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Video courtesy of WOW Hungary tourism

Hungary, central to so much of what has transpired over the centuries in Europe, is steeped in history. Budapest, Hungary’s capital is long established as one of Europe’s premier spa towns and centre of the arts and is a vibrant forward-looking city. It has become one of the most popular destinations in Eastern Europe. The Hungarian landscape is on a majestic scale featuring the largest lake in Europe, Lake Balaton, the Hortobágy National Park and Puszta (the Great Hungarian Plain), a UNESCO Heritage Site.

The city of is a circular city whose “main street” is the Danube River. The western bank is the hilly Buda side and the eastern bank is the completely flat Pest. The architecture of the various buildings reveals part of the city’s history. Hungarian kings were crowned here before the Turkish invasion, and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire left its influence.

On the Buda side of the city you can visit historic Castle Hill, where the Royal Palace with its fine museums is located. You can also visit St. Matthias Church, the 13th century coronation cathedral of Hungarian kings. Next to the church is the Fisherman’s Bastion, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

The Danube is crossed via nine graceful bridges. The Pest side of the city is the major business district where Parliament dominates the Danube. St. Stephen’s Church is the largest one of its kind in Hungary, taking over fifty years to build. The church was considered so sturdy that it was used to store important documents and artwork during the World War II bombing. In the chapel of the Holy Right, you can see Hungarian Catholicism’s most cherished holy relic.

Budapest’s Opera House along Andrassy Boulevard is considered by many to be the finest of its era. It is home to Budapest’s State Opera and State Ballet. To symbolize the city’s newly won independence, various Communist statues of soldiers and heroes have been moved from their previous homes in parks and places of honor to Statue Park, also situated on the Pest side of the river.

For those interested in Jewish heritage, while touring the city, explore the Dohany Synagogue. Visit the Jewish Museum to view the many Jewish objects and religious documentation explaining the history of Hungarian Jews held within its walls The Byzantine and Arabic styles mix to display a blended architectural delight. The exterior walls are primarily brick with hints of porcelain that shimmer and delight the eye.

Also on the Pest side of the city is the popular pedestrian shopping street, Vaci Utca. It spills over into Vorosmarty, one of the area’s best known squares and the site of the famous Gerbaud’s coffee house. Be sure to treat yourself to a strong Hungarian coffee with milk and at least one home-made pastry from Gerbaud’s during your stay.

The enclosed market Vasarcsarnok is just across from the Art Nouveau Gellért Hotel. All of Budapest shops here for fresh dairy products, meat and poultry. There is also an area where traditional folk items are sold.

The area known as the “Danube Bend” is fascinating as one of the cultural centers of the Hungarian Renaissance. The beautiful scenery is easily accessible from Budapest and most visitors include enjoy exploring the towns of Esztergom, Visegrád and Szentendre, each boasting an individual charm.
Continental, with the average temperature (listed in Fahrenheit / Celsius):

January: 29F / -1,6 °C
February: 39F / 1,1 °C
March: 41F / 5,6 °C
April: 51,8F / 11 °C
May: 60F / 15,9 °C
June: 66,2F / 19 °C
July: 69,8F / 20,8 °C
August: 68F / 20,2 °C
September: 61,5F / 16,4 °C
October: 51,8F / 11 °C
November: 40,646F / 4,8 °C
December: 32,72F / 0,4 °C

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