Europe | Hungary | Budapest – Buda
Buda is the part of Budapest on one side of the Danube. The part on the other side is called Pest. Collectively they have been called Budapest since 1873.
Guidebook Buda is centred around Buda Castle Hill. This is home to – surprise – Buda Castle, where the 13th century citizens took refuge from marauding Mongols. Since then the Turks, the Habsburgs, the Germans and the Russians have had their go at running things from up there. The area was always being battered and rebuilt. So it contains startlingly many architectural styles, often eclectically jumbled on top of one another.
The castle walls are well preserved and enclose the showy Matthias Church, many lions, the Gothic and Baroque Royal Palace, a statue of a flying nun and an army of American, Japanese and Western European tourists. Including, on Tuesday, me.
I did manage, with the help of Torok, to find a less theme-parky Buda. Fo Utca [in Budapest II, near Margit Hid] is a smashing little street. Within ten minutes I passed a yellow 18th century church, pointy 13th century Turkish Baths, a statue of a 19th century Polish general, and the shiny post-modern brand spanking new French Institute.
Also worth a visit in Buda is Gellert Hill. It’s a bit of a climb, but there’s quite a view. On the way up the hill is the St. Gellert monument. Gellert was a local bishop in the 11th century. Legend has it the heathen locals didn’t take too kindly to his sermonizing. They put him in a nail studded barrel and rolled him down the hill. He didn’t make it.
There’s quite a view from the Citadel at the top of the hill. You can see all the grim flat blocks stretching away on the other side of Castle Hill. And the Danube Plain spreading out in the mist behind Pest. It’s worth the climb.