Budapest is the capital and largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with a unification on 17 November 1873 of west-bank Buda and Óbuda with east-bank Pest.
The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241-42. The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture in the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, development of the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after the 1873 unification. It also became the second capital of Austria-Hungary, a great power that dissolved in 1918. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919.
Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, its extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest in the world. The city attracts about 2.7 million tourists a year.
Similarly to other Central European capitals, Budapest offers wonderful cultural experiences to visitors and locals alike. With an abundance of concert halls, churches, museums, cinemas and a bustling nightlife, the city is a popular destination all year round.
One of the reasons the Romans first colonized the area immediately to the west of the River Danube and established their regional capital at Aquincum (now part of Óbuda, in northern Budapest) is so that they could utilize and enjoy the thermal springs. There are still ruins visible today of the enormous baths that were built during that period. The new baths that were constructed during the Turkish period (1541–1686) served both bathing and medicinal purposes, and some of these are still in use to this day. Budapest gained its reputation as a city of spas in the 1920s, following the first realization of the economic potential of the thermal waters in drawing in visitors. Indeed, in 1934 Budapest was officially ranked as a "City of Spas". Today, the baths are mostly frequented by the older generation, as, with the exception of the “Magic Bath” and "Cinetrip" water discos, young people tend to prefer the lidos which are open in the summer. Construction of the Király Baths started in 1565, and most of the present-day building dates from the Turkish period, including most notably the fine cupola-topped pool.
|The Parliament Building|
- The Parliament Building. Built between 1885 and 1904 the Parliament building soon became the symbol of the Hungarian capital. Not just because of its sheer size – nearly 18000 square metres – but because of its detailed decoration, inside splendour and eclectic diversity. It is the most expensive building ever built in Hungary. It has 691 rooms, 10 courtyards, 27 gates and 29 staircases. It also houses a public library with 500.000 volumes. The walls from outside are decorated by the statues of the most important historical figures of Hungary. Until the 19th century the Hungarian diet held its sessions on various places in the country, depending on which part was not under occupation or foreign rule. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867, Hungary received more independence and it's own constitution. The establishment of a parliament building was also initiated.
- St Stephen's Basilica. The church is named for Saint Stephen I of Hungary, the first King of Hungary (c. 975–1038), whose incorruptible right hand is housed in the reliquary. This is the most important church building in Hungary, one of the most significant tourist attractions and the third highest building in Hungary. The architectural style is Neo-Classical; it has a Greek cross ground plan. The façade is anchored by two large bell towers. In the southern tower is Hungary's biggest bell, weighing over 9 tonnes
- Matthias Church. is a church located in the heart of Buda's Castle District. According to church tradition, it was originally built in Romanesque style in 1015. The current building was constructed in the florid late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century and was extensively restored in the late 19th century. It was the second largest church of medieval Buda and the seventh largest church of medieval Hungarian Kingdom.
- Buda Castle. is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, first completed in 1265. In the past, it was also called Royal Palace and Royal Castle. Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, bounded on the north by what is known as the Castle District (Várnegyed), famous for its Medieval, Baroque and 19th century houses, churches and public buildings. It is linked to Clark Ádám Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge by the Castle Hill Funicular.
- Hősök tere or Heroes' Square. is one of the major squares rich with historic and political connotations. Its iconic statue complex, the Millennium Memorial, was completed in 1900, the same year the square was named "Heroes' Square". It lies at the end of Andrássy Avenue (with which it comprises part of an extensive World Heritage site), next to City Park. During the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 the Millennium Monument was completely covered by red textile and at the basement of the obelisk a new statue was erected: Marx with a worker and a peasant. The statues of Hungarian historic national heroes were toppled. The Hungarian national symbols were banned in the name of internationalism. Hősök tere is surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Palace of Art (or more accurately Hall of Art) on the right. On the other side it faces Andrássy Avenue which has two buildings looking at the square — one is residential and the other one is the embassy of Serbia (former Yugoslavian embassy where Imre Nagy secured sanctuary in 1956).