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Budapest, the city to watch in the 21st CenturyStraddling both sides of the mighty Danube, Budapest, Hungary is currently reported to be one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe. It famously combines what were originally two separate cities, namely the green, hilly, castled side of the Danube known as “Buda” on the cities’ West, and the sprawling, flat shopping and suburban plain area known as “Pest” which runs along the East of the Danube.

According to Time Magazine it has already been recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. Some have even labeled it “Paris of the East”.

Fellow bloggers, Terri and James Vance over at “GALLIVANCE” recently noted that the well respected Condé Nast Traveler magazine had just referenced Budapest as Number 2 in its “Top 25 Cities of the World”, 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards.

You know, I have to admit it….I myself was in no way prepared for the absolute beauty that lay before us as we headed out to explore. I soon found that most areas of old Budapest (pop about 1.8 million) were literally lined with amazingly palatial, architectural, religious and historical gems.

Michelle taking in the beautiful Views from the "Buda" side of Budapest.

Michelle taking in the beautiful Views from the “Buda” side of Budapest.

Sure there were still areas of the city that were desperately in need of repair work after experiencing their darkest days under the Nazi regime and later as part of the communist bloc in the 20th century.

But everywhere we went we saw outstandingly intricate and amazingly ornate detail, even on buildings that were still badly in need of repair and renovation. Budapest is a city that was obviously originally built on the very grandest of scales, and….. I’m guessing, in a somewhat similar fashion to the ever enchanting Vienna which of course I happen to love dearly.

Story has it that one famous monarch, namely Queen Elizabeth (often better known as Queen Sissi) of Habsburg Royal Family fame, had in fact taken a quite a personal liking to Budapest. It is believed she chose to spend significant amounts of time in her beloved Hungary whenever she could. It is only personal speculation on my part, but perhaps some of this cities’ wonderful historical finery may actually stem from her private love and early nurture of the young cities growth. I’m not really sure but I could hazard a guess to say that this may well have been the case.

Anyway…finery there was aplenty.

We began our bus tour on the flat “Pest” side of the city, travelling along the beautiful tree-lined avenue known as the Andrássy út which I believe is thought to be very similar to the famous Parisian ChampsÉlysées. We journeyed on past the Budapest Opera House and up towards the grand Millennium Memorial in the Heroes’ Square which was completed at the beginning of the 20th century.

Heroes' Square Budapest, Hungary.

Heroes’ Square Budapest, Hungary.

Palace of Art in Heroes' Square in Budapest, Hungary.

Palace of Art in Heroes’ Square, Budapest, Hungary.

Later we journeyed through the old Jewish Quarter and then along past the famous Budapest Market Place before actually crossing the Danube to explore the “Buda” side of the city. From there we traveled on past the vernacular leading up to the Grand Budapest Castle sitting atop Castle Hill.

Buda Castle in Budapest.

Buda Castle in Budapest.

We were all rather eager to spend some time exploring the eclectic architectural mix of the area with its old historical Matthias Church (also sometimes known as the Church of Our Lady), The Fisherman’s Bastion, The St Stephen Monument and so much more.

Exterior of Matthias Church

Exterior of Matthias Church

Beautiful detailed interior of Beautiful detailed interior of the Matthias Church, Budapest.

Beautiful detailed interior of Beautiful detailed interior of the Matthias Church, Budapest.

More of the wonderful detail inside the Matthias Church in Budapest.

More of the wonderful detail inside the Matthias Church in Budapest.

Last photo showing the interior of Matthias Church, Budapest.

Last photo showing the interior of Matthias Church, Budapest.

We were totally mesmerized by the views from up on top. We could see such a long way…right up along the Danube and way out over the “Pest” plains to the East.

Holy Trinity Column, Fisherman's Bastion area in Budapest.

Holy Trinity Column, Fisherman’s Bastion area in Budapest.

And of course there were also the absolutely breathtaking views of the stately Hungarian Parliament Building that had been constructed in the late 19th century. From the Fisherman’s Bastion you can see it in all of its Neo-Gothic Majesty as it rises up from the Eastern Bank of the Danube. I’ve read that it houses some 691 rooms and over 20 kilometers of stairs….how amazing!

Oh what a wonderful Vista it was.

But wait. I’m told Budapest has actually one more claim to fame and that is as the “City of Beautiful Panoramas”…..and for very good reason I would suggest.

View from the Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest.

View from the Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest.

With so much to offer, I truly believe that Budapest will definitely be the city to watch in the 21st century. It will undoubtedly continue to gather momentum as it undergoes further refurbishment and repair. I believe it could well reclaim its former title as one of the world’s grandest cities. It is already becoming one of Europe’s most well loved.

Parliament House, Budapest.

Parliament House, Budapest.

Statue of St Gerard on Gellert Hill Budapest

Statue of St Gerard on Gellert Hill Budapest

Fruit cocktails and delicious pastries, Fisherman's Bastion area, Budapest.

Fruit cocktails and delicious pastries, Fisherman’s Bastion area, Budapest.

Spring Planting, Budapest, Hungary.

Spring Planting, Budapest, Hungary.

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