Having checked off some of the must-see sights on the Buda side of the Danube, we decided to walk a circuit of some of the tourist areas on the Pest side. St. Stephen’s Basilica, Parliament, Freedom Square and the Central Market are all within a pleasant walk’s reach from each other. The Basilica and Parliament are both incredibly impressive buildings. For a nominal fee visitors can climb up to the top of the dome on the Basilica and enjoy a nice panoramic view of the city. It’s also home to one of Hungary’s oddest national treasures: The mummified hand of St. Stephen himself (St. Stephen was the first king over a united Hungary around 1000 AD). The Hungarian Parliament is one of the largest Neo-Gothic buildings in the world, and a real treat for the eyes. The only way to see the inside is to book a tour in advance, which we chose not to do. A very interesting fact that we learned later is that each of these two buildings is 96 meters tall, and there is regulation that no other building in Budapest can surpass this height (hence the lack of skyscrapers in the skyline). This is symbolic of the equality of church and state in Hungary. During the communist regime however, a giant star was placed on Parliament, representing the fact that in communism, state, and certain members of it in particular, are 'more equal' than everything else.
One of the best views of both sides of Budapest can be found around the Citadella atop Gellert Hill. We ended the day here with a couple of pilsners before heading back to our neighborhood for a relaxed night before another early morning we had planned.