Budapest has one of Europe’s largest Jewish Quarters and its history has been turbulent. Ashkenazi Jews arrived in the city in the 13th century and thrived in Budapest’s District VII in Pest for almost 700 years. Jewish Budapest was a wealthy enclave, with many synagogues, grand houses and apartment blocks, and kosher stores, bars and cafés.
With its reputation as a party city, Budapest at New Year – known as Szilveszter in Hungary – becomes party central and celebrates with a bang. Street parties take place across the city and the explosion of fireworks marks midnight over the Danube River. Public transport operates until 1am, but stores close at around 4pm and reopen only on January 2.
Everywhere you go in Budapest, there’s art. Street art and graffiti adorn many a wall, especially in the Jewish quarter, where the vibrant alternative culture of the city is in full flow, but to see art in a more formal setting there are a dozen or so Budapest art museums to choose from.
Budapest was brought under the Soviet flag following WWII and only escaped the steel embrace of Communism in 1989, when the Iron Curtain came down and democracy was restored. Communist reminders in Budapest serve as harsh reminders of the city’s repression.
Situated just over two hours away by train from Budapest in Northern Hungary, Baroque Eger could give Hungary’s glamorous capital city a run for its money. The photogenic little city is famous for its castle, cathedral, Baroque palaces and Turkish remains – and not forgetting its red wine.