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Things to see
Castle Hill - The Royal Palace, The Fishermen's Bastion, The Matthias Church
The Downtown - Váci Street and the Main Markethall
The Dohany Synagogue and the Jewish Quarter
The 7th District, or Erzsebet Varos (Elizabeth Town) is also known as the Jewish Quarter. It was established as such at the turn of the 19th century when the Jewish community gathered in this district along the road leading to the bridge that crossing the Danube. The center of this area became Kiraly Street. Budapest today is home to the largest Jewish community in Central Europe.
This area one can find most of Budapest's site's of Jewish cultural heritage , like the Â�Synagogue Triangle.Â� (This was also where in 1944 the Pest Ghetto was built.)
At Dohany Street 2. you will find the world's second largest and Europe's largest synagogue, the Dohany Street Synagogue. The site of this building is also the birthplace of Theodor Herzl, Father of Zionism. In the garden is the Martyrs' Cemetery and the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial. Adjacent to the temple is the Jewish Museum.
The second point of the Triangle is the synagogue on Rumbach Street, also known as Â�the little synagogue.Â�
The third point is the Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue. This area is home to kosher shops and Budapest's only mikveh (ritual bath).
This historic district, as a part of the city's rehabilitation strategy, started to to look towards youth culture and tourism in recent years: from 2002 some now very popular cafes, bars and summer music venues opened in buildings that were earlier considered for demolition: the Szimpla, the Gozsdu Mano Klub, or the Koleves (Stone Soup) to name a few.
Since then the area, especially Kazinczy Street is not only known for its rich history and cultural heritage, but for it's unique cultural present, with "ruin pubs," art and design shops, like the Kék Ló (Blue Horse)and Printa graphic design studio which incidentally also function as pubs/cafes.
In 2002 this historic neighborhood bordered by Kiraly and Csanyi Street, Klauzal Square, Kisdiofa and Dohany Street and Karoly Boulevard was named the old Jewish Quarter of Pest and was entered into the World Heritage Conservation Zone. For information, history, things to do and guided tours of the area visit http://www.jewish.hu
Saint Stephen's Basilica
The St. Stephen's Basilica is the second highest (96 meters tall) building in Budapest, and it is one of the most important Roman Catholic churches in Hungary. The Basilica was named in honour of St. Stephen, the founder of the Kingdom of Hungary. It was built after the Great Flood of Pest in 1838 because hundreds of people had taken refuge on the ground where it stands today, fleeing from the water. Construction began on the 14th August, 1851.
The designer was one of the most significant builders who played an important role in shaping the facade of the city, Jozsef Hild. Hild, the man behind the neo-Classical church, led the work until his death in 1867, and later, as it turned out, the quality of building materials and construction had been defective: on 22nd of January, 1868 the semi-finished dome collapsed because of an unforeseen storm, the unbalanced static pressure and the uneven subsidence of the foundation. After that, Miklos Ybl, another great architect of the era carried on the construction works, with some changes on the plans. He was working in style of Renaissance Revival, contrary to Hellenistic Greek style of Hild. After YblÂ�s death in 1891, building works was going on, regarding his instructions, plans, schemes. The consecration of the Basilica was held in 1905. (After YblÂ�s death, Jozsef Kauser led the decoration and interior works, the final design of the building can be connected to his name.)
This is what the press wrote about the grand opening ceremony of the Basilica: "Welcome, dear Basilica! There were a lot of people who greeted the largest church in Budapest with these words. We've waited for half a century for the latest masterpiece of monumental construction works in Lipótváros; eagerly waited!"
Among the main attractions are mosaics by Bertalan Szekely and Mor Than (at the main entrance hall), a great creation of Karoly Lotz (at the dome above the sanctuary), the high altar with baldachin, designed by Jozsef Kauser and a work of Alajos Strobl. The glass-painting works were created by Miksa Roth.
During the bombings of World War II, the walls, the towers and the roof was damaged in 1944-45. In 1983, it was decided to renovate the basilica completely, including all works of art, mosaics, pictures, sculptures and stained-glass windows as well. A panoramic view can be seen from the dome of the Basilica, and the treasury has been opened to the public, showing the BasilicaÂ�s art objects and relics as well. The complete reconstruction of the building was finished on 14th August, 2003.
One characteristic feature of the building is the text that can be read on the ledge, below the tympanum: Ego sum via, veritas et vita (Â�I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life') Â� Jesus.
The Spas of Budapest
Budapest is known as the city of spas, because of the abundance of thermal springs beneath the city. Even the Romans knew of these healing springs in the area that is now Budapest, and with the Turkish invasion bathing culture starter to blossom in the Hungarian capital.
Szechenyi Thermal Baths (for online ticket purchase: http://www.gotohungary.net
Gellért Spa (for online ticket purchase: http://www.gotohungary.net)
Rudas Spa http://www.budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu/
Kiraly Baths http://www.budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu/
While the capital, Budapest, has excellent public transportation http://www.bkk.hu with several different passes and Budapest Cards (24, 48 and 72 h: http://www.ticket.info.hu/en/budapest-card) available, transportation outside the city and more rural areas may be a bit more difficult, and train rides can be a bit long, for timetables all over the country go to www.elvira.hu.