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Danube panorama Budapest
Parliament in Budapest

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has listed the view of the Danube embankments and the Buda Castle District - which is one of the most beautiful and romantic parts of the city of Budapest - as a World Heritage site on the 11th of December, 1987. The latter is an ancient town district, giving home to some of the most important historical monuments in Hungary. While nearly 800 years passed since it has been originally founded, its beauty still stands unparalelled, despite earthquakes, fires, sieges and world wars. The buildings themselves in Budapest bear tell-tale signs of recent and ancient history.

 

Both the Pest and the Buda embankments of the Danube streching from the Liberty Bridge all the way up to the Margaret Bridge, the area encompassed by the Chain Bridge and some of the buildings belonging to the Technical University, the Gellért Bath, the Gellért Hill with the Statue of Liberty and the Citadel, the Castle of Buda, the Baroque churches and Turkish baths of the so-called Water Town - these are all parts of the World Heritage today.

 

On the Pest embankment of the Danube, the listed items are the Parliament building, Roosevelt Square, the Academy of Sciences and the Gresham Palace (which today gives home to the Four Seasons Hotel).

 

There is much, much more to the Castle District than just a royal palace or a castle. This is also where the historical old town district is situated, with countless venues from where the beautiful panorama of Budapest may be admired. The visitors get a distinct feeling that they have travelled back in time, to a different, totally tranquil world, where the doorways of the Baroque residential homes hide historical Roman stones and beautifully carved sediles from teh times of knights.

 

The former Royal Palace and its supply buildings are an organic but seperate part of the Castle District. Some of today's most important cultural institutions, such as the Budapest History Museum (Wing E, southern end of the building), as well as the Hungarian National Gallery (Wings A-B-C-D) and the Hungarian National Library, named after the founder Ferenc Széchenyi (Wing F) have moved to the Royal Palace. The formal residence of the Prime Minister, the Alexander Palace, is the President's Residence and home today.

 

The most visisted site is Trinity Square, dominated by one of Budapest's most characteristic building, the Mathias Church, which is over 700 years old. The church itself is almost of the same age as the Royal Palace, and gave home to many coronation ceremonies. Many kings and emperors left their mark on the church, even before the Turkish occupation, when the church was converted into a mosque an its walls whitewashed. Inside lie in their sarcophaguses King Béla the 3rd and his Queen; many visitors also visit the church for its vast ecclesiastical collection. Today's version of the church was finalized at the turn of the 19th century, when several smaller buildings were annexed to it and it was renovated in the Neo-Gothic style. It gives home to a great many concerts, due to its excellent acoustic properties. The Gothic tower of the Mathias Church, with the Fishermen's Bastion in the background, is one of the most frequently photographed tourist sites in Hungary.

 

Trinity Square also boasts the Baroque-style former Town Hall (today it's the Collegium Budapest builing, housing the Hungarian House of Wines among many things), the Neo-Gothic former Ministry of Finance, St. Stephen's statue and the Fishermen's Bastion. The latter was designed and built between 1895 and 1902, replacing the former castle wall, and it offers breathtaking views of Budapest.

 

Next to Trinity Square stands the Hotel Buda Hilton, the first post-war modern international luxury hotel in Budapest, combining old and new with some success. The courtyard of the hotel emcompasses the ruins of a 13-century Dominican cloister, and on the inside are the ruins of a church, giving home to summer theatre performances.

 

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