Budapest

Line One of the Budapest Metro dating from 1896 was the first underground electrical
railway on the European mainland and the world’s second, having been pipped at the post by London’s City & South London Railway (now part of the Northern Line) which opened six years earlier. Unlike the C&SLR which was built as a deep level tube Budapest’s Line One was built using the cut and cover method from Vorosmarty Ter (square) for 3.7 km along the very elegant Andrassy Avenue to the Budapest City Park and Szechenyi Baths. Construction took only two years and it remains very much as built though the line has since been extended by just one extra stop and the original surface entrance buildings have been lost. Today the whole line has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lines Two and Three are not so interesting and, though I was hoping for some communist style pomp and grandiosity, their stations are generally fairly nondescript but with some nice 70s attempts at decoration here and there. A fourth line is currently under construction and has been in planning since the 1970s, rivalling our own Crossrail in terms of time from conception to opening. Apart from the Metro, Budapest itself is, of course, an absolutely gorgeous city which I was lucky enough to visit several times over 2011 and 2012. Should you get there make sure you try the roasted goose leg: not to be missed. I
liked the place so much I have even included a few pictures below entirely unrelated to railway stations. The Soviet statues I have shown are, of course, no longer dominating the city but have been gathered in a park for the education of visitors and the amusement of the locals. I especially liked Stalin’s boots which are all that remain of his statue which had dominated Hosok Ter (Heroes Square) and below which the communist dignitaries of the day had gathered to take the adulation of the people. The statue itself was torn down in the
peaceful revolution of 1989. I have to admit I would have loved to have seen the illuminated red star that topped the glorious parliament building back in the communist days.  And why was I in Budapest? For that I have to thank Szilvia.

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