If you have 20 minutes and you would like to see the best of Budapest, get on tram Nr 2 at the Jászai Square, have a seat and enjoy the ride! The tram line covers the inner city along the Danube: amazing panorama, stunning architecture, best way to discover the center. You can get off the tram in the meantime, go for a walk, have a closer look, than get on again. Let me be your virtual tour guide, I'm showing you the most important sights on the way from Jászai Square to the Fővám Square, in the end I recommend a cool, local dining option. Join me for a ride!
The first stop is the visitor center of the Parliament. It's the second largest Parliament building in Europe, the functional center of the state, it's a beautiful example of Neo-Gothic architecture, but it's featuring Renaissance and Baroque characters as well. Interesting facts: All the details and decorations are made by Hungarian masters and Hungarian materials. 40 kilos of pure 24 carat gold was used for the interior decorations. The building suffered serious bomb attacks during WWII, there was a bomb that landed right in the middle of the Dome Hall, but thank God it did not explode.
As soon as the tram leaves the Parliament, you will be able to see the Danube and the stunning panorama, I would never be able to get bored with this view. On the right side the Matthias Church, the Fisherman's Bastion and the Royal Palace appears with its elegant, fairytale silhouette. The Castle Hill is definitely worth a few hours visit, just to share some interesting stories here about the district: Did you know that the Matthias Church was transformed into a mosque during the Turkish occupation in the 16th century? The coronation of Franz Joseph, Habsburg ruler was also taking place here. The Bastion's name is referring to the Middle Ages, when fishermen protected this part of the city. You can leave the tram at the Chain bridge, and visit the Castle Hill by taking the Funicular from the Buda side.
The Chain Bridge was the first permanent connection between Buda and Pest. István Széchenyi, the Greatest Hungarian came up with the idea of the bridge, according to the legends, his father died and he was not able to cross the Danube, so he missed the burial ceremony. One thing is sure, this initiation was a huge step in the city's development.
On the left side have a quick look at the Italian style, richly decorated building, which is the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Behind the trees next to the Academy, you might see the shape of the Gresham Palace, to me it's one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau style building with it's elegant, rich sculptural decoration. The building was originally owned by the Gresham Insurance Company and it served as office and residence for the staff, today it belongs to the top hotels in the city.
Now you're approaching the Vígadó on the left, it used to be the venue of nobility, the most unique place for balls and events in Budapest, it was originally built for this purpose, I would call it as the "Luxurious ballroom of Budapest". The eclectic appearance of the building is compensated by the Art Nouveau decoration inside, marble staircase, pillar, elegance everywhere, get a guided tour to know more about this special place.
Talking about the bridges, now you are at the Elisabeth Bridge, the only bridge that was not rebuilt after the WWII in its original style. It was named after Queen Elisabeth, also known as Sissi. Did you know that at the time of its construction, it was the only bridge in the world, that had such a big span without river piers?
Now you can admire the Inner City Parish Church of Our Lady, it's the oldest building in the center, it's known for the fact that it preserves some features of all the architectural styles. Just like the Matthias Church in the Castle District, this one was also transformed into a mosque during the Turkish era, you will notice the mihrab on the side wall.
The Citadel on the Buda side is one of my favorite places, you can have the best view from here, soon I'll dedicate a whole chapter for the beauties of the Citadel and secret stories on the witch legends...
Now we just reached the Liberty Bridge, you can hop off and walk around a bit. This is the shortest and the most romantic bridge in the city, having reached the Buda end, have a look at the Art Nouveau style Gellért Hotel, there used to be a thermal bath here during the Middle Ages. On the Pest side drop by the Central Market Hall for souvenirs, feel the atmosphere of the place! At the corner stands the university, where I graduated from, named Corvinus. The main building has a nice ornate facade, it used to be a Customhouse. The Fővám Square was a famous spot for trading, the original name was Salt Square.
Central Market Hall
Just a few minutes away you will notice the "Whale", very popular place full of restaurants, pubs and wine bars. Grab a coffee or have a lunch here, you will love the trendy, rustic atmosphere and the magnificent view.