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City Hotel Mátyás ***

City Park

It’s well worth walking the length of Andrássy Avenue from the downtown end up to Heroes’ Square. All along this most distinguished avenue are stylishly designed Eclectic mansions and apartments dating from the 19th and early 20th century. At the top, the imposing buildings and monuments in Heroes’ Square were raised partly by public subscription when, in 1896, the entire country celebrated the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian Conquest.

Imposing Heroes' Square has a 36-m-high column in the centre of the Millennium memorial, on top of which is a statue of the Archangel Gabriel holding the Hungarian Holy Crown. In the centre is a sculpture of the seven conquering Hungarian chieftains and Árpád, their leader, while the quarter-circular colonnades have statues of Hungarian kings, generals who fought for Hungarian independence and senior politicians. The Tomb to the Unknown Soldier is set in front of the monument.

Hungary's most important fine arts collection is housed in the Museum of Fine Arts: the Old Masters Gallery boasts the largest collection of works by Spanish painters outside Spain as well as many pieces by world greats including Bellini, Brueghel, Correggio, Dürer, El Greco, Giorgione, Goya, Murillo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian and Velasquez. Paintings by Delacroix, Gauguin, Monet, Renoir and Corot in the 19th century section make this too, a collection of international repute.

The Art Gallery, the largest in the country, stands on the other side of the square. It often stages important temporary exhibitions.

Vajdahunyad Castle (an ensemble of buildings on Széchenyi Island) brings together faithful replicas of famous buildings from historical Hungary spanning the ages from Romanesque to Baroque. The most imposing structure is the Vajdahunyad Castle (today in Transylvania, Romania), the Renaissance courtyard of which serves as a stage for concerts in the summer. The extraordinarily rich collection of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum (the first such institution in the world) was set up in 1986. The boating lake is a romantic spot in summer, and in winter it changes role to become the capital's top skating rink.

Széchenyi Spa is Europe's largest medicinal bath with thermal, steam and tub sections, a swimming pool and strand. The Transport Museum houses one of Europe's oldest collections detailing the history of transport.

Another establishment among the first of its kind to be set up is the 139-year-old Municipal Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the listed buildings of which are superb examples of Hungarian Art Nouveau. City Park has two other popular places of entertainment, the Municipal Grand Circus and the Amusement Park, the latter with a 100-year-old fully restored merry-go-round awarded a Europa Nostra Prize.