Seriously, one could just stand there and stare at it for a half an hour and still find new details to explore. Even if it was tempting to just settle down on the square in front of the Basilica, sipping a nice coffee for the rest of the day, I went inside, and, my God… There’s literally a thousand year old sawed off hand inside the church that belonged to the very first king of Hungary. But even if one’s not fond of this kind of spooky stuff, the Basilica very much worth taking a look at from the inside. Standing there under the huge dome it was kinda’ scary to imagine that – as my audio guide informed me – this dome once collapsed during the construction of the church. I sure was glad, that it seemed pretty stable right now.
After the Basilica, my next main stop was Szabadság Square, and I’m telling you, I felt much smarter after leaving it. First of all, there’s a secret bunker under the square, and although I was dying to see it, unfortunately it’s not open for visitors. Still it was awesome to learn about that Hungary’s communist leaders were once building these things all over the city. Freedom Square is full of sculptures and monuments. That scared me at first, to be honest. Arriving there, all the memories came back from my boring high school history classes, but luckily this tour made it much more enjoyable with curious stories and interesting details about the country’s past.
Walking around the square I learned a lot about the main events and figures of Hungarian history while reaching the Hungarian Parliament. Many ancient Hungarians with strange mustaches and clothes who did a bunch of fascinating things like starting revolutions and fighting wars, many monuments commemorating the acts of various regimes, and there’s even a memorial on the Freedom Square which has a bunch of people buried underneath!
I was happy to see not one but two Americans on the square as well. It was pretty interesting to learn why on earth would the capital of Hungary erect a statue for Ronald Reagan and a, more or less unknown, American military man. And there’s of course the American Embassy building standing on the Freedom Square. Although the building is pretty impressive in itself, I was stunned to learn that a Hungarian cardinal once spent over 15 years living here just so that the Hungarian Communist regime doesn’t murder him.
The absolute high point of this classy and super-informative walk was the Hungarian Parliament building. I know I said that the Basilica was impressive, but it has nothing on this one. Seriously, no wonder that if you Google Budapest most of the photos you find have the Parliament on them. This building is stunning, huge, and they even let you go inside! I got a ticket at the visitor’s center and went on a guided tour inside that simply took my breath away. And just imagine, in the other half of the building the Hungarian National Assembly is voting on new laws every day while we are there looking around.