This week, I’m taking you on a walk in Budapest, along the Danube and around one of its popular islands.
This is a reasonably long walk: 12 kilometres; 18,380 steps; level and good terrain on the whole.
So grab some comfy shoes and we’ll set off from the Buda side of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, close to the station at the bottom of the funicular. We will head north along the riverside footpath and cycle track, with the main road and river below us to the right. Then we’ll circle the island and come back down the Pest side of the river and back to the Chain Bridge.
The river looked very full and forceful when I was there, but it was way below the scary level that it reached in June 2013, when it hit its highest level for 500 years and threatened to damage the city. The main road down below us was completely flooded. On our side of the river, just opposite the Parliament building, is a sign to demonstrate just how threatening the waters were.
Beyond this, we can see the yellow bridge that we are heading for.
Margaret Bridge, Margit híd, was designed by French engineer Ernest Goüin and constructed between 1872 and 1876, making it the second oldest bridge in Budapest, after the Chain Bridge. It is a V-shaped bridge, with an offshoot down to Margaret Island, where we are heading for the next part of our walk.
All of Budapest’s bridges were blown up in World War II , though for Margaret Bridge much of the original steel was lifted from the river and incorporated into the rebuild. This very busy bridge also underwent a major reconstruction in 2009.
We’ll now negotiate a couple of roads to work our way round to the left hand side of the bridge, and head on over to the middle. From here, there’s a road leading down to the southern tip of Margaret Island, a popular recreation area for local residents. It features sports facilities, a water park, health resort, attractive gardens, open air theatre, huge fountains with musical accompaniment and plenty of paths for cycles, segways and a variety of buggies. It even houses the ruins of a Dominican Convent.
As we enter the island from the south, we are greeted by the Centenary Monument, by István Kiss, created in 1973 to mark the 100th anniversary of the merging of Buda and Pest. Just beyond the monument is a large lake with performing fountains, often dancing energetically to music.
There is a path and running track around the island, which I suggest we follow to the northern tip, and then we’ll wander down through the gardens back to our starting point. The views across the Danube from the island aren’t wildly exciting as we are away from the city’s main monuments now, but there’ll be a variety of boats to watch, varying from small private ones, to public transport to freight carriers.
Back at the main fountains and it’s time to grab a quick ice cream I think, and then we’ll head back up onto the Margaret Bridge, turn left and head down to the Pest side of the river.
A short walk along this side of the Danube, takes us to the massive Hungarian Parliament Building, a Gothic Revival style structure, with a stunning dome atop and monuments on each side. Good interior guided tours are available, but are best booked in advance to avoid the queues.
From here we walk back to the Chain Bridge. We can turn across the bridge to complete a circular walk, or turn left from here into the city centre, towards St Stephen’s Basilica, the Synagogue and the shopping areas.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 13 June 2016
Part of Monday Walks
Map recorded on mapmywalk App