I learned some interesting things about Hungary and Budapest on my tour through the city.
Like the Czech Republic, Hungary too had a king that was canonised as the first confessor king. St Stephen I of Hungary is recognized as the first king and the founder of Hungary. He, also like the Czech royal St. Wenceslas had a royal family member who was also canonised, his son, Saint Emeric of Hungary.
The Holy Crown of Hungary
An interesting tradition in Hungary exists wherein the Crown of St. Stephen I was regarded as a distinct legal person and was the true head of state, or the state itself, and that the king ruled in the name of the crown. The crown was a coronation crown and was used only for that purpose. It could only be touched by two people: the person who placed the crown on a pillow and the Archbishop of Esztergom, who allow possessed the right to crown the king. The object alone conferred legality (with the authority of the archiepiscopal coronation) on the kings of Hungary.
The Hungarian Parliament Building (Országház)
I think that buildings that house the seat of government are always intended to be beautiful, or at least impressive in an effort to convey the majesty of the state to citizens and visitors alike. Hungary proved to be no exception to this with its marvellous Országház (Hungarian for “house of the country”). The Hungarian Parliament Building sits majestically on the eastern bank of the Danube.
- architectural style: Gothic Revival
- one of Budapest’s tallest buildings
- largest building in Hungary
For a time, the Hungarian throne was inherited through agnatic seniority. This succession arrangement prefers the male siblings of the last monarch in order of age to his sons and the sons of this brothers by age. It is the form used in the Saudi Arabian line of succession today.
It was such an interesting feeling to wake up refreshed from a great night’s sleep miles away from where I had closed my eyes. The Hungarian sun peeked eagerly though the edges of my window shutters, bidding me to explore another of Europe’s most interesting cities. At one point, an Ottoman administrative centre and at another, a royal metropolis, the city plays host to a myriad of syntheses. Turkish and oriental designs amidst imposing baroque provide a vibrant architectural symphony almost as rich as the city’s historical ethnic diversity. Even its name and borders give testament to such prominent combinations. In 1873 the cities of Buda and Pest were united to form the present-day jurisdiction we know as Budapest. Situated on both sides of the Danube, the city has historically been a large centre of culture, trade, industry, and subsequently political influence. Here, we once again view the mark of the Hapsburgs, who reclaimed the territory from the Ottomans in 1686. Under their rule, the city witnessed a general increase in population and development.
As you would have read in an earlier post of mine, the Hapsburgs ruled the Austrian Empire. That is, until 1867, when the empire was internally reconstituted as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Hapsburgs ruled Hungary as King of Hungary, a crown distinct from their Austrian one. This led to the Hungarian capital achieving more autonomy in its affairs.
Hősök Tere (Heroes’ Square)
In Budapest’s Heroes’ Square stands an impressive construction I had only seen in glancing travel photos before. The Millennium Monument stands as a testament to “the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our [Hungary’s] national independence.” It features seven kings from medieval Hungary, the Renaissance King Matthias, and Janos Hunyadi, who fought the 15th-century invading Ottoman armies. The Archangel Gabriel stands atop the column centrepiece and holds the Holy Crown of Hungary in one hand and the other, the Hungarian Apostolic Cross (a Latin cross with an additional bar).
The 1956 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence Monument
This other interesting resident at the site is dedicated to the Hungarian revolution against Soviet oppression in 1956. Hundreds lost their lives in a failed attempt at declaring independence from the Communists when over 2,000 tanks and numerous divisions of the Russian army were sent to crush the insurrection. This monument is quite different from others I’ve seen and is built where the statue of Josef Stalin was once erected when the Communists bulldozed a catholic church that stood on the site. The rusted steel pillars are arranged to form the triangular blade of a knife. It is an abstract, ultramodern monument.