Budapest is the capital and most populous city of Hungary and one of the largest cities in the Europe. With a unique, youthful atmosphere, a world-class classical music scene as well as a pulsating nightlife increasingly appreciated among European youth and, last but not least, an exceptionally rich offering of natural thermal baths, Budapest City is one of Europe’s most delightful and enjoyable cities. Due to its scenic setting and its architecture, it is nicknamed “Paris of the East”.
Budapest is cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, ranked as “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler. The central area of the city along the Danube River is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has many notable monuments. Budapest attracts 4.4 million international tourists per year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world and the 6th in Europe.
History of Budapest City
The first settlement on the territory of Budapest was built by Celts before 1 AD. It was later occupied by the Romans. The Roman settlement – Aquincum – became the main city of Pannonia Inferior in 106 AD. The Roman city of Aquincum is the best-conserved of the Roman sites in Hungary. The archaeological site was turned into a museum with inside and open-air sections.
In the past, the city had paved streets and lavish houses with fountains, courtyards, and pavements in mosaic. At the northwest of the ruins is the civil amphitheater of which are still visible the cells in which the lions were kept during the gladiators’ fights. The capacity of this structure was about 16,000 people. The Romans even founded a fortress known as Contra Aquincum on the other side of the river which is assumed to have developed into the later town of Pest.
The cultural role of Buda was particularly significant during the reign of King Matthias Corvinus. The Italian Renaissance had a great influence on the city. His library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was Europe’s greatest collection of historical chronicles and philosophic and scientific works in the 15th century, and second only in size to the Vatican Library.
The Ottomans conquered Buda in 1526, as well in 1529, and finally occupied it in 1541. The Turkish Rule lasted for more than 140 years. The Turks Ottomans constructed many prominent bathing facilities within the city. By 1547 the number of Christians was down to about a thousand, and by 1647 it had fallen to only about seventy.
In 1944, about one year before the end of World War II, Budapest was partly destroyed by British and American air raids (first attack 4 April 1944). From 24 December 1944 to 13 February 1945, the city was besieged during the Battle of Budapest. Budapest suffered major damage caused by the attacking Soviet and Romanian troops and the defending German and Hungarian troops. More than 38,000 civilians lost their lives during the conflict. All bridges were destroyed by the Germans. The stone lions that have decorated the Chain Bridge since 1852 survived the devastation of the war.
In the last decades of the 20th century the political changes of 1989–90 concealed changes in civil society and along the streets of Budapest City. The monuments of the dictatorship were removed from public places, into Memento Park.