Halászbástya

It looks as impressive as all get-out, but the Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya) on Budapest’s Buda bank was actually built between 1895 and 1902 to serve as a viewpoint over the Danube. The myth behind it is that during the Middle Ages, it was the role of the Fishermen’s (Halász) Guild, located in the general vicinity, to protect that reach of the river from invaders.

Sitting across the Danube from the Bastion is the Hungarian Parliament, built around the same time. There was a lot of construction in Budapest around that time because 1896 was the thousandth anniversary of the settlement of the Magyar peoples under Arpad in the plain that was to become Hungary.

And here is the view of Parliament from the arches of the Bastion.

I was in Hungary and Czechoslovakia with my parents in 1977 and saw the sights with my cousin Vörös Ilona, who worked for the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV). It was an interesting trip. In addition to Budapest, we hung out at Lake Balaton, visited a huge opera festival in Szeged (where, to stay in a railway workers’ hostel, I had to pretend to be a Hungarian railway worker), and travel to where my father was born in the present day Slovak Republic.

Like Poland, Hungary was on one of the main invasion paths into Europe. Its history was a tragic one, fighting off (not always successfully) the Mongols, the Austrians, the Germans, and the Russians. Now it’s ruled by a rightist dictator named Viktor Orbán, who is smarter than Donald J. Trump, but in the same political ballpark.