Capital of Hungary, with almost two million inhabitants, centre of administration, industry, trade, transport and traffic, education, culture, arts and sports. The most attractive target for tourism. It is situated on both banks of the Danube.

Altitude of the bank of Pest is 100-150 m above sea level; peak elevation of the hills of Buda is 529 m.

Buda, Pest and Óbuda (Old Buda) were united in 1872 and further settlements (Újpest, Kispest, Nagytétény) were joined in 1950 making Great Budapest expand on an area of 525 km2.

It is a beautifully situated city. The Buda Mountains mainly consist of limestone and dolomite formations, rich in karst waters and caves. Karst water springs break out almost along the whole river bank. Thermal waters gave rise to the world-famous bathing resort inaugurated by ancient Romans and developed especially by the Turkish occupants of Hungary in the 16-17th centuries. Of the capital cities of the world Budapest is the richest in baths (Gellért, Rudas, Rác, Lukács, Széchenyi, Margitszigeti Thermal and Király Fürdő).

Six major islands belong to Budapest: Margit-sziget, Óbudai and Csepel-sziget, Palotai, Nép- and Háros-sziget.
Of these the one most endowed with historic monuments is the Margit-sziget, originally consisting of several eyots but united when the Danube was controlled. To ancient Roman buildings several others were added in the 13th century: the Saint Michael monastery of the Premonstratensians and a Dominican cloister, where the daughter of King Béla IV, Saint Margit retired. These buildings were destroyed under the Turkish rule. The island is a popular resting place, owing to its special geographical features, sports grounds, baths and entertainment facilities. At both ends, the island, Buda and Pest are connected by bridges (Margit híd and Árpád híd).

In addition to them there are seven more bridges in Budapest over the Danube (north railway bridge, Lánchíd (Chain-bridge), Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth-bridge), Szabadság híd (Liberty-bridge), Petőfi híd (-bridge), bridge of Lágymányos and the south railway bridge).

Budapest's architectural heritage can be traced back to late antiquity. The remains of Aquincum were found at Óbuda. On the site of Flórián square was the legionary camp and from the 13th century, a royal castle, later used as the queen's residence was situated. The ancient civilian town was built near the existing road to Szentendre (Szentendrei út). Of the ruins and mosaics of nearby villas the "Hercules villa" can be visited (Meggyfa street 19-21).

Pest and Buda were developed to become towns in the 12th-13th centuries, when the centre was Óbuda. After the withdrawal of the Mongolian invaders in 1242, the Castle Hill (Várhegy) begun to be settled.

Of the southern part of the 14th century castle the foundations of the István tower can still be seen. The royal court was transferred from Visegrád to Buda by King Louis the Great in 1347 and then the almost two-century-long construction works of palace and its fortifications begun. King Sigismund's richly ornamented palace was built in the Gothic style. His "Fresh Palace" and the court of honour with arcades were ready before 1419.
Matthias Corvinus was elected king in 1458 and he erected his famous magnificent residence, representing his wealth, well-organised army and centralised power. His court gave home to humanist culture. In 1526, the palace was plundered by the Turks and the treasures removed. In 1541, Buda was again taken by the Turks. During their reign, lasting 150 years this time, mainly fortifications were constructed and the palace begun to decay. The powder-magazine exploded, fires ravaged. In 1686, Buda was liberated. Under Maria Theresa's reign, further to the claim of Hungarian estates, the existing palace was constructed (1749-1770) as the seat of the palatine. In 1806, the Palace Sándor (Sándor-palota) was built. In the 1848-49 War of Independence the castle was heavily damaged again. Reconstruction begun after the Compromise of 1867 in 1881 when an imposing cupola was built. In World War II, both the edifice and its complete furnishings were destroyed. Renovations were preceded by archaeological research.

Today it is the most significant cultural centre of Budapest housing the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, a section of the Hungarian National Museum, i. e. the Museum of Contemporary History and the National Széchenyi Library. The construction of the Our Lady Church, called lately Matthias Church, begun in 1250 and went on for 20 years. In 1309, King Charles Robert was crowned here. The portal with the death of Mary was a gift of King Louis the Great. King Sigismund received the Byzantine Emperor here in 1424. Around 1460 King Matthias had an oratory constructed and later on his marriage was celebrated here. In 1541 it was devastated by the Turks. First, in 1686, Franciscans and then Jesuits were installed here. The present appearance of the Matthias Church is due to reconstruction according to plans by Frigyes Schulek.

The commanding view is enhanced by the picturesque Halászbástya (Fisherman's Bastion) built in 1901 in neo-Romanesque style. In 1839, on the initiative of Count István Széchenyi, constructions led by Adam Clark begun according to plans by Tierney William Clark. It was completed in 10 years. In 1857, the Tunnel and in 1870, the Cable Car were added. The Chain Bridge was exploded in World War II by the retreating German military and reconstructed for the centenary of its inauguration, 21st November 1949.

By the second half of the 13th century, Pest became a notable and wealthy town. There were a royal house and a parish church and, in addition, since 1233, a Dominican cloister within the city walls. After the retirement of Mongol invaders only ruins remained, but public security was reestablished by King Béla IV and reconstruction took place. The clauses of the letters-patent of the settlers of Pest were renewed and burgesses were allowed to acquire properties. After the Turkish rule, reconstruction was equally a major necessity. The first significant edifice, the Palace of Invalids (Városház utca 9-11.) was built from 1716, however, only three wings were completed. The Inner City Parish Church (1725-1739), baroque, on the foundations of the former Romanesque church integrating ruined Gothic walls), the Servite Church (1725) and the Clarisse nunnery (1729), the Franciscan monastery and church (on Ferenciek Square, 1727-1743), the Pauline monastery and church (now University Church) were erected. In the first decades of the 18th century, the Town Hall was built.

Pest became an economic and cultural centre by the early days of the 19th century. In 1808, the Embellishment Plan was accepted by the King, allowing large-scale city planning, canalisation, road construction, demolition, parcelling out lots.
Public gardens and parks, like the Orczy Garden, then in 1817 Városliget (City Park, formerly called Városerdő, City Wood), which was the first planned public park of the world) and Népliget (Public Park, the largest park in Pest) were opened.
The Inner City became a civic, ecclesiastical and educational centre, the Lipótváros district specialized in economy. Other districts like Teréz-, Ferenc- and Józsefváros were in bustling development too. Megyeháza (County Hall) was constructed (neo-Classical, 1804), but in its present form it was not completed before the years 1838-1841. Most Turkish buildings disappeared during the reconstruction works in the 18th century, ruins and remains were integrated into Baroque houses, producing a unified Baroque cityscape.

In the XIXth century neo-Classical style was predominant, of which outstanding monuments are the Ludovika (Military Academy), the Lutheran Church on Deák Square, the Calvinist Church on Kálvin Square (1816-1830) and the National Museum of Hungary. The core of the collection was donated by Ferenc Széchenyi, István Széchenyi's father, in 1808. It is a two-storied building and was completed from 1837 to 1848). The tympanum above the colonnade of the entrance is decorated with allegoric figures. The vestibule communicates with the hall under the dome and the staircase. The ceiling and the side walls have been frescoed by Károly Lotz and Mór Than.

The Saint Stephen's Basilica (neo-Classical and neo-Renaissance) is an outstanding edifice in the district of Lipótváros. It was constructed initially according to plans by József Hild in 1847, but after his death, Miklós Ybl continued, who suggested a prompt revision of the plan for the dome, which, however, collapsed in 1868. Further modifications followed and it was completed in 1890 according to plans by József Kauser (96 m height).
In the years from 1858 to 1865, the Vigadó (Municipal Concert Hall) was built according to plans by Frigyes Feszl, on the place of the Redoute and the German Theatre. In World War II it was damaged and later partially reconstructed.
The Synagogue in Dohány utca (romantic, Byzantine Moorish, 1854-1859) is the biggest one in the world (with a Jewish Museum). Their reconstruction works have recently been finished.
The edifice of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (neo-Renaissance, 1862-1864) is by Stüler, architect from Berlin.

Opera House, the biggest theatre in Hungary, is a beautiful building. The construction begun in autumn 1875 according to plans by Miklós Ybl in neo-Renaissance style and was finished in 1884. In the 1980's it was renovated. The ceiling fresco of the five-storeyed house was painted by Károly Lotz. This elegant, decorative architecture is Ybl's best work.
The eclectic edifice of the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences was built in 1882 by Imre Steindl. The railway station Budapest East (1884) is linked with the name of János Fekete.

The construction of the Parliament begun in 1885, according to plans by Imre Steindl and it was finished in 1904. The main front overlooks the Danube. Through the main entrance, the "Lions'" door, a staircase frescoed by Károly Lotz, leads to the hall under the dome. To the right and to the left, two independent wings served the Upper House and the Lower House, respectively. The edifice is 168 m long, three-storeyed, with lacy towers and gigantic windows. The facade is decorated with 88 sculptures. It is the centre of the state life of Hungary. Here are exhibited the royal insignia received back in 1978 from The United States of America.

The Industrial Arts' Museum, a three-storeyed secessionist edifice with characteristic Hungarian pyrogranite decoration was built from 1893 to 1896 according to plans by Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos.
The Museum of Ethnography, originally High Court of Justice, an eclectic palace was built in 1896-97 according to plans by Alajos Hauszmann.

For the millennium of Hungary, the first underground railway was opened in mainland Europe under Sugár-út (Avenue), lined with elegant, multi-storey buildings. Block-wood pavement was provided as the road surface above the tunnel. It was Count Gyula Andrássy's suggestion to construct an Avenue, hence it is called today Andrássy út. The Monument of the Millennium of Hungary, with statues of eminent Hungarians, is on Hősök tere (Heroes' Square) closing the outer end of the Avenue. Both Műcsarnok (Art Gallery, 1895) on the right and the facing Szépművészeti Múzeum (Museum of Fine Arts, 1900-1906) were planned by Albert Schikedanz and Fülöp Herzog.
The square is actually the entrance to Városliget (City Park), with the nearby Castle of Vajdahunyad, constructed by Ignác Alpár in 1896, but built again, now of more lasting materials, between 1904 and 1908. It is a presentation of details of architectural monuments and illustration of styles of the historic Hungary and could rightly be called a museum of architecture and of history of styles. However, it is named after the main pattern borrowed from the castle of Vajdahunyad in Transylvania and houses the Museum of Agriculture. In 1866, a zoological and botanical garden was established in the Park for which the pavilions by Károly Kós and Dezső Zrumeczky were completed by 1910.
The restaurant Gundel, fun fair, Széchenyi bath, esplanades, giant trees, lake, in winter artificial skating rink, offer facilities for pleasant leisure. It is impossible to list all sights in our beautiful capital. This selection was intended only to induce interested readers to visit them.
Welcome to Budapest!

IV. kerület

Újpest (the fourth district of Budapest) lies on the left bank of the Danube, in the northern part of Pest. Area: 18.8 km2. Number of inhabitants: 110,000. Újpest had been an independent village at the northern gate of the capital of Hungary for 114 years. The designation 'Újpest' was first laid down in printing in 1838. The deed of endowment of the independent village was issued by count István Károlyi in 1840. By 1870 Újpest became a village with the largest population in Hungary (10,000 inhabitants), with significant industry. In 1907 the village was granted the privileges of a town with "organized council", its first mayor was dr. Gyula Ugró. The town received the title 'town of county rank' snd it was annexed to Budapest on January 1st, 1950. The district once famous for its leather, wood, textile and chemical industry is currently the seat of several significant companies (e.g. Tungsram, Chinoin). Outstanding artists of literature of the district include the poet Mihály Babits and the writer Margit Kaffka who also taught here. Poet József Berda lived and worked in Újpest, too. Architectural sights include the Water Tower and the Town Hall. Újpest also has a collection of local history, a theatre and a gallery.

V. kerület

Inner-city-Lipót town is the fifth district of Budapest. The Inner-city is the ancient centre of Pest, on its place there was a settlement even in the prehistoric age, one of the most significant crossing-places of the Danube was formed here. During centuries the progressively developing city had been destroyed several times, but rebuilds made it nicer and nicer. After the 1838 flood the "Embellishing Committee" did a great deal to the modern look of the city. At that time the city had a classicist aspect: Deák-square Lutheran church, County Hall, Chain-Bridge. Political, literary and scientific people met at the cafés and restaurants of the reform era (Kremnitzer Coffee House on the bank of the Danube, Pilvax). In the second half of the 19th century the two new bridges, Ferenc József (today Freedom Bridge), Erzsébet bridge, the building of the Hungarian Academy, the Parliament, the Gresham palace indicated the speedy development of the centenary. On 1st January 1950 the area of Lipót town reaching to St. István boulevard was attached to the Inner-city. Today, the Inner-city is the centre of intellectual, political, cultural life and tourism. The municipality of the fifth district works hard on helping both the people living in this area and visitors to feel well.

VIII. kerület

Józsefváros, one of the oldest districts of Budapest, has just celebrated its 225th anniversary. It has over 80.000 inhabitants. On the request of the citizens, it was named after Joseph II, heir to the throne. The dynamic development of the district started in the 1800s. The National theatre was built in 1837, the National Museum - in 1847, the old house of representatives - in 1865. The magnates and rich citizens built elegant council houses and the inner Józsefváros, the palace district was formed in the territory reaching as far as the present József Boulevard. After the flood of Pest in 1838, the middle part of the district was rebuilt, where most of the lower middle class and craftsmen lived. The poor lived in the territory reaching as far as Orczy road. You can find innumerable wonderful buildings here. (Wenckheim Palace, Esterházy Palace etc.) The pearls of the town are the Füvészkert (Arboretum) and the Orczy-garden. The clinics have been the centres for medical education and curing for more than a hundred years. You can find Technical Colleges bearing the names of Kálmán Kandó and Donát Bánki here. The Mihály Fazekas Training Elementary and Grammar School is situated here, where several famous people studied. The cultural life is colourful in the district. The block rehabilitation of the 9ha territory between the Corvin cinema and Szigony street is providing a new direction in its development. A residential area is to be built here with pedestrian streets, a brook and parks. This project is a good example of harmonious combining of the values of the past with new, modern ideas.

IX. kerület

Ferencváros is the old-new name of the 9th district of Budapest. This part of the town built outside the town gates of Pest was given this name in 1792 on the occasion of Ferenc I's coming to the throne. In 1879 Pest, Buda and Óbuda were united, and among the districts of the new town called Budapest this part was given number 9. At that time the territory of the district was the same size as today. Üllői road and Soroksári road ( and the bank of the Danube), the two 'radii' of the typical structure of the capital with radiating and ring roads, border the district and moving outwards the units divided by the rings show less and less of the characteristics of a town. Inner-Ferencváros, the part between Vámház boulevard and Ferenc Boulevard is the oldest and the most urban part of the district. The area between Ferenc boulevard and Haller street is called Middle-Ferencváros. Haller street used to be the border of the town as well as the protection line against floods, while the area between Soroksári road and Vágóhíd street was mainly an agricultural and industrial part with mills and dwelling houses. In Outer-Ferencváros you can find Attila József housing estate, which is one of the oldest and friendliest ones in the capital. Main sights: the Church of the Parish of Ferencváros in Bakáts square, the Museum of Applied Arts, the Calvinist Church in Kálvin square, the Great Market hall, the National Theatre, the Church of Perpetual Adoration, the synagogue in Páva street, Ráday street, St. Cirill and Metod Church of the Eastern Church, St. Vincent parish church, Holocaust Memorial Centre.

X. kerület

According to contemporary historical records, Kőbánya was annexed to the city of Pest by King IV. Béla in 1244, under the name of 'Kőér'. The right of city of Pest to Kőbánya was affirmed by Leopold I in 1703. As research suggests, the famous Rákos field parliaments were held partly in the area of present-day Kőbánya. The stone mining past of this settlement is kept alive by a huge, partly undiscovered cellar system. Vine-growing, brewing and water-milling activities were significant in the are of present-day Kőbánya. Food processing, brewing and pharmaceutical industries are still of considerable importance. Forming a new city centre and the complete modernisation of Örs vezér square, Éles corner and its neighbourhood are under way. A unique sight in the city centre is the St. László church, designed by Ödön Lechner and built in 1899 as well as sculpture composition by Tibor Szervátiusz on the other side of the St. László square, inaugurated in the Millecentenary year.

XV. kerület

The 15th district of Budapest consists of three main parts: Rákospalota, Pestújhely and the youngest one, Újpalota. Its history dates back to the age of the Árpáds. Due to its closeness to Pest, flourishing garden culture started to develop here in the 18th century. Palota became an important resort after 1846, when the railway between Vác and Pest was built. Today it has nearly 90,000 inhabitants and is one of the outstanding districts of "developments" owing to the large shopping and commercial centres.
Outstanding programmes in the district: May: Days of Pestújhely; June: Days of Palota; June: Days of Újpalota; September: Mobility Week; October: Days of Benkőtelep; November: ANNO Arts Week.

XX. kerület

Pesterzsébet is situated on the bank of the Small-Danube. The traces of the first settlement date back to the early Bronze age proving the presence of the Celts here (2nd and 1st century B.C.). Later the Avars settled down here and scattered findings from the period of the Hungarian conquest were also found here. In 1067 the foundation document of the monastery of Század mentioned a village called Gubacs. The founders wished to name their village after Queen Elizabeth, which was accepted by the royal family and Queen Elizabeth even provided financial help to the new settlement. Later it was united with another significant settlement called Kossuthfalva, the name of which was approved by Lajos Kossuth himself. This village was formed as a result of the sales of plots in the neighbourhood. The local council of Erzsébetfalva was established, based on public contributions, on the corner of the present-day Kossuth and Széchenyi streets in 1882. On 13 April 1897 Erzsébetfalva was declared to be a large village. The new village hall was completed by summer 1906 in art nouveau style according to the plans by Ármin Hegedűs and Henrik Bőhm. The statue of Kossuth by János Horvay and Richárd Fügedy in front of the town hall was erected in 1909, based on public contributions. The dedication ceremony was attended by Kossuth's son, Ferenc Kossuth. In the present-day St. Elizabeth square, on the site of the former market place the St. Elizabeth parish church was built in neo-Gothic style, in the first decade of the 20th century. The frescoes were painted later, from 1937 by Sándor Nagy, a painter from the colony of artists from Gödöllő. On 1 January 1924 Pesterzsébet became a town. On 1 January 1950 it was united with Soroksár and became the 20th district of Budapest. On 1 January 1995 Soroksár became independent as the 23rd district of Budapest. The square in front of the renewed town hall with the pedestrian street called "KOSUTI" by the locals, is a favourite meeting place. You can find the statue of Queen Elizabeth and that of Sándor Petőfi here, as well as a fountain, a playground and in summer you can enjoy promenade concerts here on Fridays. A bit farther away, at Széchenyi street, you can see the bust of "the greatest Hungarian", István Széchenyi. In St. Elizabeth square you can see the renewed St. Elizabeth parish church. In the beautiful park in front of it a memorial stone of Queen Elizabeth was placed and in 1933 a statue by Károly Kaszab was erected here called "the Statue of Mothers", which is the first statue in the world with this theme, supported by the contributions of the members of the Red Cross. Another important monument is the statue and relief of St. Elizabeth of the House of Árpád in front of the entrance of the church. The Square of Commemoration has been established in the past years. A wooden headboard commemorates the victims of the revolution of 1956 and a statue of the heroes of World Wars I and II and of the civil victims of the bombings was erected in the nice park in 2004. The old houses and the public buildings are restored and maintained regularly. The external and internal restoration of the 80-year-old Csili Community Centre and of the former Bocsák villa - the present-day Museum of Pesterzsébet - has been finished recently. These two institutions and the Imre Gaál Gallery play an important role in the cultural life of the district. A new exhibition hall presenting the works and career of painter Endre Rátkay is to be opened in Klapka street in March 2006. The Ice Hall of Pesterzsébet is also to be opened in 2006, in Zodony street. It will host international competitions, as well.

XXI. kerület

Csepel is situated on the plain of Pest, at the meeting of the Buda hills and the plateau of Tétény, in the north of Csepel-island. The district with 84,000 inhabitants became part of the capital on 1 January 1950. Before it had been one of the most populuous villages of Hungary, later a town. The cartridge factory, which was founded in 1892 by Weiss bothers and was later called Csepel Works, and the National and Free Port of Csepel, the centre of the Danube sea navigation opened in 1928 played a crucial role in the development of the town.
Our educational institutions and two music schools await visitors with informative programmes of high standard all the year round. The rich collection of the Csepel Gallery and the Museum of Local History present the arts life of the district and the history of Csepel. The School Gallery, which is unique in the capital, aims to improve the aesthetic education of children. Outstanding traditional programmes include the Days of Csepel organized in the last week of April, and the Feast on St. Mary's Day in autumn. Sports life in Csepel is well-known. It is famous for several national and Olympic champions.
Restaurants Mesterház and Pusoma provide a real gastronomical experience to visitors in pleasant environment. The district offers accommodation in the Hotel Botel, which is an elegant ship-hotel in the Soroksár channel of the Danube. The Csepel bath, the pools of which are fed by a thermal well, is a well-known resort in the south of Pest. You can take nice walks on the bank of the Small-Danube, where you can find a fishing paradise as well as an excellent place for water tours, but pleasure boat trips can also be taken on the river.


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