Upriver from Budapest, the Danube (Duna) heads north toward Slovakia, then makes a sharp turn to the west. At that point, it becomes the national border all the way up to the Bratislava area, where Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria meet.
That area where the river sharply turns is known as the Danube Bend, and there are three prominent Budapest day-trip cities located there: Vac, Visegrad, and Esztergom. On Saturday, we visited Esztergom.
On a grey, winter day when the temperature didn’t rise above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, we explored the city for 7 hours. Of course we spent much of that indoors — a restaurant, plus two coffee and cake breaks. We also enjoyed the Esztergom Basilica, the tallest building in Hungary.
The Eztergom Basilica is located on a bluff overlooking the Danube, and is built on the foundation of the first church, built by Stephen I between 1001-1010. It is known for that fact, as well as a few others: There is a chapel made of red marble, the altarpiece is the largest single-canvas painting in the world, and the structure towers over those who are cruising down the river and about to enter Hungary.
Because of this “deep freeze” in Europe, the Danube is frozen in several locations. In the last couple days, the entire length from Austria to the Black Sea was closed to shipping traffic and Hungary dispatched her largest icebreaker ship to begin clearing it. The ice you see in the photos was floating with the current…it wasn’t frozen at this point. Every time a sheet of ice hit one of the bridge pillars, it sounding like the calving of a glacier. By the way, this bridge was just rebuilt 10 years ago. The original was bombed into the river in 1944.
Enjoy the photos: