The tour started on the Pest side, in Széchenyi Square. From there, it took me across the Chain Bridge. While I enjoyed the view over the river Danube, I learned about the fascinating back story of Hungary’s first permanent water crossing. Then I arrived in Adam Clark Square, the location of the Castle Hill Funicular. To get to the top of Buda hill, I decided to skip the Funicular, however, as I didn’t want to wait in the long queue.
Instead, I walked, using the romantic promenade called King’s Stairs. The pathway is a bit steep, but not very long, and I took a short break at the top of the tunnel to catch my breath and shoot some photographs. The panorama from there is truly breath-taking, and arriving at the picturesque Buda Castle area is like taking a step back in time. First, I walked to Holy Trinity Square, and visited the Neo-gothic style Matthias Church. There were a bit too many tourists in the area, and I almost got run over by a careless Segway rider, but the graceful architecture of this majestic church was well worth the trouble. Then I visited the nearby Fisherman’s Bastion.
Now I understand why it’s one of the most photographed attractions of Budapest! The Bastion looks like a fairy-tale castle and the panorama from its windows is spectacular! I also found out why the Bastion is named after the fishermen. Did you know that in the Middle Ages on the site of the nearby Hilton Budapest Hotel a Dominican church stood? The restored remains of the 13th century churchyard and cloister have been incorporated into the luxury hotel building, providing a fascinating mixture of ancient and modern architecture.
Then I walked to the Hungarian Presidential Palace. I was lucky as I arrived just in time to catch the changing of the guards in front. Although Hungarian guards don’t wear bearskin hats like the British do, their disciplined choreography is still quite fascinating to watch. From here, I walked to the Royal Palace which currently hosts the Hungarian National Gallery.
Finally, I ended the tour at the Buda riverfront, and visited the Castle Garden Bazaar. This Neo-Renaissance jewel-box below the palace beautifully combines art with nature, and was originally built to please royal monarchs Franz Joseph and Queen Elizabeth.
I almost forgot! In the Buda castle area, there are some excellent fine dining spots as well. I tried a famous Hungarian dish, the chicken paprikás, which is a stew with a lot of sweet paprika and sour cream. I have to admit the Hungarian cuisine is a surprising discovery, and the local wine is much more delicious than I thought.
And to whom can I recommend this audio-guided tour experience? To anyone who visits Budapest, it’s an absolute must!