Budapest is the capital
of Hungary with almost two million inhabitants. The city flourished as a crossroads
where East meets West in the heart of Europe. It is the center of administration,
industry, trade, transport and traffic, education, culture, arts and sports.
It is situated on both banks of the Danube river: called Buda and Pest. There
are nine bridges over the Danube connecting the two sides of the river. Of the
capital cities of the world Budapest is the richest in thermal baths.
You'll discover the oldest
part of the city, the historic Castle District on the Buda side. The Castle
Hill was settled after the withdrawal of the Mongolian invaders in 1242. During
the centuries the castle has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. A stroll
through the castle area will take you to the mid 13th century Matthias church,
one of the most beautiful examples of gothic architecture and the Fishermen's
Bastion offering great views of the city. From here your guide will point out
the palace, where Ludwig van Beethoven, the composer used to live for six years
and remains of a medieval Synagogue from the 15th century. You'll have a chance
to look at the selection of the Herend factory store near the main square of
the Castle Area.
After visiting the Castle
Hill you'll be driven to the top of the Gellert Hill to admire the spectacular
views of the city.
On the Pest side you'll
be driven along the Andrassy boulevard lined with elegant late 19th century
buildings, including the State Opera House, the old Music Academy and several
elegant mansions and villas. The boulevard leads to Heroes' square built to
commemorate the millennium of Hungary in 1896. The first subway line in continental
Europe was opened under the Andrassy boulevard in the very same year.
You'll make a stop to see
the Monument of the Millennium of Hungary with statues of eminent Hungarians
in the Heroes' Square that closes the outer end of the boulevard.
Explore the Jewish quarter
of Budapest with the largest Synagogue in the world, the Dohany Synagogue built
in romantic Byzantine and Moorish style with it's 3000 seats is the largest
in the world. The beautiful and also modern Holocaust Memorial in the Raoul
Wallenberg Memorial Park is located behind the Synagogue, in the former ghetto
You'll visit the interior
of the largest and most important Catholic church that is dedicated to St Stephen
(Szent István), the first Hungarian Christian king. Inside the impressive building
lies the Holy Right (Szent Jobb), the mummified right hand of St Stephen. This
Neo-Classical structure was designed by József Hild and was built over the course
of half a century from 1851.
You'll drive by the 2nd
largest Parliament of Europe, with the 1000 years old crown jewels of Hungary.
The building was constructed to commemorate the 1000 year's anniversary of the
Hungarian's landtaking. A wonderful piece of architecture.
Return to your awaiting
Evening program: Dinner
in the famous Gundel restaurant, (optional) and/or Evening River cruise on the
Danube river with all the illuminated sights of Budapest (1 hr., 2 drinks included)