Eight must-see buildings in Budapest!

Parliament

Taking 17 years to build and completed in 1902, this neo-Gothic structure was partly inspired by the UK’s Palace of Westminster.

British politician-turned-broadcaster Michael Portillo memorably described it as “one of the most beautiful legislatures in the world, a cathedral of democracy.”

The best views are from Kossuth Lajos Square (in front of the building), from the river (Parliament is right on the Pest embankment) or from the opposite Buda banks.

St. Stephen’s Basilica

Taking even longer — 50 years — than Parliament to complete, the biggest church in Budapest finally opened in 1906.

During construction the building’s dome collapsed and two of the three lead architects died.

St. Stephen’s Basilica contains the mummified hand — called the “Holy Right” — of Hungary’s founding king-saint, Stephen (István).

The dome is the same height as Parliament — current legislation forbids anything higher, so Budapest isn’t going to get its own version of London’s Shard any time soon.

The church is free to enter, though it costs 500 forints ($2.30) to climb up to the observation deck surrounding the 96-meter high dome (closed from November to the end of March).

Hungarian State Opera House

A lot of building rivalry has gone on in Budapest.

The Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph approved (and partially paid for) the construction of an opera house in the city on the condition it was no bigger than the one in Vienna.

Smaller it may have been but it was far more opulent — the emperor’s reported reaction on seeing it at the grand opening in 1884 was to mutter, “These Hungarians!”

You can visit the ornate building on a tour but, even better, see it while watching an opera or ballet performance.

The opera house is located on Andrássy út (itself a World Heritage Site), Budapest’s grand boulevard full of high-end shops and other magnificent buildings.

Dohány utca Synagogue

Also known as the Great Synagogue, this is one of the largest Jewish temples in the world.

Consecrated in 1859, the Moorish revival-style building is a center of Neolog Judaism, a moderate reformed branch of the religion.

The complex also includes a museum and, in the rear courtyard, a memorial to Jewish Holocaust victims in the form of a weeping willow with the names of the dead and disappeared inscribed on the leaves.

An estimated 565,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in World War II from a prewar population of more than 800,000.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Budapest is a city of bridges, but the Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi lánchíd) is the granddaddy of them all — in 1849 it became the first permanent span linking Buda and Pest.

Commissioned by a Hungarian count, after whom it is named, the 375-meter-long suspension bridge was designed by an English engineer and built under the supervision of a Scot.

As with all Budapest bridges, the original was blown up during the siege of the city in World War II — a broadly similar replacement opened to traffic in 1947.

The bridge is at its most spectacular at night, when fully illuminated.

Royal Palace

The Castle District, yet another World Heritage Site (why not just designate the whole town a World Heritage Site?), dominates the Buda skyline.

Although it actually lacks a castle, the Royal Palace, dominating the southern end, is magnificent.

A royal residence from the 1300s to the end of the Hungarian monarchy in the early 20th century, it was rebuilt time and again through numerous sieges and wars.

It now houses the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery and the National Széchenyi Library.

Like the Széchenyi Bridge, the palace looks particularly magical each evening, when floodlights are switched on.

Fisherman’s Bastion

So named because the fisherman’s guild was responsible for protecting this section of the medieval defenses, this isn’t a building so much as a glorified wall.

What you see today was built between 1895 and 1902 to replace the former castle wall and designed to harmonize with neighboring Matthias (Mátyás) Church.

The bastion’s seven turrets represent the seven Hungarian tribes.

They weren’t designed to keep people out, but to provide a vantage point — the panorama they offer over the river (both embankments are — you guessed it — also a World Heritage Site) is breathtaking.

National Theater

Proof that not every Budapest building worth seeing need be more than 100 years old, the National Theater opened on the Pest Embankment, next to the Palace of Arts, in 2002.

The eclectic modern design includes references to much of the city’s historic architecture but also incorporates a lot of glasswork.

The public park in which the theater sits has a sculptured entrance gate in the form of theater curtains, statues of popular Hungarian actors in their most famous roles scattered about and a maze — just in case you’re not tired of walking around.

Budapest is a great city, and we have an amazing trip to take you there, along with many other great cities with our Gay River Cruise – 2015 Gay Oktoberfest & Danube River Cruise! For all of the information on the exciting trip, go here.

This article originally appeared on CNN.

Gay European River Cruising

If you’ve never tried a gay cruise, here are five reasons it might be for you!

    • There’s no better place to make new friends. Seriously, next to college and summer camp (both of which you’ve probably outgrown), gay vacations offer the best opportunity to share new experiences with new people. Ask any gay cruise veteran the best part about their vacation, and they inevitably say, “Making new friends.” As adults, we don’t have many environments that are conducive for making new best friends. Cruising is one of them.
    • It’s a vacation from planning a vacation. Not that there aren’t options (particularly on the big gay cruises, there are dozens of dining and entertainment opportunities every moment of the day), but the freedom comes in choosing to do what you feel like, when you feel like it, and having it all available without much planning or thinking, and almost all of it without an additional charge.
    • Value. Most guests spend a few hundred dollars beyond the upfront price for drinks, shore excursions, spa treatments and other extras. And some spend thousands. But you can easily go the whole trip without spending an extra dime. Our Oktoberfest cruise includes all Wine and Spirits on board the ship!
    • Variety. If you have Gay-DD, European cruising was made for you. You’ll get to sample lots of different places and cultures. What could be more fabulous than drinking wine in Bordeaux one day, hitting the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao another, and then dancing the night away in Ibiza, all without ever repacking your suitcase?
    • Community. And the freedom to be yourself within it. Whether your freak flag flies toward silly, sexy or serious, there are few experiences as liberating, empowering and supportive as an all-gay environment.

 

GAY OKTOBERFEST IN MUNICH &
RHINE RIVER CRUISE

$1,999 per person – Lower Deck Cabins

Deposit $500 per person due upon booking. A second deposit of $500 per person is due by February 1, 2014. Final payment is due May 17, 2014.

$2,199 per person – Upper Decks

Deposit $500 per person due upon booking. A second deposit of $500 per person is due by February 1, 2014. Final payment is due May 17, 2014.
 
For more information:
http://www.alandchuck.travel/trip/?triID=14