The last week has been a rainy mess, so we have been a little bit off of our itinerary plans. Luckily we had a relaxing week in Budapest before the majority of our other traveling begins (Monday we are off to Florence). Last weekend there was a little spot of sunshine and we drove to a few neighboring towns.
Our first stop was Visegrád, which is a town 40K north of Budapest and right on the Danube. The real attraction there is visiting the fortress and getting the most spectacular view of the Danube bend. The Roman initially built a fortress in Visegrád, but the Mongols destroyed it in 13th century. The fortress that we explored was rebuilt in the 13th century when the Mongols left Hungary, during the reign of King Béla IV.
After Visegrád, we drove another 20 minutes northwest to Esztergom to visit its beautiful basilica. Esztergom is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary and it has played a really important religious and royal role through the centuries. The official name of the basilica is the Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven and St Adalbert. The title makes me feel a little sorry for the after thought that is St Adalbert. The build itself is the tallest in Hungary and the the 18th largest church in the world. But that’s not all. Plopped down right in the corner in a nice little glass case is the old skull (and a few other bones) of St. Stephen, wrapped, delicately, in white chiffon.
We ended the night by visiting our favorite trout restaurant on the side of the road between the two cities. Trout, almonds, steak potatoes, huge salads and beer was the perfect reward to a very full (and holy) day of traveling.