Budapest Hungary

Budapest Territory is 525 sq. km, two-thirds on the eastern, flat bank of the Danube in Pest, one-third on the western, hilly bank of the Danube in Buda. Highest point: János Hill (527 m.) Population: 1,886,000, that is 19% of the country’s total population. Administration: Divided into 23 districts (the Roman numerals in addresses refer to the district) International phone code for Budapest: + 36 1

Budapest possesses a rich and fascinating history as well as a vibrant cultural heritage. Recognizing the unique value of its traditions it has managed to maintain its magic and charm, and is rightly known as the Queen of the Danube. It has also been called the City of Spas, as there are a dozen thermal baths complexes served by over a hundred natural thermal springs.

History of Pest and Buda
The first town on the territory of Budapest was built by Celts on the Buda side, on Gellért Hill before the birth of Christ. It was later occupied by the Romans in the 1st century A.D. The Roman settlement – Aquincum – became the main city of Pannonia province with about 20-30,000 inhabitants. The Romans constructed paved roads, amphitheatres, bastions and fortified strongholds here, the ruins of which now increase Óbuda district’s reputation. The Hungarians settling in the territory in the 9th-10th century established the seat of their prince near the crossing of the Danube.. The flat areas were populated first, including the large island that once stood where Pest City Centre stands today. The Tatar invasion in the 13th century quickly proved that defence is difficult on a plain. King Béla IV therefore ordered the construction of reinforced stone walls around the towns and set his own royal palace on the top of the protecting hills of Buda. The cultural role of Buda was particularly significant during reign of King Matthias. The Italian Renaissance had a great influence upon the city. The second Hungarian university was established in the city in 1395 (the first was founded in Pécs in 1367): and the first book was printed in Buda in 1473 under the title Budai krónika (The chronicle of Buda). The town’s development took a new direction in the 16th century. Formerly rich settlements of Western civilization were gradually turned into vivid oriental “towns” and later abandoned, while the Christian cross was replaced by a new symbol: the crescent of the East. The Turkish occupation lasted for more than 140 years and left only very few marks but much destruction. All the values created by the occupants are linked to water – Turkish thermal baths are the best example. That part of the country not occupied by the Turks became part of the Habsburg empire. When, at the end of the seventeenth century, Buda was liberated from the Turkish rule, it became a provincial centre. The 18th century marked the slow awakening and recovery of the city. The nineteenth century was dominated by the Hungarian’s struggle for independence and modernization. The national insurrection against the Habsburgs began in the Hungarian capital in 1848 and was defeated a little more than a year later. 1867 was the year of Reconciliation that brought about the birth of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This made Budapest the twin capital of a dual monarchy. It was this compromise which opened the second great phase of development in the history of Budapest, lasting until World War I. In 1873 Buda and Pest were officially merged with the third part, Óbuda (Ancient Buda), thus creating the new metropolis of Budapest. The rapidly growing and flourishing city received new public offices, avenues, channels, public lighting, horse carriageways, a subway, green parks and bridges. By the turn of the century it was a genuine rival to Vienna. Dynamic Pest grew into the country’s administrative, political, economic, trade and cultural hub. The destruction of the Second World War could only be compared to the devastation wrought by the Turkish occupiers. After the war and until May 1990, when the first democratically elected government took power, the country was a victim of communist imperialism. With the dissolution of socialism the city has entered the post-industrial age with the leading role of blue-collar industry being replaced by services and a white-collar workforce. And now Budapest is again searching for its place among the major European metropolises. Budapest is once again becoming a Central European capital.

There is a huge range of cultural entertainment to choose from in Budapest. There are theatrical performances and concerts of classical and light music every day, with both Hungarian artists and guests from all over the world.

ParliamentIt was built at the turn of the century. The Parliament quickly became a dominant sight and symbol of Budapest and the Danube panorama. A typically Eclectic edifice with a lot of small spikes and stone lace ornamentation, it is one of the most decorative structures of the capital. It also ranks as one of the biggest national assemblies in the world. The rich interior and gorgeous decoration of the Parliament building are well worth seeing as part of a guided tour.

St. Stephen’s Crown
St. Stephen’s CrownIt is also called as Hungarian Holy Crown. The visitors could see it in the National Museum till 1 of january 2000, then it was moved to the Parliament.

Chain Bridge
Chain BridgeThe first permanent bridge over the Danube. Budapest owes its construction to Count István Széchenyi. Architect William Clark and namesake Adam Clark supervised construction works; the bridge was finally completed in 1849. It has since rightly become a symbol of Budapest, a magnificent sight when illuminated at night.

Hungarian National Museum
Hungarian National MuseumThe museum is one of the finest examples of Hungarian Classicism. Hungarian history is presented from the foundation of the state up until 1990. Stonework remains from the Roman period, the Middle Ages and from early modern times. The museum played a key role in the 1848-49 revolution and as such it became one of its symbols; for this reason the National Museum is to this day one of the focal points of celebrations marking the national holiday of March 15.

Synagogue in the Dohany Street
Synagogue in the Dohany StreetThe world’s second largest and Europe’s largest synagogue, with seating for 3000 people. It was built in the middle of the 19th century in Romantic style for the around 30,000 Jewish community of Pest mainly living in this part of the town.

Castle Hill
Castle HillBuda Castle It functions as home to important cultural institutions and museums: Hungarian National Gallery, the National Széchényi Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Budapest History Museum. Matthias Church The church wears the name of King Matthias. Every king left its mark on the building until the Turks occupied Buda in 1541 and converted the temple into a mosque, whitewashing – and thus preserving – its medieval frescos. In addition to the usual biblical scenes, its frescos tell of the most important events in Hungary’s history. From Hotel Burg visitors can enjoy the panorama of the church. Fisher Bastion Completed in 1905 on the site of a former fish market – this is where the name comes from. It is an excellent lookout place. The floodlit row of bastions offer a panoramic view onto the other bank of the Danube. The cityscape opening up from there, including the Fishermen’s Bastion, has been part of UNESCO’s World Heritage since 1988. Funicular It was opened in 1870, offers an authentic-style carriages travel between the stations. The journey takes a couple of minutes. At the lower terminus, at the foot of Chain Bridge, stands the 0 kilometre stone, from which all distances are measured in Hungary.
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BathesGellert Thermal Bath Architectural folly in late Art Nouveau style, covered pool, with bubbles, hot spring baths, sun terraces, wave bath and medicinal treatments all on offer. Szechenyi Thermal Bath Convivial, well-appointed bathing establishment with a small restaurant. Neo-Baroque architectural surroundings.

Vajdahunyad Castle
Vajdahunyad CastleIt was originally built of timber and cardboard for the World Exhibition organized in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of the arrival of the Magyars in the Carpathian Basin. Its aim was to give the visitor an insight into Hungary’s architectural past. The castle is a true representation of a thousand years of Hungarian architecture in one single monument. Today Vajdahunyad Castle is the home of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum. Reproduction of Jaki Church It can be found in Vajdahunyad Castle together with other reproductions of different historical buildings of Hungary.

Heroes’ Square
Heroes’ SquareBudapest’s grandest square closes off Andrássy út, with City Park right behind. Each part of the monument represents an important section of Hungarian history. In the focus of the semicircular colonnade stands the bronze statue of Archangel Gabriel on a 36-meter-high column, which was awarded a Grand Prix at the Paris World Exposition in 1900. According to an old Hungarian legend, the angel appeared in the dreams of first Hungarian king Saint Stephen and gave him the holy crown. The equestrian statues of the seven legendary chieftains who lead migrating Hungarians to the Carpathian Basin stand on the pedestal of the obelisk. The two circular peristyles present statues of famous kings, emperors and personalities of Hungarian history.

Hungarian State Opera House
Hungarian State Opera HouseIt is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. The opening performance of the Opera House was held in 1884 after nine years of construction. The staircase and the auditorium of the palace, designed by one of the best architects of those days Miklós Ybl, are decorated with frescos of eminent Hungarian painters such as Bertalan Székely, Mór Thán and Károly Lotz. The first director was Ferenc Erkel, Gustav Mahler held this post for several years, and Puccini directed the premiere of two of his operas here. It is still one of the best opera houses in Europe.

Academy of Music
Academy of MusicThe Academy of Music is located next to Andrássy út and Oktogon. It was founded in 1875, its first managing director was the world famous composer Ferenc Erkel. The Academy today not only trains musicians to the highest standard, but it also functions as the centre of concert life in Budapest. The Art Nouveau edifice seen today was completed in 1907 featuring the richest interior decoration ever built in this style in the capital. Its large hall offers excellent acoustics for an audience of 1200; there is also a smaller concert hall with 400 seats. Even if you are not a big fan of classical music, it is worth buying a concert ticket just to admire the beautiful interior of these concert halls.

Pesti Vigado
Pesti VigadoPerhaps the most beautiful cultural centre of Hungary, the renovated Vigadó has a number of facilities. The imposing concert hall, which can accommodate up to 700 people, is to this day one of the most significant venues of music life in Budapest. The chamber hall (220 seats) hosts drama performances, chamber concerts and various other cultural events.

Statue Park
Gigantic monuments from the Communist dictatorship – A last glimpse behing the Iron curtain. Removed statues of Lenin, Marx and other communist heroes, soldiers of the Soviet army, Revolutionists. The most exciting open air museum in eastern Europe after the fall of the communist dictatorship. Open every day from 10 am till Sunset. Direct bus service from the downtown to the Statue park every day at 11 am (the Bus leaves from Deak Square).