Europe | Hungary | Visegrad – Visegrad
I’d been all around Budapest. It was time for a day-trip. Someone said the Danube Bend was nice. So the Danube bend it was. I made for Visegrád, the medieval seat of the Hungarian monarchy.
To get to Visegrád you take a bus from Arpád Híd. There was a queue as long as your leg, but standing wasn’t the end of the world. The journey took about an hour. I got to see suburban Budapest. It’s not that interesting.
Despite being on the lookout, I managed to miss my stop. I only copped on when I saw the ‘You are now leaving Visegrád’ sign. But it was a nice stroll back into town with the Danube for company.
Visegrád used to be a frontier post of the Roman empire. Later, after the Mongols rode into Budapest in the 13th century, the Hungarian monarchy upped sticks and moved here from Buda. They set up shop on a hilly crag overlooking the river and the surrounding countryside. In the 16th century the Turks came and wrecked the place. By 1930 few locals knew they were living on top of the ruins of the old royal palace. Someone remembered and the archaeologists were called in.
The restored palace has just opened to the public. Historians worked out exactly what it used to look like and rebuilt it. Bits of cloth and crockery are on display. But it is the building itself that is the star. There’s a lovely Gothic courtyard with a replica of the original Hercules fountain built for King Matthias around 1480.
After lunch came the climb up to the Citadel. It’s quite a trek up a twisting dirt path through a forest. But it’s worth it. I’m not really a views man, but the Danube bend looks spectacular from up there. They also have a kindof Renaissance Fayre vibe going on up there, with colouredy quartered costumes, a chivalrous horse and a kestrel. Inside are waxworks of medieval Hungarian life. The best bit was the dungeon with lifesize prisoners looking decidedly uncomfortable while being stretched on the rack, and a plump executioner about to lop off a head.
Back down at the river I noticed you could get a ferry back to Budapest. That sounded like a larf so I paid my 760 ft (c. 3 Euros)
and took my seat on deck. Unfortunately the banks of the Danube are not very varied. There loads of trees on both sides. It took two and a half hours. Luckily I’d brought a book. Then, rounding Margít Island and seeing Budapest made it all worthwhile. At least it was better than standing on the bus.