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Budapest – The Pearl of the Danube
Budapest is a city that radiates a magnetic quality. It is peaceful yet bustling. It is a big metropolis but friendly. It treasures the old and embraces the new. Here is a city where history blends with modern life.
Such qualities made Budapest fit for its principal status in Hungary. It is the political, industrial, commercial and transportation centre of the country.
A Celtic tribe was the first settlement in Budapest around 1 AD. But by 106 AD, the Romans invaded the settlement and called it Aquincum. The settlement became a powerful Roman military camp.
In 829, Budapest became two Bulgarian frontier fortresses – Buda and Pest. Each fortress is located on the two opposite banks of Danube. In the 10th century, Arpad, the Grand Prince of the Magyars (Hungarians) officially founded the kingdom of Hungary.
By 13th century, King Bela IV of Hungary built his royal palace on top of the hills of Buda. It became the capital of Hungary.
It was during the rule of Bela that Mongolians under Sabutai invaded Hungary and destroyed Budapest and other major towns before turning on Poland and Russia. Half of Hungary's population at that time were killed off.
In 1270, Matthias Corvinus was elected as king of Budapest. Under his reign, the city became an important centre in the European Renaissance.
The Ottomans ravaged Buda in 1526. They besieged it in 1520 and finally occupied it in 1541. The Turkish occupation lasted for more than 140 years. At that time Budapest became a Muslim town.
In 1686, the Holy League Army composed of the Holy Roman Empire, Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth, Venetian Republic and Tsardom of Russia opposed the Ottoman Empire.
The Great Turkish War lasted until the 1699. And in 1718 the kingdom of Hungary was freed from Ottoman rule.
In 1867, Austria-Hungary was born. Budapest became the twin capital of the dual monarchy. The city greatly developed and progressed until World War I.
In 1873, Buda and Pest was officially merged together. It became the single city occupying both banks of the Danube.
The Golden Age of Budapest ended in World War I. The Austria-Hungarian Empire – allied with Germany – lost the war and Budapest collapsed.
In 1944 during World War II, the city was partly destroyed by a British and American air raid. From December of the same year to February 1945, the city was greatly damaged because of the German occupation of Hungary.
Over 250,000 Jewish inhabitants of the city died due to the Nazi occupation and Arrow Cross Party genocide.
Hungary was occupied by the Russians after Germany was defeated in 1945. Budapest then became part of what became known as the Communist Eastern European Iron Curtain.
In 1956, Budapest hosted the outbreak of the ill-fated Hungarian Revolution against the Communists.
In1987, Buda Castle and the banks of the Danube River were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the eventual collapse of Communism in East Europe, Hungary finally became democratic. In 2008, Hungary joined NATO.
Since then, the city has continuously progress and its glorious days are evident up to the present day due to its new-found contact with West Europe.
Budapest is dubbed as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Its main highlights include the banks of the Danube River and Buda Castle Quarter. There is also the Andrassy Avenue, Heroes Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest railway in the world.
Other hotspots in Budapest also include over 100 geothermal springs which is the largest thermal water cave system in the world. The city also boasts of the second largest synagogue and the third largest Parliament building.
Because of these, Budapest attracts 2.3 million tourists per year.
The Buda Castle is the most famous attraction in the city. It is the first Royal residence of the Kings of Hungary. It was built by King Bela IV in 1247. After two generations, King Sigismund enlarged the palace. The castle then became the largest Gothic palace in the late Middle Age.
It also became an artistic centre for International Gothic style. The interiors of the castle were lavishly decorated with Baroque masterpieces. In 1987, Buda Castle became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Margaret Island is a welcoming green oasis in the heart of Budapest. It is a recreational island open for the public located in the middle of the Danube River. It is a popular local destination especially during the weekends.
The island boasts of a panoramic Japanese park with a beautiful rock garden and artificial waterfall. It also has ruins of two medieval Premonstratensian monasteries. The island is also home to two hotels, a swimming pool, a beach, various restaurants and fast-food outlets.
Budapest Chain Bridge
The Chain Bridge is one of the famous landmarks in the city. It ignited the golden age of Budapest. The Chain Bridge is also a major factor that made Buda and Pest into a fast-growing metropolis.
This first capital monument of the city offers a spectacular view at night. As the decorative lights of the bridge is lit after the last ray of sun sets in the horizon. The floodlit bridge is a jewel amidst the Danube River.
House of Parliament
The predominant House of Parliament sits across the Danube in Pest. It has a Gothic Revival style similar to the Palace of Westminster. Its main building is neo-gothic with renaissance influences while the base is Baroque. But the interior of the House is purely Byzantine.
Aside from its marvelous façade and interiors, the parliament is also the home of the Holy Crown of Hungary, the orb and the Renaissance sword. These are the symbols of the Hungarian coronation.
Matthias Church is the Main Coronation Church of Budapest. It is also officially known as the Church of Our Lady. It was named after king Matthias who ordered the transformation of the church in the 14th century.
The exterior of the church is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic style. Its entrance is of eastern motifs to signify the Ottoman rule. On its left lies the Tomb of St. Irme, son of King Istvan and heir to the throne. He was killed at the age of 19 while hunting.
The main highlight of the church is the Loreto Church. It features a statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ made in 1515.
Throughout the years, Matthias Church holds celebratory events such as royal coronation and royal weddings.
Other attractions in the City
Budapest State Opera
Gallert Hill and the Citadel
Where to Stay in Budapest?
Budapest offers a range of accommodation. From luxurious hotels, holiday apartments, affordable motels, hostels and bed and breakfast, you can find it all in the city.
You can also find vacation rentals located in the centre of Budapest.
All of these accommodations are of high quality. They are equipped with all necessary facilities and amenities to make your stay comfortable.
Best of all, you can book any of these accommodations online!
There are a number of online hotel guide and booking sites in the internet today. You can use them to compare prices and check availability. You can also take advantage of instant confirmation and discount internet rates!
Getting There and Around Budapest
Taxis in Budapest are inexpensive even in European standards. However, because of the excellent transport network in the city, locals rarely use them. And the only legal taxi operator in the city is Zona Taxi. So do not accept any offer from anyone if the taxi has no name on the door.
Also, citizens in Budapest rarely flag down a taxi on the street. They book over the phone. It is more secure and affordable.
There are 200 buses that operate in Budapest. These busses are classified into two. Buses either have a black or red number. The Red buses are an express with limited stops and are faster.
Bus lines in Budapest include:
4 – black bus, runs from north of Pest to VI Hosok tere to V Deak Ferenc ter. Meanwhile the red bus follows the same route but crosses the Chain Bridge into central Buda.
7 – crosses central Pest from XIV Bosnyak ter and down VII Rakoczi ut to Elizabeth Bridge to Kelenfold train station in south of Buda. The red bus also follows the same route with less stops.
86 – runs from XI Kosztolanyi Dezso ter to Obuda.
105 – Runs from V Deak Ferenc ter to XII Apor Vilmos ter in central Buda.
Night Bus 907 takes a long route from M2 Ors vezer tere metro in Pest all the way to Kelenfold train station in Buda.
Trams are faster than buses. They are usually best for sightseeing in Budapest. The most important tram lines that you should remember are the following:
2 and 2/a – travel along the Pest bank of Danube to as far as the V Jaszai mari ter.
4 and 6 – trams that start from XI Fehervari ut and XI Moricz Zsigmond korter in South of Buda. It follows the Big Ring Road in Pest and stops at II moszkva ter in Buda.
18 – Runs from XI Bartok Belau t to Taban and II Moszkva ter I southern Buda.
19 – Covers the route of tram 18 and divert along the Buda side of Danube to I Batthyany ter.
47 and 49 – runs from V Deak Ferenc ter in Pest and to the southern points of Buda via the little Ring Road.
61 – Links XI Moricz Zsigmond korter with Deli train station and II Moszkava ter in Buda
You can also explore Budapest through the Danube River. The Danube flows right in the middle of the city before emptying into the Black sea. There are two waterway transports available in Budapest. These are the:
Mahart – a scheduled hydrofoil service that operates from Danube to Vienna and Bratislavia
Hungarian Koncert – offers cruise services complete with lunch or dinner. It is a 90 minute ride passing through the Parliament, Chain Bridge, Palace of Arts, Buda Castle and other landmarks of the city.
Did you know……
That if you touch the pen of the Anonymous Statue in Heroes Square, you will become a better writer.
The city has over 100 thermal springs that pumps 70 million litres a day.
King Bela sent her daughter to the convent in Margaret Island in hopes that it would stop the Mongols from invading. But it did not.
That the ballpoint was invented by a Hungarian and lived in Budapest.
Budapest is actually three towns – Obuda, Pest and Buda!
Visit Budapest Today!