The entrance fee includes a guided tour, and it was really interesting learning the history of this beautiful building and the tragic stories of the Jewish community here. Budapest's Jewish population was hard hit by the Nazis in WWII-in fact, the former reflecting pool outside the synagogue was converted into a mass grave following a massacre. It's amazing how resilient this community is, maintaining a sizable Jewish population in Budapest, restoring the synagogue following the war, and carrying on despite unspeakable horrors.
Outside the synagogue is a weeping willow memorial with the names of victims etched on each leaf and a stained glass artwork representing good overcoming evil.
Around the corner was a history exhibit about the Jews of Budapest and a few souvenir stores. They even showed a short film about local Jewish residents talking about life in Budapest.
We tried to check out a kosher restaurant, but since it was Friday, most of them were shutting down early for the Jewish Sabbath. So we settled for some falafel and tabbouleh. Still kosher, still tasty :)
From there we switched gears and headed to St. Stephan's basilica, where it's said the mummified hand of St. Stephan is kept. The basilica itself was beautiful, and nice and cool on a sweltering August afternoon.
The hand was located in a side chapel, so we got a quick peek at it in its ornate gold box. You couldn't see it very well, but it was still kind of creepy. (sorry, St. Stephen!)
Michelle is a very talented classical musician, and really wanted to see composer Liszt Ferenc's house while she was in Budapest. Admittedly, I don't know who he is (I'm a folk musician, after all) but was willing to see it with her. We saw plenty of evidence of him as we made our way toward his house.
Just as we found his house, we discovered it was closed. Argh! So we took pictures of the outside, called it a day and decided to check our final "must do" for Budapest: checking out their famous thermal baths.
Up next, the Gellert thermal baths!
I'm linking up for Travel Tuesday! Check out the other cool places people are visiting!