
This 120-year-old four-story building is called the Severa House. It was originally the home of an Italian salami maker named Károly Szevera.
Four mosaics that represent the four seasons are on the top floor.
These are just three of the many busts on the Parisi Udvar building.
This cute relief is one of eight different ones on a building on Vaci street.
It is not unusual to see statues in niches on the exteriors of buildings. This building features statues of several Hungarian leaders.
This is detail on a porcelain Herend statue that stands in Jozsef Nador Square. Every time I see it, I marvel at how it has remained undamaged.
One of the things that impressed me the most about Budapest is the respect the citizens have for their city. The streets are the cleanest we’ve seen in any city so far, and public transportation is free of graffiti and trash.
Here is another relief. This one is just too cute.
These mosaics are on the top story of a three-story building.
These beautiful corbels are on the elegant Andrássy Avenue.
These are two of the light-holding fauns that decorate the Anantara New York Palace Budapest Hotel.
More reliefs. These are on the side of a building that houses a large drug and toiletries store.
As we’ve been exploring Budapest, we have been amazed at the large number of cranes and buildings being refurbished. We have remarked that we need to revisit the city in about five years to see all the improvements after they are finished.
While not as beautiful as the buildings above, the four buildings below cannot hide their elegance. Let’s hope they get the facelifts they deserve.
Even in disrepair, this building remains impressive.
This is the Drescher Palace. It stands across from the Hungarian State Opera House on Andrássy Avenue. Its history includes a three-story cafe, apartments, and serving as a ballet institute. It was supposed to become a W Hotel, but it appears that those plans fell by the wayside.
I love seeing the difference between the restored section of this building and the part that is still waiting for love.
This building is at the corner of the street we are currently staying on. If you look closely, you can see straps holding the statues on.
There are main seven bridges that connect the two sides of Budapest (in order from north to south):
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Below you will see photos of the four most picturesque of these bridges.
The Margaret Bridge not only connects Buda and Pest but also connects both sides of the city to Margaret Island. It is the second oldest bridge in Budapest.
You can spend hours exploring Margaret Island. I highly recommend it.
Here is one of the pillars on the Margaret Bridge.
The oldest and most famous bridge in Budapest is the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. It is commonly known as the Chain Bridge.
Two lions guard the Chain Bridge at each end. A cool trivia fact is that the lions don’t have tongues.
The bridge was closed to traffic on a Saturday night in the summer.
This modern bridge is the Elisabeth Bridge (named after a beloved Hungarian queen).
The Liberty Bridge as viewed from the Pest side:
And detail on the Liberty Bridge:
The five bridges that existed in Budapest before WWII, including the four above, were all destroyed by retreating German troops in 1945. All were rebuilt. The Elisabeth Bridge was the only one not rebuilt to resemble the original.
You can see historic and current photos of the bridges and the city after the WWII bombings here.
These are just a few of the thousands of remarkable sights you can see as you explore Budapest. Even in the less elegant neighborhoods, there are so many lovely surprises.