Budapest, Hungary: Sights of the city.

Budapest

Budapest is the capital and at the same time the largest city in Hungary. Of the nearly 10 million population of this small state, nearly 1.8 million people live in the capital. In terms of population Budapest ranks 8th in the European Union. The modern metropolis – the leading political, economic and cultural center of the country – sprawls on the banks of the gray-haired Danube River and covers an area of 525,14 thousand square kilometers.

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Video: Budapest

Highlights

Budapest is home to 50% of the country’s industry and the lion’s share of foreign trade. Historically, all of Hungary’s railways originate here. Seven national highways also start here (there are eight in total in the country).

Budapest is also the largest tourist center of Hungary: there are so many attractions and simply interesting places in it that most European cities can only dream of. Many of the city’s monuments are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their architectural, archaeological or cultural significance.

View of Budapest from the Danube The streets of Budapest

History

The annals of the Hungarian capital date back to the 1st century B.C. But there were no Budapest as such, nor were there any Hungarians at the time. The area was inhabited by Celts, who founded the settlement Ak-Ink. In 89 A.D. the Romans came here. Nearly two decades later, they renamed the settlement Aquincum and made it the capital of the province of Pannonia. A reminder of this early period of history is the archaeological park that survives to this day. It includes the ruins of buildings and structures, private households, and an aqueduct.

Buda in the Middle Ages. Wood engraving from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) Liberation of Buda from the Ottoman Empire, 1686 (19th-century painting) The Budapest Metro (1894-1896) is the second oldest in the world (after the London Underground)

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Hungarian tribes came to the Danube around 895. They renamed Aquincum to Buda, which became the first capital of Hungary, one of the oldest states on the continent, founded in 1000. In the modern sense Budapest appeared on the map of Europe and the world only in 1873, when Buda (or Obuda – Old Buda) merged with Pest. The latter was also an independent city and was located on the opposite (east) side of the river. From this moment Budapest was proclaimed the capital of the Hungarian kingdom, which was part of the newly formed Austro-Hungarian Empire with broad autonomy. In 1918, the Habsburg Monarchy collapsed, and the city became the capital of the independent Republic of Hungary.

Budapest began to grow and develop rapidly after 1945, “absorbing” the suburbs of Uipest, Csepel, Budafok, Kispest and others. In 1950 the capital added seven more cities and 16 more towns and the total number of districts increased to 22 (previously 10). The historic hilly Buda now accounts for only one-third of the city, while the flat Pest takes two-thirds.

Budapest in the early 20th century. Photo 1900-1910. Destroyed Buda Fortress. 1945

Sights of Budapest

Shoes on the banks of the Danube, a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, erected in 2005 on the banks of the Danube in Budapest

One of the calling cards of Budapest is called its embankment. The beautiful bridges connecting Buda and Pest are true architectural masterpieces. The oldest one, inaugurated in 1849, is called the Lancshid, which translates as “Chain Bridge”.

Chain Bridge of Budapest

Often sightseeing itineraries start from the city’s main square, named after the Holy Trinity. In the very center of it rises the monument of the same name. It was erected at the beginning of the XVIII century in memory of those killed by the plague. The Catholic Church of Matyas, part of the Buda Castle complex, is one of the square’s visiting cards, its true adornment. Built in late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century, the church underwent thorough reconstruction at the end of the 19th century. Many Hungarian kings were married there and later found their last resting place.

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The Fishermen’s Bastion or Halasbastia is situated in the Buda Fortress (Matyas’ Church is nearby). The attraction is a square surrounded by a 140-meter gallery with tent cone towers, balustrades and arcades. Its observation decks are popular with travelers: they offer marvelous views of the Danube and the historic Pest district.

Fishermen’s Bastion in Budapest Saint Anne’s Church

Once in this part of Budapest, be sure to visit St. Anne’s Church, an architectural monument from the mid-18th century. Located on Battiani Square, the style is Italian Baroque. On the facade there are sculptures of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Faith, Hope, Love and St. Anne surrounded by angels. The mausoleum of the Turkish dervish Gul-Baba Türbe, who is revered as a saint, will also be of undoubted interest. The tomb is a “living” reminder of the fact that in the XVI and early XVIII centuries the Hungarian lands were ruled by the Turks. Today, the mausoleum, which was restored in 1885 at the expense of the Turkish government, is one of the places of pilgrimage of Muslims.

On the southern side of the Fortress Hill stretches the Royal Palace, the first official royal residence built in 1790. It replaced a residence that was razed to the ground by the Ottomans at the end of the 17th century during the siege of Buda. Today, the former royal cloister shelters a number of museums under its roof. The most famous of them is the National Gallery, which keeps unique collections of paintings. There is also the National Library of Hungary and the Budapest History Museum.

Royal Palace of Budapest (Buda Castle) Basilica of Szent István

Among the main attractions is also the Basilica of St. Istvan, the largest Catholic cathedral in the city, which can accommodate 8.5 thousand people. The temple contains the relics of the first Hungarian ruler István, known as the “Holy Hand”. In the same cathedral there is a unique bell – the largest in the country. Its weight is 9 tons.

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Orsaghaz (Hungarian Parliament Building)

The building of the National Assembly, or Országház (Országház) is among the largest operating parliamentary buildings on the planet. The area is huge: almost 18 thousand square meters. It was erected in 1885-1904 and has almost 700 rooms. It is an architectural monument, combining several architectural styles: baroque, neo-gothic, eclectic, renaissance. The crown of the Hungarian kingdom, better known as the Saint István crown, and the crown jewels such as the scepter, the orb and the sword are kept in the parliament.

Gellert Mountain is a must-see tour of Budapest, named after the Catholic saint Gerard of Hungary. The height of the hill is 235 meters and on its top is the Citadel, which was erected in 1855. It offers a good panorama of both sides of the Danube. The Citadel is 220 meters long and its walls are 16 meters high. Near them you can see the Monument of Freedom. Its height is also impressive: 40 м.

View of Budapest from the Gellert mountain

Another place revered by tourists in the city is Margit Island, stretched between the bridge bearing the same name and the Arpad Bridge. It is 2,5 km long and half a kilometer wide (at its widest point). Here the citizens and visitors love to spend their leisure time. Especially liked by vacationers is the local beach “Palatinus” and a remarkable Japanese garden. Nearby is the Summer Theatre, the venue for theater festivals.

Margit is “rich” with two luxury hotels and a choice of all kinds of cafes and restaurants. There is something to see for lovers of antiquity: the ruins of the Dominican convent and the French Franciscan church, the old water tower and the Church of St. Michael. Also on the island you can listen to the hourly playing “Musical Well” and visit a modern sports complex.

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In Budapest, there are many museums. Among them the most famous are:

  • National Gallery: one of the main art museums in the country; it houses collections from the Middle Ages to the present.
  • Hungarian National Museum: founded in 1802, devoted to the history and art of the Republic;
  • Museum of Fine Arts: has the most extensive collection in Hungary of works of foreign masters of painting;
  • Ethnographic Museum: dedicated to the cultural heritage of both Hungarians and other peoples, the collection has about 200,000 exhibits;
  • House of Hungarian wines: the museum is located near the Buda Fortress on the Holy Trinity Square. More than 700 varieties of wines are on display.

The parish church in the Belvaros district is also a museum. Its building is considered the oldest in Pest. When the Turks ruled the Hungarian territories, they destroyed many churches in the city. But this Christian place of worship is the only one to have escaped such a fate. In the church even today there are still metric records, dating back to 1688.

Another tourist “mecca” of the metropolitan metropolis is Váci utca street. It is the main pedestrian artery of Belvaros and the main shopping street of Budapest. It begins from Vörösmarty square and extends to Fövam square, next to the central market. It stretches 1.2 kilometers from northwest to southeast, parallel to the river, about 200 meters from it. In the local stores are happy to buy not only modern but also national clothes. In the grocery stores “by storm” buy up the masterpieces of national cuisine: salami, goose pate, marzipan. And, of course, local drinks: cherry palinka, tokai wine, liquor “Unicum”.

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