:: Day One
"matching tracksuits and everything"
Monday 18 August
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|Kinga examining the
for sale along the way up
Saint Steven (Szent
Istvan in Hungarian, if memory serves) was
a bishop who, in the 9th century (again, if
memory serves) helped Christianize Hungary.
He was not well received by local pagans. After
all, he was trying to change their religion,
something most people don't like — a
fact that many missionaries seem to forget.
After the king (which? the name escapes me)
died and Steven had no one to protect him,
the pagans took him up to the top of a large
hill in Buda, stuffed him in a barrel, and
rolled the barrel down the hill. According
to legend, anyway.
|Graffiti around the
The most prominent
feature of Gellért Hill is the statue of Saint
Steven, which, of course, has been been graffiti-ized
(and not even vaguely artistically, either).
Additionally, there is Statue of Freedom at
the very top. A winding path, along which you
can buy various goods, leads to the top.
Lastly, as to why
it's called "Gellért Hill" and not
"Saint Steven's Hill" is something
I never found out.
|Two views of Saint Steven
on Gellért Hill
Saint Steven's Basilica
of the strangest things I saw —
this little photo session. It got
mentioned before, Saint Steven went from villain
to hero for the majority of Hungarians as Christianity
replaced paganism in Hungary and Hungary turned
Saint Steven into a national hero.
Such a nation hero that his right hand is kept
in a back chapel in the basilica . . .
The basilica was completed just after the Parliament
building and has the exact same height
of 96 meters — an effort by the designers
not to architecturally usurp the secular authority.
Kinga laughed, "In Poland, they would
have made it higher on purpose!"
Hungarian is an odd-ball
language. I don't mean that
insultingly, but factually,
for it is completely unrelated
to any of the languages of neighboring
counties, and only somewhat
related to Finnish (!?!).
For a Pole, it's particularly
odd even at first glance. "Sz"
in Polish is pronounced "sh"
and "s" is pronounced
like, well, "s." In
Hungarian, though, it's just
the opposite: "sz"
= "s" and "s"
Another odd thing: names. Hungarians
say their last name first in
most situations, so I would
introduce myself as and have
on my business card "Scott
Gary." (Those familiar
with the film The Usual
Suspects will remember
that the old Hungarian man in
the hospital bed says at first
only "Kaiser Szoze"
(can't recall the spelling).
This is a mistake, for a real
Hungarian would be muttering
After a lunch break, we returned to the basilica
and walked up 300+ stairs (I can't recall the
exact number, but I, like the dork I am, counted
them) to the base of the dome.
a slide show of the interior of the basilica
a slide show of images from the basilica's
|Not all were impressed . . .
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