It was a hot day in July 2011. My third trip to Budapest but the first time I would make it off-the-beaten track. My now husband – then boyfriend – suggested we should visit a tower on top of a hill. He’s always known about my passion for climbing to the top of…anything possible to climb and my fascination with towers, especially if they have an interesting history.
Elisabeth Lookout (or Elisabeth Tower) is located on top of János Hill, at the highest point of Budapest, Hungary’s capital. The tower is built in neo-Romanesque style and is 23.5 m high. But since it’s already high on the hill, the views are just…majestic.
It is free to visit but you need to tackle the 101 steps which lead to the very top of it. And lovers, bring a love lock, as at the top you’ll find a place to put it, along with other love locks which made their way here.
Built in 1908-1910, the tower attracts visitors especially on lovely spring and autumn days. Summers can be scorching hot while getting there during winter can be a hassle. The easiest way to get to the tower is on the Cogwheel, followed by a short trip on the Children’s Railway and a hike in the woods. Alternatively, there is a chairlift which can take you close to the tower and the walk is shorter.
But I am not writing to give history lessons and directions. I was about to tell you why this tower inspired awe. It was a hot, stuffy day in July. By the middle of the hike it started to drizzle which made us huff and puff, moaning that we are not fit enough. We finally made it to where the chairlift stops and were contemplating another hike, to get to the tower itself, but this time we faced a much steeper incline. My bad knee was screaming with each step but I pushed forward, until I could see the white marble of the tower. I stop. I gazed. I was…in awe. I was mesmerized by its beauty and majestic feel.
We stopped to take some photos with the tower and I was utterly fascinated. I wanted to learn about it, read it about it – the history is presented at the chamber at the base of the tower but it’s in Hungarian. I struggled to understand without asking my boyfriend to translate everything. I was fascinated.
We started going up the stairs and taking photos at each of the levels where there are viewing platforms. I saw the surrounding areas, the vastness of the Hungarian land and I wouldn’t want to leave. First time I didn’t make it to the top (it was very windy and I was afraid to go alone). But I badly wanted to be back.
And I was back in April 2013. This time as husband and wife. And this time, I climbed to the very top and took in the even more impressive view. And relieved every single second of my previous visit. It was very crowded now, though as we happened to get to the tower on a sunny spring day.
Budapest doesn’t cease to amaze me. Whether it was the third visit or the sixth. And hopefully the seventh (next year) will bring some more interesting adventures for us.
About the Author: Traveling Cricket: Travel writer, passionate photographer, in love with London, Budapest and Athens.