Sights to See in Hungary – Budapest: Part 1
Hungary is situated in the middle of Europe and it is a popular place for foreign tourists to spend holidays here because of the sights, the atmosphere of the country, the high quality cultural programs, the hospitality of the Hungarians and last but not least the famous Hungarian cuisine and wines.
Budapest, the Capital of Hungary
Budapest is the capital of Hungary, the centre of social, political, economic and cultural life of the country. With its 2 million inhabitants and 23 districts it is the biggest city of the country. About 20% of the population lives here. Because of its long history and lot of historic monuments, its spas and different cultural programs and festivals it is the number one tourist attractions in Hungary.
Map of Hungary
Map of Budapest
Budapest on the Banks of the River Danube
The Location of Budapest
Budapest is situated on both banks of the river Danube, which is the biggest river in Hungary. The town can be found where the river flows out of the grip of mountains and hills and can spread wide on the plain area making smaller or bigger islands. Buda is on the right side of the Danube and it is the hilly part of the city while Pest is on the left side and it is completely flat and twice as big as Buda.
The hills on the Buda side are favourite tourist areas to spend a day out. Here are some of the best known ones. Gellért Hill is in the centre of Buda and has a good view from it over the Pest side. It is a pleasant walking area with some good restaurants.
Várhegy (Castle Hill) is next to Gellért Hill. It is almost totally built up but you can see most of the historic sights here. If you want to feel the atmosphere of a medieval town, walk through the streets and narrow pathways, climb the steps leading up and down and explore Castle Hill, which is a part of the World Heritage.
János-hegy (John Hill) is the highest of the Buda hills. It is 529 m (1200ft) high. It is a nice green area to have a day off and walk in the forest listening to the birds or travel on the children’s railway line.
The History of Budapest
According to archaeological excavations the territory where Budapest is situated now has been inhabited for about 10 thousand years. It is probably because of its excellent location. Budapest was founded in the heart of a natural basin – the Carpathian Basin – at a place where the river Danube, after cutting through the Hungarian Central Hills, reaches the Great Plains. Though the Danube becomes wider in the flat area but it is not as deep as among the hills so it was easier to cross it in the ancient times as well. That is why this place used to be a junction of continental thoroughfares which converged towards crossing places. The meeting points of several commercial routes are always a good place for people to settle down and build a town. The remains of these pre-historical cultures can be seen in the Hungarian National Museum.
The first inhabitants whom historians can identify were the Celts. They called their settlement ‘Ak Ink’ which means ‘abundant water’. You can still find a lot of thermal baths and spas in Budapest which are good for different kind of diseases.
In 10 A.D. the Romans conquered the territory west of the Danube and the settlement became a Roman provincial capital with the Latin name of ‘Aquincum’. The name of this province was ‘Pannonia’. You can see the remains of the Roman area in The Northern part of Buda. The district still has the name of Aquincum.
The great migration in Europe took place in the 5th century. At that time different peoples lived here like the Huns and the Avars, who were close relatives and ancestors of the Hungarians. The last Hungarian tribes arrived in the Carpathian Basin in 896 A.D. and since then this land is called Hungary.
In the Middle Ages ferry services were established on the bank of the Danube, a castle was built on one of the hills and the settlements, mainly Buda became market towns. During the Turkish invasion in the 16th century Buda was occupied by the Turks in 1526 and it was re-conquered only 150 years later in 1686. Since this military action was performed with the help of the army of the Austrian royal dynasty, the Austrian Imperial Military Government took possession of both Buda and Pest.
By the beginning of the 19th century Pest and Buda had become the economic, political and cultural centre of Hungary. So in the year of 1873 the former Roman Aquincum, called Old Buda, the former royal town, Buda and Pest were officially united and got the name of Budapest. Since then the city has been considered to be the capital of Hungary.
The Symbolic Figures of Princess Pest and King Buda and Their Union
The Sights of Budapest
One part of the tourist attractions of the city is located on the Castle Hill where you can see the ruins of a former medieval royal castle and a new palace built on top of the old ruins in neo-baroque style. You can also walk along the streets and see some old buildings from the age of the renaissance and from later periods.
Another part of the sights are from the turn of the 19th century when the town started to develop rapidly and not only private palaces were built but also a lot of other buildings for political, religious and cultural purposes. The most famous and best known ones are the House of Parliament, The Cathedral, the Opera House and the National Museum.
The best view over the town is from either the top of Gellért Hill or from the Fishermen’s Bastion on Castle Hill. From these places you can have an excellent outlook of the Pest side with the river Danube embracing Margaret Island and you can see the bridges arching over the river showing the different types and designs from the middle of the 19th century up to the age of modern architecture. But if you take a cruise along the Danube, you can have a special point of view on both banks of the river and on both parts of the city.
If you would like to spend a colourful and exciting holiday with different sorts of entertainment, come and visit Budapest and you will get a lifetime experience.