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Budapest, beauty and history on the banks of the Danube in Hungary


a href=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/parliament11.jpg”img class=”size-medium wp-image-66″ title=”Hungarian Parliament. Budapest” src=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/parliament11-300×215.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”215″ //a The Hungarian parliament building nestling on the majestic Danube river

BUDAPEST is a city where travel and history collide to produce a feast of sights and sensations for the visitor.

Sitting on the majestic Danube, It is quite simply one of the most stunning cities in Europe and what a pity there is no direct connection between Newcastle Airport and the capital of Hungary – although easyJet did try.

If you want to bring European history alive to young schoolchildren, take them to Budapest and take them on a walk around Buda on the west bank of the Danube.

Show them  the imposing 700-year-old Royal Palace and the gleaming white cloisters of the Fisherman’s Bastion. This area bristles with baroque, neoclassical, eclectic and Art Nouveau architecture much of it built around the turn of the century in the golden age of the city when Budapest, together with Vienna, formed the fulcrum of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

A main sightseeing stop should be Castle Hill, reached by funicular cable car, for the grand view of a city which bursts the banks of its majestic river with a kaleidoscope of historic buildings.

From here you can see how the city below, straddling the gently curving Danube, earned its nickname as the Paris of Eastern Europe.

It’s easy to fall in love with the river and another view of it can be found from the Spoon boat, a top restaurant on the river itself, along wth reasonable prices.

Buda is hilly and a naturally defensive site for the caste and the Royal Palace which crown it.

You can stay in a city hotel and walk to most of these historic sites as well as enjoying a stroll along the banks of the Danube.

The city’s other main area Pest, on the other side of the river, is flat and proved ideal as an administrative centre and the home of the Hungarian parliament building.

The two opposites were once separate towns but were merged in 1873 to form a new national capital. They were linked by seven bridges – all rebuilt after the retreating Nazis blew them up in 1944. Then came the Hungarian uprising in 1956. Bullet holes still abound in the buildings of the city due to its turbulent history.

Public transport is good but the city remains an excellent one to see on foot with the Royal Palace, the Hungarian parliament and Heroes’ Square top attractions.

Vorosmarty Square is famous for its traditional Christmas Fair for the weeks of advent with more than 100 wooden stalls offering handicrafts, paintings and ceramics, and also a stage for musicians and dancers.

The city is also famous for its geothermal springs with a trip to one of its many bath houses a must. The Szechenyi Baths is one of the most popular.And Budapest City Park, home to zoological and botanical gardens, a transport and an aviation museum,  also boasts the largest outdoor skating rink in central Europe.

Budget flights to Budapest from Edinburgh, Leeds/Bradford and Manchester.