From Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion, we then walked a short distance to Buda Castle, the historical palace complex for Hungarian kings in the past. Now it is a huge cultural center, with three museums, as well as the National Széchényi Library.
There was a small performance thing going on in the front of the palace complex, in front of a monument of Prince Eugene of Savoy. People were dressed in traditional Magyar garb, and played drums. There were also giant movable statues of more Magyar people, which I found a little unsettling…but oh well.
We were also in time to see the changing of the guards ceremony! Not nearly as fancy as the one in the UK, but still pretty interesting to see.
Of the many statues in the palace area, this one was my favorite. It depicts three children playing in the river and catching fish. I’m not sure who the artist was, but I really thought it captured pure innocent joy very well.
This statue is a little hard to see, because it is not meant to be seen from the palace promenade; rather, it is supposed to be seen from the river. It depicts the Turulmadár, a mythical bird from Magyar culture.
Next up was a short river cruise! A lot of Budapest’s major buildings are built on the riverfront, so it was an interesting recap of our trip so far. The Hungarian Parliament Building was a majestic sight to behold. Probably the most beautiful government building in the world.
We also could see the gorgeous Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion from the river…
As well as Buda Castle!
Next on our itinerary was St. Stephen’s Basilica. It was completed in 1905 to honor Stephen, the First King of Hungary (c.975-1038). His mummified right hand is housed in the reliquary inside, which I thought was kind of creepy. But the stained glass windows in the church were beautiful and different from the stained glass windows found in other European buildings. It had a distinct Magyar feel to it.
And finally, the reliquary where the mummified hand is kept in.
And then it was off to Hősök tere, better known as Heroes’ Square. The weather had become unbearably hot by now, and everybody was getting headaches, so it was a quick round for pictures and ooh-ing and aah-ing, and then it was back onto the air-conditioned bus.
The Square is comprised of three “areas”; the Statues of the Column, which depict the seven Magyar chieftains who led their people to what is now known as Hungary; the Statues of the Left Colonnade, with a man and a woman representing Labor and Wealth, along with figures including Stephen I of Hungary; and the Statues of the Right Colonnade, with a statue of a man holding little golden statues of a man and a woman, said to represent Knowledge and Glory.
Next, we’ll be heading to the beautiful cave system of Postojna in Slovenia!