Budapest Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Budapest
Budapest, capital of the Republic of Hungary, is considered by many visitors to be the "Paris of the East" because of its particular charm; it is the most densely populated and culturally the most important metropolis of Eastern Central Europe.
Budapest is situated at a favorable spot for communications across the Danube, leading from the Hungarian Central Uplands to the Great Hungarian Plain. Topographical contrasts are a feature of the unique townscape. The territory of the city on the right of the Danube includes the river terraces of varying heights and extends far into the Buda Upland, which is composed of dolomite and chalk and which was articulated by a tectonic disturbance into a higher northern part and a lower southern part.The plain of Pest on the left bank of the Danube is far better suited to settlement.The present Hungarian capital formally came into being in 1872, with the amalgamation into one of three previously independent towns, Old Buda (Óbuda), Buda, strategically placed on a hill, and Pest, a densely inhabited and rapidly developing township on the other side of the Danube. The new city very quickly became the administrative, commercial and industrial center of Hungary.The city covers an area of 525sq km (203sq mi) about 173sq km (67sq mi) of the city area are on the right bank of the Danube and about 352sq km (106sq mi) on the left bank. Budapest extends from north to south approximately 25km (16mi) and from east to west about 30km (19mi).The city is divided into 22 districts. The commercial quarter (District V), which was not dissimilar to the central business district of a Western city even before the fall of the "Iron Curtain", extends along Pest's Danube bank. Before the fall of Communism all the government and administrative offices, financial and commercial institutions as well as important cultural and scientific establishments were concentrated in this area, and indeed this is still the case under the new democratic regime. There are more than 600,000 jobs in District V alone. The population density amounts to 4000 per sq km (1540 per sq mi), and another 500,000 or more commute daily from elsewhere.The fringe districts comprise the outer domiciliary and working districts. More than 200,000 jobs have been set up here, mainly created by modern industrial concerns. Most people in these areas live in dull high-rise flats and on housing estates, although there are now larger areas of mostly privately-owned houses with pretty gardens.The richest mineral springs in Europe are to be found within the city of Budapest. 123 registered thermal springs provide curative waters of varying temperatures. Some of these springs have been used for therapeutic purposes since prehistory.HistoryTraces have been found of settlements dating back as far as the Old Stone Age. People lived on both sides of the Danube, where Budapest now stands, in the second millennium BC Bronze Age urn sites have also been uncovered. In the 6th C. BC Scythians from the Black Sea region settled here, and there are signs of Celto-Illyrian tribes having been here in the 4th/3rd C BC.A decisive factor in the town's development was the building of a Roman fort in what is now Óbuda. The Roman base of Aquincum, separated into civilian and military districts, was the capital of the province of Pannonia and flourished during the second half of the 2nd C BC.In the 5th C A.D. the Huns swept across the country, and King Attila set up a great new kingdom in what is now Hungary. From the 6th to the 9th C the Avars settled where Budapest now stands. About 896 the Magyars led by Prince Árpád settled in the area of present-day Óbuda.Around the year 1000 Stephen (István) I, King of Hungary, organized a feudal state on the Central European model and introduced Christianity. A few years later merchants from central and western Europe settled in Buda and Pest and helped both places to develop rapidly. In 1241-42 Mongols stormed the Danube cities of Buda and Pest. A few years later the construction of the Castle of Buda ordered by King Béla IV was completed. From then on Buda became a royal town, while Pest developed into a prosperous trading center. In the second half of the 15th C Matthias Corvinus extended the Royal Palace and Buda, together with Visegrád, became a center of Renaissance culture.In 1526, after their victory at Mohács, the Turks took Buda and Pest. Under Sultan Süleyman I (the Magnificent) many churches were converted into mosques, fine bath-houses constructed and defensive works modernized. Buda became the seat of a Grand Vizier.It was 1686 before Charles of Lorraine was able to retake Óbuda, Buda and Pest for the House of Habsburg. Various measures taken during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa led to a further economic upsurge in Buda and Pest, largely brought about by an influx of German-speaking settlers. In 1777 Buda was made a university town but lost this title to Pest a few years later. The left) bank of the Danube soon became the intellectual and political center of the country. In 1848-49 there was a civil revolution led by liberal nobles.The Chain Bridge was opened in 1849, with the aim of helping Óbuda, Buda and Pest to merge more quickly. In 1867 Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth ("Sissi") were crowned in Matthias Church. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy of the Danube came into being. In 1872 Óbuda, Buda and Pest were combined into one city with a population of more than 150,000, and a great economic upswing followed, and continental Europe's first underground railroad was opened in 1896. At the outbreak of the First World War many well-known industrial firms established themselves in the Budapest region.As a result of the war Budapest suffered severe economic setbacks which continued in the years between the wars. Towards the end of the Second World War, in the autumn of 1944, Budapest became a front-line town and suffered severe damage, especially in the castle quarter where units of the German army were barricaded in.From February 13th 1945 onwards Soviet troops controlled the whole of Budapest and thereafter it was ruled along strict Soviet lines. In the autumn of 1956 political turmoil and economic hardship fuelled popular uprisings which were savagely put down by Hungarian and Soviet forces of law and order. The inner city presented a picture of devastation.In the 1960s and 1970s much inner-city building and reconstruction took place, such as the opening to traffic of the Elisabeth Bridge, extension of the underground network, renovation of the old city center. especially the castle quarter, and the building of large luxury hotels both in the castle quarter and on the Pest bank of the Danube. What soon became known as "goulash communism" encouraged an upsurge in tourism, and visitors from both East and West Germany, Austrians, Italians and Americans in particular visited the city in ever-increasing numbers.In the 1980s Budapest joined other large cities in becoming the venue for important sporting events (e.g. the world gymnastic championships in 1983) and other large functions, such as the KSZE-Culture forum which was held in Budapest in 1985. In 1986 an important COMECON conference was held here which heralded the start of far-reaching changes in world politics.In 1989 the events of 1956 could be viewed in a fresh light, and on June 16th hundreds of thousands paid homage to the former prime minister Imre Nagy who had been disgraced and executed 31 years previously. These political changes led to the Iron Curtain on the Hungaro-Austrian border being pulled down, and several thousand East Germans took advantage of the situation to flee to West Germany and other western countries.EconomyBudapest is the economic, industrial and communications center of Hungary, and since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 in particular foreign money has poured in and it now boasts a stock exchange as well as branches of foreign banks and insurance companies. A considerable part of Hungarian industry is concentrated in Budapest, including the manufacture of motor cars and machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, foodstuffs and luxury goods, building firms, the printing and paper industries and publishing firms. Csepel harbor with its free port area is at present the most important port on the Danube. Ferihegy Airport in Budapest has grown within just a few years to become the most prestigious airport in Eastern Europe outside Russia.Furthermore, Budapest is currently a leading center of international tourism, as it can equally meet the needs of the business traveler or of those seeking cultural fulfillment or just a relaxing holiday. There is much to see, historical sites, 64 museums and art galleries, some famous educational institutions (over 20 colleges including the Semmelweis University of Medicine and the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, to name but two), extensive exhibition and conference centers, excellent health facilities, including at least five well-known spa establishments, massive sports halls and stadiums and even a Formula 1 race-track.About a fifth of Hungary's total population lives in Budapest. However, for some years now significant changes have been noted in the city's population statistics. Population growth has slowed down considerably, and people are tending more and more to move from the inner city to the outskirts; more than 16,000 people have left District V, for example, since the mid-1970s.The vast majority of the inhabitants of Budapest are of Magyar descent. As well as Sinti and Romany gypsies, other important minorities include Germans, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats and Romanians.Well over a half of the population of Budapest are Roman-Catholics, and about a quarter are Protestants.The political troubles in Romania and the civil war conditions in the former Yugoslavia have resulted in floods of refugees, and Budapest has felt the effects of this. Unconfirmed reports at present indicate that there could be between 100,000 and 200,000 refugees living in the Budapest area. In addition, large numbers of immigrants, some describing themselves as "tourists", are entering the country from the Ukraine, Russia and Poland as well as from many Far East and Middle East countries.Budapest is a beautiful city considered to be a hub for business, culture and tourism. It has numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Danube, Buda Castle Quarter, Gellert Baths and Andrassy Avenue. Budapest is considered one of the most popular destinations in Europe with over 20 million tourists each year. The Inner City and Castle Quarter are noted for traditional folk art items such as ceramics, embroideries, painted eggs, dolls in folk costume, hand-painted Herend and Zsolnay porcelain.
Margaret Island is a small island in the Danube River known for its thermal baths, gardens, pools, open spaces, and walking paths. It is also the site of the famous Hotel Thermál.
Gellért Hill is easily spotted from most places in Budapest. At the base of this towering Dolomite rock are multiple medicinal springs which feed three the famous baths of Gellért, Rudas,and Rác.
Heroes' Square was designed by architect Albert Schickedanz who was also involved in the building of the Museum of Fine Art and the Art Gallery which stand on the square.
Many fine buildings line this boulevard, including the Millenary Monument and the State Opera.
Located within the Inner Ring are such famous attractions as the Hungarian National Museum, the Pest Synagogue and Jewish Museum, Petofi Literary Museum, and the University Church.
Along the Outer Ring can be seen a number of impressive buildings, including the West Station and Joseph Town Parish Church.
The Danube (Hungarian "Duna") flows through Budapest from north to south; within the city boundaries its widest part (640m (2100ft)) is in the
north of the city just below the junction of the two arms which enclose the island of Szentendre (Szentendrei-sziget). The river is at its narrowest (283m (930ft)) below Gellért Hill; here it is about 9m (30ft) deep.Boat tripsDuring the warm months of the year these depart daily from the landing-stages at Vigadó tér (on the Pest bank) and Bem József tér (on the Buda bank).FloodingUntil the late 19th C rises in the water level caused major problems in the districts near the Danube. At such times the width of the river could exceed 1000m (3300ft); in the lower lying parts of the city considerable damage could result. In the second half of the last century, measures to regulate the flow of the water were urgently put in hand.WaterwayWith the expansion of industry in Budapest and in locations further upstream, the Danube became of increasing importance for the movement of goods and the capacity of the port installations of the island of Csepel (Csepel-sziget) was considerably increased. Along the Danube Corso on the Pest bank landing stages for national and international passenger ships were built and these were heavily used.The Danube is at present spanned by two railroad bridges (the New Pest Bridge and the South Rail bridge) and by six road bridges (Árpád Bridge, Margaret Bridge, Chain Bridge, Elisabeth Bridge, Freedom Bridge and Petõfi Bridge).
Some of the most popular attractions in the Budapest surrounding areas include the Buda Upland, the Budafok district, and the Castle Museum.
More Budapest Pictures
Map of Budapest Attractions
More on PlanetWare