Budapest Bug

Prince Eugene of Savoy - a statue of misconstruction

It is a general disbelief, that statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy stands in Buda Castle for the reason, he was the Holy League’s commander at the successful siege of Buda in 1686. Actually the prince was still quite young at that time, and the battle of Buda was his first mission in the Austrian Army .(Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736) was born in Paris, and following his father’s death and his mother’s subsequent banishment from the French court by Louis XIV, the Prince renounced the country of his birth and joined the service of Emperor Leopold I in the fight against the Turks. Urban legends notes, the prince was the bastardy son of the French king himself, and his decision was supported by the fact, that his elderly mother became out of favor of Louis XIV.)

In a distinguished career Prince Savoya inflicted heavy defeat on the Turks at Zenta in 1697, thus ending their control in Hungary. However, unlike those of his predecessors, this victory did not result in the plundering of the country, but Prince Savoya was appointed to be the general of the Hungarian Combat of the Austrian Empire.

The statue was ordered by the grateful citizen of Zenta, and was created by József Róna in 1900. Being the city of Zenta was not able to pay for it, the statue’s erectional place became Buda Castle.

"Statue in Budapest’s Liberty Square credits Reagan for freedom" (The Washington Times Wednesday, June 29, 2011)

“Today, we are erecting here a statue to the man, to the leader, who changed, who renewed, this world and created in it a new world for us in Central Europe - a man who believed in freedom, who believed in the moral strength of freed people and that walls that stand in the way of freedom can be brought down.”

Mr. Reagan left office after two terms in January 1989, a few months before communist governments began collapsing in Europe.He never visited Hungary, but his efforts to end communism endeared him to many Hungarians — and now have earned him his second statue in Budapest.The bronze 2-meter (7-foot) likeness, placed on a thin block of granite, shows Reagan in mid-stride, making it seem as if he’s is taking a walk in the square.

"The statue is meant to reflect the ease he had in connecting with people and his close relationship with them," sculptor Istvan Mate told. Mate modeled his statue on a series photographs and has depicted Reagan wearing a suit and moccasins. His hands are open so people will be able to pretend they are locked in a handshake with the former actor and California governor. Reagan’s statue was placed on Freedom Square near a more disputed landmark, a 1945 memorial to Soviet soldiers killed during the ouster of the Nazis at the end of World War II.

Though Reagan has never visited Budapest, in 1988 he visited Moscow. Accordig to some urban legends, on the photo taken of him on the Red Square near Kremlin, - on the left side of the picture, in striped shirt, with camere in his neck - the young Putin can be discovered too! (last picture)

Music and water show on the Margaret Island

Among the attractions at the Margaret Island, the most popular tend to be the music fountain (near the Margaret Bridge). Here the water in the fountain and the music follows each other in strength and height. When I was a kid, it was called simply “the fountain”, and in my teenage years it was a popular dating site.

The fountain is among the largest in Europe: with a diameter of 35 meters, its water surface is more than one thousand square meters, contains 400 m³ of water. The new Music Fountain - opened in 2013 - performs its music from May 1 to October 31. The choreographed music and water show features 25 meter high water jets. The planned music program includes classical music pieces (Vivaldi, Mozart, Verdi, Brahms, etc.), and light music greatest hits like Let Me Down Slow by the Rolling Stones, or Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel, also featuring The Shadows, or Credence Clearwater Revival and Andrea Bocelli. So, the playlist has definitely been updated too as the 50 year old list only contained classics.

Raven in the Buda Castle - the Beggar’s Gate

At the end of the flagpole-lined promenade in Buda Castle you’ll find a web-like black gate. On top of the gate, there is a raven with a ring in its beak (the raven was the symbol of King Matthias). This way leads you to King Matthias Fountain and then to the Lion Courtyard.

The gate called Raven Gate and Beggar Gate alike. Once upon a time this gate led to the renessaince palace of King Matthias, later Sigismund’s - better to say, the gate, supposedly much more bigger - stood here at that time. Miklós Ybl created a triumphal arch like, ornamentally decorated, huge wrought iron neobaroque gate here for the carrieges, on both sides surrounded by little sidegates for the pedestrians towards the end of the 19the century, which was damaged in the WWII and demolished in 1960.

The present gate is the work of Bence and György Vadász architects and Pál Kő and János Lehoczky sculptors/iron work masters. Urban legend say, the satues serving as knots of the gate depicts the artists.

Courage leads, luck escorts us” - forgotten history of Puma Air Squadron of Hungary

The 101st Home Air Defence Fighter Wing was an elite fighter-wing of the Royal Hungarian Air Force in World War II. Also known as the Puma after the unit’s insignia, it was the most famous and well known of all Hungarian fighter units during the war. Created in the spring of 1944, it operated against US Fifteenth Air Force and the Soviet VVS during 1944-45 over Hungary and later, Austria.

Fifteenth Air Force of the Alliences, flying from bases in Italy, subjected Hungary to massed bombing attacks in 1944. The existing Hungarian fighter organisation was deemed tactically unsuitable for the effective protection of Hungarian air space from such attacks. Therefore, theTerritorial Air Defence Commanddecided to concentrate all existing fighters into a single fighter unit. The 101. Honi Légvédelmi Vadászrepülő Osztály was created from several existing Hungarian fighter units on 1 May 1944. Many of the highest scoring and most experienced Hungarian fighter pilots served in the unit, including the top scoring Hungarian ace of World War II, Szentgyörgyi Dezső.

During ‘The American Season’, between May and August 1944, the 101. had claimed 15 P-51s, 33 P-38s and 56 four-engined bombers. The losses were, however, heavy, and the unit was pulled out for rest and refit for a brief period during the autumn. Before that even happened, that 13 Hugarian pilot tried to defend the sky above Budapest against around 300 attackers! The combat missions against the 15th USAAF had come to an end, and the 101st’s main adversary was the Red Air Force. Retreating while fighting into Austria, the unit set its last remaining Bf 109s on fire on 4 May 1945 at Raffelding airbase, to prevent their capture by advancing U.S. troops. In the end they capitulated to the US army,

On the Eastern Front, during 1943, the Pumas were officially credited with the destruction of 70 Soviet aircraft, to which they added further 218 destroyed and credited during the Home Defence combats in 1944-45. They were credited with 64 American four-engined bombers, and 47 fighters of the USAAF Fifteenth Air Force in 1944-45. The total number of victories credited against all opposing forces was thus 396.
Relative to the small number of ‘Puma’ pilots, the losses were heavy. Between its creation in the spring of 1944 and the end of the war, the wing (and later, regiment) suffered 51 killed, 30 wounded, 21 of them become MIA; 7 pilots become POWs. They were respected by the american aerial command for their bravery.

The howling red puma head of the unit first appeared in the Royal Hungarian Air Force in 1938. Heppes Aladár designed it, and Baráth László drew the original graphic. Unlike other unit insignia, the red Puma head was not attached to a particular unit, but to the commander, Heppes Aladár, following him to his new commands. It was lastly used on the Eastern front.

The motto, “Vezérünk a bátorság, kísérőnk a szerencse!” (Courage leads, luck escorts us) is originating to the commanding officer of the 1/3. vadászrepülő század, Nagy Mihály.

The Tunnel under Buda Castle

On 10 February 1853, four years after the completion of the Chain Bridge, the building of a tunnel leading through the hill was started to the plans of Adam Clark. Construction went slow, as Austrians were not enthusiastic enough to give explosives needed for the work into the hands of rebellist Hungarians just 4 years after the Revolution and Freedomfight of 1848/49. But finally on 6 March 1856, the tunnel was opened for foot traffic, and on 30 April 1857 also for motor traffic.

Being 350 meters in length, it leads through under the Buda Castle to the other side of the hill. Its length is approximately identical to that of the Chain Bridge, prompting anecdotes according to which the tunnel has only been built so that in rainy weather, the Chain Bridge can be shoved in and be protected from wet conditions. The entry of the tunnel at its Chain Bridge end was also fittingly designed in classicist style.

The Tunnel got its legend too, including the story of the dragon living inside (counting cars while waiting for her Prince in the figure of a silver Jaguar), and gives home to the all time master of the Chainbridge. Once upon a time toll had to be paid to cross the Tunnel, today it is free for everyone. 1st May, 1919 the Tunnel was “clothed” as a Trimphal Arch to celebrate the first Communist Goverment of Hungary, and twist eating competition was organized inside. A part of Dire Strait’s Money For Nothing music video was filmed on this picturesque spot of Budapest in 1985.

Master of the Chainbridge

The Tunnel under the Castle Hill is the home of Mr Janos Fazekas and his family, who is the master of the Chain Bridge. He lives in the appartment at the entrance of the Tunnel since 40 years and he still likes his job, even though he gots lots of “funny” alarms from youngsters passing by about the lions of the Bridge running away and so on…:) His duty is to keep the Bridge as it is, check the state of the chains and the structure and also to clean the Lions who occasionaly “receive” hats and cigars in their mouth and other strange things.

Many anecdotes have been told about the Chain Bridge. A popular one is about the lions, which were place in 1852 at both ends of the bridge. Although they have tongues (they are just not visible from the point where you will see the lions), people mocked the sculptor about the lions not having them. In shame, he jumped from the bridge into the Danube. Actually it is a legend, János Marshalkó, the sculptor died years later, as a satisfied retired man.

Another story says that the tunnel under castle hill, which is right in front of the bridge, was just built as a shelter for the Chain Bridge when it rains.

But there is also one interesting fact worth to mention: Everybody, even aristocracy who was exempt from taxation, had to pay the bridge toll. As noblemen of Hungary were free from it on their own right since 1222 (!), there was quite a ribillion! According to another legend, “father” of the bridge, Count István Széchenyi was asked, if there could be any exemption. Széchenyi answered: “Yes, there is. When somebody goes over the bridge, pays. But when somebody pass the Danube beside the bridge, is free to pay the toll! ” Today, of course, the bridge is free for use. Once upon a time the named toll was collected by the master of the bridge, Mr. Fazekas says, his grand-grand father.

Beautiful Hungary

Marlow Bridge, the little brother of Chainbridge

Designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark Chainbridge of Budapest at the time of its opening in 1849 was regarded as one of the modern world’s engineering wonders. Clark (23 August 1783 – 22 September 1852) was an English civil engineer particularly associated with the design and construction of bridges. He was among the earliest designers of suspension bridges.

According to the 1998 bronze plaque placed at the Chainbridge on the Pest-side bank of the Danube, it “commemorates the only two surviving bridges designed by William Tierney Clark: the Széchenyí Chain Bridge over the Danube at Budapest and the suspension bridge over the Thames at Marlow-England.” Some even say, Marlow Bridge, was a nearly identical but smaller prototype for Budapest’s iconic bridge.The current suspension bridge at Marlow was built between 1829 and 1832, replacing a wooden bridge further downstream which had collapsed in 1828. It is the only suspension bridge across the non-tidal Thames. Construction of the Chainbridge in Budapest started in 1838. The inauguration of the bridge took place on 20 November 1849.

Spinning Neptun of the Margaret Island - the Bodor Well

Péter Bodor was a szekler gadgeteer and mechanical engineer (born on June 22, 1788, died August 6, 1849) who built a musical or chiming fountain in the Transylvanian town of Marosvásárhely (now Târgu Mures, Romania) between 1820 and 1822.

His fountain had a round floor-plan, with two arched stairs on the sides, and a dome roof supported by pillars. The mechanical core was a hydraulic structure driven by the force of water that played popular chimes at every hour. There was a gilded Neptune (or Apollo) statue on the top, that turned round in 24 hours. The fountain was destroyed in 1836 by a snow storm, and was never restored.

An almost identical copy was built in Budapest’s Margaret Island in 1936 that did not operated by hydraulic means, but used electricity instead. This latter was partly destroyed during the Second World War, but restored in 1954 and again in 1997. Now it is a tourist attraction that plays music at every hour during the day.

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