Friday, December 26, 2014

Budapest, Hungary

For our final stop over fall break, we hit Budapest.

This leg of the trip was really special to me, as Hungary is the only country with which I really identify (other than the U.S.). My maternal grandfather and his family immigrated to the U.S. from Budapest in the 1920s, and I'm the first one of his descendants to return.

The largest synagogue in Europe, the Dohány Street Synagogue or Great Synagogue, is in Jewish quarter. Like me, my grandpa was Jewish, and I couldn't help but wonder if he had ever prayed there, though I'm sure he had at least been there. (He actually lived about 40 minutes outside of Budapest.) The synagogue complex also includes the Hungarian Jewish Museum, but I was a little disappointed by it. I was hoping to learn more about the history of Hungarian Jews, but rather it was a collection of religious artifacts. Still beautiful and educational, but not what I wanted.

The iconic views of Budapest include the Hungarian Parliament (top right), the Danube River (top left and bottom right) and the Chain Bridge (bottom two), so of course we had to visit both! We took a tour of Parliament, and let me tell you, it is beautiful inside. We even got to examine the crown jewels that belonged to St. Stephan, the first king of Hungary, when he began his reign in year 1000. The Holy Crown, Sword, Scepter, and Globus Cruciger are guarded 24/7, and no photos are allowed of them. What a sight.

Clockwise, from top left: Heroes' Square; Fisherman's Bastion; controversial WWII monument; Parliament
Probably the most meaningful thing that happened was when my Hungarian relatives--whom I didn't know existed--contacted me. My mom and I had no idea that there was any family left in Hungary, but alas, we have second and third cousins who live there. I went to one of her second cousin's homes for dinner, where I met lots of family members and received a family tree. She was almost in tears when we called her--she said the best gift I could have ever given her was meeting her Hungarian family.

Like Prague, I wasn't totally overwhelmed by Budapest, but I had a lovely time--and made some great family connections! Has anyone else been to Hungary?


  1. How fun that you were able to meet your relatives. I love traveling to places that my family is from. I once was able to go visit the house my great-grandmother grew up in, in this tiny town in Italy. Looks like your having lots of fun! Hope you had a good holiday!

  2. What a great city. Would love to visit it one day. And how wonderful that you ended up meeting your relatives.

    Alex - Funky Jungle


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