Monday, July 5, 1993

1993 Hungary: The Rest of Budapest (7/5/1993)

Monday, July 5, 1993
Awoke to a gray day and a cloudburst, but then it began to clear. We decided to try to see the things we had not yet seen from Brynne’s book about the dog in Budapest, a gift from Dot & Tom.
Brynne at another playground
First to swing in the playground, and then we passed Parliament to take the Metro that had the Danube display along the escalator.
Entrance to the Metro
Went one stop to Batthyány tér, and had to orient ourselves with the Felsővízivárosi Szent Anna-plébánia és templom/Parish Church of St Anna, whose twin Baroque towers we can see from the Ls’ apartment.
Felsővízivárosi Szent Anna-plébánia
és templom
/Parish Church of St Anna
Built in fine proportions in 1740-1762, designed by Kristóf Hamon and later Mátyás Nepauer. On the square we saw a building that could have been the former White Cross Inn, sunk below street level, with a ballroom in the center, Baroque ironwork on the left balcony, and Rococo on the right.
Former Fehér Kereszt fogadó/White Cross Inn
Joseph II stayed here, the king who was never crowned.
We walked north on Fő utca, past the imposing Military Tribunal, to Király Gyógyfürdő/Király Bath whose Turkish section was built in 1570, but has Classicist wings added 1717-1727. Owned by the Koenig-Király family.
Király Fürdő/Thermal Bath
Today the bath was open for men only. Next door was the St Florian Chapel, built by a baker in 1760. Due to much flooding, the street has been built up, and the buildings sit below street level. The chapel was lifted 140 cm/55 inches in 1938. It is now the parish church of the Greek Catholics in Budapest. We caught the #86 bus to follow the Danube south to Erzsébet híd/Elizabeth Bridge, a suspension bridge built in 1960-1964. We looked up at the Szent Gellért-szobor/St Gerard Monument above a waterfall, with a bronze statue of the saint in a colonnade designed by Gyula Jankovits in 1904.
Bishop Gellért Memorial or
Gerard of Csanád Monument
It is said this is the site where the Bishop of Csanád Gellért was martyred when Hungarian pagan rebels placed him in a barrel pierced with nails and rolled him off this hill in 1046. There are other versions of how he died.
Gellérthegy/Gellért Hill
We crossed Elizabeth Bridge, seeing the statue of Queen Elizabeth, the wife of Franz Josef and friend of the Hungarians; she was assassinated in 1898. A previous statue was blown up by communist resistance fighters, as it was right-wing politicians who aligned Hungary with the Nazis. The present bridge was designed by Hungarian Pál Sávoly in 1964 to replace a chain bridge blown up in 1945.
Russian Danube River boats seen from Elizabeth Bridge (PBB)
Gellért Hill and Erzsébet híd/Elizabeth Bridge
We walked past the Baroque Inner City Parish Church, pretty nondescript. Next to it were ruins of Contra-Aquincum, a tiny bit of remains of a Roman fortress.

Contra-Aquincum Roman remains
The Danube was the eastern border of the Roman Empire, so this fortress was only a 3C outpost. Passed a college building to the twin Klotild Palaces (1902, designed by Flóris Korb and Kálmán Giergl in Neo-Baroque style).
Ferences templom Franciscan Church
Continued to the Ferences-templom/Franciscan Church, built in 1743 in honor of St Peter of Alcantara who founded a branch of the Franciscan Order. His statue is in a middle niche. Above the gate is the crest of the order. The church is patterned on medieval Franciscan churches with a separate tower. There is a plaque that commemorates the flood of 1838.
We backtracked and turned right on Váci utca to do some shopping and exchange money. Found a nice Matryoshka (nesting) doll for Brynne. Asked at the American Express office for the Wendy’s because we had seen ads, but it was still under construction. So we had lunch at Dairy Queen; chicken sandwiches, fries, Cokes and ice cream that had nuts in it.
Vörösmarty Mihály szobra/Statue (1908)
Vörösmarty tér/Square with
Gerbeaud Kávéház/Café Gerbeaud
Back in Vörösmarty Square, we stopped in Gerbeaud’s Confectionary, here since 1870, with 19C décor and furnishings; quite elegant. They did not have ice cream, so we bought some at a cart in the square for 20 Forints/scoop.
Brynne enjoying an ice cream cone
Budapest manhole cover
Peeked in the Vigadó concert hall lobby. Made our way to Erzsébet tér/Elizabeth Square with a playground for Brynne.
Brynne at another playground
and the Danubius-kút/Danubius Fountain (1893, designed by Miklós Ybl and sculptures by Leó Feszler), topped by a male figure symbolizing the Danube River, held by three women, the tributaries of Tisza, Drava and Sava.
Danubius-kút/Danubius Fountain
The lower basin is carved out of a single rock weighing about 100 tons. This is a copy as the original was destroyed in WWII. Across the street is the impressive modern Kempinski Hotel.
Andrássy út/Street Metro entrance
From the NE corner of the square we took Andrássy út to the Magyar Állami Operaház/Hungarian State Opera, but it was too early for the 15:00 tour. We took the Metro to Vörösmarty utca and the Liszt Ferenc Múzeum/Franz Liszt Museum on the second floor (first floor here) at #35.
Liszt Ferenc Múzeum/Franz Liszt Museum
Franz Liszt was born in Budapest in 1811. Although he did not speak the language, he considered himself Hungarian. He re-settled here in 1875, and moved into this building in 1879. The copper plate outside announced that he was at home 15:00-16:00 Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Original furniture, portraits, rare musical instruments, three pianos, and a cast of his right hand. Liszt founded the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music in his home, and it has since moved and been renamed the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. We walked back towards the Opera, stopping in a shoe store to try on sandals, but did not find Brynne’s size. At Ferenc Liszt tér, we saw the statue of Franz Liszt (1986, designed by László Marton) erected on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death.
Statue of Franz Liszt
 Is there a relief of the bald sculptor on his lapel?
Kent obeys the sign by not
letting Brynne walk ...

Magyar Állami Operaház/Hungarian State Opera House
We returned to the State Opera House and mistakenly went in with an Italian tour group. Got straightened out, but the tickets for the tour were 250 Forints/adult; outrageous for Hungary! Our tour guide spoke English and Spanish. The Opera was very, very impressive, although small because Franz Joseph limited the budget to two million gold Forints. Designed by Miklós Ybl, construction took nine years from -1875-1884. Seats over 1200 people and was entirely decorated and painted by Hungarian artists, except that the chandelier and stage mechanics were from Vienna, Austria. Gustav Mahler was director for three seasons, and after WWII, Otto Klemperer was director. The chandelier weighs 3 tons, and the fresco around it was done by Károly Lotz, depicting Apollo at Mount Olympus with other gods. The stone cornice statues are of Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, then Rossini, Donizetti, Glinka, Wagner, Verdi, Gounod, Bizet, then Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Moniuszko, Smetana. The Muses are Terpsichore, Erato, Thalia and Melpomene. Statues of Franz Liszt and Ferenc Enkel flank the entrance. The Opera was renovated in 1980-1984. There is much faux marble, but occasional salmon-colored Sicilian marble. Lots of ornately carved Sicilian red oak, totally without knots. We were taken first up the grand staircase, then allowed into the boxes; very plush with a mirror in each. They used seven kilos of gold to gild the entire theater. Because of the devastating fire at the Ringtheater in Vienna, this building has an iron curtain as a fireguard. Saw the refreshment area, the smoking area, and went out on a balcony to look across the street at a lovely building that used to be apartments over shops, but now is the home of the Hungarian State Ballet and the National Opera Company.
Home of the State Opera and Ballet Companies
Next we saw the gallery and the lounge for the Royal Box into which we could peek. The Royal Staircase now is a museum of operatic scores, and marble busts. Went into a private room, all original with a fireplace. Downstairs in the theater we looked back up at the Royal Box in the center and all the surrounding boxes. The Royal Box is used for dignitaries, presidents, etc. The Royal Box is flanked by the Prince’s boxes, which have real marble columns. After the tour, we took the Metro back to Váci utca to finish shopping, then a tram to head home.
Metro ticket validation machine
Metro train
Since the first day we have not found a working validating machine for our transit tickets, and this was the one time we did not even bother looking for one! And sure enough, the transit inspectors boarded the bus. When one came for our tickets, he took quietly took them, put a little tear in them, and handed them back. Whew!
Back at the Ls’ apartment to have drinks, as we were hot and thirsty. Tom was home early at 18:00, and at 19:00 we left, taking the picnic we had prepared to drive up to Castle Hill. We went to a Baroque yellow building with stone reliefs and carved plaques of Hungarians.
Marine House
This was the Marine House, where the lucky US Marines who work at the embassy live. An unbelievable compound right in the Castle District. Tom insisted on paying our admission to the benefit concert, but we had to sign ourselves in. Went outside in the back to see a large lawn with old stone buildings on either side.
Rear of the Marine House
Down some steps to another level of lawn where the concert was to be held.
Down the steps behind the Marine House
The wall in the back went straight down to other backyards. There were views of Margit Island in the Danube and Parliament.
View of the Danube River from the Marine House
The concert featured the Aladár Pege Quartet, a jazz group, and Pege himself is a Hungarian gypsy who is one of the top bassists in the world!
Aladár Pege Quartet
Aladár Pege on bass
The concert lasted from 20:00-22:00. We brought liverwurst and ham sandwiches. Pretzels, peanuts, chips, and fruit. The Marines were selling beer, wine and soda. Kent had a Dreher, a Hungarian beer. We had forgotten Brynne’s juice boxes, so Kent ran out to a local shop to buy some.
Local horizontal juice box
It was pleasant jazz music, although I felt like the second half was a repeat of the first half! Not that anyone was paying attention. Americans were conversing throughout the concert and children were running wild. Started to see heat lightning and the intensity increased. Then there was lightning zinging from one cloud to another, backlighting the clouds. All of a sudden there was a downpour, and it being 21:50, we ran to the car to head home. An exciting end to our Hungary trip!
Next: London.

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