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Day 4: Budapest

We'd actually intended to explore more of the Pest side of the river yesterday evening, but our unexpected discovery of the park and Vajdahunyad castle meant that we'd run out of time.  We therefore started our explorations of the city this morning by trying to follow the Pest walking tour in our guidebook.  The walk started near Kálvin tér (Calvin Square), where there is a large Protestant church.


From there we made our way to the Great Market Hall, which is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest.


It's certainly a huge building, and it has a very pretty roof :)


The market hall is near one of the bridges over the Danube.


From here we were able to get our first views across to the other side of the river.


In front of us was Gellért Hill, which has a large statue on the top. This was originally erected in 1948 with an inscription to commemorate the liberation of Hungary by the Soviets. After 1989, the inscription was changed to commemorate those who sacrificed their lines for Hungarian independence.


The guidebook walk then took us away from the riverside and back inwards into the town.


We eventually decided to stop following the route, when we caught sight of some interesting buildings which weren't part of it.


This building with the colourful domed roof turned out to be part of the university library.


We turned back towards the river, passing the impressive Vigado Concert Hall.


Just around the corner from here was the Chain Bridge across the Danube, which I remembered from our previous visit in Budapest.


The bridge was built in 1849, and at the time was one of the largest bridges in the world.  It's guarded on either side by rather impressive lions.


As soon as we started walking across the bridge, we began to get some amazing views across to the Buda side of the river. To the left we could see Buda Castle...


...and to the right we could see Matthias church.


Once we had crossed the bridge, we were accosted by various people wanting to sell us tickets (for €7) to take a bus up the castle hill and claiming that this was the same price (return) as the official funicular. There was a huge queue for the funicular so we didn't get as far as figuring out whether it really was that expensive. Instead, we decided that the hill didn't actually look that big - at least, not so big that it was worth €7 to be driven to the top - and so we set off to find some steps instead. Within 5 minutes we were halfway up and able to look back down on the bridge :)


We were getting closer to the castle...


...and we also got our first glimpses of the beautiful Hungarian parliament building.


Soon we were at the top :)


From here we could not only see the bridge, but also St Stephen's Basilica which we had seen briefly from the other side  yesterday evening.


Buda castle is the historical home of the Hungarian kings. There has been a castle on this site since the thirteenth century, though most of the buildings here today date from the eighteenth.


Today the castle is home to the Hungarian National Gallery.


We walked around in front of the castle for a while to enjoy the views.


We could see a huge stretch of the other side of the river from up here, and it was really beautiful :)


The view in the other direction was pretty too.


We wandered around the hill-top until we came to Matthias Church.


The church was originally built in the fourteenth century, then extensively restored in the nineteenth.  The coronation of several Habsburg kings took place here.


The roof of the church in particular is really stunning.


In front of the church is the strangely-named Fisherman's Bastion.


This is a terrace, which was constructed between 1895 and 1902.


There are seven towers in the terrace, which represent the seven Magyar tribes who originally settled in the region.


It isn't immediately clear what any of this has to do with fishermen xD Apparently, the castle wall on this side used to be protected by the fishermen's guild, and that's where the name comes from.


It's very picturesque anyway :)


At the end of Fisherman's Bastion there is a wall where you can get a great view of the Hungarian parliament building.


Although some of us went to more extreme lengths than others to get a good photo :D

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We had a final look at the beautiful church...


...and then began walking down the hill, through the old town of Buda.


It was a pretty place, with lots of colourful buildings.


We found another enormous church with a patterned roof too.


Once we were down at river level, we got the absolute best view of the parliament building :)


We strolled back along the river bank, until we got back to the traffic island by the chain bridge that we had photographed earlier from above.


As we crossed the bridge back to Pest, we had a clear view back up to where we'd been :)


There is so much to see in Budapest that we could have kept walking all day, but we'd covered 11 miles in total, so decided we'd better call it a day soon.  The main thing I still really wanted to see was St Stephen's Basilica.


It didn't disappoint :)


All that remained was for us to find somewhere to get some food; we were in the timeframe when it's too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but luckily the restaurants in Budapest don't seem too fussed about sticking to schedules and we soon found a nice Italian restaurant where we enjoyed some paprika-free pizza. It was a nice end to what has been a really fun day in Budapest :)

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