Budapest was our beginning and end for this trip to Hungary, Slovakia and Poland. Collectively, we spent almost five days in the city so we've broken our pictures into the two logical parts of the city - Buda and Pest. Buda is the hilly side and thus the far older part of town. The Romans had a town in the vicinity, and at the time the Danube was the boundary of the Roman Empire, so people looking at it from this side of the river were most likely barbarians. Of course there were fewer cruise ships at the time.
The royal palace is the dominant landmark along Buda's riverfront. On the left half of this picture you can see buttresses and crenellated walls from fortresses which pre-dated the palace. Mostly people have just been building on top of whatever was here for as long as anyone can remember. If you wander around the grounds there are deep excavations dotting the hillside where series of foundations are visible. The Budapest museum inside the palace has an assortment of interesting artifacts that have been found under the hill including an impressive array of 13th century shoes.
The Mátyás fountain is photo-central in the palace region. It's a monument to the 15th century king Matthais Corvinus as well as assorted animals he may or may not have killed on hunting expeditions.
Speaking of statues, on the other side of the palace is one of a turul. Up until now we've had zero turul photos on our website so we felt we should definitely take this opportunity to include one. Who knows when one will run across another turul? A turul is a mythic falcon-type bird that supposedly impregnated the wife of a Magyar chief and well, you can research the rest on your own. This one stands guard over the Danube (scroll back up two pictures and look closely on the right side).
If you're in town for several days, it's likely you'll spend a decent amount of time up here. Besides the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the Szechenyi Library are inside. Amongst the assorted excavations, several are visitable and for some reason they've gone and tucked a wine museum / tasting room into the foundation as well.
Views back at Pest are quite impressive. The chain bridge leads directly into traffic chaos at the base of Buda's main hill. An overpriced funicular leads up the hill to the palace or there are a series of switchbacking paths that criss-cross this side of the hill.
Further downstream is the Erszebet (Elizabeth) bridge. On the right is the Gellert Hill which also has an impressive network of trails and giant statues (none of them are turul though). Hot springs seep out from under the mountain and the Romans noticed this as well so they built some baths here. Nowadays there are still several baths on and around the hill.
The old town of Buda is all cobblestone with a surprising amount of traffic considering you can only get in with a permit. There aren't many hotels up here. Most of them are either across the river in Pest or down below the hill. In fact, a large portion of the old town is simply residential.
The Matyas Church is the other major attraction in Old Buda but we failed to visit it. It was heavily scaffolded during our visit so we sat nearby in Fisherman's Bastion and ate strudel instead. This is the Holy Trinity column in the center of Buda.
Thanks to all those built up Marriott reward points, we stayed in the Budapest Marriott which is in rather an ugly building on the Pest side but has a truly spectacular view. This was the view from our room encompassing the palace, Matyas church and the chain bridge.