Have patience with me … my posts may be erratic until mid-June. Central European University—where I currently attend grad school—has been keeping me very busy lately. In the vernacular, it’s kicking my butt. Five classes last semester and six this semester. Then I have my thesis research and writing this spring. But I promise, until then, I will drop in as often as I can, even if only to post a random picture or two.
This month, I hoped to capture some of the winter splendor of Budapest on my Canon G10, but unlike last year, it’s been a rather mild winter. We’ve had flurries, but nothing major. The snow seems to melt the moment it hits the ground. The weather has been so mild, in fact, that I’ve taken to long city strolls, 8-12 miles at a time. I walk along the Danube, over the bridges, around Margaret Island, up Gellert Hill, and down Andrassy utca. Last weekend, I hiked on the Buda side, up the hill to the Citadel, where I was thrilled to find a vendor selling hot mulled wine because although there was no snow, it was very cold up there with the winds blowing off the river. The other thing I discovered up there was yet ANOTHER museum. (We have over 100 of them here in Budapest). This particular museum is dedicated to WWII, a subject that holds great fascination for me, especially since my thesis project covers just that very topic.
If you’re anything like me, you find just about all of 20th-century history fascinating. It began with what appeared to be a Golden Age with the Art Nouveau movement, followed by WWI and WWII, then the Cold War, and ending on a positive note with the collapse of communism. What a century! And that’s what I love about Budapest. It’s an open-air museum that touches on all that history! A walk around the city is like a trip in time. It’s no huge stretch to imagine what the city looked like a century ago – its architecture hasn’t changed much since then, which is an amazing thing when one considers that all the bridges and many of city’s buildings were destroyed during the 102-day Siege of Budapest when the Russians and Americans collaborated to drive out the Nazis and carpet bombed the city 37 times. Even the famous Royal Palace (once the Habsburg’s summer castle) on the hill was heavily damaged during the war, but reconstructed in the 1950s according to the original architectural plans. Which reminds me: Did you know that the city is still finding old bombs buried in various parts of the city? Late last summer, a 50kg Soviet-made WWII bomb was found—of all places—near the building that now occupies the American Embassy. Old American and Soviet bombs are found every year here, typically by construction workers who are creating underground parking structures or making repairs to public utility infrastructure. So yeah, it’s a real blast living in Budapest. Seriously, it is, especially for history buffs. And it’s not limited to just the 20th century.
In Obuda, for instance,you can find ancient Roman ruins. On Castle Hill, we have the 13th-century Mattias Church, which acted as a mosque in the 16th and 17th centuries when Hungary was under Turkish occupation. Also on Castle Hill are the remains of a medieval synagogue, which is partially buried below ground. Which reminds me of something else … I should go to sleep now. Tomorrow I have to prepare for a presentation on medieval Jewish history, but not before I take a long morning stroll. I bid you a fond farewell for now, and I leave you with a few shots of historical finds on a recent walk. Until next time, stay warm!