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Image:Hungary pest budapest-l.gif
Flag Seal
Nickname: "Paris of the East",
"Pearl of the Danube"
or "Queen of the Danube"
Location of Budapest in Hungary
Country Hungary
County Pest
Mayor Gábor Demszky (SZDSZ)
 - City 525,16 km²
 - Land n/a km²
 - Water n/a km²
 - City (2006) 1,695,000
 - Density 3570/km²
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Budapest (pronounced [ˈbʊdɑpɛʃt]) is the capital city of Hungary and the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial and transportation center.

Budapest has approximately 1.7 million inhabitants, down from a mid-1980s peak of 2.1 million. Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the amalgamation on 17 November 1873 of right-bank (west) Buda (Ofen in German) and Óbuda (Old Buda or Alt-Ofen) together with Pest on the left (east) bank. It is the seventh largest city in the European Union.


[edit] History

Budapest's recorded history begins with the Roman town of Aquincum, founded around AD 89 on the site of an earlier Celtic settlement near what was to become Óbuda, and from 106 until the end of the 4th century the capital of the province of lower Pannonia. Aquincum was the base camp of Legio II Adiutrix. The area of Campona (today's Nagytétény) belongs to Buda as well. Today's Pest became the site of Contra Aquincum (or Trans Aquincum), a smaller sentry point. The word Pest (or Peshta) is thought to originate from the Bolgar language, (thought to be a Turkic language, not related to modern Bulgarian, which is a Slavic language) because at the time of the reign of the Bulgarian Khan Krum (approximately 796-814), the town was under Bulgar dominion. The area then became a homeland for the Avars and some Slavic peoples.

Mátyás Templom, called Matthias Church in English

The area was occupied around the year 900 by the Magyars of Central Asia, the cultural and linguistic ancestors of today's ethnic Hungarians, who a century later officially founded the Kingdom of Hungary. Already a place of some significance, Pest recovered rapidly from its destruction by Mongol invaders in 1241, but it was Buda, the seat of a royal castle since 1247, which in 1361 became the capital of Hungary.

The Ottoman Empire's conquest of most of Hungary in the 16th century interrupted the cities' growth: Buda and Pest fell to the invaders in 1541. While Buda remained the seat of a Turkish pasha, and administrative center of a whole vilayet, Pest was largely derelict by the time of their recapture in 1686 by Austria's Habsburg rulers, who since 1526 had been Kings of Hungary despite their loss of most of the country.

It was Pest, a bustling commercial town, which enjoyed the faster growth rate in the 18th and 19th century and contributed the overwhelming majority of the cities' combined growth in the 19th. By 1800 its population was larger than that of Buda and Óbuda combined. The population of Pest grew twenty-fold in the following century to 600,000, while that of Buda and Óbuda quintupled. The fusion of the three cities under a single administration, first enacted by the Hungarian revolutionary government in 1849 but revoked on the subsequent restoration of Habsburg authority, was finally effected by the autonomous Hungarian royal government established under the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich ("Compromise") of 1867; see Austria-Hungary. The total population of the unified capital grew nearly sevenfold in 18401900 to 730,000.

The Royal Castle

During the 20th century, most population growth occurred in the suburbs, with Újpest more than doubling between 18901910 and Kispest more than quintupling in 19001920, as much of the country's industry came to be concentrated in the city. The country's human losses during World War I and the subsequent loss of more than two thirds of the former kingdom's territory (1920) dealt only a temporary blow, leaving Budapest as the capital of a smaller but now sovereign state. By 1930 the city proper contained a million inhabitants, with a further 400,000 in the suburbs.

Towards the end of World War II in 1944 Budapest was partly destroyed by British and American air raids. The following siege lasted from December 24 1944 to February 13 1945, and major damage was caused by the attacking Soviet and defending German and Hungarian troops. All bridges were disrupted by the Germans. More than 38,000 civilians lost their lives during the fighting. Between 20% and 40% of Greater Budapest's 250,000 Jewish inhabitants died through Nazi and Arrow Cross genocide during 1944 and early 1945. [1], [2] Despite this, Budapest today has the highest number of Jewish citizens per capita of any European city.

On January 1, 1950, the area of Budapest was significantly expanded: new districts were formed from the neighbouring cities and towns (see Greater Budapest). From the severe damage during the Soviet siege in 1944, the city recovered in the 1950s and 1960s, becoming to some extent a showcase for the more pragmatic policies pursued by the country's communist government (19471989) from the 1960s. Since the 1980s, the capital has shared with the country as a whole in increased emigration (mostly to the agglomeration) coupled with natural population decrease.

[edit] Demographic history


[edit] Politics

Budapest is the center of all political affairs, with most countries' embassies located in the city. – It has recently been the location of protests and violent riots, see 2006 protests in Hungary.

[edit] Districts

Image:Budapest districts.png
The District Map of Budapest
Main article: List of districts and towns in Budapest

Originally Budapest had 10 districts after coming into existence upon the unification of the three cities in 1873. On 1 January 1950 Budapest was united with several neighboring towns and the number of its districts was raised to 22. At that time there were changes both in the order of districts and in their sizes. Now there are 23 districts, 6 in Buda, 16 in Pest and 1 on Csepel island between them. Each district can be associated with one or more city parts named after former towns within Budapest.

[edit] Islands

Seven islands can be found on the Danube: Hajógyári sziget (literal translation: Shipyard Island), Margitsziget (Margaret Island), and Csepel sziget (this island is a separate district of Budapest, the XXI., while the other islands are parts of other districts, the III. and XIII. respectively), Palotai-sziget (in fact, it's a peninsula today), Népsziget (connected to the above, but mostly surrounded by water), Háros-sziget and Molnár-sziget.

Notable islands:

Image:Budapest 107.jpg
Margaret Island (Margitsziget)
  • Margitsziget is a 2.5 km long island (and 0.965 km² in area) The island mostly consists of a park and is a popular recreational area for tourists and locals alike. The island lies between bridges Margaret Bridge (south) and Árpád Bridge (north). Dance clubs, Swimming pools, an Aqua park, athletic and fitness centers, bicycle and running tracks can be found around the Island. During the day the island is occupied by people doing sports, or just resting. In the summer (generally on the weekends) mostly young people go to the island at night to party in its terraces, or to just 'chill' with a bottle of alcohol on a bench or on a grass (this form of entertainment is sometimes referred to as bench-partying)
  • The Csepel-sziget (pronounced CHE-pel see-get) or Csepel Island is the largest island of the River Danube in Hungary. It is 48 km long; its width is 6-8 km and its area comprises 257 km², whereas only the northern tip is inside the city limits.
  • Hajógyári-sziget (or Óbudai-sziget) is a man built island, located in the third district. This island hosts many activities such as: wake-boarding, jet-skiing during the day, and dance clubs during the night. This is the island where the famous Sziget Festival takes place, hosting hundreds of performances per year and now around 400,000 visitors in its last edition. Many building projects are taking place to make this island into one of the biggest entertainment centers of Europe, the plan is to build Apartment buildings, hotels, casinos and a marina.
  • Luppa-sziget is the smallest island of Budapest, located in the north region.

[edit] Landmarks and monuments

(The below sights are grouped by location.)

[edit] Tourism

[edit] Shopping

Image:Vaci utca.jpg
Váci Street (The main shopping street) in Christmas decoration

Budapest has the most shopping centers in Europe[citation needed], including WestEnd City Center, the largest shopping centre in Central and Eastern Europe, and the biggest Tesco and Auchan hypermarkets in the world. The Great Market Hall is a large indoor market and a major tourist attraction.

All luxurious brands can be found, on the high streets, such as Andrássy Avenue and Váci utca.

[edit] Transport

[edit] Airport

Budapest Ferihegy International Airport, which has 3 different passenger terminals: Ferihegy 1, which tends to serve the many discount airlines now flying to and from Budapest, Ferihegy 2/A and Ferihegy 2/B. Terminal 2/C is planned to be built. The airport is located to the east of the centre in the XVIII. district in Pestszentlőrinc. Malév (Hungarian Airlines) began to change its aircraft in 2003, and by 2005 owned the most modern fleet in Europe.

[edit] Roads

Budapest is the most important Hungarian road terminus; all the major highways end there. Between 1990-1994, the city Street names were reverted from the names given under Soviet occupation back to their late-19th century names. Budapest is also a major railway terminus.

Budapest Keleti (Eastern) Railway Station
Line 4-6's new tram on a test run (line 1)
Budapest Funicular

[edit] Commuting with public transport

Budapest public transport is mainly provided by BKV, the company operates Buses, Trolley Buses, Trams, Suburban Railway lines, the Metro, Boats and many other special vehicles. Budapest's tramline is the busiest traditional city tram line in the world, with 50-metre long trains running at 60 to 90 second intervals at peak time and usually packed with people. Night traffic service is outstandingly good.

[edit] Special vehicles

Beside metros, suburban rails, buses, trams and boats, there are a couple of less usual vehicles in Budapest:

The latter three vehicles run among Buda hills.

[edit] Railway

Main articles: MÁV, HÉV Hungarian main-line railways are operated by MÁV. There are three main railway termini in Budapest, Keleti (eastern), Nyugati (western), and Déli (southern), operating both domestic and international rail services. Budapest was one of the main stops of the Orient Express until 2001, when the service was cut back to Paris-Vienna.

There is also a suburban rail service in and around Budapest, operated under the name HÉV.

[edit] Waterways

The river Danube flows through Budapest on its way to the Black Sea. The river is easily navigable and so Budapest has historically been a major commercial port (at Csepel).

[edit] International schools

Many embassies and transnational companies are located in Budapest. They bring many expatriate foreigners and their families to town, creating demand for private and international schools. These schools are usually quite expensive and are attended by the expatriates as well as some richer Hungarians.

List of international schools:

[edit] Notable people from Budapest

[edit] Sister cities

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] General information

[edit] Information for tourists

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