The Great Synagogue & Aquincum

Hello everyone! I am sorry I have been off the radar lately, but life has been crazy with all the traveling!

One thing I love about my study abroad program is my Field Studies class and being able to visit so many places within Budapest and learning more about the history. This helps make connections with our History course as well.

The Great Synagogue on Dohany Street is one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest. We were able to take a tour of the Synagogue and museum which allowed us to learn more about the history of Jews in Budapest. The tour helped put into perspective how many people were crammed into the Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust. Our tour guide also mentioned that the Nazis had used the building of the Synagogue, which was horrifying to hear.

The gardens behind the Synagogue are also extremely beautiful. There are beautiful memorials, including a tree with leaves reading the names of victims (shown above). The memorials in the garden do a good job at portraying the horrendous amount of lives that were tragically lost.

We also learned about heroes such as Raoul Wallenberg and Carl Lutz. Wallenberg had saved tens of thousands of lives and Lutz was ordered to save 8,000 children, but misunderstood and saved 8,000 families from perishing in concentration camps. There is a plaque with each of these heroes’ names displayed in the gardens outside the Synagogue.

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For our next trip, we got to go to Aquincum, which is the site of ruins from a Roman civilization. Aquincum was the capitol of the region of Palota. The Danube River also made this location prime for settlement because it offered protection, which was highly sought after during this time.

Budapest is known for its thermal baths, so it was interesting to hear about the Roman bath houses. The baths were not from hot springs, but they did have technology to heat the floors and walls. They were also used for actual bathing. Village members would pay for these facilities and the bath houses also included a gymnasium and massages (similar to present day Hungarian bath houses). Men and women were separated.

I was really interested in learning more about this particular Roman civilization’s way of life. One thing that surprised me was the complexity of their merchant system. It was cool to see in the ruins all the different rooms that represented the different shops. There was a circular room in the center of the shopping center that was used to weigh items in order to check their authenticity to prevent against cheaters. It’s amazing that such an early civilization would include this feature.

Overall, this trip was really amazing because I didn’t even know there were Roman ruins in Budapest. More field trip posts to come!

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