Friday, October 10, 2014

Old ..and Recent.. European History

Budapest was where I saw the most graphic connections to past conquerers of Hungary.

This was taken in the House of Terror (Terror Haza) on Andrassy Ut. It displays pictures of victims executed inside the building's dungeon.

The tank was part of Soviet response to the 1956 Revolution. 2,500 died during the failed attempt for freedom.

The country endured 50 years of "double occupation," by the Nazi and then the Communists.

The Soviets left in 1991 and freedom was reborn.

This building was restored and dedicated as a museum to make sure the past was remembered as a guard against future terrors.

No pictures were allowed inside, which is strange. You'd think they would want the whole world to see the horrors the country endured.

Under the Nazis in 1944-45, Jews were marched down to the bank of the Danube and told to strip, remove their shoes and face the water.

Then they were shot in the back and the impact dumped the bodies into the river and were carried away.

A grim memorial, "Shoes On  The Danube," was created in 2005, showing 60 pairs of rusted period shoes cast out of iron.

Different sizes and styles show that nobody was spared.

The day I stopped to view, flowers had been placed in many of the shoes.

Relatives? Residents? Survivors? I don't know.

Very moving though as visitors like myself angled their cameras to record the scene.

A grim reminder of a horrible time.

Not all of the scenes were this solemn in Buda and Pest. Yes, two cities, divided by the Danube.

Pest, cosmopolitan and sprawling, abounds with historic sites and sights.

Buda, reached by climbing many, many steps or a swift funicular, is high up on Castle Hill, with great vistas.

Up there, we toured the Matthias Church, overlooked Fisherman's Bastion and snapped pictures of the magnificent Turul bird statue. Was all done in a few hours.

Apparently arrived at the same time as several busloads of foreign visitors. Shoulder to shoulder in some places.

Finished and hopped on the correct bus and was whisked back down to the larger city in a few minutes of scenic travel.

Wanted to take a closer look at the Chain Bridge, the first built of many bridges crossing the Danube.

Very impressive with the stately lions guarding each side.

A steady stream of visitors gave some activity to the scene.

I had read a suggestion that if you tilt your camera just a bit higher, you still capture the scene while eliminating the people below.

Here they add an element I wanted but I did use that suggestion in many crowded churches, synagogues and palaces.

The Hungarian Opera House is on Andrassy Ut., a boulevard described as "The Champs-Elysees"of Budapest.

It also was across the street from the 4-room flat (apartment) we rented for our stay in the Capital. Handy.

The English-Tour was late in the day on a rainy afternoon.

The very large crowd was divided into 4-5 tours in other languages.

As we all started out, it was a Babel of voices and accents.

The Barouque  and Renaissance Revival architecture dated back to 1884 and was carefully restored and enhanced on its 100th anniversary.

 We saw a familiar face at Freedom Square, also known as Liberty Square.

President Ronald Reagan was standing tall in a 2011 bronze statue honoring him as the man who ended the Cold War.

He stands close to the U.S. Embassy, facing a WWII  Communist Memorial dedicated to the Red soldiers who died in 1945 liberating Budapest from the Germans.

Locals are not pleased with it being there but agreements were made to let it remain.

Nearby is another reminder of the city's past - a monument to the victims of German occupation. This also is contraversal and was completed earlier this year, late at night, with police guarding the site.
 On a much lighter note, shops seem to offer a full array of whatever one wants or needs.

Wonder if the inflatable doll I saw being carried by a young man in Bratislava came from here?

Oh, never mind, it appears to be simply a store that sells lingerie.

Move along, nothing to see here.

And, speaking of moving along, one does not need to trudge along on sore feet to see all the sights.

The ubiquitous Segway has shown up in all of the cities on my tour.

The down side, it appears, is you are not allowed to steer with one hand as you hold your camera and take pictures with the other.

And I didn't see any cup holders on the two-wheel transports.

That church in the background is Saint Stephen's (Istvan's) Basilica.

Fantastic views of the city from the observation deck at the top. Sorry, no Segways allowed up there. You have to use your feet.

Walking around on our own, or, in his case, with a narrated tour, we saw the Hungarian Parliament Building.  It houses the Crown Jewels so security was tight and no photos allowed.

The twin-towers of the Great Synagogue were impressive as was the "Tree of Life" in the garden. This is the second-largest synagogue in the world, accommodating 3,000 worshipers.

This was the courtyard of our flat at Andrassy Ut 29.

We are on the second floor, on the right, with lights on.

It came with a kitchen and a washing machine but no dryer.

Hmm. We soon noticed an overhead drying rack with clothespins in the hallway and lowered it to hang our now clean laundry.

A rope and pulley raised it back up toward the tall ceiling.

(Click on the photos for more details).

A Metro stop was just a few doors away.

Beats a Holiday Inn anytime!

Did I mention I cancelled my dieting for this trip?

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