Eight must-see buildings in Budapest!


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.

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This article originally appeared on CNN.

Top 20 Tourist Destinations in Prague

It’s entirely possible to experience the beauty, history and magic of Prague on a whim and without a plan. With every cobble-stoned step and around every corner of the Golden City, there is something to be discovered. However, just like all other capital cities around the world, there are also top attractions, famous sites, key points of interest — tourist destinations, if you will — that should have ample place in your itinerary. What are those top tourist destinations in Prague? Grab a map for marking as we’ve got 20 to share with you!

The view from Prague Castle

1. Prague Castle – Pražský hrad

Last year alone, an estimated 6 million people visited the Prague Castle grounds and encompassing attractions, including St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George Basilica, and the royal gardens. Peruse the grounds for free or purchase a ticket to enter the various other historical buildings and monuments. Be sure to check out the castle (and St. Vitus) lit up at night, props to the Rolling Stones.

2. Petřín Funicular and Rose Gardens – Lanová dráha na Petřín a Rosarium

Take the easy way up Petřín Hill via the historic railway from Lesser Town (Malá Strana). Once at the top, head to the Rose Gardens, meander Petřín park and/or climb to the top of the observation tower (Prague’s “Eiffel Tower”) for incredible views of the surrounding lands.

Traditional Czech food at the Old Town Square from one of the street food vendors


3. Old Town Square – Staroměstské náměstí

With rich history and a mix of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic architecture, stepping into Old Town Square feels like an enchanted fairytale. St. Nicholas Church, Astronomical Clock, Týn Church and Jan Hus’ statue, plus horse-drawn carriages, street performers and tourists aplenty adorn the historic square.

4. Golden Lane – Zlatá ulička

Part of the Prague Castle complex, Golden Lane is a quaint street lined with 11 historical little houses which, throughout the centuries, were home to castle guards, goldsmiths, alchemists and artists, including Franz Kafka.

5. Powder Tower – Prašná brána

Constructed in 1475, the Powder Tower is one of the original 13 city gates to separate the Old Town from the New Town. During the 17th century, it was used to store gunpowder, thereby earning its “new” name. Climb the 186 steps to enjoy views over Old Town.

6. Municipal House – Obecní dům

Next to the Powder Tower, find one of Prague’s most famous and beautiful concert halls decorated in Art Nouveau style. Take a guided tour and visit the grandiose café (Kavárna Obecní dům) overlooking the Republic Square.

7. Prague Main Train Station – Praha hlavní nádraží

While not a traditional or sought-out tourist destination of Prague, the main train station surely hosts a lot of tourists. If you happen to be one of them, take note of the Art Nouveau décor, the original dome and stained glass windows when passing through.

8. National Museum – Národní museum

While the museum extends several locations, the neo-Renaissance historical building at the top of Wenceslas Square is the most recognized. Natural history, science, art, culture and various other exhibitions are housed here.

9. National Theatre – Národní divadlo

Not to be confused with the museum, the theatre with its unmistakable golden rooftop is located on the bank of the Vltava River. One of the most beloved cultural institutions in the capital city, the theatre has a rich history of art, music and theatre performances which continue today.

The Dancing House

10. Dancing House – Tančící dům

The Dancing House’s design (featuring the dance duo, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair) was a source of controversy when it was built in 1996 as it was thought to clash with the Neo-Baroque, Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings typical to Prague. Now, the modern structure is well-regarded, filled with offices as well as a gourmet restaurant.

11. Havelská Market – Havelské Tržiště

Czech trinkets and tchotchkes galore, artwork, postcards, even fresh produce to go, Havelská Market is a convenient place near Old Town Square to find a quick Czech gift or souvenir.

The Charles Bridge is often crowded at summer, but the view from the riverside is always picturesque

12. Charles Bridge – Karlův most

Without a doubt, the Charles Bridge is within Prague’s “top 3 tourist attractions”. The 14th century wonder connects Old Town (Staré Město) with the Lesser Quarter (Malá Strana). By day, it’s bustling with artists, local vendors and tourists. At night or sunrise, enjoy more tranquility. Don’t miss the historical Gothic Old Town Bridge Tower (Staroměstská mostecká věž) on the Old Town side of the bridge (climb to the top as you wish).

13. Jewish Quarters – Josefov

Tucked near Old Town Square, formerly the Jewish ghetto, there is remarkable history preserved here. Visit the oldest existing synagogue in Europe, the Jewish Cemetery and Jewish City Hall, and observe monuments which survived Nazi occupation.

14. Clementinum National Library – Klementinum

Prague’s second largest complex (after the castle), the National Library houses an astronomical tower, Mirror Chapel, and Baroque Library Hall. A Jesuit college in 1556, the Charles University Library in 1622 and the National Library in 1781, many astronomers, scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, historians and musicians have gotten their smarts on here. Guided tours and daily concerts.

Wenceslas Square comes alive at night with many restaurants and street vendors

15. Wenceslas Square – Václavské náměstí

Wenceslas Square has been eyewitness to some of the Czech Republic’s most important historical events (including Prague Spring of 1968, the Velvet Revolution, and Václav Havel’s memorial). The historical boulevard in the heart of New Town is today lined with shops, restaurants and clubs.

16. Communist Museum – Muzeum komunismu

Original artifacts, statutes, a reconstructed classroom, interrogation room and historical videos offer a window into the communist era of Czechoslovakia. Ironically, the museum is located along one of Prague’s main shopping streets next to McDonald’s.

The Lennon Wall is often covered in people’s markings and graffiti

17. Lennon Wall – Lennonova zeď

A gritty and colorful haven of creative expression, the Lennon Wall’s origins date back to the 1970s when it was first known as the Wailing Wall, chalk-scribbled with poetry from Czech people. Following Lennon’s assassination in 1980, the wall’s chalk was replaced by colorful graffiti of Lennon’s lyrics and rallies for peace, love and freedom. Today, the wall’s messages and art continue to change daily.

18. Prague Zoo – Zoologická zahrada Praha

Perhaps more local than foreign tourists visit (with more than 1 million visitors annually), Prague Zoo is a favorite attraction set in the green Troja district of Prague. It’s possible to spend a full day at the zoo but the river cruise, Trója Chateau, vineyards and Botanical Gardens nearby are additional highlights.

The Zizkov Tower is most famous for the David Cerny sculptures crawling up the side

19. Žižkov Television Tower – Žižkovský vysílač

Soaring high above the Žižkov district of Prague, the TV tower has earned its fair share of criticism throughout its approximately 30-year history, mainly for its communist era roots and bizarre design. Speaking of bizarre design, David Černý’s crawling baby sculptures were added in 2000. The top of the tower has an observation deck and relaxation “pods”, a gourmet restaurant and luxury accommodation. And fortunately, unlike most other towers in Prague, this one has an elevator!

20. Vyšehrad

Still not overly touristy (but certainly getting there), it’s easy to spend at least a couple of hours here. Inside the stone-walled castle complex, there’s much to explore, including the Church of Saint Peter and Paul, the cemetery where many famous Czechs are laid to rest (Dvořák, Smetana and Mucha), green parks, 360 views of the area, restaurants, cafes and an outdoor beer garden and grill.

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This article was originally posted on Eating Prague Tours


HUffington Post’s 10 Dazzling Photos That Are Proof Prague Is Europe’s Prettiest City

There's No Place like Prague
(Photo: Getty Images)
Prague isn’t typically at the top of travelers’ bucket lists, but just because it isn’t Europe’s biggest metropolis doesn’t mean that this stunning city should be ignored. Seriously, the place is downright dazzling. Oh, and the beer is delicious (and historically cheaper than water).

With red-roofed buildings, expansive bridges and cobbled streets, Prague is a visual delight. Visitors can explore its rich history by touring museums, strolling through charming neighborhoods and visiting diverse art galleries. This is an ideal place to let go of the plugged-in worldand get in touch with one beautiful city.











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Previously Posted on The Huffington Post