Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Budapest Buildings Art Galleries and Markets

Buildings and Architecture

There are too many nice buildings in Budapest to be able to records them all (and there are a few horrible ones). In general, the centre of the city has a Hapsburg feel about it which is not surprising, given its history. we particularly liked:

Art Nouveau Philanthia Florists













The Philanthia Florists Shop

Bank Facade Mural










This building, now a bank on the corner of a street near St Stephen’s Basilica because it has a lovely mosaic on the corner.

Mosaic on wall of Merkantil Bank Jozsef Attila Utca Budapest Hungary













It is called Gyógyítás (Healing). A guardian angel is spreading his arms over a mother and her child to heal them and was designed by the same painter - Karoly - who painted the ceiling in the Budapest Opera House. 

Buda Mathias Church

This famous church is on Castle Hill in Buda

Building Horrid

and this building, simply because although it is horrible, it represents architecture from the Soviet Period.

Hungarian National Gallery

Buda National Gallery






Quite prominent on Castle Hill is the Hungarian National Gallery. It was quite easy to spend longer here than we had intended because there were many paintings which we liked very much. Photography is not allowed but I managed to get a couple of pictures

Beni and Noemi Ferenczy 1908










Here Beni and Noemi Ferenczy, two sisters painted by their father Karoly Ferencsy in 1908. We found this intriguing because the pullover of the elder sister did not look of the period and it had a much more modern feel about it than its date allowed.

Women Playing Cello Bereny













This painting is entitled “Women Playing Chello” by Bereny was painted in 1928 and is in fact, his wife. There is a wordy explanation of the painting here. I just liked it as a painting !

Main altar of Kisszeben c1500










A particularly good gallery is that devoted to Altar Pieces, above is the Main Altar of Kisszeban dating from around 1500. There are some remarkably old and beautiful works in this gallery and it was almost empty when we visited - a nice place to sit and contemplate the art.

There is a very good view of Pest from the balcony of the museum. 

Chain Bridge










One gets to see how large the Danube actually is here and in the picture above, there is the Chain Bridge and on the far left, the Parliament.

Museum of Fine Arts

At the end of the Yellow Metro line is the Museum of Fine Arts.

Museum Fine Arts










This gallery overlooks an enormous square

Square of Heroes










For a small fee (half price to elderly European Union Citizens), the Gallery allows you to see an enormous number of painting, some rather poor quality and too many of a very good quality. Photography is forbidden but I was allowed to take a picture of "The Sam Family” painted by Cuyp

Aelbert Cuyp  Portrait of the Sam Family










which I chose for Sam.

The Central Market

Roof Central Market













Whilst the Central Market is on every tourist’s itinerary,

Central Market Inside










Central Market Bread










 it is also a source of food (mainly meat and vegetables  

Central Market Spices










for many of those who live in the city. Prices were relatively cheap and the food looked fresh. On the gallery floor, there were many food stalls on one side of the floor selling mass produced constantly kept hot rather unappetising looking food for tourists. There are better choices elsewhere. 

By the end of our three days, we were quite exhausted and it was a relief to be back at the airport,











as the sun set, awaiting our flight back to the UK. Budapest was a lovely place to visit for a few days.


Budapest St Stephen's Basilica; Statues and Fountains

St Stephen’s  Basilica

St Stephens Basilica

During out FreeWalk Tour we walked past St Stephen’s Basilica. The Budapest authorities had decided to hold their attempt to break the "Tallest Lego Tower in the World” record whilst we were there and hence a lot of the square in front was taken up with boxes of Lego and tents as well as many people wondering what was going on.

St Stephens 001

The inside of the Basilica is a monument to over-the-top Catholic architecture and decoration and certainly is impressive. This is the view from below the centre of the dome looking upwards

St Stephen










 and these are some of the paintings around the base of the dome. 

Relicary Rib Charles IV













Having just attended a NADFAS lecture on Relics and Reliquaries,  St Stephens’ had two. Above is a reliquary containing the Rib of Saint Scholastica given to Charles IV in 1377 (he was an avid collector of relics)

Relicary St Stephen s Arm













and above is a relic containing part of the arm of St Stephen. 

Relicary St Stephen s Arm 001










this is a photograph of an old photograph of the relic

Relicary St Stephen s Arm 002










It is fairly hard to see even when you have paid the 200HUF to have someone turn on the relic’s lights. 

Fountains and Statues

One of the things which struck us as we were walking around Budapest was the number of fountains and statues which were everywhere. 

Statue 002










Statue 001










We came across two bronzes which were very realistic and seemed to be placed there simply to give people pleasure.

Statue Szaras Gabor Pest













 Others were dramatic  - this one outside of the Science Institute

Statue Lizst













Liszt  (piad for by the Rotary Club of Budapest)

Statue copy













This rather phallic looking fountain is said to actually have a Turkish Turban on the top and symbols of the Hapsbery Monarchies around its middle. 

Statue Art Deco













We liked this statue (or perhaps a relief if you are a purist) because it is clearly dated 1926 and shows the style of that period. 

Statue 2













This statue is dedicated to Gabor Sztehlo who was a Lutheran Pastor who saved around 2000 children and adults during the rule of the Fascist Arrow Cross Party which was very similar in nature to the Nazi Party and in existence during most of WWII.














and two statues rather symbolic of soviet style art

Statue 1













 and here two statues on a corner











 a fountain statue in front of the Concert Hall 

Statue 3













and a fountains statue with a real statue ! 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Budapest Parliament, Opera and Manholes

Budapest Parliament

A must see for most people is the Parliament which we were told was the third largest in the world and when it was designed, it was modelled on the Houses of Parliament in London - certainly there is some similarity.

Parliament Outside

Guided tours are given (in various languages) and once you get through the very strict security, it is indeed ornate.

Parliament Ceiling










I am sure we were told how much gold leaf was used in its construction but this figure has been lost although I do

Parliament Carpet










remember there are 25kms or corridor carpets! 

Parliament Glass Detail







Some of the little details are very beautiful such as the window above.

Parliament Doorway













This is one of a pair of doors on opposite sides of a large corridor

Parliament Grand Staircase













which leads to the grand entrance staircase.

Parliament Debating Chamber










The debating chamber is ornate and originally had “ice powered air conditioning”. Nearby was a large room which was filled with ice and snow during winter. During summer, fresh air was pumped into the chamber through the ice filled room and thus was cool when it emerged through vents beneath the parliamentarians seats.

Parliament Cigar Holder










Outside of its doors are numbered cigar holders (in the old days, you could smoke anywhere in the building except in the debating chamber). Parliamentarians would place their cigar into a numbered slot before they went into the chamber and collect it when they came out.

The Parliament Building also houses the Hungarian Crown Jewels which were the only things we were not allowed to photograph. They are also constantly guarded by two soldiers with drawn swords

A night at the Opera

One of the reasons that we chose the particular date we did to visit Budapest was that Tosca was on at the Opera House. Going to the Opera in most Eastern European Countries is surprisingly cheap and we managed to book very good seats online in the main stalls for around €50 each.

Opera Station

Actually getting to the Opera House is very easy - one takes the yellow metro line which was the first metro line constructed in Budapest using the “cut and cover” method. In the late 1800’s they dug a trench down the middle of

340px Foldalatti Andrassy













one of the main roads in the city, put the metro tracks in the bottom of the trench and then covered it over - hence the stations are not very deep. When it opened in 1896, it was the first electrified metro system on mainland Europe (London opened an electrified route in 1890).

Opera Metro Sign

The station names are the original ones from that period. Such is its history and style, that the whole of this metro line is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Opera External



The Opera House still shows all of the granduer of its period 

Opera Carriageway Ceiing

Horse drawn carriages would pull up behind the arches in the photograph above to let their passengers dismount into the Opera House. No expense was spare in the decoration of the Opera House - above is the ceiling above the original carriage way.

Opera House Stage

Inside there is more gold leaf (5 kgs) than one could ever imagine

Opera House 2

and the boxes have better sight lines than La Scala in Milan.

Opera House Ceiling

The ceiling above the main auditorium is an astonishing work by Karoly Lotz and shows Olympus and the Greek Gods with an enormous chandelier in the middle. The opera was very good indeed and we were pleased we made the effort to go.

Jewish Quarter

Near to the Opera is the Jewish Quarter, or what remains of it. It and its people suffered tremendously during WWII

Jewish Quarter










and during other periods of unrest. Never-the-less, there are still some buildings of the period still remaining, including the Orthodox Synagogue which was severely damaged during the war.

Orthodox Synagogue Kazinczy Street










Inside it has been beautifully restored.

Orthodox Synogogue Inside










We were shown around by one of the Elders of the Synagogue who not only explained how it was used but also talked about the war and its effects upon the population.

Budapest is famous for its “Ruined Cafes” - these are cafes set up on pieces of waste ground, Near to the synagogue was one

Ruined Cafe Kazinczy Street










and the lunch we had there was one of the nicest of our stay here.



Any reader with more time than sense may have come across some pictures in an earlier blog entitled the "Manhole Covers of the Norwegian Coast". Such was the response to this unique record that I now present a follow-up entitled “Manhole Covers of Budapest”.

Manhole copy










Manhole 001










Manhole 002




















So much more elegant and stylish than those in England. Perhaps a manhole cover appreciation society should be formed.