Area attractions

Budapest Parliament

Built between 1885 and 1904 the Parliament building soon became the symbol of the Hungarian capital. Not just because its sheer size – nearly 18000 square metres – but because of its detailed decoration, inside splendour and eclectic diversity.

It is the most expensive building ever built in Hungary. It has 691 rooms, 10 courtyards, 27 gates and 29 staircases. It also houses a public library with 500.000 volumes. The walls from outside are decorated by the statues of the most important historical figures of Hungary. The building is 268 metres long and 118 metres wide, it stretches along the Pest side of the Danube between the Chain Bridge and Margaret Bridge.

St Stephen Basilica

Saint Stephen's Basilica is the largest Roman Catholic church in Budapest, it has the second highest ecclesiastical status in Hungary.

The building was planned and built in 1851 by József Hild in classical style and continued by Miklós Ybl, who added a neo-renaissance taste to the original concepts. The inner layout and the completion of the building in 1905 is the work of József Krausz.  Famous Hungarian painters and sculptors decorated the inner side, using 50 different types of marble.

Heroes' square Budapest

The Heroes’ square is one of the most visited sights of the Hungarian capital, i is situated in front of the CityPark, at the end of the Andrássy Avenue, one of the most important streets of Budapest, a World Heritage site.

The millennial monument was built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin. The monument consists of two semi-circles on the top of which the symbols of War and Peace, Work and Wellfare, Knowledge and Glory can be seen.  The niches are decorated by the statues of kings, governors and famous characters of the Hungarian history. At the foot of each statue a small relief depicts the most important moment of the life of the personality.

Budapest State Opera

The Opera House was opened in 1884 among great splendour in the presence of King Franz Joseph. The building was planned and constructed by Miklós Ybl, who won the tender among other famous contemporary architects.

It was built in neo-renaissance style along the famous Andrássy Avenue. The facade is decorated with the statues of renowned composers and the Greek Godesses of art. The statues of Erkel and Liszt by Alajos Stróbl decorate the niches next to the main entrance. Ferenc Erkel was the first director of the Opera House and the founder of the Hungarian opera.

Castle District

After the Mongolian conquest in the 13th century, King Béla IV. ordered fortresses from stone to be built. The fortress of Buda was also founded at that time. The castle reached its golden age during the rule of the renaissance king, Matthias. He had it enlarged and transformed to a palace.

Later, during the Turkish occupation of Hungary, it was under Turkish rule for over 150 years. Not even the Habsburgs cared much about it, as the empire was ruled from Vienna. During the Second World War it was badly damaged. The Palace was founded around 1247, but the royal seat was in Visegrád until the 15th century. It went under major reconstructions several times. 

Fishermen's Bastion and Matthias Church

The building of the Matthias church (aka Church of Our Lady) was started in 1255 in Gothic style. The north tower still preserves some parts of the original church. Under the reign of King Matthias it was enlarged and renewed.

The king had both of his weddings here. His coat of arms with the black raven is still visible on the south tower. That’s why the commonly used name of the church is Matthias Church. During six centuries it used to be the coronation church. The first king crowned here in 1308 was Charles Robert and the last one Charles IV. of Habsburg in 1916. During the Turkish occupation it was converted to a mosque, and after the reconquest of Buda it was reconstructed in baroque style but it still preserves some of its oriental atmosphere. 

Gellért Hill and the Citadel

The Gellért hill received its name after St. Gellért who came to Hungary as a missionary bishop upon the invitation of King St. Stephen I. around 1000 a.d. 

His task was helping the Hungarians convert to Christianity. Some pagan leaders who did not want to convert captured St. Gellért and rolled him down from the hill in a barrel. The St. Gellért monument and its fountain representing his martyrdom can be found on the North-eastern slope of the hill facing the Elisabeth bridge. 

Váci street and Danube Promenade

The Váci utca is the heart of the downtown. It is an elegant shopping street with several restaurants, bank offices, cafés, souvenir- and bookshops. 

The majority of the buildings were constructed at the turn of the 20th century but there are minor details that add to the special atmosphere. There are small hidden passages, cast iron balconies, art nouveau style decoration and Zsolnay ceramic styles that make each building different and worth noting.  At the north end of the Vörösmarty square with the famous Gerbeaud café can be found.

City Park

Behind the monument of the Heroes' Square one of the largest green areas of Budapest can be found. It’s worth mentioning not just because of its hundred years old oak trees and relaxing pathways but some interesting buildings and important amusement places also hide there. 

In the Middle Ages there was a swamp in the area, which belonged to the Hungarian kings and was used as a hunting place. In the 18th century Queen Maria Theresa ordered the swamp to be canalised and trees to be planted. The territory witnessed a great development, when in 1896 it became the place of the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian conquest.

Margaret Island

Margaret Island is a huge island between the two bridges: Margaret Bridge and Árpád Bridge. Apart from some hotels it is not inhabited, serves as a recreational area for the people of Budapest. 

Originally it consisted of three separate islands that were artificially connected. It has a surface of 96 acres and a length of 2500 meters. It is a protected and traffic free area giving home to several rare plants and to the famous sycamore trees. Many architectural relics can be found here e.g. remnants of the Dominican cloister, where the Saint princess Margaret once lived. The island was actually named after her. 

Budapest Zoo

The Zoo is located in the City Park, close to Heroes' Square and can be reached by the yellow line of the underground. It was created in 1866, thus it is the second oldest zoo in Europe.

Some of the buildings still preserve the old atmosphere but of course the facilities were modernised to face the 21st century. When the zoo opened approximately 500 animals lived there, many of them were granted by well-to-do personalities and exotic animals only arrived later. For the 10th anniversary the lion house was completed and also ostrichs, bisons and the first African elephant were bought.

Millenáris Park

The Millenaris Park is a modern cultural complex with exhibition halls, theatre, galleries and a café surrounded by a well-maintained uniquely designed park. The park with its small pond and play-ground is very popular among families with small children. The former industry buildings were transformed to host scientific and cultural events. 

The House of Future is an exhibition area with 3000 sqm, the frequently changing topics embrace genetic research computer sciences. Pixel Gallery is an outstanding showroom for media arts.

Ice rink and boating lake

The largest open-air ice rink in Budapest is located in a beautiful setting, at Városliget (City Park) just behind Heroes’ Square and next to Vajdahunyad Castle.

From the end of October, the small lake is converted into an ice rink and becomes a popular scene among young people and families. Music and all other ingredients eg. mulled wine is provided to create a pleasant atmosphere.   Changing rooms, lockers and skate rental are at the visitor's disposal.

The boating lake: at springtime the ice rink disappears, the basin is filled with water and a calm lake becomes part of the scenery of the City Park. With the Vajdahunyad castle in the background it is one of the most picturesque views in Budapest.

Palace of Arts

The long awaited new cultural institution of Budapest and Hungary, the Palace of Arts, was opened in 2005. It houses three different institutions: 

The National Concert Hall is located in the heart of the new Palace of Arts and has the dimensions of a Gothic cathedral. The state-of-the-art audio visual system is suitable to achieve unique light effects, sound recordings and film projections. In spring 2006, the "queen" of the instruments, a new concert organ, took her place in the Béla Bartók Concert Hall.