The Description of Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and the center of its economic and cultural life. It lies on both banks of the Danube River, about 135 miles (217 km) southeast of Vienna. Its older part, Buda, is situated on the hilly west bank of the river; Pest is on the flat east bank. The two parts of the city are joined by eight imposing bridges. Budapest is often called one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
The layout of Buda is determined by its hills and valleys, while Pest's is determined by its semicircular boulevards and its avenues, which extend radially from the Inner City.
The Inner City of Pest
The heart of modern Budapest's life is the Inner City, the nucleus of Old Pest. Situated on the Danube, it is encircled by the Little Boulevard, which runs from the Margaret Bridge to the Szabadság Bridge.
On the Danube embankment, near the Margaret Bridge, lies the most prominent landmark in the Inner City, the monumental, neo-Gothic House of Parliament, which was completed in 1904. It houses the highest organs of the Hungarian government. Most of the ministries and supreme courts are to be found nearby. Opposite the Parliament is the National Gallery, containing the treasures of Hungarian fine arts. A line of palatial buildings along the embankment to the south of the Parliament, near the Chain Bridge, includes the Academy of Sciences, with its library of a million volumes and a valuable collection of codices. Close to the academy stands the impressive St. Stephen's Cathedral, which was completed in 1899. The section of the Danube embankment lying between the Chain Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge, popularly known as the Corso, forms a romantic promenade. Near the southern end of the Corso, close to the Elizabeth Bridge, is the Hotel Duna, favored by visiting businessmen. Váci Útca, Budapest's most elegant shopping street, parallels the Corso.
In the area of the Elizabeth Bridge are the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the Loránd Eötvös (formerly Pázmány) University and, east of that, Felszabadúlas Square with its fine restaurants. The Hotel Astoria is nearby. Many Hungarians as well as foreign visitors come to the Astoria for coffee and dancing after the theater. The central building of Loránd Eötvös University, the law school, and the beautiful 18th century baroque university chapel are in the same area. Near Felszabadulás Square is Calvin Square, the Inner City's busiest intersection. The University of Economic Sciences stands on the riverbank to the west of Calvin Square. Just above the square, on the Little Boulevard, is the huge National Museum. It houses the National Széchenyi Library, which comprises about 4 million items, including a collection of historical documents.
The Grand Boulevard Section
Swinging in an arc east and south of the Little Boulevard, is the Grand Boulevard, the city's main artery. It runs in a semicircle from the Margaret Bridge to the Petőfi Bridge, and it is intersected by two of the city's other major arteries, Népköztársaság Avenue and Rákóczi Avenue.
Népköztársaság Avenue is Budapest's handsomest street. Beginning at the Little Boulevard, it stretches for a mile and a half (more than 2 km) to Heroes' Square. The avenue's outstanding monument is the Opera House, completed in 1884 and designed by the Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl. Heroes' Square has an imposing monument to Hungary's conquest by the Magyars. The square is bordered by the Museum of Fine Arts, housing valuable works by European masters, and another museum, the Art Gallery, housing exhibits of works by contemporary Hungarian artists. Behind the square is the city park with a zoo, a circus, and an amusement park. South of Heroes' Square is the People's Stadium, a giant sports arena seating 100,000 spectators.
Rákóczi Avenue, the second most important avenue in Pest intersects the Grand Boulevard to the south of Népköztársaság Avenue. This avenue has large stores and first-class hotels.
Castle Hill Area of Buda
Buda's Castle Hill, a residential section with a medieval atmosphere, rises from the western bridgehead of the Chain Bridge. On the hill is the magnificent Royal Palace, completed in 1770. Heavily damaged by fighting in 1945, it has now been completely restored. Near the palace is the beautiful Gothic church popularly known as Matthias Church (Coronation Church), which was completed in 1269. Just behind the church lies the neo-Romanesque Fishermen's Bastion, built in the early 20th century to enhance the beauty of Castle Hill.
The hillsides north and west of Castle Hill are covered by lovely villa districts. Gellért Hill is situated to the south of the palace. On its summit is a citadel, which was built by the Austrian authorities after Hungary's defeat in the War of Independence (1848–1849). Next to the citadel stands the 110-foot- (33-meter-) high Liberation Monument, completed in 1947. The Gellért Hotel, reconstructed in 1960, lies at the foot of the hill. The hotel is famous for its thermal baths. The new buildings of the Polytechnic University are near the hotel.
In the northern part of Buda is the Óbuda district and adjoining it the ruins of Aquincum, an ancient Roman settlement.
Budapest's loveliest natural park, Margaret Island, lies in the Danube, upstream from the center of the city. In addition to open park areas there is a rose garden, swimming pools, and the spacious Grand Hotel.
Most of Hungary's industry is centered in Budapest and its suburbs. There is a heavy concentration of industry in Pest. To the north of the Inner City lies Lágymányos, the district of iron and steelworks. Still farther north, in Újpest, there are electrical and pharmaceutical plants. Southeast of the Inner City, in Kőbánya, the famous Ganz-Mávag machine factory is situated. Just below Kőbánya is Kispest, noted for its textile works. The south of the city is dominated by Csepel Island in the Danube, a center of heavy industry.