CITY TOUR - BUDA SIDE - CASTLE HILL The area we were to explore on the Buda bank is called Castle Hill and is the place where the royal palace sits high on a bluff overlooking the Danube. This area also gives the best views of the Parliament buildings which are closely copied from the British Parliament Houses. Cristina told us that air-conditioning had probably been invented in Hungary because the architect had devised a system where breezes blown over ice blocks were circulated through the building so that the legislators could be comfortable during the really hot months of the year. A little later, the same system was incorporated into the Opera House, so obviously it had been a big success. We walked to the St. Matthias Church and a shopping area with miniature stores, taverns and restaurants. Since we had 45 minutes to explore the area, we made tracks first for the promenade along the river because the views were supposed to be quite photogenic and they certainly proved to be so. After much “shooting,” we ran to the Church which has an interesting history which has created a quite exotic appearance to the inside of the building. Outside, the church is Gothic in style, having been built by wealthy German merchants in the city in the sixteenth century. When the Turks took Budapest for their 150 years of command and control, they transformed the church into a mosque, adding Muslim writing and decorations and whitewashing over much of the Roman Catholic iconography. When the Turks were expelled, the Catholics restored the church to the ranks of their churches but left the beautifully decorated columns and walls with the Turkish patterns. Then stained glass windows were added to complete the Christian look, using blues and greens predominantly to blend with the Turkish color scheme. The stone flooring in Turkish floral patterns was also left intact. The amalgam certainly makes for a magnificent interior.
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