World heritage sights are world heritage sights for a reason, and that of Budapest are no exception. They – namely the Hero’s Square, Andrássy Avenue, the Danube Embankment between the Liberty and Margaret Bridges, and the Castle District inscribed on the world heritage list since 1987 – commemorate important eras in the city’s history and remind us of its tragic events whilst showing off unique natural assets creating Budapest’s diverse cityscape. In short they are the pride and joys of the city. They also serve as great guidelines for tourists on what not to miss on a short visit, and below can be found just why they are must see’s on an weekend away in Budapest.
Hero’s Square and Andrássy Avenue
Pictures of the Hero’s Square are what one will most probably find decorating brochures, flyers or cover pages of tourist guides about Budapest. It is said to be the most beautiful square of the city, connected to the inner city by its longest boulevard at 2.5km, the grand Andrássy Avenue. Lined by ornate Eclectic architectural masterpieces that (regardless of being in dire need of renovation) carry old day charm and an aura of wealth, it will take any passerby back to the late 19th century when it was built and strode along by aristocracy. It, like the Hero’s Square, was planned to be completed for the Millennium Celebrations celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian Conquest of 1896. The term monumental is overused, but none the less the perfect word to describe this huge semi-circular ensemble lined by 14 great monarchs of the country, in the centre of which a nearly 100m high Corinthian colonnade stands. The view is simply breathtaking. Two architectural masterpieces, the proud classical building of the Museum of Fine Arts and the ornate Art Gallery enclose the square, with the large City Park spreading out across 1.2 sq. km behind it.
Along the River Danube between the Liberty and Margaret Bridges lie the grounds that provide the breathtaking panorama from the Castle District and Gellért Hill. Both banks of the river have been added to the UNESCO world heritage list, with no building to be built taller than 96 meters – the height of the Houses of Parliament and the St. Stephen’s Basilica – on account of preserving its characteristic cityscape Budapest is so proud of.
The Castle District occupies one of the two hills along the Buda embankment and is the oldest district of the inner city. It is named after the first castle built on the hill at the end of the 13th century. Regardless of having seen waves of destruction by former oppressors, with the castle being reduced to rubble first by the Turks, followed by the Habsburgs, the Nazis then the Soviets, reconstruction projects were successful in maintaining its medieval charm to this very day. That definitely deserves some sort of recognition, and coming under UNESCO protection is a worthy acknowledgement by any standard! The district today is divided into two parts; the royal (in which the Royal Palace can be found), and the civilian part with cafés, restaurants and lovely Gothic and Baroque residential houses lining romantic cobble stone alleys. Architectural masterpieces such as the Fishermen’s Bastion and the Matthias Church also decorate this lovely district.