Category Archives: Hungary

Married With Maps in Hungary

Victorian Greenhouse

Jevremovac Botanical Garden Belgrade

We enjoy gardens and parks (here’s a post we did a while back about some of the local ones we enjoy around San Jose). In general, they’re a nice place to just go for a stroll – so when we explored Google maps to check out what was around us and found Jevremovac Botanical Garden we decided to give it a go.

Belgrade Botanical Garden Entrance

Finding the Jevremovac Botanical Garden

After a little research we also found that these gardens are allegedly actually one of the most visited natural monuments in Serbia despite not showing up on any “Things to do in Belgrade” type lists we found.

With little time in Serbia you probably won’t get to it but for a longer visit, it’s a nice place to go wander around. We were there over a month. In general, and this is the vibe we get from Belgrade as a whole – we found the area to be peaceful and pleasant.

Walking into the garden
Serbia

A Lovely Space of Green

Altogether the park contains over 2,500 plant species spread over 12 acres. Some have labels to help you identify them.

Plant description
Spring

There are benches throughout certain areas of the park to take in the scenery and sounds of birds.

Park bench

Now, I’m sure the garden may appear different at different times of year, but also keep in mind that it’s not open year-round (info at the bottom).

RoseFlower

Anyway, you can wander about and enjoy the general park/forest garden, but there are also a few specific places within Jevremovac worth mentioning:

The Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden in Jevremovac

We really enjoy the aesthetic of Japanese Gardens. Of course, as far as I can recall we’ve only been to two others – the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Jose and the Japanese Garden on Margaret Island in Budapest (both impressive).

We thought about visiting one in Vancouver, but it was closed the day we planned to visit. This one was a little smaller than the other two but also very pretty.

Jevremovac
Japanese Garden

Not far from it there’s also this little bamboo area you can walk through which is neat.

Bamboo forest

Jevremovac Botanical Garden Greenhouse

Victorian Greenhouse
Outside the greenhouse

The greenhouse on the property was built in Victorian-style – which we enjoyed – in 1892. It was reconstructed again in 1970, 2005, and 2014, and contains over 1,000 species.

Greenhouse

Inside there are all kinds of different intriguing plants, succulents, and cacti.

Succulents
Jevremovac Botanical Garden
Cute Succulents
Succulents garden
Pretty flower
OrchidsWater drops

When we first made it to the greenhouse we saw a couple cats and fortunately had cat treats with us. So we sat and enjoyed the company of one of them – the other one was scared.

Kyle feeding catCute cat

Old Oak

There is also a 150-year-old oak tree inside which is a natural monument itself. (Sorry, don’t have a pic of it.)

Now for a little history: the garden was created in 1874 by the Ministry of Education of Serbia. The first manager (Josif Pancic) is said to be the “father of Serbian botany”. So this place is pretty significant in Serbia in terms of plants. About a decade after its creation, King Jevrem Obrenovic donated the garden to the Great School in Belgrade. He named it Jevremovac in honor of his grandfather.

Plan Your Visit:

Cost: 250 Serbian Dinar (~$2/person)
Address: Takovska 43, Beograd, Serbia
Hours: 9am-7pm May 1 – Nov 1
Note: Keep in mind that this attraction is only open from May through November

Cute flower

~B~

Visiting City Park Budapest

On the Pest side of Budapest, away from the castle district (Buda), you can find the City Park Budapest – or Varosliget Napozoret. This large park contains many iconic and beautiful locations worth visiting in Budapest that may be over looked by some visitors on a shorter stay.

We visited this area several times during our stay in Budapest, each time with the park transitioning more and more from fall to winter.

Kyle and Bri on Castle pond bridge
Andrassy Street

Hero’s Square

When approaching along Andrassy road, also home to the House of Terror, the first and most iconic landmark you’ll come to is Hero’s Square or Hosok tere. It is a major square in Budapest and is noted for it’s statues that feature the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars. It also contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Rising from the center is the Millennium Monument, which was completed in 1900.

Hero's Square Budapest

Surrounding the square, you will find the Museum of Fine Arts on the left and the Mucsarnok (palace of art) on the right. Following the paths off to the right, you will find the Timewheel – a giant “hourglass” that is a cool stop if you happen to be nearby. Unfortunately, during our visit, it was broken due to vandalism.

Palace of Art Budapest

Ice Skating Rink City Park Budapest

Proceeding into City Park Budapest, you find the ice skating rink immediately to your right before crossing the bridge.

Front of Ice Skating Building
Ice Skating building from behind

In the winter, the pond in the park is drained and set up to be a large, “natural” skating rink. The facilities provide a large, open place to skate. Opening times of the skating rink are subject to change due to weather, but expect it to open starting around November 23rd most years. Admission is HUF 1000 (~$3.70) on Mondays and Tuesdays, HUF 1500 (~$5.50) on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and HUF 2000 (~$7.40) on Weekends. There are rentals if you don’t have skates for HUF 1500 (~$5.50) for two hours. While a little expensive for our tastes, it still is a good price and was an experience that we really wanted from Budapest.

Ice Skating Rink
Kyle In Skates

Skating the rink at night was nice as it was right underneath the Vajdahunyad Castle. There were three distinct areas to skate: a common circuit rink where you go in a flow with everyone else; a “practice” rink where people were doing ice dancing and acrobatics; and a game area for skaters good enough to play various games. We really enjoyed watching the more skilled skaters.

We didn’t care for the music playing – American Rap and Pop. It didn’t go well with the holiday vibe and took away from the atmosphere. In my mind it would have been better to be holiday music. It is still important to be careful though as there are always random slips that can occur. A wild child managed to take out Briana towards the end of our night.

Interior of Skating House

Vajdahunyad Castle

And speaking of Vajdahunyad Castle – it is a beautiful example of Hungarian castle work. What is not commonly known is it is a recent build. It was constructed in 1896 as for the Millennial Exhibition to celebrate 1000 years of Hungary.

Vajdahunyad Castle and Pond

It features copies of various castles from throughout the Hungarian Empire, including the Hunyad Castle of modern day Transylvania. The designs incorporate architectural styles of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. Originally constructed of cardboard and wood, it was so popular that is was rebuilt from stone and brick only a few years later.

Vajdahunyad Castle from Lake
Vajdahunyad Castle Chapel Relief Sculptures
Vajdahunyad Castle Gates
Vajdahunyad Castle Decorations

Today it is home to the largest agricultural museum in Europe offering tours of the interior.

Approaching Vajdahunyad Castle

Other Notables In City Park Budapest

City Park Budapest is quite large and offers several days worth of exploration. We limited ourselves and only saw what we mentioned above and spent a day at the Szechenyi Baths. Being amongst the most famous of the Budapest baths, it certainly deserves a visit.

Széchenyi thermal bath

You can also visit the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden which is in the northern corner of the park. There used to be an amusement park next to it as well, but has since closed. It is only “open” to the adventurous few willing to jump a fence.

The rest of the park offers plenty for kids, families, couples, and solo travelers to explore. Activities range from dining, to skate parks, and outdoor concerts.

Pond surrounding Castle
Wedding Photos in Budapest City Park

While in Budapest, make sure to give the park the attention it deserves.

~K~

City Park Employee

House of Terror, Budapest

The House of Terror Museum in Budapest stands as a stark reminder of – and a monument to – fascist and communist regimes (and their victims) leading up to and following World War II. The museum opened in 2002 in the building used by the Arrow Cross Party, AVH (Hungarian Secret Police), and Nazi Party.

Roof of the House of Terror

Coming to Budapest, we knew that this was a museum that we really wanted to visit. Our AirBNB was located only a couple hundred meters from the museum so we had no trouble finding our way there. The museum is at Andrassy ut 60, the primary street running down the Pest side of the city towards Hero’s Square.

Advertisement for a movie about the Revolution

We decided to visit on October 23 – Day of the Republic – the 60th anniversary. The initial reasoning for this was that museums are free on national holidays, and we were on a budget. But we would come to realize a certain poignancy to our decision to visit that day. The Day of the Republic commemorates the revolution of 1956, and the overthrow of the Arrow Cross Party on November 10.

Growing up in the US attending public school, history classes rarely cover Hungary. Usually nothing more than the most generic of world history is taught if not directly related to the US. So this museum really brought to light an important and dark period of history I was completely unaware of.

Arrival to House of Terror

Our day started early, as we assumed that the museum would get crowded and that we might have to wait a while to get in. And we did. The line wrapped around the side of the building for about a hundred meters or so and slowly meandered it’s way to the front door. On the outside were pictures of victims and martyrs from the Nazi, Arrow Cross Party, and Soviet Communist Occupation. 

Line to House of Terror
Victim Portraits

Walking through the front entrance, ominous music played, conveying the cold Soviet demeanor that would be the motif of the museum. It took us a few minutes to get through and drop our coats and cameras at the storage area. No photography of any kind is permitted. Initially, we assumed it was busy because of the holiday, but it turns out that the museum is usually busy. So prepare for crowds.

House of Terror Exhibits

Inside, you will find that the museum consists of 3 floors and a basement. Each floor wraps around a central atrium, at the center of which is an old Soviet T-54 tank in a pool of water.

We began on the top floor and made our way down. Each exhibition takes a significant amount of time to work your way through and is excellently curated. You can find an extensive amount of information in both Hungarian and English, although there were a few sections that could use additional English explanation.

One enjoyable aspect is the abundant video footage and interviews with the Hungarian people. While dark, and not kid-friendly at times, these are very informative and far more captivating than placards on a wall.

Another nice feature, every room provided a printed information sheet in Hungarian or English to take. These are very detailed, and even multiple pages long. The information helped reinforce the message of each exhibit and allowed for visitors to peruse the exhibit without crowding around a plaque.

The museum covers the history of Hungary’s revolutions directly following and before World War II. It explores the relationships of the Hungarians with the German Nazis, USSR, and KGB. Numerous exhibitions cover arrests, gulags, imprisonments, torture, propaganda, murder, and resistance.

In the basement, they have kept the cells that were used to hold and break prisoners to the will of the communist regime. They are dark, cold, and dingy – a miserable place to be.

The experience of the museum is truly somber and sobering. It brings to light the atrocities committed and how easy it is for people to take these actions. But it also highlights the strength of the Hungarian people to resist. That pride still shows today, and especially around the time of the holiday. It shows in the Hungarian flag with a circle cut out of the center. The Hungarian people removed the communist insignia from the center of the flag during the revolution.

Hungarian Flag

House of Terror Exterior Display

The museum does not allow for photography or videography inside. This limits us on what we can show here from the interior. But out front, there is an exhibition as well. Numerous plaques in English and Hungarian detail various events and individuals from the resistance. As well,  a monument made of chains (the “iron curtain”) stands before the entrance. 

Chains of Communisim
Berlin Wall Piece

Revolution Plaque
Terror House Plaque
Terror House Plaque
Retailiation Plaque

I could say a lot more but regardless, the museum is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Budapest. It does an excellent job displaying the history of this tumultuous time.

Visit the House of Terror

Address:  Andrássy út 60, Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 10am – 6pm (Closed Mondays)

Cost: 2000 HUF (~$7.25)

~K~