The Story of Budapest

Perhaps no other capital has played such a dominant role in the life of a nation as Budapest. About 2 million people or every fifth Hungarian lives in the capital. It is, from head to toe, a European city. Besides the citizens of many nations, more and more foreigners choose to make Budapest their home.

During its long history it was destroyed innumerable times, and its citizens exterminated; yet it has always risen again, evolving and becoming ever bigger and more colorful. Each age has left behind its marks, each rejected and destroyed, but built also, so configuring today’s exciting, in places opulent, in other places dingy city. The Danube, Europe’s highway, determines the life of Budapest dividing it into two and yet connecting both sides of the city’s unfurling districts. The Buda hills and the soft inclines of Óbuda on the left bank and the Pest plain on the right bank diversify the city. The islands embraced by the Danube – of which the centrally situated Margaret Island, which contains perhaps the most beautiful park of the city, further enrich this picture.

Not only the Danube, but also the hot springs that spout forth from under the city have had a significant role in the area’s development. Though the region has been inhabited ever since the Stone Age, by the Celts coming and settling here the from west, but also by the Avar tribes arriving here from the east, the first city with a significant number of citizens was founded by the bath loving Romans. In the area of today’s Óbuda, Aquincum was the capital of their occupied territory of East Pannonia. The Turks who occupied this territory for 150 years constructed numerous baths in the city. A few among them even today await bath lovers. Budapest was created by the unification the three cities of Buda, Óbuda and Pest in the year 1873.

The royal castle and the castle district define the view of Buda. Most of the residential quarter was built in the 20th century. Buda has played an essential role in the life of the Hungarians since the Hungarian settlement in the 9th century. After the invasion of the Mongols in 1241 the first significant fortress was built here for the protection of the population. Since the middle ages it has been the seat of the kings. Turkish forces, sieges, wars, and finally the embittered battles of the last days of the 2nd World War haven’t left much remaining of the former palaces, but even in their ruins they maintain their former glory.

After the withdrawal of the Romans, Óbuda slowly lost its importance. At the time of unification it was a city with industry and commerce, with family homes, but today it has almost completely changed. Not much is left of the charming little town; in its place we find today mostly vast pre-fab housing projects, built in the 1960’s and ’70’s. The view of Pest on the left bank is dominated by the dynamic economic and social marks of the development of large middle class housing units throughout the 19th century. Despite the wide radial and ring roads of systematic town planning and development, Pest, deals with the traffic demands of the recent threefold population boom only with difficulty. The unification of the three independent cities was only made possible by building the bridges across the Danube. Before the completion of the chain bridge in the year 1849 only ferryboats and a temporary wooden bridge connected the two banks. At the end of World War 2 every one of the bridges was destroyed. Today seven bridges secure the connection between the two halves of the city. Three of them, Freedom Bridge, Margaret Bridge and Chain bridge, can still be admired in their original beauty.Even today the building of the city, the redevelopment of the ruined and neglected edifices continues. The economic boom in the years after the recent political changes has given these labors a powerful boost. Our capital – growing into a true “world city” – renews and transforms itself from day to day, greeting those arriving with ever more to see. The past and the present live together in this exciting, bustling city; a mood equally amazing to visitors and those who live here.