|A Budapest Bird at Castle Hill|
The City Tour took us by air-conditioned coach (AKA bus) to the old part of the city. Did you know that Budapest was originally two cities named Buda and Pest? Now that they are joined by bridges it made sense to combine them and call the two together Budapest, but they still retain some of their former personalities. Buda is the older part and features the Castle District at the top of a hill overlooking the Danube River. We toured Matthias Church (AKA Church of Our Lady) with its colorful ceramic tile roof and impressive interior paint job. This church is known as Hungary's most often rebuilt church, and that is kind of a metaphor for Hungary itself. Over the centuries this country has been taken over repeatedly by nearby countries or tribes, and the Hungarians we met (including our funny guide Otto) made jokes about this history.
|The ceramic tile roof of Matthias Church. That black spire is called the Black Falcon.|
Back to Matthias Church: the first church here was built in 1015. There were fires, invading Turks, Gothic architects, Romanesque architects, and the last Hungarian King Charles IV and his wife Zita were crowned here in 1916. The most recent rebuild was after World War II because the Germans and Soviets used the church as a stable for their horses and a garage for their tanks. There's no evidence of that episode now.
|Interior shot of Matthias Church|
|Another Matthias Church interior|
|Part of the Fishermen's Bastion with the statue of King St. Stephen|
|View from the Fishermen's Bastion|
|The marble steps in front of the Fishermen's Bastion|
|Another part of the Fishermen's Bastion|
|Budapest's many-spired Parliament Building (from the bus)|
|Of course I went in there!|
|One of many interesting restaurants|
|I was impressed by Budapest's manhole covers.|
We walked over to Heroes Square (1896) which functions as a Hungarian history lesson in statues. The tall monument structure is the National Heroes Monument to the Unknown Soldier, and the other statues (between the columns) are important figures in Hungarian history over the centuries. Other statues represent Work, Welfare, War, Peace, Knowledge, and Glory.
|Half of Heroes Square|
|Close-up of horses in Heroes Square because horses are important to the Hungarians.|
In the afternoon (yes, all the above was from the morning City Tour), we took a bus ride out to Lazar Equestrian Park to see some Lipizzaner and Nonius horses run around a muddy track. This was a great show! The park is owned by two championship riders who are brothers, Vilmos and Zoltán Lázár. After the show, we got to walk through the Lipizzaner stables and the brothers' trophy room. The show was thrilling, watching the riders and horses perform stunts and just look fantastic. I doubt my photos will do it justice.
|He wasn't really using the whip on the horse--the whips make a cracking noise that the horses respond to.|
|Oxen move slow.|
|These five moved fast with that rider standing on the back two--one foot on each.|
After the horse experience, we were delivered back to our ship for dinner and then our farewell to Budapest from the rainy sundeck. Take a look at these last photos of Parliament all lit up for us!