You will find Part 1 of the Sour Cherries Tour of Budapest here Part 1: Sour Cherries Tour – Budapest.
Accompanying one of the Sour Cherries, I attended a service in St Stephen’s Basilica. It was the first time I had ever heard the mass being celebrated in a language other than Latin – which shows I had not attended mass since the early 1960’s. I understood, more or less, what was being said in Latin. I do not understand Hungarian at all, but I still picked up parts of the service because of the rituals. The music took me to paradise.
St Stephen’s Basilica is relatively new, having been completed in 1905. The Basilica is named after St Stephen, the first King of Hungary. The marble, statues, mosaics and paintings and beautiful stained glass windows make for a very decorative interior. The reliquary in the Holy Right Hand Chapel displays St Stephen’s right hand, which apparently gets taken out of the Basilica to form part of a procession on August 20 each year. The main Altar, under the very impressive dome, is dominated by a life sized marble statue of St Stephen, flanked by paintings depicting scenes from St Stephen’s life. Attending a service also meant viewing the interior sans crowds of tourists, who were all queued up awaiting the opening of the doors after the service.
I lit a candle in Jonathen’s memory. Maybe I didn’t pay enough or possibly the candle only stays alight for true believers.
On exiting St Stephen’s Cathedral, we discovered a Gluhwein stall right outside, enabling a restorative beverage to be had before embarking on further adventures.
The buildings in Buda and Pest are quite well preserved, and examples of many styles can be seen. The styles include Baroque, Art Noveau, Art Deco, Bahaus, the dreaded Soviet style and in Pest some Medieval. The exterior of the Hungarian Parliament is neo Gothic and the Dohany Street Synagogue has elements of neo Moorish, Hungarian folkloric and Jewish Styles. Strolling along Andrassey, the Sour Cherries felt that we could, with a bit of a stretch, imagine ourselves in a Boulevard in Paris.
(Photo credits for most of these images – Stephen Collins – Sour Cherry extraordinaire.)
Budapest seemed to have a huge number of statues in the city. As with most cities, I found very few statues of women. Are they written out of history, or were there so few women worthy of a statue. I favour the former – women have been written out of history over the centuries – writers, artists and scientists, to name a few. Generally the only women depicted anywhere are Empresses, Queens and the like. There are a number of statues of Queen Elizabeth, a Hapsburg Empress and Hungarian Queen. The liberation statue on Gellert Hill depicts a woman, holding a palm frond – the Lady on the Hill. There is a statue of a woman riding a horse drawn chariot representing Peace, in Heroes Square. Below her are 14 sculptures of men who made significant contributions to the history of Hungary – so no women made any such contributions!
There are rather a lot of male heroes, from the very large statue “Brother in Arms”, in Pest to Heroes Square and the Millenium monument in Buda, which symbolises the anniversary of the founding of Budapest in 896AD. Soviet era statues have gone to the statue graveyard, Momento Park, so at least one is spared from the sight of huge Stalins’.
Images of many more statues can be found here Part 1: Sour Cherries Tour – Budapest.
One of the special pleasures of travelling in Europe is “coming across” an exhibition of great art. I have come across a Carravagio exhibition in Rome – in one of the old villa’s, with hand painted signs pointing the way, for example. In Budapest the Wild Cherries came across an exhibition of El Greco paintings in the Museum of fine arts. I have always enjoyed El Greco, and love the El Greco elongated figures, so was very happy to see the El Greco sign on the museum while we were visiting Heroes Square.
Photo credits – Stephen Collins.
Budapest is not just a city of fabulous architecture and sculptures. There is a very definite fun side to the city. While Christmas did provide a seasonal boost, it did not account for a gin corner here, an upside down bathtub containing ceiling lights there, and a fat policeman statue of no particular artistic merit for example.
Five days in Budapest is not enough. This Wild Cherry could easily have spent another five days in the company of my fellow Wild Cherries, wandering along the banks of the Danube day and night, visiting many more museums and galleries with many more cocktail bars and restaurants to investigate.
Budapest turned on a most memorable sunset on our last evening in the city – a fitting farewell to the Wild Cherries from a beautiful city.
Farewell Budapest, farewell fellow Wild Cherries.