The home of the wealthy Wenckheim family, a jewellery box in the Palace Quarter of Budapest, the central building of the Budapest Metropolitan Library and an absolutely popular filming location: the Wenckheim Palace.
The palace is from 1889 and was built in Neo-Baroque style for the family of count Frigyes Wenckheim and his wife Krisztina Wenckheim (yes, they were first cousins). Count Wenckheim was a rich landowner and Member of the Parliament. The building has always been considered one of the most beautiful palaces of the 8th district of Budapest. Its dance hall is beautifully ornate and spacious, it could – and probably did – accommodate 500 guests at a time. The Wenckheim family was famous for their elegant and magnificent receptions and balls, even Emperor Franz Joseph was one of the illustrious guests.
The central building of the Budapest Metropolitan Library opened here in 1931 and it soon became a popular place for students, researchers and academics spending long hours in the historical halls.
Many Hollywood movies were also filmed in the Wenckheim Palace, including “𝑹𝒆𝒅 𝑺𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒓𝒐𝒘”, “𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑨𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒔𝒕”, “𝑺𝒑𝒚” and “𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒐𝒎 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑶𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒂”.
The Budapest home of Liszt is surprisingly modest with only two rooms, one of them serving as bedroom and study at the same time but it’s nevertheless full of treasures. The Budapest home of the one and only Hungarian composer universally renowned as one of the greatests of the 19th century was on the elegant Andrássy avenue.
His home is a museum now and it’s a remarkably valuable collection of objects: personal items and amazing instruments of music. My favourite piece is a music composing desk with a built-in three-octave piano keyboard, specially designed for Liszt in the 1870’s. I also love the ornate music stand that Liszt received as a gift in 1858 and thanked it by saying: “I wish to produce soon some works worthy of being offered as an homage to the three patrons of music: Beethoven, Weber and Schubert” – whose busts decorate the wonderful piece.
Although Liszt only welcomed visitors in his home on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons, the museum is open to visitors every day except Sundays.
I’m aware that some of you were planning to visit Budapest in November and December and decided to cancel or postpone your visit, although it’s hard to see what we can expect the next weeks and months and the government’s actions are also hard to anticipate.
Yes, we’ve been experiencing the resurgence of the COVID-19 virus since the middle of August after successfully slowing the outbreaks earlier in the year. The last time I shared information about the numbers was in June, four months ago there were 3892 confirmed cases and 527 people died. As of today, there are 31480 confirmed cases (+ 700%) and 833 people died (+60%). Because of the limited testing capacities we are not sure about the accuracy of these numbers but they are worrying nevertheless. Because of the increasing numbers many countries around the world advise their nationals against all but essential international travel to Hungary.
Lockdowns and other strict measures to protect public health were imposed quickly in spring and that led to record low number of registered cases and deaths. This is a very different situation now, as the government refuses to re-impose strict health measures and at the same time to offer financial help to businesses badly affected by COVID-19. A personal note: self employed tour guides can’t expect any help from the government, financial or other.
So, here are the rules:
physical distancing of 1,5 meters is to be kept,
face masks (medical or textile masks that cover the nose and mouth) are mandatory in shops, in taxis, on public transport and at public transport stations, in theatres, cinemas and shopping malls,
restaurants, cafés and bars are to close at 11.00 PM.
And here are the rules about entering Hungary (from the 1st of September until further notice):
only Hungarian citizens and foreign citizens who have a permanent Hungarian residence permit can enter Hungary in passenger traffic and they are subject to home quarantine for 10 days,
foreign citizens are not allowed to enter Hungary, (entry into Hungary from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia is regulated separately), the exceptions:
foreign citizens who arrive to Hungary for international sports or cultural events can enter Hungary without restriction (they must have a negative PCR test result performed within 3 days prior to entry and an authentic ticket for the sports or cultural event),
foreign citizens studying in Hungary or participating in family events might be exempted from the prohibition,
foreign citizens who arrive to Hungary to perform some business or economic activity are also exempted from the prohibition.
So, if you’re coming to Budapest for either sports, cultural or business reasons, don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss the options of a 100% safe Social Distancing tour, believe me, Budapest is so beautiful, it’s safe and most of the sights and attractions are entirely deserted.
And, don’t forget about Virtual Tours, a great live, personal experience to visit Budapest from the comfort of your armchair and to support Budapest tourism.
As always, stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy!
Vác is a cute little town on the left bank of the Danube, it’s some 25 minutes drive from Budapest. The visit of Vác can be included in a customised Danube Bend day trip. It’s such a beautiful Baroque jewellery box, I strongly recommend a short visit. We had been fortunate to tour Vác with my travellers before the borders of Hungary got closed again on the 1st of September.
The mummified remains of 265 people were found in 1994 in the crypt of the Dominican church, they had been laid to rest in hand painted, wooden coffins in the 18th and 19th centuries. The bodies didn’t decompose but were mummified naturally because of the favourable air conditions and dry settings.
The findings were extraordinary and not only because it’s a veritable gold mine for ethnographers about 18th century Hungarian everyday life and funeral traditions. It’s also a fantastic source for medical researches, a large number of tests have been performed by scientists on the mummified remains related to tuberculosis, HIV researches and they could also confirm C section had been performed as early as in the 18th century in Hungary.
The coffins are simply beautiful, all colourful, all hand-painted, all prepared with a lot of care, it’s very much like the fascinating celebration of life and death in a small Vác museum.
I’m a huge admirer of the Hungarian Art Nouveau movement and I’m more than proud to show travellers around the magnificent Budapest Art Nouveau buildings. For me, the home of György Ráth, first director of the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts is a veritable jewellery box, both the building and the artworks and furnitures on display are unique.
The villa was originally Ráth’s family home and was furnished with pieces of his private collection, today it houses the permanent exhibition “Art Nouveau – a Hungarian Perspective”. Every room is different, the furnitures and pieces of art were selected and put on display with such a unique care and taste, it’s like visiting an elderly family member where every single item is authentic and they all tell you a different story.
When you visit the museum, don’t forget to take a walk along Városligeti fasor, where you can admire fascinating Art Nouveau villa buildings.
I’ve been neglecting these last few weeks that old passion of mine to collect the sounds of Budapest, recording local music all over the city. This is part 2 of the series, stay tuned for the rest of my Beautiful Budapest Symphony!
… and it breaks my heart. I realise it’s a very delicate situation and every country’s government is responsible for the measures they’re taking. But I’ve also seen how differently other governments are dealing with the pandemic and only few of them decided to say no to tourists, brave and enthusiastic travellers who, despite of the spreading of the virus were still considering visiting my Beautiful Budapest.
This is all over for now, indefinitely, for 1 or 2 months, we don’t know. I’ll of course continue delivering Virtual Tours for the time being but I’ll miss terribly the real tours, the real adventures and the real people I’ve had the chance to work with these last couple of months.
You’ll find below a gallery of stunning pictures taken by one of my travellers, Jessica with whom I’ve had the chance to explore Buda, Pest and the cute little town of Vác last week.
With over 100.000 Hungarian and international artworks from as early as the ancient times to the 18th century, the Fine Art Museum is probably the largest and the most comprehensive art museum of Budapest.
The building of Classical Revival style is from 1906, from the outside it might remind you of a Greek temple, actually, the tympanum on the main facade is the exact replica of that of a Zeus temple in Olympia, Greece. The interior is just as magnificent as the artworks on display, the museum was closed for renovation works for almost 4 years and both the interior and the outside regained their original splendour. My personal favourite halls are the Romanesque and the Renaissance Halls, wondering around the building is like a real time travel for visitors.
The collection of the museum has six departments: Egyptian Antiquities, Classical Antiquities, Old Master Paintings, Sculptures, Prints and Drawings, Old Hungarian Collection. For more information on the museum and opening hours, you can visit the museum’s official website.
I’ve decided to share this blogpost originally from 2016 because my experience is that the Buda Castle District of Budapest is the most popular choice for the virtual tours. Most of the attractions below are to be seen during the tour and I’m happy to discuss the special architecture, culture and traditions of this beautiful neighbourhood. Feel free to contact me for further details on live or virtual tours!
The Buda Castle district is the oldest part of Buda, many of the buildings are originally from the Middle Ages. Buda became the capital of Hungary by the middle of the 13th century, the castle and the medieval town were constructed in the top of the Castle hill.
I don’t want to disappoint you but The Castle district is not a real castle. The Hungarian Medieval castle, residence of many of our great kings, constructed in Gothic and Renaissance architectures was destroyed in the 17th century. Only some parts of it are accessible in the Budapest History Museum, unfortunately the rest of the castle rest in the ground now.
You can walk up the hill along the ramparts of the Medieval Castle to get to the 18th century Baroque Palace which houses the Budapest History Museum and the National Gallery. The cobblestoned streets of the historical old town of Buda lead you to the Matthias Church, one of the oldest churches of the city originating from the 13th century. If you have some time, you really need to climb the 197 stairs to the church tower from where you can have the best view over our beautiful city.
From the top of the Fisherman’s Bastion you can enjoy the panorama over the Parliament building and the Pest side.
Continue your walk in the civilian town, admire the unique architecture of the National Archives and wonder around the old Jewish quarter. Probably the most interesting fact about the distric is that there is a 12 km long underground cave and cellar complex underneath the Castle District. There are 2 museums where you can discover this unique labyrinth. The Hospital in the Rock was a military hospital during WW2 and a nuclear bunker during the Communist era. The Labyrinth museum is all about scary fun and you might also meet Dracula, the infamous vampire count.
I’d be glad to show you the famous attractions and the hidden treasures of the neighborhood, too, book the Buda Castle walk!
Most of the inquiries I’m getting these days are about information on how one can enter Hungary in light of the spreading of COVID-19. It seems to me that the general information available online is mostly in Hungarian and it’s not exactly easy to understand for most of travellers.
So, here are the latest news and latest rules for you.
The government of Hungary has been applying a colour-based categorisation depending on how serious the spreading of the virus is in the country of origin since the 15th of July. The three colours are green, yellow and red and it determines the rules of entry to Hungary. In case of transfer passengers the country of origin is applicable.
Travellers arriving from GREEN countries are:
allowed to enter Hungary without restrictions,
if they have symptoms of the infection within 14 days after entry, then they can’t leave their actual residence, and must notify the epidemiological authority immediately.
Travellers arriving from YELLOW countries:
have to undergo medical examination upon entry
if there is a suspicion of infection, the travellers are not allowed to enter Hungary
if no such suspicion arises, travellers are allowed to enter, but it is mandatory for them to go to home quarantine for 14 days.
no quarantine is needed if travellers have 2 negative SARS COVID tests (in English or in Hungarian) that were taken consecutively within 48 hours of each other and up to 5 days prior to entering Hungary
Travellers arriving from RED countries are not allowed to enter Hungary in passenger traffic.
The good news is that the spreading of the virus in Hungary is still under control and we don’t see sudden increase in the number of infections. As of today there are 4,465 registered cases and 596 people died.