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Home » Adventures » Backpacking Europe » Hungary

One Summer in Europe: Hungary


View of Budapest over the Danube River, with Chain Bridge and Parliament in the background

I did another tourist highlight route around a city, this time Budapest, Hungary. Dohány Street Synagogue, the world’s second largest, was closed on Saturday. I had never been in a synagogue and wondered what they were like inside. I assume there are many physical similarities with churches, but wanted to see for myself. I quickly fled the Central Market Hall, which was just packet full of tacky tourist shops. I wandered up some hills on the Pest side of the River, seeing Liberty Statue and the Royal Palace on the way. There were spectacular views of the city from on high. I did not investigate the palace much, but from the outside it seemed like another large, ornate building that I have seen so many of in Europe, this one just for a different king and country. Budapest’s Parliament Building was an incredible architectural wonder, with many soaring, intricately decorated towers and arched columns surrounding the entire building. St. Stephen’s Basilica was another large church, with an elaborately decorated interior. Its layout at least differed from the large Gothic churches of western Europe. I visited the monuments at Heroes Square, although I never did learn what these people did to earn the title of hero. Vajdahunyad Castle was nearby, but was cheesy and artificial and I barely stopped going past.

House of Terror Museum

The House of Terror Museum was located in a building that formerly housed the Nazi party and then the KGB. It witnessed to some of the horrors that occurred under those regimes. The Nazis almost seemed decent compared to the Soviets. After the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust, hundred of thousands of people were forcibly deported east to work in Soviet gulags, most never to return. At home thousands of people were tortured and killed by Soviet authorities. People lived under a constant state of fear. I never realized how bad life was in some Eastern European countries then. I grew up after the Cold War, and never had a strong opinion on the fight against communism, assuming it was mostly a power struggle between countries, with any ideological differences mostly used to rally people. But this museum made me think the fight was justified, even if the West was far some perfect itself.

Budapest’s Parliament Building
The Royal Palace