Budapest: A City of Architectural Wonder
Budapest: A City of Architectural Wonders
If there is any one thing that immediately strikes visitors upon their arrival to Budapest, it’s the incredible architectural diversity and beauty of the Hungarian capital.
From baroque and neoclassical public edifices through otherworldly art deco and art nouveau blockhouses, to Bauhaus and contemporary masterpieces, Budapest is truly a living architectural museum, one that brilliantly showcases all of the major building styles that have sprung up in Europe over the course of the past two centuries. It is thanks to these buildings that, despite all the city has suffered over the past hundred years, it remains a truly beautiful place to simply walk through, a treasure trove of visual splendor.
For this same reason, then, there are naturally a huge number of important architectural landmarks throughout the Hungarian capital; these buildings are incredibly impressive in and of themselves, but together they are very much what make the city so very special. While this list is naturally far from comprehensive, then, here are just a few of Budapest’s most eclectic and impressive architectural wonders.
“Paris” Department Store
Located on Andrássy Avenue, Budapest’s Champs Elysees, the “Paris” Department Store (Párizsi Nagy Áruház) is a stunning Art Nouveau edifice built in the early 1900s.
Over the course of its existence, the Department Store, one of the most prominent of Fin de siècle Budapest, has played many roles: it has variously been a casino, a shopping, and a bookstore, before recently reopening as the Andrássy Élményközpont (Enjoyment Center) and Future Park, a new space for interactive events and scientific exhibitions.
In addition, the 360 Bar on the building’s roof is a great spot to enjoy a drink while looking out onto one of the most beautiful views of Budapest.
As the millennial celebrations of 1896 approached in Hungary, the decision was made to construct a grand, eclectic Parliament in Budapest, inspired partly by the Palace of Westminster in the UK. The construction of the magnificent building, designed by Imre Steindl, began in 1885, and was fully completed in 1902.
Ornamented with white neo-gothic turrets and arches, it forms the most prominent landmark of the Pest side. Statues of Hungarian monarchs and military commanders decorate the outer walls, while the unique interior design includes huge halls, over 12.5 miles of corridors, a 96-meter high central dome, and 691 rooms. In addition, this edifice, which provides a home for the deliberations of Hungary’s National Assembly, is the third-largest Parliament building in the world.
If you are interested in viewing the interior of this grand edifice, tours are held daily in English, Hungarian, French, Hebrew, German, Russian, Italian, and Spanish.
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The Dohány Street Great Synagogue
The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, is the largest Jewish religious building in Europe. Completed in 1859, up to 3,000 people can be seated within this Neolog Synagogue built in a Moorish Revival style. In addition to being the largest in Europe, the Great Synagogue, whose layout and style very interestingly mirrors that of Catholic churches, is the second largest in the entire world.
In addition to the main building, the Great Synagogue’s grounds are also home to a number of very important monuments. These include the Heroes’ Temple, which is dedicated to the memory of the 10,000 Hungarian Jewish soldiers who died during World War I, as well as a Jewish cemetery which is the final resting place for over 2000 people killed in the Budapest Ghetto at the end of the Second World War.
And in the rear courtyard, one can find a memorial to victims of the Holocaust, which takes the form of a metallic weeping willow inscribed with the names of Holocaust victims.