I have so many pictures and the connection is so slow!
Today started off with a tour of the city by bus and on foot. Budapest is a remarkable mish-mash of 19th century buildings, parks, memorials, and Communist architecture (if you can call it that.) We board the bus and listen to our guide, Gyorgy, explain everything we are seeing. It is a lot to take in.
Our first stop is at Heroes Square, a statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders. It was built in 1896-1900 to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin and the foundation of the Hungarian state in 896. It is dedicated “To the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence.” We wander around the immense square taking pictures of it and ourselves. Unfortunately for the Hungarians, their heroes often gave their lives in a losing effort or on the wrong side (World War I.)
Back on the bus we continue our ride through Pest, the lower city. We pass through the Jewish quarter where almost a million Jews lived at the beginning of World War II. More than three quarters of the Jewish population were killed by the Nazis. About 100,000 live in Budapest now. We see the memorials of the Weeping Willow with each frond inscribed with the name of a victim near the synagogue and the memorial, Shoes, near the Danube. Sixty Jews being protected by the Swedish Embassy were taken at gun point ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. The iron shoes represent the shoes left behind on the bank.
We continue up to Buda, the hilly part of the city across the river. We visit the St. Matthias church and the Fisherman’s Bastion with views of the river and Pest.
Time for lunch!
Originally John and I were going to go on a tour of the Jewish quarter but it is not be given today because it is Saturday (Shabbos.) Then we were going to go to the St. Stephen’s Basilica but it closed at 1 PM. We decide instead to take the Opera House Tour. The Opera House is small but quite ornate and we are treated to a performance of selections from Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro.
We meet Peg and Ted at the lounge before dinner. They have taken the optional Equestrian Tour and are very pleased with their visit to a local horse farm.
Time for dinner!
After dinner we are treated to Budapest all lighted up as we start our departure for Bratislava. It has been a busy and wonderful day!