About Budapest

The Hungarian capital is one of Europe’s most beautiful gems, with a wealth of beautiful and unique sights on both banks of the Danube. The city is spread out over a large area and it is worth taking the time to experience its geographical diversity, from the Buda hills, the banks of the Danube and Margaret Island to the bustling downtown Pest area. The first unique aspect that catches the eye of visitors is how the city is divided in two - Buda and Pest, connected by bridges - and that each side offers a distinct experience and glimpse into history. Unified in 1873, Budapest has been a home to many different ethnic and religious groups over the centuries. The German citizens on the Buda side, the Serbs in the Tabán area, the Slovaks on the Pest side and the Jewish community all represent different religions. The Hungarian population primarily followed the Roman Catholic faith, but there was also a significant proportion of Protestants.

Top sights in Budapest

The Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament building, the “House of the Country”, located on the Danube bank, is an iconic building of Budapest’s World Heritage and is the home of legislature and the guardian of the Hungarian Holy Crown. Lavishly decorated both inside and outside, the Hungarian Parliament was inspired by the Houses of Parliament in London, so the neo-Gothic style is dominant, but it also bears Renaissance and Baroque features. Today it is the third largest parliament in the world, built to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Hungarian state, based on the designs of architect Imre Steindl.
The dimensions of the building are impressive: its maximum width is 123 metres, its length parallel to the Danube is 271 metres and its dome is 96 metres high.

Chain Bridge

With the Buda Castle in the background, the Hungarian capital’s first bridge, now a monument, is a fascinating spectacle that has attracted many tourists to Budapest.
Before it was built, the river could only be crossed via a temporary pontoon bridge, by boat or over the ice. However, a big city needed a real, stones and mortar bridge to match so an Invited English engineer William Tierney Clark to Hungary, as well as his (unrelated) namesake, Scottish engineer Adam Clark ended up building the bridge. Completed in 1849, it was considered a technical wonder of its time. In World War II, the bridge was destroyed, along with all the other bridges in Budapest, but was rebuilt almost in its original form, except for some necessary modernisation.

Margaret Island

The island is one of the most important and beautiful recreational sites in Budapest. It is named after Princess Margaret of the House of Árpád, daughter of King Béla IV, who, with her life and miracles, occupies a special place in Hungarian history. Until 1901, the island was accessible only by ship or boat, until the construction of the wing of Margaret Bridge leading to the island.
Margaret Island stretches 2800 metres long and covers an area of almost 100 hectares
Margaret Island offers a wide range of attractions for visitors. The 70-degree spring water that comes up from the ground here feeds the medicinal baths located on the island. In the shade of 200-year-old trees, you can find the former home of the island’s eponymous princess, the ruins of the Dominican convent and St Michael’s Chapel. The Water Tower, built in 1911, rises high above the old trees, offering a 360-degree panorama of Budapest. A small wooden bridge leads to the Rock Garden and Japanese Garden in the northern part of the island, from where plant-lined paths lead inland to the gently cascading waterfall. The statue of the “Little Mermaid” rises from the centre of the pond. But the most extraordinary attraction is Hungary’s largest musical fountain, 36 metres in diameter, with a central jet of water shooting up to a height of more than 25 metres. Every hour, a musical programme is played, and in the evenings there is a special laser projection on the water curtain of the fountain.
Margaret Island can be explored on foot, by bicycle or even by bike carriage and, if you want to do sports or jogging, there is a jogging track around the island.

Matthias Church

One of the city’s most famous landmarks. Founded in the 13th century, and officially known as the Buda Castle Church of Our Lady, it was used by the Turks as a mosque and was later almost completely rebuilt in the Baroque period.
At the end of the 19th century, a decision was made to change it radically. In keeping with the approach of the times, architect Frigyes Schulek removed everything which was not mediaeval from it and then proceeded to build the neo-Gothic church as it stands today. Its two ornamented towers are of different sizes. Characteristic elements of the church’s exterior are the Zsolnay glazed roof tiles, as well as the winding spiral staircase within the taller tower (the Matthias tower), allowing visitors to climb all the way up to the top. Visitors enter through two huge oak doors into the church, which is decorated with the works of the most distinguished painters of the time, as well as with geometrically-patterned ceramic tiles and stained glass windows. A visit to the church is rounded off with an exhibition of historic artifacts, including the church’s former weathervane. As part of recent renovations, the famous Zsolnay ceramics factory in Pécs was commissioned to supply nearly 150,000 roof tiles. It is visited by nearly one million visitors every year, and no wonder! No visit to Budapest would be complete without it.