Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Budapest History and Military Museums

It is not unusual how one can live somewhere for a long time and not see all of the cultural venues available in their city. When I was living in Philadelphia, the only time I went to Ben Franklin’s or Betsy Ross’s house was when I had company. The Art Museum there is phenomenal, but it was only when out-of-towners came that I ventured in for another visit. When you live somewhere, there is no urgency to see everything since you know you are not time limited like you would be on a vacation. With this attitude, you sometimes never get to some of the places you should have. The Budapest History Museum is a case in point. We have lived here for almost five years and we had never been to this museum, though one would think it would have been one of our first stops. The museum is located at the back of the castle in building “E”. Ron was able to gain free admission since he is over 65 and there were no nationality exceptions. My entrance fee was 1,200 Huf and a photo ticket would have been an additional 800 Huf, if I had bought one. Since I don’t like to buy a pig in a poke, I chose to see the museum before buying the ticket. Budapest made the decision to create its own museum in 1887 with the first exhibition to celebrate the opening in 1984. The present location was established in 1967 housed over the remains of the Mediaeval Royal Palace. The museum covers Budapest history from prehistoric times to the beginnings of modern times. The basement level has wandering halls where one can see the remains of the Royal Palace, gothic hall, renaissance hall, and chapel. From here you can wander out into the gardens. The ground floor houses artifacts from Budapest in the Middle Ages, the Baroque Hall, and gothic statues. On the first floor, one will find a continuation of Budapest in the Middle Ages, a bit of Budapest in modern times, though not current times, and the temporary exhibition hall is on this level. Finally, the second floor, houses the prehistoric people and various cultures settling in the area up to the Avars, a nomadic people who traveled from Eurasia, thought to be of Mongolian-Turkic stock. This is a wonderful museum to spend a lazy half day. There was scheduled a movie in English at 1:30, but it never happened. We are not sure why. It is in Hungarian at 2:00 pm. The part that seemed disharmonious and others had mentioned this also, is that the prehistoric exhibits were on the top floor. This made the time line seem to bounce around from floor to floor without continuity. Other than this minor adjustment, this is an exceptional museum to learn the captivating history of the city. No one who is interested in the royals of the country should miss this museum. For those interested in the current history of the city, you will have to wait until I make it to the Kiscelli Museum where this collection is located. I would return here with the intent to buy a photo card. There were some shots I would have liked to have had. The plan upon leaving here was to visit the Telephone Museum on the other side of Castle Hill, so we ventured that way. When we found the museum, it was already 3:15 and the museum closes at 4:00 pm. In addition, the entrance is on the street behind the one that the museum is listed on in the tour guide. We thought it best to put this museum off for another time rather than rush through it. In cultural Budapest book, I had read that if one were to look over the north rampart wall, there would be a display of old electrical streetlamps in view as the outdoor part of the Electricity Museum. We looked, but could not find it, so perhaps the book is too outdated for this. What we did come across was the Military Museum, so we went here instead. The Military Museum is free entry and a photo ticket is 600 Huf. Since I did not have to pay admission, I felt buying a photo ticket would be a good way to lend support to the museum. The museum is housed in what was once a municipal army barracks. It traces the history of war in Hungary through an extensive collection of war memorabilia, ranging from weapons and uniforms to coins and flags. Each conflict Hungary was involved in has its own dedicated area. There are three floors, but it was so hot in there, after viewing the exhibits on the ground and first floors, I called it quits. I could not be considered a military history buff by any stretch of the imagination, so to have progressed this far was really an expansion of my horizons.

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