Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Budapest, Hungary (June 13-15, 2008)

Budapest is the capital of Hungary and home to approximately one fifth of the country's population. It's a beautiful, vibrant city with grand avenues, stately architecture, and a rich - but turbulent - history.

The sprawling capital is situated on the Danube River that once divided it into the two separate towns of Buda and Pest. Castle Hill, with its historic palace and cathedral, medieval cobbled streets and old city walls, dominates the Buda district on the west side of the river. On the east side, the flat and more modern Pest side of town houses the Parliament, museums, parks and wide streets lined with high-end shops and fancy restaurants.

Throughout its long history, Budapest has been ruled by the Romans, the Huns, the Magyars, the Turks, the Hapsburgs, the Germans and the Soviets. The city bears marks from each era, and the jumble of Turkish-style baths, Viennese-inspired coffee houses and stark Socialist-era buildings combine to give Budapest a unique appeal.
The Chain Bridge over the Danube was opened in 1849 and was the first permanent bridge between Buda and Pest. In the background is Castle Hill, in the city's Buda district.
The view from Castle Hill of the Chain Bridge and the Pest district. The tall dome belongs to St. Stephen's Basilica.
The ornate 19th century Parliament sits on the eastern bank of the Danube
The view south along the Danube from Castle Hill A statue of King Stephen on horseback stands in front of the Fisherman's Bastion on Castle Hill. The neo-Gothic Fisherman's Bastion is a white rampart with cloisters and turrets, overlooking the Danube.
Some of the old city's original medieval architecture can still be found on Castle Hill

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