Budapest and Prague – Part 1.

I went to Budapest for three days and Prague for six days, and it was the one of the best vacations ever. I’m going to cover a great deal of what I saw there, and I want to warn you ahead of time, it’s going to be very architecture-heavy, so if you’re not a huge architecture fan, perhaps this would be an excellent week to go do something else, you know, take care of some last minute taxes, or refinish your boat, something like that. With that said, on with the recap!

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, that are separated by the Danube River. It is a very photogenic city and wasn’t really messed up by copious amounts of crappity Communist apartment complexes and the like. Here’s a nice shot from the top of a hill. See that building on the left? We’re going to get more into detail of that one later.

This is a picture from a similar spot. What’s cool about this shot is that in the foreground, you can see the unique ceramic tile roofs one finds in Budapest. In the background you can see the Parliament building, which was built in the high-gothic style exactly like the Parliament building in London. Although Gothic was from the 12th century to the 16th century, both Parliaments were built in the 1800s. The way you can tell the difference is London has Big Ben, and the Budapest Parliament has a large central dome. You can see a bit of it there.

I loved the look of Budapest. There were a lot of Baroque* houses that were slightly worse-for-wear, it made it look like a fairy book to me, or maybe something out of Harry Potter.

Here’s a combination of baroque and tile roof. The thing in the foreground is a pillar in the center of a small square done in classic baroque style. I can always tell baroque because there’s a whole lotta clouds and cherubs and more clouds and then some gold and silver if possible and maybe an church organ stuffed in there. “Restraint” is not really a baroque thing. Also, you can clearly see the neato tile roof on the church in the background.

After WWII, Budapest went into a flurry of repairs to get the buildings back into some kind of shape. They did leave one building in terrible condition as a reminder of the way the city looked after being bombed and shot at. You can really appreciate how mangled it looks. Also take into consideration there was another floor above the ones you see that was completely demolished in an air attack.

One of the things I love about Europe is that it’s like perpetual RenFaire there, all the time. It was more obvious in Prague, but Budapest had it going on as well. One of my favorite moments of the trip was seeing:
– a man with male patterned baldness and dreadlocks simultaneously
– in medieval garb
– reading the paper
– with a hawk and an eagle sitting next to him.
It was such a weird grouping of things, I had to take a picture. One cannot make these things up.

So, the building I mentioned earlier. My favorite period of design has to be Art Nouveau (also known as Jugendstil, Secession or Liberty), which was a very short international style from 1890 to 1905. The reason I like it so much is because it incorporated a great deal of the patterns and formations one finds in nature and, if done well, has a tension to it like a rubber band or a whip. It is often done in a way I am not terribly fond of, with lots of morose-looking women in togas draped over things like ragdoll cats. But when it’s done in a simple, clean non-excessive manner, it can’t be beat. And the exterior of this building in Budapest, the Four Seasons hotel, is one of the finest examples of this I’ve ever seen. The combination of the matte stone and the occasional touches of gold is perfect.

One of the nice things that Budapest is doing to make themselves more cosmopolitan is to light up their city á la Paris from dusk until midnight. I took this picture right next to a large monument called Liberty.

This is the Liberty monument. I can’t tell you much about it because the entire time the guide was talking, I was freaking out with delight because BATS! There were bats all around! Eating moths! Wheee! So I’m sure this is a very important site with a great deal of significance, but I can’t tell you anything about it. Bats!

I took a night boat ride down the Danube and saw some lovely lit-up sites. I took a sweet picture of the famous Chain Bridge from the shore – look at the cute couple on the park bench.

There’s my Four Seasons hotel at night. Sigh.

And here’s the Parliament. You can truly appreciate the dome the way it has been illuminated.

This is a Greek Orthodox church. You see how it only has one tower? The other one was destroyed by a bombing in the war. The church didn’t have money to repair it, and by the time the money had been raised, everyone was used to only having one tower. So that’s how the church remains.

This is the Freedom Bridge. It’s a nice contrast to the equally lovely Chain Bridge.

Lest you think that Budapest is only old buildings, there is quite a bit of good modern architecture. Here’s an example.

Tomorrow, more of Budapest and maybe we get started on Prague.

*”And if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it! A ha ha, ha ha!” I quoted this, oh, about a million times on this trip.

2 Responses to “Budapest and Prague – Part 1.”

  1. snorth says:

    Oh, blargh!!! I’ve finished catching up and now have 3.5 hours of work to go!!! I’m so glad you’re back! YAY!!!

  2. Barb Genther says:

    I went to Prague in December, then took a riverboat from Nuremberg, Germany down the Danube to Budapest. . .yes, a magical, fantastic trip – just loved it! Mrs. G.

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