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Destinations · Europe · hungary · Budapest · Essence ·

Essence

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Essence

The city is a cross between Prague, Paris and Vienna - and yet something completely different. One of Europe's most beautiful cities, Budapest boasts an impressive scope and potential: wide and airy boulevards; fantastic architecture and thermal pools. The bouquet of possibilities here is vibrant - there are 25 theatres, two symphony orchestras, the National Opera (its home a masterwork in the Neo-Renaissance style) 15 universities, 23 thermal springs that turn the metropolis into something of an urban spa, the second oldest metro in Europe (after London's Tube), approximately 500 antique shops, 16 historic pharmacies that have landmark status, the second largest synagogue in the world, a new concert hall, the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art with a superb collection of twentieth century works... the list could go on and on. The city has a turbulent history. The Romans were here, as were the Turks. It was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and it suffered under communist rule. The thing is, though, that unlike many cities that experienced similar turmoil, it was not severely damaged in the Second World War. This luck also meant that its graceful architecture not subject to a major invasion by Socialist architectural monstrosities. They still surprise the visitor with the majestic pomposity that belongs to the nineteenth century.

Budapest has another unusual feature - its name is in fact a bridge linking two separate world, hilly Buda and utterly flat Pest, separated by the Danube but joined by bridges. In the Middle Ages these were indeed separate cities. They became one only in 1873. In the fifteenth century, when Buda had its golden age, it was far more influential than Pest. Nowadays the roles are reversed. Buda attracts with its Royal Palace and thermal spas... but most of the nightlife and the cultural life is in Pest.

Wandering the narrow streets of Budapest, I often feel as if I am strolling through a brilliantly written, colourful and rather decadent book. Baroque, Neoclassical, Romantic, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Neo-Baroque and sometimes simply eclectic buildings are among the styles of many of the beautiful buildings that together form this distinct urban environment. Some have been restored, some remind one of wrinkled old faces that nevertheless bear traces of the expressions of their youth and exhibit flawless proportions. Budapest has endless fascinating streets, courtyards, and squares - some are dressed up, others tattered.


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