On the first days of 2017 the streets of Budapest seem a little empty. Just some tourists roam the Jewish District. Hungaria’s capital and also biggest city with more than 1.7 million inhabitants has a lot to offer. The city is rich of culture, architecture and also a little nostalgia of the fallen Soviet-Union can be found. As 24mmjournalism was only in Budapest for a few days this little introduction to the city in pictures, does not claim to be a perfect travel guide but to leave some impressions of great places to visit when in Budapest.
Jewish Quarter and Great Synagogue
The very rich jewish history of Budapest heavily influence the old town of the city. Also of the very dark times of the german occupation and the transformation of todays ‘District VII’ into the ghetto of Budapest left their marks. The district is studded with Holocaust Memorials. Furthermore to be found: Europe’s biggest synagogue (Hungarian: Nagy Zsinagóga) in Dohány utca. This place is truely worth a visit for every traveller. Located close to the subway station of Astoria one can enter for a very appropriate fee – during times where there is no prayer (opening hours can be found on the website of the synagogue). There is free tours through the grounds in different languages. On the side of the temple is a mass grave of people who died in the ghetto during the nazi occupation. Behind one can walk a memorial park that includes a metal weeping willow with names of victims of the Shoah. Also a museum can be found on the grounds – close to where Theodor Herzl was born, founder of modern day Zionism – with plenty exhibits on jewish history in all over Europe.
Impressions from around the city
Staying in an appartement close to the city-center leads to the advantage of being able to walk the city. The atmosphere of architecture and people can not be described in a few words. As a friend said an “Old Europe” style can be noticed. Similar to Vienna many coffee houses can be seen, but also the influence of the Osman reign can be felt. Budapest is known for its fabulous Turkish baths. Unfortunately due to a bad cold we were not able to visit one.
Great Market Hall
A very vivid, colorful and not only touristic place is the Great Market Hall. On the ground floor one can buy any ingredient imaginable. On the first floor a mixture of bits and pieces selling shops and booths with various kinds of food can be found.
One of the most impressing and also bizarre places to visit is Memento Park. The park is located way off the city center. From Kelenföld station one can hop onto an old city bus that drives through the outskirts of Budapest. The ride takes about 15 minutes from Kelenföld eventhouzgh Memento Park is the second stop. Arriving one finds themself in the middle of nowhere. At the entrance of the park old soviet-style music is playing. Various sculptures reminding of the status of a so-called satellite state of the Soviet-Union are collected. Bela Kun, Lenin, Karl Marx, Engels and other memorial statues overwatch the visitor.
Ruin Pub Szimpla Kert
The quite touristic Szimpla Kert – also located in the Jewish District is one of Budapest’s most famous so-called ruin pubs. The tremendous old house that is cut open in parts is filled with little bars, a stage with a live-band, hookah lounges, an art cinema, a souvenir- and a bike shop. Even though obviously being a touristic place Szimpla is very worth a visit. But do not bring your own drinks at night – bags are checked.
All in all I can only recommend to every traveller to stop by Budapest. If for a few days or a longer time one can enjoy themselves very well and walk around the city. The only thing not so easy to find is real alternative sub-culture. With a little more time than a few days I am shure though that there might be some things to discover.