Just steps from DiVino is St. Stephen’s Basilica. The Roman Catholic basilica is named in honor of Stephen I, the first king of Hungary. I learned later that St. Stephen’s mummified right hand is kept in the basilica and paraded around the city streets to share with the masses on August 20, the national holiday of St. Stephen’s Day.
While walking along a pedestrian-friendly zone toward the Danube, I was greeted by this jolly statue. There’s no story behind him; he’s just there for people’s delight (and clearly a rub of his belly).
Buildings along the Danube are dramatically lit at night, but my idiot proof camera couldn’t capture the magical views. Or maybe it was user error. Right away, I was reminded of the DC monuments at night. I felt right at home.
And then I found the understated and poignant memorial along the river that’s unfortunately easy to miss: Shoes on the Danube. The bronze shoes represent the Jews of all ages who were massacred by the Arrow Cross Militia from 1944-1945. The people were ordered to take off their shoes and then shot so their bodies fell into the river. It was a heart breaking site. It also was a reminder of the current anti-Semitic sentiment in Hungary. I continued my walk a little more reflective and somber.
And then came Parliament. The magnificent building is the third largest Parliament building in the world. And extremely difficult to capture close up.
At that point, it was around 10:00 pm. I marveled at how comfortable I already felt in Budapest. And safe. And, all of a sudden, tired. I walked back to my hotel to get some sleep for my interview the next day.
Coming up: Budapest explained?