The weather was kind of cruddy (Thanks, Joel, for the bumbershoot. It came in quite handy.) but we trudged on anyway. It was our last day in Budapest, so we knew we wanted to see some things. We got in to the Great Synagogue and toured it with an English-speaking guide, despite having caused another English-speaking guide some consternation because we tried to join his tour and he wasn’t the one we should have been with. The Great Synagogue is quite beautiful, even if it does have some Christian elements (Kneelers? A Catholic-style pulpit?). Outside the main sanctuary, there's a lovely memorial garden to the Hungarian victims of the Holocaust and to those Righteous People who tried to help, including a very simple memorial for Raul Wallenberg.We went down the street to the Rombach Street Synagogue, now decrepit, defunct and no longer used. It was easy to see how beautiful and inspiring it must have been, and was a good counterpoint to the grandeur of the Great Synagogue.
Before we left the apartment, both of us had double-double checked our cameras so we knew we had plenty of memory and battery for our ultimate goal: St. Stephen’s Basilica. The building is really beautiful and the interior is adorned with all manner of churchly beauty. The real wonder in this church is who is the main figure on the altar. Tell me, when was the last time you saw any Christian church that didn’t have some representation of Jesus on the altar? Never, right? This altar has a figure of St. Stephen where Jesus usually is. How do we know it’s St. Stephen? A couple of clues helped: One, he wasn’t standing right in the middle where Jesus usually is, so it has to be someone else. Two, he’s wearing Medieval garb, not Jesus-clothes. Three, he is wearing a crown with a little bent cross on top. That’s pretty much the giveaway: his crown, purportedly, had a very hard life before it found a home in the Parliament building and the cross on top is slightly askew.
|The Hand of the King|
We did have some trinkets to buy, so off we went to the Covered Market. It dates to the Middle Ages, and really is a fun place to shop. It is HUGE! it makes the Pike Place Market look like a farm stand.
Magdi had said that the center stalls are more touristy and that the locals shop in the side aisles and that would be the only place she would go for paprika.
Since it was our last night in town, we decided to have dinner at a restaurant
around the corner, one recommended by Rick Steves. It was a cozy little Hungarian restaurant, complete with a harpist. It was a lovely evening, and the food was outstanding.
Budapest is a charming, wonderful place. The Budapesters (?) take a tremendous pride in their home and their culture and both of us really loved our short little glimpse into what life is like in the Hungarian capital.
|Raul Wallenberg memorial|
Tomorrow: The Danube Express