Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) in Budapest

Matthias Church (Mátyás Templom)

Address: Szentháromság tér 2. Budapest I. ker.
Phone: 00-36-1-355-5657
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat 9am – 1pm, Sun 1-5pm
Prices: from 300 to 1000 HUF

See the Matthias Church on the Budapest Tourist Map: the church is indicated with a red balloon icon in the middle. Click to View larger map blue link under the map to make it bigger:

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St Stephen’s Basilica: Szent István-bazilika in Budapest

St Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István-bazilika) was built between 1850 and 1905 in neoclassical style based on the plans of József Hild, who could not see the complete church as he died in 1867. Miklós Ybl took over overseeing the works, who could not see the completion either, as he died in 1891. Eventually it was finished by József Kauser: the keystone of the basilica, indicating the completion of the long works, was put on in the presence of Franz Joseph I. the emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1905.

The church is truly huge: it can take up approx. 8500 people, as it’s as big under the ground as over it.

The Basilica’s dome is like a compass in Budapest – you can easily locate yourself in the city if you spot the dome. In 1868 the dome collapsed – partly due to the low quality pillars given as presents to the church. Then the works were stalled for about 3 years. It explains why the construction of the church took more than half a century. There’s an elevator, which will take you up to the top (about 96m/ 315 feet high), where you can take some nice photos of the city. Or you can make a thorough workout by climbing the 364 stairs that lead to the balcony.

Highlights: statues made by Alajos Stróbl (see the floor plan below), ‘St Stephen offers the crown to Virgin Mary’ – painting by Gyula Benczúr, the panoramic view from the top, the Treasury and the Reliquary (incl. the mummified right fist of St Stephen (considered a holy relic), the first king of Hungary), the heaviest bell in Hungary in the southern tower (9,600 kilogram/ 21,164 pounds), the organ made by József Angster (1834- 1918). The Choir of the Basilica (founded in 1909) sings every Sunday at 10 am: here’s the Program of the Basilica Choir.

Address: Szent István tér Budapest V. ker.
Phone: 00-36-1-311-0839 or 338-2151
Opening hours:

  • Mon-Fri 9 am – 5 pm, and 7-8 pm,
  • Sat 9 am – 1 pm, and 7-8 pm,
  • Sun 1 -5 pm, and 7-8 pm
  • Elevator operating from April 1 to October 31

Prices: 1600 HUF, for students & retired 1200HUF
Getting here:
metro (blue line): Arany János utca station

Here’s the (Greek-cross) floorplan of the Basilica with some of the prominent statues made by Hungarian sculptors, painters:

floor plan and some statues in St Stephen Basilica Szent István Bazilika

Video of St Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest (made by a fellow traveler, adelsonline)

And another user made video (garrymay) of the Basilica, with a short sample of the Choir singing:

1, If you want to see the Treasury, the Reliquary, the Chapel, and get further info on the Basilica, turn to the official guides (Mon-Fri at 11am, 2pm, 15:30, St at 11am), 2000HUF/ person. Book in advance, and for groups get reductions, contact:

If you are looking for further programs or a good restaurant in the neighborhood of the Basilica (map icon: red balloon in the middle), take a look at the Budapest Tourist Map: double click to zoom in, and click on the icons to learn more about the attractions:

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If you wish to do some shopping, e.g. find specialty products (wines, paprika, Unicum, designer clothes, etc.) in the neighborhood, use the Budapest Shopping Map:

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Karsten Troyke: Budapescht Yiddish Song With Lyrics

Music, love and Budapest folded in a nice Yiddish tune performed by Karsten Troyke. Here is the lyrics and the video under the lyrics. As one user on YouTube remarked “There is whole line in Polish language sung : “Ja cię kocham a ty śpisz !” /I love you and you fall asleep !/.” Now, the truth is, as the girl was from Poland, there are no Hungarian lines in the song. :)
The short synopsis is: “I lost my heart in Budapest. There I fell in love with a girl from Lodz, but she just laughed at me.” Summary and lyrics from haGalil.

Budapescht Lyrics:

Ich bin a Bucher jîng în frailech, ich fil sech gît,
es bengt sech mir nuch Libe,
es bengt sech mir nuch Glik.
Ich vill gain in alle Gassn în vill schrain: Gewalt!
A Maidale git mir bald!

Wail ich bin a Bucher jîng în frisch,
´ch gai sech ous mamesz far a Kîsch,
tref iech mir a Lodze Ponienka,
sie red poilisch în ich mîss stenkn:
Ja sze kocham a ty ´spysz!

Schpiel, Zigainer of dain Fidl,
schpiel mir up a Liebesliedl,
wail ich hob gelosst main Harts in Budapescht
in die Nacht ven die Levune hot geschaint.

Ich hob gevolt mit ihr bouen a Nest
în sie hot fîn mir sech ousgelacht
Ich hob gemaint, sie liebt mech ainem!
Sie libt nor mech în mehr nischt kainem!
Ich hob gemaint, ich kon fartrouen –
falsch is sie vie alle Frouen.

Bai die Rogatke `ch hob sie gelosst schtain!

Ich bin ein Bursche, jung und fröhlich,
ich fühl mich gut
Habe Lust auf Liebe, sehne mich nach Glück
Ich will durch alle Straßen gehen und
Schreien: Leute hört her
ein Mädchen gebt mir bald.

Weil ich doch ein junger Bursche bin
Sehne ich mich so nach einem Kuß
Treff ich ein Mädchen aus Lodz
Sie spricht polnisch und ich muß stönen
Ich liebe dich, aber du …

Spiel, Zigeuner, deine Fiedel
Spiel mit mir ein Liebeslied:
Ich hab mein Herz in Budapest verlorn
In der Nacht, im Mondschein
Wollte mit ihr ein Nest bauen,
doch sie hat mich ausgelacht
Ich dachte, sie würde mich lieben
Nur mich und keinen Andern
Ich dachte, ich könnte ihr vertrauen,
falsch ist sie wie alle Frauen!
An der Ecke ließ ich sie stehn.

Sara Bialas-Tenenberg preserved several forgotten Yiddish songs, both in her memories and a little song book. As Karsten Troyke writes

“Budapescht” for example or the little “Gassn Singer” which she [Sara] found in a 10 groszy (approximately a cent) song book. Those 10 groszys were like a pocket full of money for a little girl, and at that time a Yiddish hit in Poland was as exciting as a hit from the Backstreet Boys is today.”

If you liked the song, listen to the album of Jidische Vergessene Lieder (Forgotten Yiddish Songs)

If you are interested in Jewish-related places in Budapest (e.g. synagogues, memorials, mikveh, kosher restaurants or stores, and the fascinating Jewish District) here’s a unique map:

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Are You a Bela Bartok Fan?

If you are a Bartok fan and you like time travel in a beautiful environment in the tranquil part of Budapest, you must see Bela Bartok’s house turned into a museum, now called the Bela Bartok Memorial House. The good thing is that it is more than a museum: in 1981, there was a concert hall established on the first floor by connecting the adjacent rooms and the staircase. The house itself was built in 1924.

Bela Bartok Memorial House Museum in Budapest

The museum will take you back in time on two levels: one on the civil level and the other on the folk art level. As you know Béla Bartók was one of those of handful of composers who took up his boots and went from village to village with now weird and cumber some equipment to collect original folk songs in the Carpathian-basin . Not only he, but also Zoltán Kodály. You can evoke Bela Bartok, as the museum site writes:

the man who wrote his masterpieces, the Sonata For Two Pianos, the Contrasts, the Divertimento for Paul Sacher and the Chamber Orchestra of Basel, and the Violin Concerto dedicated to Zoltán Székely in the middle of the thirties right here, in this tiny upstairs workroom, originally protected against the noise of the outer-world by cushioned doors.

Just listen to this lively and gentle re-interpretation of folk music! The title is Rumanian Folk Dances. In a true multicultural style, the piece is performed by the gypsy Rajkó Orchestra in the Jewish Synagogue in Budapest.

What’s more the museum is located in a beautiful green hilly part of Budapest on the Buda side. Here is the map locator:

Opening hours: 10 am to 5 pm (Tue- Sun) (Closed on Mondays)
Entrance fee: 800 HUF (or free with Budapest Card)
Getting here: Go to Moszkva tér by the red line metro. Then take the number five bus & get off at Pasaréti tér.

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More about upcoming Concerts on the Bartok Museum official site.

Traditional Hungarian Instruments: Cimbalom, Magyar Pipe & Doromb in Action

There is a wide range of traditional Hungarian musical instruments, from simple ones like the ‘doromb‘ to more complicated ones like the concert cimbalom (or cymbalom) and the Hungarian bagpipe called Magyar Pipe. See these instruments in action in the following song performed by Bea Palya and her Quintet – the host of the show says a few introductory words and then the music starts. You will see interactive hotspots that give you extra info on the instruments and the musicians (click on the hotspots).

If you want to take away a special musical souvenir from Hungary, try to find a ‘doromb’ or Jew’s harp: although it is one of the oldest instruments in the world and has its own regional variations, it can be a nice present to give a Hungarian one. It is small, decorative, little challenge to play with, has a funny cartoon-like sound (as if Bunnies jumping around), and is more than thousands years old. Here’s a doromb-maker’s product show (different harp for different pitches).

The shape of a doromb is like a horseshoe – it has an iron (or reed) frame and a thin middle part, which acts like a gentle spring. You must place the ‘horseshoe’ in your mouth (be careful with your teeth!) and string the spring while crooning. The origin of doromb may go back to Central Asia (more on the mouth harp: Michael Wright). The smaller the doromb, the louder it is, so go for the smaller ones. Doromb is often used in Hungarian folk songs, and there are special Doromb Festivals in Hungary too.

Gypsy Music in Budapest: From Restaurants Gypsy Schmaltz To Roma Folk & Jazz Musicians

Many tourists enjoy going to restaurants in Budapest where live Gypsy music is performed. If you are one of them, you will find several restaurants worth considering (usually indicated on a board outside the restaurant that Gypsy music is played). Some of the restaurants that advertise their Gypsy music are, for instance, Mátyás Pince, Százéves Étterem, Márvány Menyasszony, Nádor Étterem, etc. etc.

It is good to know that, as Frommer’s Guide writes,

“what you find in restaurants is not authentic Gypsy music, but an ersatz pop variety. If a member of the band plays a number at your table, good manners dictate that you give a tip; the appropriate amount varies with the price category of the restaurant itself (1,000 Ft-2,000 Ft/$4.50-$9 is a fair starting point). It is perfectly acceptable, however, for you to politely decline his or her offer to play for you.”

Wandering or settled Gypsies, Roma people had all kinds of jobs from trading horses, blacksmithing, through basket weaving, rope and broom making, to fortune telling, theft, faith healing, begging and even gold washing (in Transylvania). However, in all probability, the most prestigious job was being a musician for a Roma person. And this was precisely the most in demand (especially as technical development reduced the need for blacksmith jobs). Luckily, the musician life-style gave ample scope for the restless legs to wander, and Roma musicians travelled all over their regions to play for money at big family events, esp. weddings.

Old Hungarian films between the two world wars often pictured Hungarian Romas as playing the lone guest’s favourite tune in the restaurant or inn. The somewhat legendary concept of these films – featuring the Hungarian actor and sex symbol Pál Jávor – was that Hungarians enjoy themselves crying/ sobbing (“sírva vígad a magyar”) while obviously singing to the tunes of the accompanying Gypsy violin soloist (and feverishly sweating with deep emotions, occasionally pounding the candle lit table covered with red and white checked table, – or something like that). Needless to say, the mandatory part of emotional peaks was the Roma musician opening up your broken heart in love to catharsis. Here’s a cheerful version in video that may give you a hint (a scene from the All Men are Mad film):

Now you won’t see these heartbroken Hungarian lovers singing with Gypsy bands any more (if there were any), or, at least very rarely in films again, but you can still enjoy your meal while having professional Roma musicians playing for you.

If you really like Gypsy music – not just at restaurants – you may be interested in the concerts given by the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra (the 100-member Roma Orchestra in literal translation from the Hungarian ‘100 Tagú Cigányzenekar’). They play Strauss (senior and junior), Brahms, Monti Czardas, etc. See them playing in Hősök Tere (Heroes’ Square) in Budapest.

Or you can listen to excellent contemporary (Gypsy and non-Gypsy) jazz by Béla Szakcsi Lakatos (Liszt-prize winner) and the New Hungarian Gypsy Jazz Band.

More authentic Gypsy tunes are played by Bea Palya, Kalyi Jag, and Ando Drom. Here’s a song performed by the fabulous and talented Bea Palya at a popular Hungarian TV show:

And here is Kalyi Jag:


1, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Institute of Ethnic and National Minorities, Roma Report 2000 by Erno Kallai
2, The Gypsies During the Second World War by Karola Fings, Donald Kenrick

Parties at Rudas Spa Bath in Budapest in 2008: CineTrip Again!

After the great New Year’s Day party at Rudas Spa Bath, the party series continue:

“hosting musicians and DJs to re-musicalize old, mostly silent films, the unique atmosphere of Cinetrip parties that have been organized in the Rudas Baths since 1998 will be revived from December 2007 with the support of all the visual spectacles and perceptional experience that the technology of the 21st century can offer. … it will be even more special this year: as Cinetrip celebrates its 10th birthday!”(from Spas Budapest).

Here’s a user made (elroyhun) video at one of the Cinetrip parties at Rudas Spa Bath to give you an idea if Rudas Cinetrip parties are for you or not:

Phone: 00-36-20-20-20-202.

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Additional party dates in 2008 are

  • 15 January
  • 09 February
  • 08 March
  • 12 April

Check out Rudas Furdo (Rudas Spa Bath) special night parties in the Ottoman – modern atmosphere and be prepared for the dazzling audiovisual effects with VJs, DJs, and many young guys and girls.