2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Europe; European Cities

Skyline of Budapest
Flag of Budapest
Official seal of Budapest
Nickname: "Pearl of the Danube"
or "Queen of the Danube", "Heart of Europe", "Capital of Freedom"
Location of Budapest in Hungary
Location of Budapest in Hungary
Country Hungary
County Budapest, Capital City
 -  Mayor Gábor Demszky ( SZDSZ)
 - City 525.16  km² (202.8  sq mi)
Population (2007)
 - City 1,696,128
 -  Density 3,232/km² (8,370.8/sq mi)
 - Metro 2,451,418
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 - Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Buda Castle Quarter
State Party Flag of Hungary Hungary
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 400
Region Europe
Inscription history
Inscription 1987  (11th Session)
Extensions 2002
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
Region as classified by UNESCO.

Budapest (pronounced /ˈbu:dʌˌpɛʃt/ (AE), also /ˈbju:-/ (BE) or /ˈbʊ-/; Hungarian IPA ['budɒpɛʃt]) is the capital city of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it serves as the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre and is considered an important hub in Central Europe. In 2007, Budapest had 1,696,128 inhabitants with an official agglomeration of 2,451,418, down from a mid-1980s peak of 2.1 million. The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres (202.7 sq mi) within the city limits. Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the unification on November 17, 1873, of right-bank (west) Buda and Óbuda (Old Buda) together with Pest on the left (east) bank.

Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement, was the direct ancestor of Budapest, becoming the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Magyars arrived in the territory in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241-42. The re-established town became one of the centers of Renaissance humanist culture in the 15th century. Following nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, development of the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after the 1873 unification. It also became the second capital of Austria-Hungary, a great power that dissolved in 1918. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919, Operation Panzerfaust in 1944, the Battle of Budapest of 1945, and the Revolution of 1956.

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, its World Heritage Sites include the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, and the Millennium Underground railway, the first on the European continent. Budapest attracts over 20 million visitors a year. The city ranks 52nd on MasterCard's 'World's Top 75 Financial Centers' list and 74th on Mercer Consulting's 'World's Top 100 Most Livable Cities' list. The headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will be in Budapest.

Short History of Budapest

The first settlement on the territory of Budapest was Ak-Ink (English: Abundant Water) built by Celts before the birth of Christ. It was later occupied by the Romans. The Roman settlement - Aquincum - became the main city of Lower Pannonia in 106 AD. The Romans constructed roads, amphitheaters, baths and houses with heated floors in this fortified military camp.

The Hungarians settled in the territory at the end of the 9th century and a century later officially founded the Kingdom of Hungary. The Tatar invasion in the 13th century quickly proved that defence is difficult on a plain. King Béla IV of Hungary therefore ordered the construction of reinforced stone walls around the towns and set his own royal palace on the top of the protecting hills of Buda. In 1361 it became the capital of Hungary.

Buda Castle during the Middle Ages.
Buda Castle during the Middle Ages.

The cultural role of Buda was particularly significant during reign of Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. 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. After the foundation of the first Hungarian university in Pécs in 1367 the second one was established in Óbuda in 1395. The first Hungarian book was printed in Buda in 1473.

The Turkish occupation lasted for more than 140 years and left mainly destruction. The Turks constructed some fine bathing facilities here. The western part of the country not occupied by the Turks became part of the Habsburg Empire as Royal Hungary. In 1686 Leopold I liberated Buda from the Ottomans but almost destroyed the city during the battle. Hungary was then incorporated into the Habsburg Empire.

The nineteenth century was dominated by the Hungarian's struggle for independence and modernization. The national insurrection against the Habsburgs began in the Hungarian capital in 1848 and was defeated a little more than a year later.

Hungarian State Opera House, it was built in the time of Austria-Hungary
Hungarian State Opera House, it was built in the time of Austria-Hungary

1867 was the year of Reconciliation that brought about the birth of Austria-Hungary. This made Budapest the twin capital of a dual monarchy. It was this compromise which opened the second great phase of development in the history of Budapest, lasting until World War I. In 1873 Buda and Pest were officially merged with the third part, Óbuda (Ancient Buda), thus creating the new metropolis of Budapest. Dynamic Pest grew into the country's administrative, political, economic, trade and cultural hub.

World War I brought the Golden Age to an end. In 1918 Austria-Hungary lost the war and collapsed; Hungary declared itself an independent republic. In 1920 the Treaty of Trianon finalized the country's partition, reducing Hungary's size by two-thirds and turning the multinational state into a nation-state.

In 1944, towards the end of World War II, Budapest was partly destroyed by British and American air raids. 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 troops and the defending German and Hungarian troops. All bridges were destroyed 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. Despite this, Budapest today has the highest number of Jewish citizens per capita of any European city. In 1949 Hungary is declared a communist People's Republic. Secret police terror, forced displays of loyalty and worsening living standards generate widespread resentment.

1956, October 23: Outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution. The Stalinist dictatorship collapses after mass demonstrations. But Soviet tanks enter Budapest to crush the revolt. Fighting continues until early November, leaving more than 3000 dead. Soviet power had been forcefully restored, and a new Soviet-elected leader emerged in the person of János Kádár.From the 1960s through the late 1980s, Hungary was often satirically referred to as " the happiest barrack" within the Eastern bloc.

The last Soviet soldier left the country in 1991 thus ending Soviet military presence in Hungary. The present form of government is a parliamentary republic since 1989. In 1997 in a national referendum 85% voted in favour of Hungary joining the NATO. A year later the European Union began negotiations with Hungary on full membership. In 1999 Hungary joined NATO. Hungary voted in favour of joining the EU, and joined in 2004.

Left to right: Mária Magdolna Tower, Matthias Church, Castle Quarter, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Margaret Island, Danube Promenade, Parliament Building, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Left to right: Mária Magdolna Tower, Matthias Church, Castle Quarter, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Margaret Island, Danube Promenade, Parliament Building, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Timeline of the history of Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Building
Hungarian Parliament Building
Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Danube, Gresham Palace, Saint Stephen's Basilica
Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Danube, Gresham Palace, Saint Stephen's Basilica
Hungarian National Museum
Hungarian National Museum
New York Café
New York Café
Museum of Applied Arts
Museum of Applied Arts
Buda Castle
Buda Castle
The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue
Year Event
B.C.  Neolithic, Chalcolithic-, bronze and iron age cultures, Celtic and Eravisci settlements on present day Budapest.
1st century Romans found the settlements known as Aquincum, Contra-Aquincum and Campona. Aquincum becomes the largest town of the Danubian region and one of the capitals of Pannonia.
5th century The Age of Huns. King Attila builds a city for himself here according to later chronicles.
896 Following the foundation of Hungary, leader of the Hungarians Árpád settles in the "Town of Attila", usually identified as Aquincum.
10th century Out of the 7 or 10 Hungarian tribes, four has settlements in the territory

of modern Budapest: Megyer, Keszi, Jenő and Nyék.

1046 Bishop Gellért dies at the hands of pagans on present-day Gellért Hill.
1241 During the Tatar invasions both towns are destroyed. King Béla IV builds the first royal castle on Castle Hill, Buda in 1248. The new town adopts the name of Buda from the earlier one (present day Óbuda). Pest is surrounded by city walls.
1270 Saint Margaret of Hungary dies in a cloister on the Isle of Rabbits (present day Margaret Island).
1458 The noblemen of Hungary elect Matthias Corvinus (in Latin) or Hunyadi Mátyás (in Hungarian) as king on the ice of the Danube. Under his reign Buda becomes the main hub of European Renaissance. He dies in 1490, after capturing Vienna in 1485.
1541 The beginning of Ottoman occupation. The Turkish Pashas build multiple mosques and baths in Buda.
1686 Buda and Pest are reconquered from the Turks with Habsburg leadership. Both towns are destroyed completely in the battles.
1690s Resettlement, initially only a few hundred German settlers.
1773 Election of the first Mayor of Pest.
1777 Maria Theresa of Austria moves the Nagyszombat University to Castle Hill.
1783 Joseph II places the acting government (Helytartótanács) and Magyar Kamara on Buda.
1795 20 May Ignác Martinovics and other Jacobin leaders are executed on Vérmező or 'The Field of Blood'.
1810 The Tabán fire.
1825 Commencement of the Reform Era, Pest becomes the cultural and economic centre of the country, the first National Theatre is built along with the Hungarian National Museum and the Széchenyi Lánchíd.
1838 The biggest flood in recent memory in March. Pest is completely inundated.
1848 15 March Start of the Revolution and War of Independence of 1848-49. Pest replaces Pozsony (Bratislava) as the new capital of Hungary and seat of the Batthyány government and the Parliament.
1849 The Austrians occupy the city in early January, but the Hungarian Honvédsereg (Army of National Defense) reclaims it in April, taking the fortress of Buda on May 21 after an 18-day siege. In July, the Habsburg army again captures the two towns.
1849 6 October Lajos Batthyány, the first Hungarian Prime Minister is executed on the present-day Szabadság tér.
1867 Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, followed by unprecedented civic development, resulting in the style of present day Budapest.
1873 The former cities: Pest, Buda and Óbuda are united, and with that the Hungarian capital is established with the name of Budapest.
1874 The rack (or cog-wheel) railway ( Budapest Cog-wheel Railway) service is inaugurated.
1896 Millennium celebrations, the Millennium Underground is inaugurated, and the Ferenc József híd (today's Liberty Bridge) is opened.
1909–1910 Electronic public lighting.
1910 The census finds 880 thousand people in Budapest and 55 thousand in the largest suburb of Újpest (now part of Budapest). The religious make-up was 60.9% Catholic, 23.1% Jewish, 9.9% Calvinist and 5.0% Lutheran. Újpest was 65.9% Catholic, 18.4% Jewish, 9.7% Calvinist and 4.5% Lutheran. The percentage of ethnic Germans was 9.0% in Budapest and 5.7% in Újpest, while 2.3% of the population claimed to be Slovak. (Source: Történelmi Magyarország atlasza és adattára 1914, Budapest, 2001.)
1918–1919 Revolution and the 133 days of the Hungarian Soviet Republic (March-August 1919) under the leadership of Béla Kun. It is the first Communist government to be formed in Europe after the October Revolution in Russia.
1924 Hungarian National Bank is founded.
1925 Hungarian Radio starts its broadcast.
1933 Disassembly of the Tabán commences.
1944 19 March Budapest is occupied by the Germans. At the time of the occupation, there were 184,000 Jews and about 65-80 thousand Christians considered Jewish in the town.

Fewer than half of them (approximately 119,000) survived the following 11 months.

1944 26 December - 13 Ferbuary Soviet and Romanian troops besiege Budapest. 15 Jan– 18 Jan. The retreating Germans blow up all Danube bridges. On Jan. 18, Pest and the Ghetto in Pest are completely liberated. The Buda castle falls on Feb 13. World War II took the lives of close to two hundred thousand Budapest residents. Heavy damage to the buildings.
1956 23 October - 4 November The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 breaks out, ending in the invasion of a large Soviet force.
1960s Wartime damages are by and large corrected. Bridges are rebuilt, the last one, the Elizabeth Bridge is rebuilt in 1965.
1970–1972 East-Western Metro is inaugurated (first phase).
1982 North-Southern Metro is inaugurated (first phase).
1987 Castle Hill, Buda and the banks of the Danube are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
1990 2 016 100 residents
2002 Andrássy Avenue and its historic milieu is also included in the World heritage Sites, along with the Millennium Underground railway and Heroes' Square.


Budapest lies in central Hungary. The Danube is nearly 1 km (0.6 mi) wide when entering the city. The river later encircles two islands, Óbuda Island and Margaret Island. The river that separates the two parts of the city is only 230 m (755 ft) wide at its narrowest point in Budapest. Pest lies on the flat terrain of the Great Plain while Buda is rather hilly.


Budapest has a temperate, transitional climate - somewhere between the mild, rainy weather of Transdanubia and the variable climate of the flat and open Great Plain to the east.

Weather averages for Budapest
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) 2 (36) 5 (41) 11 (52) 17 (63) 22 (72) 25 (77) 27 (81) 27 (81) 22 (72) 16 (61) 8 (46) 3 (37)
Average low °C (°F) -3 (27) -1 (30) 3 (37) 7 (45) 12 (54) 14 (57) 16 (61) 16 (61) 12 (54) 8 (46) 3 (37) -1 (30)
Precipitation mm (inches) 40.6 (1.6) 38.1 (1.5) 33 (1.3) 40.6 (1.6) 61 (2.4) 68.6 (2.7) 45.7 (1.8) 55.9 (2.2) 38.1 (1.5) 33 (1.3) 58.4 (2.3) 48.3 (1.9)
Source: 2008-02-28


Population growth of Budapest (1870-2007)
Population growth of Budapest (1870-2007)
Population growth of Budapest Metropolitan Area (1870-2005)
Population growth of Budapest Metropolitan Area (1870-2005)

Ethnic groups

Population by nationalities:

  • Hungarians - 1,603,511 (90.2%)
  • Roma - 12,266 (0.7%)
  • Germans - 7,014 (0.4%)
  • Others (mainly Slovaks, Ukranians, Chinese) - 8,055
  • No answer, unknown (mainly mixed population) - 147,075


Population by denominations:

  • Roman Catholic - 808,460 (45.5%)
  • Calvinist - 224,169 (12.6%)
  • Lutheran - 46,449 (2.6%)
  • Greek Catholic - 28,901 (1.6%)
  • Jewish - 9,468 (0.5%)
  • Atheist - 347,209 (19.5%)
  • Others (mainly Christian) - 26,681
  • No answer, unknown - 286,584


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 (Greater Budapest). 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.

Landmarks and monuments

The city is home to the largest synagogue in Europe ( Dohány Street Synagogue), the largest medicinal bath in Europe ( Széchenyi Medicinal Bath) and the third largest Parliament building in the world, once the largest in the world. The third largest church in Europe ( Esztergom Basilica) and the second largest Baroque castle in the world ( Gödöllő) are in the vicinity.

The Castle Hill, the River Danube embankments and the whole of Andrássy út have been officially recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In Pest, arguably the most important sight is Andrássy út. As far as Kodály Körönd and Oktogon both sides are lined with large shops and flats built close together. Between there and Heroes’ Square the houses are detached and altogether grander. Under the whole runs continental Europe’s oldest Underground railway, most of whose stations retain their original appearance. Heroes’ Square is dominated by the Millenary Monument, with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front. To the sides are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Arts, and behind City Park opens out, with Vajdahunyad Castle. One of the jewels of Andrássy út is the Hungarian State Opera House.

Castle Hill and the Castle District; there are three churches here, six museums, and a host of interesting buildings, streets and squares. The former Royal Palace is one of the symbols of Hungary – and has been the scene of battles and wars ever since the thirteenth century. Nowadays it houses two impressive museums and the National Széchenyi Library. The nearby Sándor Palace contains the offices and official residence of the President of Hungary. The seven-hundred year-old Matthias Church is one of the jewels of Budapest. Next to it is an equestrian statue of the first king of Hungary, King Saint Stephen, and behind that is the Fisherman's Bastion, from where opens out a panoramic view of the whole city.

The neo-Gothic Parliament, containing amongst other things the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Saint Stephen's Basilica, where the Holy Right Hand of the founder of Hungary, King Saint Stephen is on display. The Hungarian cuisine and café culture: for example, Gerbeaud Café, and the Százéves, Biarritz, Fortuna, Alabárdos, Arany Szarvas, Kárpátia and the world famous Mátyás Pince Restaurants. There are Roman remains at the Aquincum Museum, and historic furniture at the Nagytétény Castle Museum.


Budapest seen from Spot Satellite
Budapest seen from Spot Satellite
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Seven islands can be found on the Danube: Hajógyári sziget (literal translation: Shipyard Island), Margit-sziget (Margaret Island), and Csepel sziget (the northernmost part of this island belonging to Budapest is a separate district of the city, 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:

  • Margit-sziget is a 2.5 km (1.6 mi) long island and 0.965  square kilometres (238  acres) 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 centres, 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 recreate with a bottle of alcohol on a bench or on the grass (this form of entertainment is sometimes referred to as bench-partying).
  • Csepel-sziget [ˈtʃɛpɛlsigɛt] or Csepel Island is the largest island of the River Danube in Hungary. It is 48 km (30 mi) long; its width is 6-8 km (3.75–5 mi) and its area comprises 257 km² (99 sq mi), whereas only the northern tip is inside the city limits.
  • Hajógyári-sziget [ˈhɒjo:ɟa:ri sigɛt] (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 centres 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.



Budapest Ferihegy International Airport
Budapest Ferihegy International Airport

Budapest Ferihegy International Airport, which has 3 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.


Budapest is the most important Hungarian road terminus; all the major highways end there. Between, 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.

Ring road M0 around Budapest is currently under construction.

Public transport

Map of the Budapest Metro

Budapest public transport is provided by BKV, the company operates buses, trolleybuses, trams, suburban railway lines, the metro, a boat service, a cogwheel railway and a chairlift, called Libegő.

Budapest's tram network is extensive, and reliable despite poor track infrastructure and an ageing fleet. Routes 4 and 6 combined form the busiest traditional city tram line in the world, with the world's longest passenger trams (54-metre (177 ft) long Siemens Combino) running at 60 to 90 second intervals at peak time and 3-4 minutes off-peak and usually packed with people.

Day services operate from 4:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. each day. Night traffic (a reduced overnight service) is outstandingly good.

There are three metro lines and a fourth is currently under construction. The Yellow line, built in 1896, is one of the oldest subway lines in the world, following only the early lines of the London Underground.

Special vehicles

Budapest Castle Hill Funicular
Budapest Castle Hill Funicular

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

  • trolleybus (trolibusz) on several lines in Pest
  • funicular (sikló); the Castle Hill Funicular between the Chain Bridge and Buda Castle
  • cyclecar (bringóhintó) for rent in Margaret Island
  • chairlift (libegő)
  • rack railway (fogaskerekű vasút); the Budapest Cog-wheel Railway
  • children's railway (gyermekvasút)

The latter three vehicles run among Buda hills.


Hungarian main-line railways are operated by MÁV. There are three main railway termini in Budapest, Keleti (eastern), Nyugati (westbound), and Déli (southbound), 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.

Nyugati Railway Station
Nyugati Railway Station

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


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). In the summer months a scheduled hydrofoil service operates up the Danube to Vienna.

Sister cities

Keleti Railway Station
Keleti Railway Station

These are the official sister cities of Budapest:

Country City County / District / Region / State Date
Flag of Austria Austria Vienna Vienna 1990
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo Sarajevo Canton 1995
Flag of Croatia Croatia Zagreb Zagreb 1994
Flag of Germany Germany Flag of Berlin Berlin Flag of Berlin Berlin 1992
Flag of Germany Germany Frankfurt am Main Flag of Hesse Hesse 1990
Flag of Israel Israel Tel Aviv Tel Aviv District 1989
Flag of Italy Italy Florence Tuscany 2008
Flag of Portugal Portugal Lisbon District of Lisbon 1992
Flag of the United States United States Fort Worth Flag of Texas Texas 1990
Flag of the United States United States New York City Flag of New York New York 1991

Some of the city's districts are also twinned to small cities or districts of other big cities, for details see the article List of districts and towns in Budapest.

Retrieved from ""
This Wikipedia Selection is sponsored by SOS Children , and is a hand-chosen selection of article versions from the English Wikipedia edited only by deletion (see for details of authors and sources). The articles are available under the GNU Free Documentation License. See also our Disclaimer.