Out of the three original cities that formed present day Budapest, Óbuda is the oldest. In fact, it used to be the Roman city of Aquincum, and there is a museum of Roman ruins there with that name. In addition to a permanent exhibit inside, there’s also an outside archaeological park. Now Óbuda represents the third district in Budapest.
My colleague and now friend Ilona and I explored Óbuda one Saturday afternoon. We followed part of a walking tour I found online (although not in the order suggested).
We first passed by the 18th century Baroque style St. Peter and Paul Parish Church. Built by Hungarian settlers in 1015, this is where Óbuda’s first church once stood. Behind it is a small monument in honor of those from Óbuda who died while fighting for their country. Before knowing its significance, I was going to hop onto its front section and have my picture taken. I almost did and then stopped when I saw an elderly man walk by. I’m glad I hesitated, because we then read the description of what it represented, and, all of a sudden, it started to move and play music.
As we walked from the church, we passed some quaint historic houses on our right and ugly 20th century housing projects on the left. This led us to a Classicist-style synagogue building built in the 19th century.
We circled back and made our way to the main square of Óbuda: Fő tér. Here, we were surrounded by Baroque-style buildings, including the former Town Hall when Óbuda was its own city. The building is currently the district mayor’s office.
My favorite thing on—or really next to—the square is the often-photographed figures of women with open umbrellas: “Those waiting” by Imre Varga, a contemporary sculptor. We took several playful pictures of ourselves interacting with the women. They didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they didn’t even blink an eye.
We crossed the square and came upon a statue of the first mayor of Óbuda, Pál Harrer. Right behind him, we became distracted by a sign for forralt bor (mulled wine). We decided to have our first taste of the season. Little did we know how generous the servings would be! And Ilona is Hungarian, so it wasn’t a language issue while ordering. But we didn’t complain. And it kept us warm inside for the remainder of our stroll about Óbuda. Definitely a charming little place with more to offer than expected (and we had just scratched the surface).