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Just Outside Budapest


Whatever point of the compass we choose to follow, there is always something of interest to discover beyond the border of Budapest. For instance, travel north and the nearest places of note are Szentendre (see separate article), Visegrád and Esztergom.

Visegrád is a synthesis of the past, present and future. At one time the border of the Roman Empire, the limes, ran past the settlement; you can still see the ruins of Roman watchtowers along the Danube. The first king of Hungary, St. Stephen, established a stewardship here and raised the archdeacon's church, the foundations of which still stand on Castle Hill. The view from here is superb, encompassing the incomparable Danube Bend. Not far away is the imposing citadel and the huge keep which takes its name, Solomon's Tower, from the myth that once King Solomon was held captive here. It is a fact however that during the Middle Ages the royal crown was kept under lock and key here. Today the tower is a museum with a display of archaeological treasures. The towering Royal Palace originally raised in Gothic style and later, during the reign of King Matthias, rebuilt in Renaissance style has a fountain which ran not with water but with wine during VIP meetings. This too is a museum, one of the main features of which is a reconstruction (supported by the British) of the masterpiece red marble Hercules fountain. Exhibitions have been set up in some of the halls of the restored palace; period replica furniture can be seen in the one-time prince's suite. The palace gardens have been replanted with flora identified from excavated fountains. Each summer a knight's tournament, strong man competition and medieval crafts fair are organized in Visegrád.

Source: Budapesti Turisztikai Kht, Budapest Guide, 2003