Today we visited the Jewish Quarter of Budapest with its synagogues and amazing street art. We also visited Szimpla Kert ruin pub and the Hungarian Parliament.
We had a great day exploring the Gellért Hill area of Budapest yesterday, so we were looking forward to see more of the city today. Plus it was the wife’s 32nd birthday. She doesn’t look a day over 32 either. Joke!
Street art of the Jewish Quarter of Budapest
It only took us about 15 minutes to walk to Budapest’s Jewish Quarter from our hotel. The weather was much milder than yesterday and it looked like there was an outside chance of some rain.
As we arrived in the Jewish Quarter we were immediately impressed with the street art painted on the old buildings. My wife’s favourite was a Rubik’s cube artwork. It turns out that the Rubik’s cube was invented in Hungary in 1974.
Being a huge football fan, my favourite artwork was a mural depicting Hungary’s 6-3 win over England at Wembley in 1953.
Being in the Jewish Quarter it didn’t take us long to find a synagogue. The first one we visited was the Orthodox Synagogue.
This synagogue was built in the early 20th century. It was rebuilt after World War II when it was largely destroyed.
Szimpla Kert, Budapest
Whilst walking around the Jewish Quarter we accidentally stumbled upon Szimpla Kert. This was Budapest’s first ever ruin pub. To recap from yesterday’s blog, ruin pubs are basically pop-up bars that open in abandoned areas.
Szimpla Kert is a huge pub with different bars and food options. The walls were decorated with all types of graffiti, art, curiosities and stickers. Hayley even sat in an old Trabi to get a picture.
We had to have a drink in this famous establishment. Although Hayley nearly wrecked the place by knocking over a bench within a few minutes of arriving.
It was recommended to us that we should try a shot of Unicum here. Basically this is a dark floral liquour. It may well be an acquired taste because I thought it was a disgusting cough mixture tasting rancid broth.
Great Synagogue, Budapest
Leaving the ruin pub behind us we made our way to the Great Synagogue of Budapest.
This synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 based on architecture from North Africa and Spain (notably the Alhambra).
It is the largest synagogue in the world aside from New York. It holds up to 3,000 worshipers and is so impressive to look at on the inside. It really is huge!
On entry into the synagogue I was presented with a kippah that was mandatory to wear.
We also visited the museum and memorial garden in the grounds.
Lunch at Bors Gastro Bar
It was then time for lunch, so we retraced our steps slightly to Bors Gaztro Bar. This little establishment is famous for its eccentric and tasty soups.
I went for a Hungarian sausage, paprika and mushroom soup while Hayley went for South Indian chicken soup with onion. Both were delicious!
Continuing to head north, we made our way to the Budapest Eye. This 65 metre high giant wheel opened in 2013.
We parted with roughly £10 each to take a ride. The views at the top were excellent, although the carriage was swinging back and forth a bit too much for my liking! Not that I’m afraid of heights.
After a quick beer we made our way to the Hungarian Parliament building. Entry is by arranged tour only, which I had booked in advance. Lucky too, as on our arrival every single tour had sold out.
Parliament is the biggest building in Hungary and stands at 96 metres high and 268 metres in length. It is also the third largest parliament building in the entire world.
After going through security we made our way into this famous building.
Ornamental Staircase, Hungarian Parliament
After walking up nearly 200 stairs we arrived at the ornamental staircase.
This grand entranceway has 96 steps and is decorated with frescoes and statues of Hungarian nobility.
The staircase leads down to the Lions Gate entrance to the building that we saw earlier.
Just behind the staircase is the Domed Hall complete with the Hungarian Crown Jewels. They were surrounded by statues of Hungarian Royalty and some guards armed with sharp looking swords.
Congress Hall, Hungarian Parliament
From the Domed Hall we took the entrance on the right which led us to the Congress Hall.
This is where the Hungarian Parliament sits when in session. Similar to the United Kingdom, the Hungarian Parliament once had a House of Lords and a House of Commons. This has since been abolished in favour of one parliamentary house.
Just outside the Congress Hall, there are brass cigar holders where politicians once left their cigars during parliamentary sessions. Sometimes the cigars would burn out while the debate raged-on inside the hall. In case you’re wondering, smoking has now been banned in the building.
Shoes on the Danube
One we left Parliament, we decided to walk along the Danube river. Along the way we arrived at the Shoes on the Danube Banks memorial.
This memorial was created to honour Jewish people killed by fascists in Budapest during World War II. The victims were ordered to take off their shoes, before being shot and falling into the Danube and carried away.
Evening meal at Puder Barzinhaz
For our evening meal to celebrate Hayley’s birthday, I spared no expense and treated her to a meal at Puder Barzinhaz, a modern fashion Hungarian restaurant next to our hotel.
I went for goose pate with caramel chutney for starters, then rose duck breast with mashed potato with gorgonzola and a black chocolate cherry jus for main. The birthday girl went for fried camembert with serrano ham, hash brown and fried apple, then duck thigh and pearl barley risotto for main. I think I’m understating things when I say it was simply divine.
With another day in Budapest over we retired back to our hotel.
We are off on a day trip to Szentendre tomorrow, a small town just north of Budapest.