Hello everyone it’s been a while since my last blog, and I can only blame laziness. I struggle with blogging as it isn’t something that comes naturally to me, I just need to work on it and put in a bit more effort I guess!
Anyway here is some info and a selection of my favourite images from my trip to the Hungarian capital, Budapest. If you’re just here for the photographs, or get bored and want to skip the text, simply click any of the images and it will open a slideshow window and you can flick through.
The outgoing flight was at 6am, and after the taxi and baggage check in times I needed to get up at 3.30am. I’m not a great sleeper at the best of times, and as I had thought the clocks went forward, I decided to stay up. It turns out I had the wrong weekend for the clock change. Oops. Thankfully I realised beforehand and didn’t set off extra early! After no sleep and what seemed like a very long journey I arrived in the hotel and got a couple of hours sleep. As the trip was for an anniversary with my partner, I tried to limit my photography to a few specific locations so that she didn’t feel like a third wheel with me and the camera, something I’m sure a lot of photographers partners know only too well.
The first place on the list was St Stephens Basilica.
For me the above image is made by the bicycle right in the centre. It was left there by a bike tour guide, which they luckily left dead centre, I’m not one to miss a unique opportunity and happily snapped away.
The Basilica is home to the ‘Holy Right’ a gruesome but sacred relic that is the mummified right hand of the first king of Hungary, King Stephen. The Basilica has suffered several disasters over the years. The first of these happening just after the designer died in 1867 when the cupola collapsed, burying a worker underneath. During WWII the walls and roof again suffered considerable damage, and finally in 1982 a freak storm blew off the renovating covers and caused significant wind and water damage.
This was one of several moments on my trip where I wished I had brought my wide angle lens, and even though my lens was at the widest setting and the camera was on the ground pointing upward, I still couldn’t fit everything in!
Next it was off across the Danube to the Fisherman’s Bastion.
The Fisherman’s Bastion was built between 1895 and 1902 to a design by Frigyes Schulek, in order to replace the deteriorating Medieval fortifications already there. During the Middle Ages the people living in the fishermen’s town on the Danube brought their haul up to Matthias Church which stands at the top. It was these same fishermen that would take up arms to defend the hill in case of an attack, hence the name ‘Fisherman’s Bastion’.
The Bastion features seven towers with ‘helmets’ that symbolise the seven Magyar tribes that settled Budapest in 896.
After sunset I headed down to a platform overlooking the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and tried to capture some car trails as the city lights came on. Unfortunately I could not get a long enough shutter speed with no filter and with my 10 stop filter, my usual go to for long exposures, the shutter speeds were reaching ridiculous levels. This was making digital noise and the flare from the nearby street lights a big problem. I keep thinking I really need to get a 3 stop! I decided to give up and headed to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge over the River Danube. This bridge was the first to join the two halves of the Hungarian capital, Buda and Pest, and was one of the finest technical achievements of it’s time.
Next I set off to photograph the parliament buildings. Unfortunately I could not get the symmetrical image of the parliament across the Danube I had planned, as ‘Scenic Jade’ a luxury cruise ship was right in the way. This meant things took a little longer to find a composition and I photographed it just outside of the blue hour.
During the building’s construction from 1885 to 1904, around 1000 men worked on the building and one of the criteria for the work was to exclusively use Hungarian materials. Upon completion forty million bricks, half a million decorated stones, and forty kilos of gold had been used! An interesting fact about the parliament is that even to this day the building has no air conditioning. During a heat wave ice is actually brought in and placed in the air vents, thus cooling the air.
After the photography it was time for some Palinka and great Hungarian food!
The next trip started off at sunset at the top of Gellért Hill, after a relaxing day at the Széchenyi thermal baths.
After the 1848 revolution the only building left standing at the top of Gellért Hill was the Citadella fortress. The Vienna military used the fortress to intimidate the citizens of Pest by pointing the cannons directly at them!
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the top of the Gellért Hill, it was probably the biggest photographic highlight of the trip.
The Royal Palace was originally ordered by Sisimund of Luxembourg, King of Hungary and the Czech Empire, who was later crowned Holy Roman Emperor to create a monarchic seat befitting of his rank. The palace was largely destroyed during the Turkish occupation, during the War of Independence in 1849 and again during the Second World War. The building was then renovated once again to what you see today.
I was having far too much fun at the top of the hill to realise the blue hour was almost over and rushed down to the Liberty Bridge. You guessed it, I was too late again. I really need to work on my timings!
The Liberty bridge, like many of the other famous sights in Budapest has an interesting past. Upon the bridge’s initial completion, Franz Joseph Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, hammered in the final rivet made of silver. This rivet survived the explosions of 1945 and the renovations soon afterwards, but somehow “fell out” soon after. The rivet was replaced, but again went missing. Finally another rivet was put in and placed in a glass box but this again mysteriously disappeared.
My final photography trip in Budapest was to Heroes’ Square.
Heroes’ Square or Hősök tere in Hungarian, features statues of the fourteen kings of Hungary and a seven metre tall Angel Gabriel on the central pillar. The square looks fantastic lit up at night, making it very popular with tourists, so I had to blend 8 different exposures together to remove the people, creating the apparently deserted scene you see here.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my images and learning a bit about the interesting history of Budapest. Thanks for looking, feel free to share!