Hungarian Artists and the Danube

Aurel Bernath Fisher boats on the Danube (rumnaplo.blog)
Aurel Bernath Fisher boats on the Danube (rumnaplo.blog)

The Danube has always been inspirational for various artists along Europe. There are countless paintings, drawings, poems, and even songs about the River Danube.

Danube in Music

Just think about the Blue Danube Waltz from Johann Strauss, it is probably the most known waltz worldwide. Among other brilliant composers’ work, Strauss can also be enjoyed on the regular Budapest Gala Concerts.

Some of the most known Hungarian folk songs are “Szeles a Duna”  (The Danube is wide).

Paintings of the Danube

Dozens of Hungarian painters were inspired by the Danube and its surroundings, especially Istvan Szonyi who painted some well-known masterpieces in the “posztnagybanyai” style which was the Hungarian postimpressionism.

Grey Danube by Szonyi Istvan, 1935 (artmagazin.hu)
Grey Danube by Szonyi Istvan, 1935 (artmagazin.hu)

Janos Vaszary painted unique and colorful pictures of the Danube Promenade and the lively Budapest. His main influences were French and he became a popular painter in his era. Today’s artists are still inspired by the Danube and Budapest, we can find several paintings and photographs for sale about the picturesque sights of the Hungarian capital. They could make nice souvenirs.

The Hungarian National Gallery in the Buda Castle offers a great selection of fine arts from the best Hungarian artists.

Danube in Contemporary Arts

Tamas Kanya Driftwood Art by travelzona
Tamas Kanya Driftwood Art by travelzona

The Danube surroundings are still popular places for artists like Tamas Kanya who makes his creations from Romai Part to Szentendre. He creates statues and stone arts from items found on the riverside, driftwood, stones, sand, leaves, etc.

Have a walk on a sunny day by the river, and with some luck, you can meet him or his creations.

Enjoy the wonderful riverside attractions of the city from a Budapest River Cruise.

 

Budapest Danube Spectacles from Tram 2

Budapest tram lines are epic, do not miss the spectacular views from a yellow tram if you visit Budapest. Trams are inexpensive ways to get around the city and they offer fast and reliable transportation. With the Budapest Card, public transport is free (trams, buses, underground). It is a clever way to get around in Budapest and enjoy free entries and discounts on the tourist’s attractions.

Great Market Hall Budapest Riverside Attractions
Great Market Hall Budapest

Tram 2 is one of the ten most beautiful tram lines in the world, which runs along the river Danube on the Pest, to the centre of Budapest. We can see the castle hill and Buda Castle on the opposite side throughout the whole ride. The tram starts at Kozvagohid and runs on its beautiful way along Budapest. From here we can reach the Palace of Arts, which offers a lot of great Concerts in Budapest, and the Hungarian National Theater.

The line also touches the Pest side of the Elisabeth Bridge. From here, we can easily reach some of the Budapest River Cruises.

Tram 2 also stops at Fovam Square where you can admire the Corvinus University and the Great Market Hall and have lovely Hungarian goods and meals. Fancy for a food tasting market tour? Why not book a Guided Market Hall Tour? Balna Budapest is also in walking distance, the unique whale shaped building offers various programs. Tram 2 is usually running as a “Christmas Light Tram” in

Budapest Christmas Streetcar
Budapest Christmas Streetcar

the Advent weeks. Enjoy the spectacular festive lights of Budapest and the tram.

Close to the Great Market Hall, we can find the chic green Liberty Bridge which is probably the most stylish bridge of Budapest. The next stop will be the Eotvos square and from there the Chain Bridge is visible. Chain Bridge was the very first permanent bridge build over the Danube in Budapest and it is a symbol of the Hungarian Capital.

If we continue the ride, we get to Szechenyi Istvan square, then to Kossuth Lajos where we can stop to visit the Holocaust memorial, Shoes Along the River Danube.

Budapest Corvinus University of Economics at night
Budapest Corvinus University

This stop is also close to the Parliament, you can take a tour to get to know this amazing architecture and enjoy a boat ride with a drink afterwards.

The last stop will be on the north, Jaszai Mari square, close the Margaret Island and Margaret Bridge. Margaret Island is a historical island with ruins and green parks, running track, mini zoo etc.

Budapest Margaret Island Day Cruises BRC
Budapest Margaret Island

 

Budapest Danube River Water Levels

Just like any other river, cruising in Budapest on the Danube is also highly influenced by the water level. In general, low water level occurs at the end of a hot summer and high water levels happen in the spring months when all the snow is melting in the mountain and rivers are carrying the extra water to the Danube.

The water levels are generally unpredictable, but fortunately, Hungary’s biggest river has usually a moderated water level changes, just ideal for cruising.

High water level

Budapest-Flooding-Klein
Budapest-Flooding-Klein

Since the Danube water level is regulated, floods are extremely rare, however, if the water level grows extremely high, it can prevent cruises get under the bridges and make cruising impossible. Since the water level grows relatively slow, it is predictable in a few days or weeks in advance.

Low water level

Too low water level can also lead to problems if the Danube is not deep enough to cruise, water transportation might be blocked by the authorities. In August 2018, the water level hit the records in Budapest, the low water bought several lost and forgotten things to the surface like shipwrecks, world war wrecks and even silver and gold coins near Erd, Hungary.

Budapest River Cruises are however very reliable, as the water level in Budapest is usually steady and optimal for cruising.

Budapest Danube Promenade

The Danube Promenade in Budapest is a popular esplanade in the bank of the Danube River in the heart of Budapest, between the iconic Chain bridge and the modern Elisabeth bridge.

The walkway was created in the mid-nineteenth century, it became a well-liked spot for the aristocrats and artists, celebrities and musicians.  We can imagine the old time newsboys, flower girls and chic ladies walking here next to the old buildings.

Danube Promenade Szabó Ervin Library Budapest Collection
Danube Promenade Szabó Ervin Library Budapest Collection

At the Second World War, the Danube Promenade was destroyed and it was reconstructed only in the late 70s.

The Promenade, “Duna Korzo”  in Hungarian is less bourgeois still a beloved place for everyone who enjoys summer walks and the beautiful sights of both sides, Buda and Pest.

Sights of the Danube Promenade

The Promenade covers the pedestrian walking area along the Pest side of the Danube from the Elizabeth Bridge to the Chain Bridge. This is where the luxury hotels like Marriott and Intercontinental and Four Seasons are located and we can find dozens of nice terraces, outdoor dining and venues.

You can admit the Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion on Buda side, the Gresham Palace, Vigadó Concert Hall, and much more. We recommend you arrive in the afternoon ours to enjoy the sunset and the spectacular evening lights.

 

Statues of the Danube Promenade

Close to Vigadó Concert hall, we can find the statue of Sandor Petofi who is one of the most beloved poets of Hungary. He dies in the independence fights in 1948.

Nearby, the Little Princess (created by Laszlo Marton) is sitting on the railings with shiny tights. Tourists are placing their hands on her legs, hence the polished look.

Girl and her dog is also a well-known statue, you can sit next to her on a bench. She is playing with her dog and the sculpture is showing us this lovely moment.

Shoes along the river Danube reminds us of the dark era of the Holocaust (sculptor: Gyula Pauer). The other statues are Attila Jozsef (poet), Mihály Vorosmarthy (poet), Istvan Szechenyi (politician, the greatest Hungarian), Archduke Joseph (Palatine of Hungary), Jozsef Eotvos (writer), and William Shakespeare.

Explore the Danube Promenade and the city centre on 2 wheels, join one of the Segway tours.

 

 

Shoes along the river Danube

Shoes on the Danube by Chris Johnson
Shoes on the Danube – photo by Chris Johnson

Shoes along the River Danube Budapest are tragic memories of the World War II Jewish executions.

The monument is located on the Pest side of the Danube about 300 metres (980 ft) south of the Hungarian Parliament and near the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Conceived by film director Can Togay, designed and made with the sculptor Gyula Pauler to honor the Jews who were killed in cold blood during Dec 1944 and Jan 1945. Jews were asked to take their shoes off facing the river and shoot to death. The bodies were carried away by the water. The monument represents the moment just after their death when the shoes were still there. Get to know the Jewish Heritage of Budapest and enjoy a dinner cruise with live music.

In 2016, Shoes along the river Danube was chosen as the world’s second best public statue.

If you wish to explore the riverside, why not join one of the river cruises? Enjoy the daytime cruises or the sunset and the evening lights on board.

Liberty Bridge Budapest

Liberty bridge is connecting Fovam Square with Gellert Square and is probably the most popular bridge in Hungary. Liberty bridge is the third oldest and also the smallest bridge in Budapest, only 333 meters long and 20 meters wide.

Liberty Bridge - Stella Papini Photography
Liberty Bridge – Stella Papini Photography

After the two older bridges have increased the revenues, according to the law, a third bridge had to be built.

History of Liberty Bridge

The Ministry of Commerce has issued an international tender for the bridge. There were domestic but mainly foreign aspirants and finally, a Hungarian gentleman became the lucky one, the engineer Janos Feketehazy. The architecture has been designed by Virgil Nagy and the construction began according to Feketehazy’s and Nagy’s plans in 1894.

The bridge rests on just two large pillars and at the time it was considered as a technical marvel.
Liberty bridge has a graceful shape and beautiful decorations, the four spires are finished with statues of the legendary Turul bird, the Hungarian mythical hawk, the Hungarian Crown, and
Parisian-style lampposts on either side. Liberty Bridge was first painted green and originally named Ferenc Jozsef Bridge (after Emperor Franz Joseph), who has personally fitted the last silver nugget into the bridge at the inauguration on October 4, 1896.

Budapest Gellert Hill Liberty Bridge
Budapest Gellert Hill Liberty Bridge

World War II

The beautiful and aesthetic bridge has suffered barbarism in World War II, when the retreating German army detonated it in January 1945. A few weeks later a raft bridge was constructed and the city has started to repair the seriously damaged parts of Liberty Bridge.

Liberty Bridge today

Nowadays Liberty bridge is a popular tourist attraction and beloved spots for the locals, a unique venue for concerts and other happenings for spring/ summer weekends (Liberty Bridge Takeovers). Are you planning to visit Liberty Bridge? Why not pop in to the Great Market Hall too, where you can taste the best bites of Hungary during a tasting tour.

Budapest Liberty Bridge Night Cruise
Budapest Liberty Bridge Night Cruise

Admire the riverside attractions and have a nice lunch on one of our Lunch Cruises in Budapest.

 

Margaret Bridge Budapest

Margaret Bridge was the second bridge built in Budapest, connecting St. Stephen’s Boulevard and Margit Boulevard by touching Margaret Island. The bridge was built between 1872 and 1876, inaugurated on April 30, 1876.

Budapest’s first bridge, Chain Bridge had a monopoly which was intended to guarantee the revenues for the private bridge. Budapest needed a second crossing but according to the agreement, no other bridge could be constructed in 8 km distance on each side from Chain Bridge. As the transport grew the city redeemed the right to build a second bridge.

Budapest Margaret Bridge Night
Budapest Margaret Bridge Night

The design tender was published in 1871 and won by Ernest Goüin, French engineer, so the bridge has been constructed by the Parisian construction firm, Société de Construction des Batignolles.
One of the most notable aspects of the bridge is its strange v-shape: the bridge has an angle of 165 degrees at the point where it branches off to Margaret Island.
The iron pieces of the bridge’s structure were manufactured in France and transported to Budapest by train. The pillars of the bridge are decorated with statues of galley prows, created by the French sculptor Adolphe Martial Thabard. The figureheads are winged female figures and the middle part is adorned with a commemorative plaque and the Hungarian Crown and two obelisks.

The total length of the bridge is 607.6 meters and the centerline breaks at the extension to the Margaret Island. The extension was finished at 1900, so before that, the tiny island was only accessible by boat.

Explore Margaret island, get off the cruise and get back to Budapest on the same day. Book it here.

At the World War II, Margaret Bridge exploded twice. At the first time, it was an accident at the peak traffic, due gas flowing and about 600 civilians died. The second explosion was made by the retreating German troops in January 1945.
Since then the bridge has been renovated several times.

Budapest Margaret Bridge Night BRC
Budapest Margaret Bridge Night BRC

 

Have a nice dinner with Folk Show on the river Danube and get to know the Hungarian Folk Dance Moves on the Folk Dinner Cruise departing from the city center, close to Elisabeth Bridge.

Historical Bridges over the Danube in Budapest

The river Danube and its historical bridges in Budapest play an essential role in connecting the two halves of Budapest: the hilly Buda side and the flat Pest side (formerly two separate towns). Buda and Pest are connected by 12 bridges, and, to put it simply, Budapest would not be the same without some of these remarkably beautiful structures. The various bridges are giving Budapest a unique charm. Let us introduce you to the top 3 most well known – and probably most interesting – historical bridges of Budapest spanning the river Danube.

Chain Bridge

Budapest Chain Bridge Day Cruise BRC
Budapest Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge between Buda and Pest and probably the most iconic bridge of Hungary.

More about Chain Bridge in Budapest

 

 

 

Margaret Bridge

Budapest Margaret Bridge Night
Budapest Margaret Bridge Night

Margaret Bridge was the second bridge built in Budapest, connecting St. Stephen’s Boulevard and Margit Boulevard by touching Margaret Island.

More about Margaret Bridge in Budapest

 

 

 

 

 

Liberty Bridge

Budapest Liberty Bridge Night Cruise
Budapest Liberty Bridge Night Cruise

Liberty bridge is connecting Fovam Square with Gellert Square and is probably the most popular bridge in Hungary. Liberty bridge is the third oldest and also the smallest bridge in Budapest

More about Liberty Bridge in Budapest

Chain Bridge Budapest

Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge between Buda and Pest. Prior to the Chain Bridge’s construction, there was a pontoon bridge from spring to autumn. As the crossing was not always possible people got oftentimes stuck on one side.
Count Istvan Szechenyi got stuck on Buda side and he had to wait one week to get to his father’s funeral. This was one of his reasons to urge the bridge building between Buda and Pest.

Buda Castle offers a stunning view of Chain Bridge and the city.  Funicular tours are also available to book.

Budapest Chain Bridge and Gresham Palace BRC
Budapest Chain Bridge and Gresham Palace

History of Chain Bridge

At the time, Hungarian engineers did not have enough experience in building such bridges, so the project had a lot of opponents. They were afraid of the sinking of the bases, the possible collapses, floods and drift ice.

Szechenyi joined Gyorgy Sina and they invited William Tierney Clark to Budapest. He was the engineer, who designed the first suspension bridge to span the River Thames in London.

The foundation stone has been placed by Archduke Joseph, Palatine of Hungary on August 24, 1842, in the presence of the country’s prestige.
The bridge designed in sections and shipped from the United Kingdom to Hungary for the final construction. At the time, Lanchid’s center span of 202 meters (663 ft) was one of the largest in the world.

In the summer of 1848, a trailing edge of the twisting element fell apart and swept Szechenyi and some workers into the Danube. He was able to swim out safety, but a worker died.

The Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Revolution

Winter-Cruise-Budapest-Stella-Papini
Winter-Cruise-Budapest-Stella-Papini

The 1848 Hungarian revolution has baulked the construction. After the revolution has Hungary has surrendered on Aug 13, 1949, the Austrian General Haynau has inaugurated the bridge in Nov 20, 1849 (he was the general who has sent the nation’s rebels to death).

In May 1849, at the siege of Buda, Imperial General Hentzi wanted to blow up the bridge, but fortunately, he did not succeed.
The bridge was inaugurated on November 20, 1849. Szechenyi, who made the most of his building, never went walked through it – he was already living in the Drobling Nerve Institute.

Lions of the Chain Bridge

The bridge has received the lions at each of the abutments in 1852, the stone lions were carved by Janos Marschalko.

When Buda and Pest were united in 1873 Chain Bridge symbolised Budapest as one city and Hungary.

In World War II, the Germans exploded the bridge and the bomb caused huge damage.

Chain Bridge has been renovated and opened again in 1949. Since then it is renovated regularly.

Budapest Chain Bridge and Buda Castle Night
Budapest Chain Bridge and Buda Castle Night

 

Most of the Budapest River Cruises depart from docks near the Pest side of Chain Bridge. Enjoy the fantastic views of Budapest from the Budapest Wine Tasting Cruise, running several times a day throughout the year.

Icy River Danube in Budapest Hungary

Frozen Danube Budapest Winter 1963
Frozen Danube Budapest Winter 1963

Although ice-floats appear on the Danube every year, those times when the river froze completely and people were able to cross the thick ice plate on foot are gone. Since the river is regulated and the riverbed is deeper it’s less likely to happen again. Enjoy the riverside attractions from the comfortable Budapest River Cruises, you can cruise on the Danube at day or at night.

The frozen river was known for Hungarians from the history, Corvin Matthias was coronated on the Danube Ice, there were important battles, the thick ice has helped armies to cross the river and spare time and effort.

The ice floats were threatening for the riverside settlements and towns as the massive ice could cause serious damages. One of the most known disasters was the Great Flood in 1838 when several people died and more than 50.000 became homeless.
Nowadays the icy river means a rare attraction, oftentimes photographed but it does not mean danger for Budapest any longer. The winter of 1963 was the last time when the Danube in Budapest was completely frozen.