For our Humanities program, we take four classes which meet Tuesday through Thursday. We have a culture class taught by a professor from UNH about the looting of artifacts, two classes taught by Hungarian professors (European Film and Hungarian History), and a Field Studies class that takes us on excursions around Budapest every Wednesday.
For our first excursion, we were able to visit the Hungarian National Museum. The architecture of this building was absolutely beautiful and we had a tour guide walk us through to explain some Hungarian history. There were several propaganda posters and there was even Stalin’s hand from the fallen statue.
The next week we visited the Museum of Ethnography. Our tour guide was extremely interesting and philosophical. We were able to learn more about the culture of Hungary throughout its history. It was interesting to see the traditional clothes worn and the agricultural tools used throughout the eras. I recommend this museum, especially for its amazing photographs. One of the things that I found most interesting was information about the marriage in historical Hungary. Communities would usually match a rich husband with a poor wife or vise versa in an attempt to help spread the wealth. If a poor couple fell in love, the town would not throw a huge celebration for them and they would be asked to moved to the outskirts of town.
Our next excursion was a walking tour around Budapest. We saw St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Cathedral, the Budapest Music Center, and the Buda Castle.
At the St. Stephen’s Basilica, we learned that the Basilica was built with all local materials, including the red marble and gold inside. We also saw St. Stephen’s actual hand which has somehow been preserved and is displayed within the basilica.
At the Fisherman’s Bastion, we learned that the seven domes represent the seven leaders of Hungary. Also, King Matthias was only fifteen years old when he became king and he was actually captured in Prague by the Czech King.
The Buda Castle was destroyed and has been rebuilt. We were also able to see the changing of the guards at this site, which happens every hour during the day.
Throughout the tour, we were able to see a lot of little things that tourists may not necessarily notice or know the story of.
For example, we saw a sculpture of a young girl dressed as a prince sitting on the fence by the Danube. If you rub the knee of this statue while thinking of a wish, it is thought to come true. We also stumbled by a tree made into a Michael Jackson memorial, who apparently had a large fan base in Budapest. There was also a tree surrounded by locks. It is said that if a lock is placed by the tree and the key is thrown into the Danube that the couple’s love will last forever. Our tour guide knew the artist who created the sculpture of the woman playing with the dog. He was apparently a shy guy who one day saw a beautiful woman playing with a dog in that very spot, but was too shy to go up to her. He returned to that spot several times since then, but never saw her again. This is a sculpture of that woman.
Our tour guide took us to a very low-key, self-serve restaurant during the tour. This place looked very secret, apparently to not attract tourists. The food was cheap, there were large portions, and it was delicious! I got meatball soup and then an amazing mushroom and turkey stew over rice with bread. The restaurant was right next to the Matthias Church and great for a quick easy meal.
We have trips every Wednesday, so stay tuned for more interesting places around Budapest!