Budapest, Hungary

 

Budapest is both the capital of Hungary, as well as being the countries biggest city. It is located on both banks of the Danube River and covers an area of over two hundred square miles. This city is considered the cultural, political and commercial hub of the country. It has a population of over three million people and has the highest concentration of Jews of any major city in all of Europe.

The educational needs of the city are serviced by a large number of universities, making it the educational capital of Hungary. Universities that can be found in Budapest include Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Corvinus University of Budapest, Eötvös Loránd University, Semmelweis University, Szent István University, Faculty of Veterinary Science Budapest Business School, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Károli Gáspár University of the Hungarian Reformed Church, Jewish Theological Seminary, Central European University, Andrássy Gyula German Language University of Budapest, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design and the Franz Liszt Academy of Music.

The history of Budapest can be traced back to the nomadic Magya tribes. These tribes survived by looting and sacking small towns and villages in both Italy and Spain. This continued for many centuries, until the Magya tribes began getting attacked by the Bulgarians. This forced them to establish a permanent settlement on the Danube banks named Pest. While this move provided additional security to the Magya tribes it didn’t prevent their defeat by King Otto I in 955. Once Otto I defeated the Magya tribes he began their conversion to Christianity. The next pivotal turn in the history of the area came when King Bela IV established the Buda Castle. As a result of the castles erection a small community developed which would come to be known as Buda. A thriving trade existed between the towns of Buda and Pest, which lasted until 1873, when the two towns were combined and renamed Budapest. This marked a time of unprecedented growth for the fledgeling city which lasted until World War II. The period of time after World War II was very turbulent for the city of Budapest. A majority of the city had been damaged by the many battles between the Soviets and the Germans. Also, all the bridges had been destroyed by retreating German troops. In 1949, the city became a holding of the Communist People’s Republic. Today, Budapest is considered on the grandest cities in all of Europe. It is also home to many World Heritage sites and attracts over twenty million visitors each and every year.

One of the most famous landmarks in Budapest is the Széchenyi lánchíd or Chain Bridge. This was built during the nineteenth century to connect the towns of Buda and Pest which lie across the Danube River from one another. This bridge is over twelve hundred feet long and is over forty eight feet wide. Due to the demonstrations that were performed on the bridge during the 1980’s it has become one of Hungary’s most prized symbols of liberty. Budapest is also home to Buda Castle. This thirteenth century castle was originally built to serve as a fortification against the Mongol tribes which continually attacked the city. Between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries additional fortifications were added to the castle, as well as a palace. After the castle was damaged several times during World War II an extensive renovation project was launched in the 1950’s. This two hundred room castle is now not only an important historical landmark, but is also home to several museums. The two most prominent of these museums is the Budapest Historical Museum and the National Gallery.

Another fantastic historical site to visit in Budapest is the Parliament House. This building is over eight hundred feet long and three hundred feet wide. It has a dome that rises over two hundred feet and contains almost seven hundred rooms. The Parliament House was completed in 1902 and serves as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city today.

The largest church in Hungary is St. Stephen’s Basilica. This church was constructed during the nineteenth century and is reminiscent of the classic Renaissance style. St. Stephen’s is composed of over fifty different types of marble and work from some of the best known sculptors and artist of the time were contributed to its decoration. Almost every evening during the summer months, organ concerts are performed here.

The most frequented attraction in Budapest is Heroes’ Square. This location is not just a favorite among tourist, but also many locals as well. This square was built in the nineteenth century to honor the contributions of Hungary’s leaders. Heroes’ Square is located at the entrance to Budapest’s city park known as Városliget and is adjacent to the Palace of Art and the Palace of Fine Arts. In the center of the square is the Millennium Monument. This monument was erected in honor of the one thousandth anniversary of the Magyar conquest. The monument is composed of statues of the famous kings and governors of Hungary. On top of the monument are the symbols of Glory and Knowledge, as well as the symbols of War and Peace. Rising above the Millennium Monument is the Millennial Column. This column rises over one hundred feet high and is topped by a statue of Archangel Gabriel. Directly in front of the column is the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldiers, known also as the Monument of National Heroes.

The city of Budapest has so many historical and cultural attractions that its almost impossible to list them all at once. Some of the other prominent ones include Central Market Hall, East Station, Fisherman’s Bastion,Gellért Hill, Gresham Palace, Vajdahunyad Castle and Vörösmarty Square. Budapest is also home to fine restaurants, hotels and shopping venues that will keep visitors busy for their entire stay. There is something in this city to satisfy almost everyone, especially for lovers of history, architecture and culture.