Budapest, Eastern Europeís gateway, evolved from 1873 unification of Buda and Pest, on opposite sides of the Danube. Known for medical thermal springs, Hungarian is its native tongue, yet restaurants often post entrance menus in English. Apart from goulash, Hungarian favorites include fish soup, chicken paprika, poerkoelt (stew), and the ever-popular goose liver, fried or grilled, followed by desserts from strudels and pancakes to somloi dumplings and gesztenyepuere (cooked, mashed chestnuts topped with whipped cream). Budapestís story starts on the Buda side when Celts settled Gellert Hill long before Christís birth.
The Houses of Parliament
After long discussion the construction of Parliament began in 1885 according to plans by Imre Steindl. Completed in 1904 it is one of Europeís most splendid Parliament buildings, reflecting its designerís taste and the nationís demands for representation. At the same time it is one of the landmarks of the capital. The neo-Gothic palace is 268 m long and its dome is 96 m high. The outer walls are decorated with statues of Hungarian monarchs and military commanders.
St. Stephen's Basilica
Construction of the largest church of the capital (seating 8,500 persons) was beset by vicissitudes. No sooner had the groundwork begun when the War of Independence broke out in 1848, then construction was resumed in 1851, followed by the successive deaths of the two architects, and even the dome collapsed during the works. The church with a Greek cross plan was finally consecrated in 1905.
This was the coronation church of Hungarian kings since King Matthias. The records of 1247 first mention this church as the main church of Buda Castle. The originally French building in early Gothic style has been consistently enlarged and rebuilt over the centuries. In 1526, when the Turks conquered Buda, the church was transformed into a mosque. After the reconquest of the city (1686) the church belonged to the Franciscans and later to the Jesuits. Between the years 1874 and 1896, Frigyes Schulek completely reconstructed the Church of Our Lady in the neo-Gothic style.
Millennium Monument - Heroes' Square
Budapest's grandest square stands at the top of Andrassy Avenue, with City Park right behind. Marking the end of stylish Andrassy Avenue, this monumental edifice is a majestic memorial to the thousand-year history of Hungarians in Europe. Each part of the monument represents an important moment in Hungarian history. The solemnity and pomp of the ensemble is further heightened by the two old museums on either side: the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art.
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