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  • Writer's pictureSElliott

Day 14 - An Ornate Basilica, a Bendy Bridge and a Smiling Bus

Updated: Dec 25, 2022

This morning we sailed into Budapest, there were lots of lovely views over the city, on both sides – I was surprised that the ship wasn’t rocking from all the photographers moving from one side to the other!

Pictures 1 and 2 - Views of Budapest

We docked at a docking station past the green Liberty Bridge, next to two other ships – we had to pass through them both to get to shore! The first thing on the itinerary was a Budapest Sightseeing Tour. We boarded the coach and drove over to the Buda side of the river. This is the hilly side. We drove along the side of the river, past the famous Gellért Spa (which was closed for renovation) before passing under the Citadel on Gellert Hill and the Chapel on the Hill. Also on this hill is the Liberty Statue - this is a monument that commemorates those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and prosperity of Hungary. At the base of the hill, underneath the statue, is the green Liberty Bridge.

Picture 3 - Gellert Hill

We continued past the Elizabeth Bridge and under the Castle. Unfortunately we couldn’t see much of the famously beautiful Szécheny Chain Bridge as it was undergoing restoration work.

Picture 4 - Budapest Castle

Picture 5 - Szécheny Chain Bridge

We crossed the river again by Margaret Bridge which is the connection between Buda, Pest and Margaret Island. This island is used as a recreation ground for the city and, as well as having limitations on traffic, is home to sports grounds and gardens. As the bridge acts as the connection between three points, it is bent! It was a bit strange going across!

Picture 6 - Margaret Bridge

Once we were on the Pest side of the Danube we made our way to St. Stephen’s Basilica. This church is named after the first King of Hungary, St. Stephen, and is the most important church building in Hungary. The church is built in the Neo-Classical style and was completed in 1905. Inside was all ornate and fancy again like the Baroque style churches we had seen previously - however this was all real marble and gold, not painted. There were also mosaics on the ceiling. Although it was ornate, I preferred it to the previous churches – rather than being just ornate for being ornate it was a bit more elegantly ornate.

Pictures 7 and 8 - St Stephen's Basilica

We had a small amount of free time after the visit to the Basilica so Mum and I walked down to the Danube and found a smiling bus! After that we returned to the coach and our tour.

Picture 9 - Smiling Bus

The next section of the tour took us up the Andrássy Avenue, which is Budapest’s version of the Champs-Élysées. It was built in the 19th century and is lined with spectacular Neo-renaissance mansions and townhouses featuring fine facades and interiors. The Avenue ends at Heroes Square, one of the major squares in Budapest. It is noted for its iconic Millennium Monument, inaugurated in 1906, with statues featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders, as well as the Memorial Stone of Heroes. This is dedicated "To the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence".

Picture 10 - Heroes Square

This was the end of the sightseeing tour so we returned to the ship for lunch.

After lunch Mum and I went out to visit the Market Hall with its three floors of markets and to have a short walk around the local streets before dinner. The Market Hall is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. It was initially constructed as a measure to improve food supply. The building was built in 1897 and a distinctive architectural feature is the roof which has colourful tiling.

Picture 11 - Market Hall

On exiting the Market Hall, Mum and I wandered through the nearby shopping streets before returning to the ship along the river. On the way back to the ship, we passed underneath the Liberty Bridge. This is the shortest bridge in Budapest’s centre and was initially built as part of the Millennium World Exhibition at the end of the 19th century. The bridge features an art nouveau design, mythological sculptures and the country’s coat of arms.

Tonight, we had our final meal on board the Vega before going to the sundeck to enjoy the sight of Budapest lit up at night. Tomorrow we leave early for the flights back home.

Picture 12 - Budapest at Night

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