The Great Synagogue (aka, Dohány Street Synagogue) in Budapest is the largest synagogue in Europe (and 2nd largest in the world). We stumbled upon it while strolling around Budapest on an autumn day and were taken back by its architectural design and unusual colorful exterior.
Originally built in the mid-19th century, the synagogue was destroyed by Nazi and Allied bombings during World War II. After the end of the Cold War, the synagogue was reconstructed over the course of a decade with the help of private donations. Today, you can see the Great Synagogue restored to its original glory and in use for its original purpose.
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Medieval castles, imperial palaces, blocky Soviet throwbacks and new glass and steel buildings lined our paths; poppy seed strudels, potato dumplings, and goose feasts filled our stomachs; light Austrian white wines, hearty Hungarian reds and freshly pulled Czech beers served as social lubrication; and Slavic, Germanic and Finno-Ugric (Hungarian) accents provided the soundtrack.
This is the cultural goulash of Central Europe.
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Hungary stands distinct in Middle Europe: it doesn’t resemble its Slavic, Germanic or Romanian neighbors in language or features. Even more rare for this region, Hungarians like heat – in their food, in their baths, and even in their relationships (Hungarians are known to take public displays of affection to a whole new level).
Although we visited Budapest, Hungary’s grand capital, several times in 2000 as we transited from Western to Eastern Europe, our visit this year proved more rewarding.
From the fresh markets to the grand open baths, here’s why. Continue Reading »
Ever wish those gadgets in Star Trek were real? As the U.S. Presidential election results streamed in on Tuesday night, we sure did. We were desperate for a transporter to beam us across Europe and the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.
We didn’t go to sleep here in Budapest, Hungary until 7 AM on Wednesday morning, after the election results were in and the concession and victory speeches were delivered. Continue Reading »