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BUDAPEST (Hungary)

(August 2001)

 

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Budapest, city in northern Hungary, capital and largest city of the country, on the River Danube, near the Slovakian border. Population 1,838,753 (1999 estimate).

 

Places of Interest

Tree-lined boulevards and wide squares bordered by modern buildings make Budapest one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe. The city consists of the community of Buda on the west bank of the Danube and the community of Pest on the east bank. Built on a terraced plateau, Buda contains relics of the former Turkish occupation. The former royal palace is situated on the summit of the plateau, at the base of which are famous medicinal springs. Pest stands on a plain and is the site of the Houses of Parliament (opened in 1896), the Academy of Sciences, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Palace of Justice, the Eötvös Loránd University (1635), the Custom House, the Opera House, and the National Museum. The manufacturing districts and the quays are located in Pest's newer sections. Buda and Pest are linked by six bridges over the Danube, including one of the largest suspension bridges in Europe, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.

 

History

In about 10 BC the Romans established the colony of Aquincum on the present site of Buda and near that of an earlier settlement. In AD 376 invading Vandals conquered Aquincum. During the next 500 years Slavs, Avars, and others settled on the sites of Buda and Pest, and in the latter half of the 9th century the Magyars took the towns. In 1241, during the Tatar invasion of Hungary, Pest was destroyed. In 1247 King Béla IV of Hungary repopulated Pest with Germans and colonists of other nationalities and established the city of Buda. Buda became the capital of Hungary in 1361, while Pest became a leading commercial centre. During the Turkish invasion of Hungary, Pest was taken in 1526 and Buda in 1541. When the Turks were driven out in 1686 by a league of states under the leadership of Austria, both cities were almost in ruins. Because of the commanding position of Buda and Pest on the Danube and their resultant economic importance, the recovery of both cities was rapid. Both Buda and Pest continued to grow during the 18th century and made an extraordinary advance during the period preceding the last decade of the 19th century. In 1867 Pest was made the twin capital of a dual monarchy, when Hungary was granted a status equal to that of Austria within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In 1873 Buda and Pest were united into the modern city of Budapest. After World War I, Budapest became the capital of independent Hungary. During World War II, after a 50-day siege, Budapest was taken by Soviet armies on February 13, 1945. The siege devastated the city, destroying all bridges and leaving about one quarter of buildings either damaged or in ruins. In 1956, Budapest was the focus of an unsuccessful popular uprising against the Soviet-dominated government of the country, and parts of the city were badly damaged. Their power restored, the Communist leaders of Hungary sought to construct a model socialist state with Budapest as its core. Industrial development was heavily focused on the city and its environs. Budapest residents benefited from this investment policy through projects such as the underground rail system built in the 1970s.

In 1989 the city once again became the centre of anti-Soviet demonstrations. Once freed from Soviet rule, business in Budapest suffered from the strain of global economic competition. In recent years the economy has improved as local and international investors have gained new confidence in the country's, and city's, prospects.

"Budapest," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2002
http://encarta.msn.co.uk © 1997-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

For further information:

Encarta Encyclopedia

- Welcome to Budapest

- Hungarian National Tourist Office

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