A glorious city built on the Banks of Danube; Budapest is the cultural assimilator of Western and Eastern Europe. A city which is youthful, exuberant, vibrant and full heritage and classical European culture is the largest city of Hungary and one of the largest cities in the European Union. The city is cultural, political and economical heart of not only Hungary but also Central Europe. The city has a population of about 1.74 million people and the whole Budapest Commuter Area holds some 3.3 million people. The city’s past is well preserved in the many architectural splendors of the eras gone by and is today seen as one of the prettiest cities in Europe. Besides all the history and modern day extravaganza that Budapest offers one of the main attractions for so many tourists to this wonderful city are its thermal baths and massage centers. Budapest is made of two cities, that is, Buda – on the West bank of Danube and Pest – on the East bank of Danube, together they form one of the most livable, friendliest and youthful cities of Europe.
The city’s history dates back to the times of the Roman Empire, the first settlements at the bank of Danube were formed by the Celts. By the 1st century A.D the Romans had occupied the settlement and established their own settlement called Aquincum which later became the main city of Lower Pannonia. In the early decades of 9th century A.D the Pannonia was made part of the Bulgarian country, by the end of the same century Hungarians occupied the territory and a century later declared the Kingdom of Hungary with Budapest as its capital. Under the short rule of Bulgarian, Budapest came into being as two military frontiers with Buda Fortress on the west bank and Pest Fortress on the east. Budapest played a very major role during the period of renaissance as a center for arts, culture and literature. The city had at that time the largest and greatest collection of historical chronicles as well philosophical and scientific work at the library Bibliotheca Corviniana.
In 1848, Budapest became the joint capital of two monarchies of Austro-Hungarians and the Habsburgs this marked a period of greater development of the city, a year later the famous Chain Bridge was opened linking the two banks of Danube. Ultimately in 1873 Buda, Pest and Obuda (Ancient Buda) was merged together to form the metropolitan city of Budapest. The city saw unprecedented development of the city lading to the development of the famous metro line which made Budapest only the second city in the world to have such transportation system. During this time Jews were a big part of the city’s demography which led to it being named the ‘Mecca of Jews’. The city incurred heavy losses during both the World Wars. The years after the war saw massive redevelopment as well as restorations of some of the architectural heritage of the city which was partially destroyed by the erstwhile Soviet Regime.
Budapest is slowly capturing the imagination of the traveler, its beautifully energy, architecture, world heritage sites, its vibrant culture and music scene is attracting people from all over the world with more than two million people visiting the city every year. The Buda part of the city on the west bank is the more ancient part of the city with many of the historical treasures of the city such as the Castle Hill which homes most of its architectural heritage including the Royal Palace, the Fisherman’s Bastion, National Gallery, Matthias Church, Lions’ Courtyard and Hunyadi Garden. The Castle Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Chain Bridge and the Banks of Danube (A World Heritage Site) are lovely way to spend your noon and evenings in the city walking along the banks and on the bridge. You can also enjoy a boat ride on the Danube during sunset and also visit the famous Shoes on Danube which is a memorial on the banks of the river in tribute to the Jews killed there.
The Pest part of the city is more modern in its atmosphere, culture and lifestyle with city’s financial and business center lying in this bank of the Danube. The nightlife of Pest is very nice with ample discotheques, cafes, and hotels lying in the downtown area. The famous building such as the Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Great Synagogue are located in the Pest area. Budapest is also the Music Capital of Europe and therefore make sure you visit some opera house in the city to get a taste of Classical music. When you are all tired of roaming around the city exploring its beauty you can rest in the many famous thermal baths and spas in the city some of which have been operational since the 16th century, these thermal baths centers as the one above are great places to enjoy yourslef and relax. Getting around and finding accommodation in the city is very easy you will find local transportation adequate for your travels. With a modest budget you will be able to enjoy a good standard of accommodation and food in the city due to low prices.