In November of 2017, I had the pleasure of traveling to the charming European city of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, for the EF Appreciation Weekend. Traveling to Hungary was my first time in central Europe, and after traveling there I couldn't believe I waited that long. The cities of Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River, combined in 1873 to become Hungary's capital. The city is fascinating since Hungary's history has been one of occupation with the Ottomans, Austrian Empire, Nazis and Soviets all controlling the city and country in just the past 500 years. The city is a step into the past and has a lot to offer on your trip there.
Pictured on the left is a bird's eye view of both the cities of Buda and Pest which are separated by the Danube River. Taken from the Buda side (it is hilly while Pest is flat) you can see the Parliament building across the river (more on this building in the pictures below). On the right is a picture of a St. Stephen's Basilica, the largest church in Hungary. This church is named after Stephen I, Hungary's first king. The church houses the mummified right hand of Stephen I, which is considered a Catholic relic. After it was dug up, archaeologist found the hand was without decay. Today it is known as the incorruptible right hand of Saint Stephen.
The Parliament building (exterior pictured left and interior pictured right) is the third largest parliament building in all of Europe, even though Hungary's population is just below 10 million, the 17th largest in Europe. Hungary is unique with 20% of the population living in just one city, Budapest. They pride themselves on their beautiful architecture and the Parliament building is one of their crowning achievements. It was finished in 1896, commemorating its 1000th year anniversary. This was finished the same year as its underground, the first one in Europe.
The Széchenyi Bath (pictured above) is one of 125 thermal springs located in Budapest. It is no wonder Budapest is referred to as the "City of Baths." The bath culture has been prominent from the days of the Ancient Romans, and today you can see the influences from their former Turkish occupiers. The Széchenyi Bath opened in the 19th century, housing over 21 baths including 2 large outdoor baths. It cost about 4000 Hungarian Forint ($20) for entrance (there are upgraded packages), and is a unique experience worth the cost.
I couldn't go this whole post without mentioning some of the delicious Hungarian food. From Goulash (soup) to Chicken Paprikash, Hungary has several authentic dishes to try. Pictured on the left is a dessert treat called a chimney stack. It is a fried bread cinnamon cylinder filled with vanilla creme, whipped cream, sprinkles and cookies. It is definitely hard to be on a diet in Hungary.
Budapest is a wonderful city filled with beautiful architecture, good food, and a complicated history. It is a definite must visit, and now I am looking at taking my students there on one of my next EF trips.