Budapest (Hungarian: [ˈbudɒpɛʃt]; names in other languages) is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre, sometimes described as the primate city of Hungary. According to the census, in 2011 Budapest had 1.74 million inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2.1 million due to suburbanisation. The Budapest Metropolitan Area is home to 3.3 million people. The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres (203 sq mi). Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank on 17 November 1873.
The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians 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 centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after its unification in 1873. It also became the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Republic of Councils in 1919, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Revolution of 1956.
Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest’s extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second-oldest metro line in the world. It has around 80 geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city attracts about 4.4 million tourists a year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world, and the 6th in Europe, according to Euromonitor.
Considered a financial hub in Central Europe, the city ranked third on Mastercard’s Emerging Markets Index, and ranked as the most liveable Central or Eastern European city on EIU’s quality of life index. It is also ranked as “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler, and “Europe’s 7th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes. It is the highest ranked Central/Eastern European city on Innovation Cities’ Top 100 index.
Budapest is home to the headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the European Police College (CEPOL) and the first foreign office of the China Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA). Eighteen universities are situated in Budapest, including the Central European University, Eötvös Loránd University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.
“Budapest” is the combination of the city names Buda and Pest, which were (together with Óbuda) united into a single city in 1873. One of the first documented occurrences of the combined name “Buda-Pest” was in 1831 in the book “Világ” (“World” / “Light”), written by Count István Széchenyi.
The origins of the names Buda and Pest are obscure. According to chronicles from the Middle Ages, the name Buda comes from the name of its founder, Bleda (Buda), brother of the Hunnic ruler Attila. The theory that “Buda” was named after a person is also supported by modern scholars. An alternative explanation suggests that Buda derives from the Slavic word вода, voda (“water”), a translation of the Latin name Aquincum, which was the main Roman settlement in the region.
There are also several theories about the origin of the name Pest. One of the theories states that the word “Pest” comes from the Roman times, since there was a fortress (“Contra-Aquincum”) in this region that was referred to as “Pession” (“Πέσσιον”, iii.7.§ 2) by Ptolemaios. According to another theory, Pest originates from the Slavic word for cave (most closely related to Bulgarian and Macedonian: пещера, peștera), or oven (Bulgarian: пещ, peșt), in reference either to a cave where fires burned or to a local limekiln.
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. At first it was a military settlement, and gradually the city rose around it, making it the focal point of the city’s commercial life. Today this area corresponds to the Óbuda district within Budapest. The Romans constructed roads, amphitheaters, baths and houses with heated floors in this fortified military camp. 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.
Hungarians led by Árpád settled in the territory at the end of the 9th century, and a century later officially founded the Kingdom of Hungary. Research places the probable residence of the Árpáds as an early place of central power near what became Budapest. The Tatar invasion in the 13th century quickly proved that it is difficult to mount a defence 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.
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. After the foundation of the first Hungarian university in Pécs in 1367 (University of Pécs), the second one was established in Óbuda in 1395 (University of Óbuda). The first Hungarian book was printed in Buda in 1473. Buda had about 5,000 inhabitants around 1500.
The Ottomans pillaged Buda in 1526, besieged it in 1529, and finally occupied it in 1541. The Turkish occupation lasted for more than 140 years. The Turks constructed many fine bathing facilities within the city. Some of the baths that the Turks erected during their occupation period are still in use 500 years later (Rudas Baths and Király Baths). Under Ottoman rule many Christians became Muslim. By 1547 the number of Christians was down to about a thousand, and by 1647 it had fallen to only about seventy. The unoccupied western part of the country became part of the Habsburg Empire as Royal Hungary.
In 1686, two years after the unsuccessful siege of Buda, a renewed campaign was started to enter the Hungarian capital. This time, the Holy League’s army was twice as large, containing over 74,000 men, including German, Croat, Dutch, Hungarian, English, Spanish, Czech, Italian, French, Burgundian, Danish and Swedish soldiers, along with other Europeans as volunteers, artillerymen, and officers. The Christian forces reconquered Buda, and in the next few years, all of the former Hungarian lands, except areas near Timișoara (Temesvár), were taken from the Turks. In the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz these territorial changes were officially recognised, and in 1718 the entire Kingdom of Hungary was removed from Ottoman rule.
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.
Between 20% and 40% of Greater Budapest’s 250,000 Jewish inhabitants died through Nazi and Arrow Cross Party, during the Germany occupation of Hungary, from 1944 to early 1945.
Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz rescued tens of thousands of Jews by issuing Swiss protection papers and designating numerous buildings, including the now famous Glass House (Üvegház) at Vadász Street 29, to be Swiss protected territory. About 3,000 Hungarian Jews found refuge at the Glass House and in a neighboring building. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg managed to save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest by giving them Swedish protection papers and taking them under his consular protection. Wallenberg was abducted by the Russians on 17 January 1945 and never regained freedom. Some other diplomats also abandoned diplomatic protocol and rescued Jews. There are two monuments for Wallenberg and one for Carl Lutz in Budapest.
Following the liberation of Hungary from Nazi Germany by the Red Army, Soviet military occupation ensued, which ended only in 1991. The Soviets exerted significant influence on Hungarian political affairs. In 1949, Hungary was declared a communist People’s Republic (People’s Republic of Hungary). The new Communist government considered the buildings like the Buda Castle symbols of the former regime, and during the 1950s the palace was gutted and all the interiors were destroyed (also see Stalin era). On 23 October 1956 citizens held a large peaceful demonstration in Budapest demanding democratic reform. The demonstrators went to the Budapest radio station and demanded to publish their demands. The regime ordered troops to shoot into the crowd. Hungarian soldiers gave rifles to the demonstrators who were now able to capture the building. This initiated the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The demonstrators demanded to appoint Imre Nagy to be Prime Minister of Hungary. To their surprise, the central committee of the “Hungarian Working People’s Party” did so that same evening. This uprising was an anti-Soviet revolt that lasted from 23 October until 11 November. After Nagy had declared that Hungary was to leave the Warsaw Pact and become neutral, Soviet tanks and troops entered the country to crush the revolt. Fighting continued until mid November, leaving more than 3000 dead. A monument was erected at the fiftieth anniversary of the revolt in 2006, at the edge of the City Park. Its shape is a wedge with a 56 angle degree made in rusted iron that gradually becomes shiny, ending in an intersection to symbolize Hungarian forces that temporarily eradicated the Communist leadership.
From the 1960s to the late 1980s Hungary was often satirically referred to as “the happiest barrack” within the Eastern bloc, and much of the wartime damage to the city was finally repaired. Work on Erzsébet Bridge, the last to be rebuilt, was finished in 1964. In the early 1970s, Budapest Metro’s East-West M2 line was first opened, followed by the M3 line in 1976. In 1987, Buda Castle and the banks of the Danube were included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Andrássy Avenue (including the Millennium Underground Railway, Hősök tere, and Városliget) was added to the UNESCO list in 2002. In the 1980s, the city’s population reached 2.1 million. In recent times a significant decrease in population occurred mainly due to a massive movement to the neighbouring agglomeration in Pest county, i.e., suburbanisation.
In the last decades of the 20th century the political changes of 1989–90 (Fall of the Iron Curtain) concealed changes in civil society and along the streets of Budapest. The monuments of the dictatorship were removed from public places, into Memento Park. In the first 20 years of the new democracy, the development of the city was managed by its mayor, Gábor Demszky.
Budapest has architecturally noteworthy buildings in a wide range of styles and from distinct time periods, from the ancient times as Roman City of Aquincum in Óbuda (District III), which dates to around 89 AD, to the most modern Palace of Arts, the contemporary arts museum and concert hall.
Most buildings in Budapest are relatively low: in the early 2010s there were around 100 buildings higher than 45 metres (148 ft). The number of high-rise buildings is kept low by building legislation, which is aimed at preserving the historic cityscape and to meet the requirements of the World Heritage Site. Strong rules apply to the planning, authorisation and construction of high-rise buildings and consequently much of the inner city does not have any. But Budapest is planning to ease rules for the construction of skyscrapers and in the near future would like to build skyscrapers around the city’s historic core.
In the chronological order of architectural styles Budapest represents on the entire timeline. Start with the Roman City of Aquincum represents the ancient architecture.
The next determinative style is the Gothic architecture in Budapest. The few remaining ones can be found in the Castle District. Buildings to look for are no. 18, 20 and 22 on Országház Street, which date back to the 14th century and No. 31 Úri Street, which has a Gothic façade that dates back to the 15th century. Another building with Gothic remains is the Inner City Parish Church in Pest, built in the 12th century. The most characteristic Gothic-style buildings are actually Neo-Gothic, like the most well-known Budapest landmarks, the Hungarian Parliament Building and the Matthias Church, where much of the original material was used (originally built in Romanesque style in 1015).
The next chapter of the human architecture is the Renaissance architecture and one of the earliest places to be influenced by the Renaissance style of architecture was Hungary and Budapest. The style appeared following the marriage of King Matthias Corvinus and Beatrice of Naples in 1476. Many Italian artists, craftsmen and masons came to Buda with the new queen. Today, many of the original renaissance buildings disappeared during the varied history of Buda, but Budapest is still rich in renaissance and neo-renaissance buildings, like the famous Hungarian State Opera House, the St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
During the Turkish occupation (1541–1686), multiple mosques and baths were built in the city. These were great examples of Ottoman architecture, which was influenced by Iranian, and to a larger extent, Byzantine architecture as well as Islamic traditions. Budapest is in fact one of the few places in the world with functioning original Turkish bathhouses dating back to the 16th century, like Rudas Baths or Király Baths. Another little known fact is that Budapest is home to the northernmost holy place of Islam, the Tomb of Gül Baba, tomb of a Turkish dervish. After 1686, the Baroque architecture designated the dominant style of art in catholic countries from the 17th century to the 18th century.
The Classical architecture and Neoclassical architecture are the next in the timeline. Budapest had not one but two architects that were masters of the Classicist style. Mihály Pollack (1773–1855) and József Hild (1789–1867), built many beautiful Classicist-style buildings in the city. Some of the best examples are the Hungarian National Museum, the Lutheran Church of Budavár (both designed by Pollack) and the seat of the Hungarian president, the Sándor Palace. The most iconic Classicist-style attraction in Budapest, the most widely known Chain Bridge. A bit of maverick in architectural styles the Romanticism. Budapest’s two most beautiful Romantic architecture buildings are the Great Synagogue in Dohány Street and the Vigadó Concert Hall on the Danube Promenade, both designed by architect Frigyes Feszl (1821–1884). Another noteworthy structure is the Budapest Western Railway Station, which was designed by August de Serres and built by the Eiffel Company of Paris in 1877.
Art Nouveau came into fashion in Budapest by the exhibitions which were held in and around 1896 and organised in connection with the Hungarian Millennium celebrations. Art Nouveau in Hungary (Szecesszió in Hungarian) is a blend of several architectural styles, with a focus on Hungary’s specialities. One of the leading Art Nouveau architects, Ödön Lechner (1845–1914), was inspired by Indian and Syrian architecture as well as traditional Hungarian decorative designs. One of his most beautiful buildings in Budapest is the Museum of Applied Arts. Another examples for Art Nouveau in Budapest is the Gresham Palace in front of the Chain Bridge, the Hotel Gellért, the Franz Liszt Academy of Music or Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden.
In the 21st century, Budapest faces new challenges in its architecture. The pressure towards the high-rise buildings is unequivocal among today’s world cities, but preserving Budapest’s unique cityscape and its very diverse architecture, along with green areas, is force Budapest to balance between them. The Contemporary architecture has wide margin in the city. Public spaces attract heavy investment by business and government also, so that the city has gained entirely new (or renovated and redesigned) squares, parks and monuments, for example the city central Kossuth Lajos square, Deák Ferenc square and Liberty Square. Budapest’s current urban landscape is one of the modern and contemporary architecture. Numerous landmarks are created in the last decade in Budapest, like the National Theatre, Palace of Arts, Rákóczi Bridge, Megyeri Bridge, Budapest Airport Sky Court among others, and millions of square meters of new office buildings and apartments. But there are still large opportunities in real estate development in the city.
Main sights and tourism
The neo-Gothic Parliament, the biggest building in Hungary with its 268 metres (879 ft) length, 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, just 2 out of 223 museums in Budapest. Another historical museum is the House of Terror, hosted in the building that was the venue of the Nazi Headquarters. The Castle Hill, the River Danube embankments and the whole of Andrássy út have been officially recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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 13th 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, it is in neo-Gothic style, decorated with coloured shingles and elegant pinnacles. Next to it is an equestrian statue of the first king of Hungary, King Saint Stephen, and behind that is the Fisherman’s Bastion, built in 1905 by the architect Frigyes Schulek, the Fishermen’s Bastions owes its name to the namesake corporation that during the Middle Ages was responsible of the defence of this part of ramparts, from where opens out a panoramic view of the whole city. Statues of the Turul, the mythical guardian bird of Hungary, can be found in both the Castle District and the Twelfth District.
Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe, and the second largest active synagogue in the world. The synagogue is located in the Jewish district taking up several blocks in central Budapest bordered by Király utca, Wesselényi utca, Grand Boulevard and Bajcsy Zsilinszky road. It was built in moorish revival style in 1859 and has a seating capacity of 3,000. Adjacent to it is a sculpture reproducing a weeping willow tree in steel to commemorate the Hungarian victims of the Holocaust.
The city is also home to the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Széchenyi Medicinal Bath) and the third largest Parliament building in the world, once the largest in the world. Other attractions are the bridges of the capital. Seven bridges provide crossings over the Danube, and from north to south are: the Árpád Bridge (built in 1950 at the north of Margaret Island); the Margaret Bridge (built in 1901, destroyed during the war by an explosion and then rebuilt in 1948); the Chain Bridge (built in 1849, destroyed during the II World War and the rebuilt in 1949); the Elisabeth Bridge (completed in 1903 and dedicated to the murdered Queen Elisabeth, it was destroyed by the Germans during the war and rebuilt in 1964); the Liberty Bridge (opened in 1896 and rebuilt in 1989 in Art Nouveau style); the Petőfi Bridge (completed in 1937, destroyed during the war and rebuilt in 1952); the Rákóczi Bridge (completed in 1995). Most remarkable for their beauty are the Margaret bridge, the Chain bridge and the Liberty bridge. The world’s largest panorama photograph was created in (and of) Budapest in 2010.
Tourists visiting Budapest can receive free maps and information from the nonprofit Budapest Festival and Tourism Center at its info-points. The info centers also offer the Budapest Card which allows free public transit and discounts for several museums, restaurants and other places of interest. Cards are available for 24-, 48- or 72-hour durations. The city is also well known for its ruin bars both day and night.
Parks and gardens
Budapest has many municipal parks and most have playgrounds for children and seasonal activities like skating in the winter and boating in the summer. Access from the city center is quick and easy with the Millennium Underground. Budapest has a complex park system, with various lands operated by the Budapest City Gardening Ltd. The wealth of greenspace afforded by Budapest’s parks is further augmented, a network of open spaces containing forest, streams, and lakes that are set aside as natural areas which lie along not for from inner city, among others the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden (established in 1866) in the City Park. The most notably and popular parks in Budapest are the City Park which were established in 1751 (302 acres) along with Andrássy Avenue, the Margaret Island in the Danube (238 acres or 96 hectares), the People’s Park and the Kopaszi Dam.
The Buda Hills also offer a variety of adventurous outdoor activities, along with some spectacular views. A popular place frequented by locals is Normafa, offering activities for all seasons. With a modest ski run, it is also a winter favorite for skiers and snow boarders if there is enough snowfall.
Seven islands can be found on the Danube: Shipyard Island, Margaret Island, Csepel Island, Palotai-sziget (now a peninsula), Népsziget, Háros-sziget, and Molnár-sziget. Notable islands include:
- Margaret Island 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 on 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 Island (Csepel-sziget, Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈtʃɛpɛlsiɡɛt]) is the largest island of the River Danube in Hungary. It is 48 km (30 mi) long; its width is 6 to 8 km (4 to 5 mi) and its area comprises 257 km2 (99 sq mi), whereas only the northern tip is inside the city limits.
- Hajógyári-sziget ([ˈhɒjoːɟaːri siɡɛt], or Óbudai-sziget) is a man-made 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 and is located in the northern region of the city.
- Rock of Ínség can be found in the river Danube under the Gellért mountain. It can be seen only during a drought period when the river level is very low.
One of the reasons the Romans first colonised the area immediately to the west of the River Danube and established their regional capital at Aquincum (now part of Óbuda, in northern Budapest) is so that they could utilise and enjoy the thermal springs. There are still ruins visible today of the enormous baths that were built during that period. The new baths that were constructed during the Turkish period (1541–1686) served both bathing and medicinal purposes, and some of these are still in use to this day. Budapest gained its reputation as a city of spas in the 1920s, following the first realisation of the economic potential of the thermal waters in drawing in visitors. Indeed, in 1934 Budapest was officially ranked as a “City of Spas”. Today, the baths are mostly frequented by the older generation, as, with the exception of the “Magic Bath” and “Cinetrip” water discos, young people tend to prefer the lidos which are open in the summer. Construction of the Király Baths started in 1565, and most of the present-day building dates from the Turkish period, including most notably the fine cupola-topped pool. The Rudas Baths are centrally placed – in the narrow strip of land between Gellért Hill and the River Danube – and also an outstanding example of architecture dating from the Turkish period. The central feature is an octagonal pool over which light shines from a 10 metres (33 ft) diameter cupola, supported by eight pillars. The Gellért Baths and Hotel were built in 1918, although there had once been Turkish baths on the site, and in the Middle Ages a hospital. In 1927, the Baths were extended to include the wave pool, and the effervescent bath was added in 1934. The well-preserved Art Nouveau interior includes colourful mosaics, marble columns, stained glass windows and statues. The Lukács Baths are also in Buda and are also Turkish in origin, although they were only revived at the end of the 19th century. This was also when the spa and treatment centre were founded. There is still something of an atmosphere of fin-de-siècle about the place, and all around the inner courtyard there are marble tablets recalling the thanks of patrons who were cured there. Since the 1950s it has been regarded as a centre for intellectuals and artists.
The Széchenyi Baths are one of the largest bathing complexes in all Europe, and the only “old” medicinal baths to be found in the Pest side of the city. The indoor medicinal baths date from 1913 and the outdoor pools from 1927. There is an atmosphere of grandeur about the whole place with the bright, largest pools resembling aspects associated with Roman baths, the smaller bath tubs reminding one of the bathing culture of the Greeks, and the saunas and diving pools borrowed from traditions emanating in northern Europe. The three outdoor pools (one of which is a fun pool) are open all year, including winter. Indoors there are over ten separate pools, and a whole host of medical treatments is also available. The Szécheny Baths are built in modern Renaissance style.
Infrastructure and transportation
Budapest is served by Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) (named after Franz Liszt, the notable Hungarian composer), one of the busiest airports in Central and Eastern Europe, located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) east-southeast of the centre of Budapest, in the District XVIII. The airport offers international connections among all major European cities, and also to North America, Africa and the Middle East. As Hungary’s busiest airport, handles nearly all of the country’s air passenger traffic. Budapest Liszt Ferenc handled around 250 scheduled flights daily in 2013, and an ever rising number of charters. London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam are the busiest international connections respectively, while Toronto, Montreal, Dubai, Doha and Alicante are the most unusual in the region. Today the airport serves as a base for Ryanair, Wizz Air, Budapest Aircraft Service, CityLine Hungary, Farnair Hungary and Travel Service Hungary among others. The airport is accessible via public transportation from the city centre by the Metro line 3 and then the airport bus No. 200E.
As part of a strategic development plan, €561 million have spent to expanding and modernising the airport infrastructure until December 2012. Most of these improvements are already completed, the postponed ones are the new cargo area and new piers for terminal 2A and 2B, but these development are on standby also, and will start immediately, when the airport traffic will reach the appropriate level. SkyCourt, the newest, state-of-the-art building between the 2A and 2B terminals with 5 levels. Passenger safety checks were moved here along with new baggage classifiers and the new Malév and SkyTeam business lounges, as well as the first MasterCard lounge in Europe.
The Centre for Budapest Transport (BKK), the transportation authority of Budapest, operates one of the largest public transportation systems in Europe, which covers the city of Budapest and 80 surrounding suburbs. Budapest’s public transport system consists of four metro lines, with Line 1 (Yellow) — constructed 1896, being the second oldest in the world; 5 suburban railway lines; 33 city tram lines; 15 trolleybus lines; 264 bus lines, with 40 routes providing night bus services; 4 city boat services plus the BuBi, the smart bicycle sharing network with bikes monitored by computer and GPS. On an average weekday, BKK lines transports 3.9 million riders. In 2011, it handled a total of 1.4 billion passengers. In 2014, the 65% of the passenger traffic in Budapest was by public transport and 35% by car. The aim is 80%–20% by 2030 in accordance with the strategy of BKK.
The development of complex Intelligent transportation system in the city is rapidly advancing, the application of smart traffic lights is widespread, they are GPS and computer controlled and give priority to the GPS connected public transport vehicles automatically, as well as the traffic is measured and analyzed on the roads and car drivers informed about the expected travel time and traffic by intelligent displays (EasyWay project). Public transport users are immediately notified of any changes in public transport online, on smartphones and on PIDS displays, as well car drivers can keep track of changes in traffic and road management in real-time online and on smartphones through the BKK Info. As well all vehicles can be followed online and on smartphones in real-time throughout the city with the Futár PIDS system, while the continuous introducing of integrated e-ticket system will help the measurement of passenger numbers on each line and the intelligent control of service frequency.
The development of Futár, the citywide real-time passenger information system and real-time route planner is finished already and now all of the public transport vehicle is connected via satellite system. The real-time information of trams, buses and trolleybuses are available for both the operators in the control room and for all the passengers in all stops on smartphone and on city street displays. The implementation of latest generation automated fare collection and e-ticket system with NFC compatibility and reusable contactless smart cards for making electronic payments in online and offline systems in Budapest is started in 2014, the project is implemented and operated by the operator of Hong Kong Octopus card jointly with one of the leading European companies of e-ticket and automated fare collection, Scheidt & Bachmann. The deployment of 300 new digital contactless ticket vending machine will be finished by the end of 2014 in harmonization with the e-ticket system.
The tram lines no. 4 and 6 are the busiest city tram lines in the world, with one of the world’s longest trams (54-metre long Siemens Combino) running at 2–3 minute intervals at peak time and 4–5 minutes off-peak. Day services are usually from 4am until 23pm-0.30am. The night service has a reputation for being excellent. Hungarian State Railways operates an extensive network of commuter rail services, their importance in the suburban commuter passenger traffic is significant, but in travel within the city is limited. The organiser of public transport in Budapest is the municipal corporation Centre for Budapest Transport (Budapesti Közlekedési Központ – BKK), that is responsible for planning and organising network and services, planning and developing tariff concepts, attending to public service procurer duties, managing public service contracts, operating controlling and monitoring systems, setting and monitoring service level agreements related to public transport, attending to customer service duties, selling and monitoring tickets and passes, attending to integrated passenger information duties, unified Budapest-centric traffic control within public transport, attending to duties related to river navigation, plus the management of Budapest roads, operating taxi stations, unified control of bicycle traffic development in the capital, preparing parking strategy and developing an operational concept, preparation of road traffic management, developing an optimal traffic management system, organising and co-ordinating road reconstruction and even more, in short, everything which is related to transport in the city.
Roads and railways
Budapest is the most important Hungarian road terminus, all of the major highways and railways ends within the city limits. The road system in the city is designed in a similar manner to that of Paris, with several ring roads, and avenues radiating out from the center. Ring road M0 around Budapest is nearly completed, with only one section missing on the west side due to local disputes. Currently the beltway is 80 kilometres (50 miles) in length, and once finished it will be 107 kilometres (66 mi) of highway in length.
The city is a vital traffic hub because all major European roads and European railway lines lead to Budapest. The Danube was and is still today an important water-way and this region in the centre of the Carpathian Basin lies at the cross-roads of trade routes. Hungarian main line railways are operated by Hungarian State Railways. There are three main railway station in Budapest, the Budapest Eastern railway station, the Budapest Western railway station and Budapest Southern railway station, operating both domestic and international rail services. Budapest is one of the main stops of the on its Central and Eastern European route. There is also a suburban rail service in and around Budapest, operated under the name HÉV.
Ports and shipping
The river Danube flows through Budapest on its way from Germany to the Black Sea. The river is easily navigable and so Budapest historically has a major commercial port at Csepel District and at New Pest District also. The Pest side is also a famous port place with international shipping ports for cargo and for passenger ships. In the summer months, a scheduled hydrofoil service operates on the Danube connecting the city to Vienna.
BKK (through the operator BKV) also provides public transport with boat service within the borders of the city. Four routes, marked D11-14, connect the 2 banks with Margaret Island and Hajógyári-island, from Római fürdő (Buda side, North to Óbudai island) or Árpád Bridge (Pest side) to Rákóczi Bridge, with a total of 15 stops. In addition, several companies provides sightseeing boat trips and also an amphibious vehicle (bus and boat) operates constantly.
Water quality in Budapest harbours improved dramatically in the recent years, treatment facilities processed 100% of generated sewage in 2010. Budapesters regularly kayak, canoe, jet-ski and sail on the Danube, which has continuously become a major recreational site for the city.
Other modes of transport
12 road bridge and 2 train bridge connect the two banks of the river Danube (between Pest and Buda) at the city of Budapest. The first permanent bridge was Chain Bridge, nowadays the capital has 2 more historical bridges from the 19th century. Some bridges are combined use because of its tram lines.
Culture and contemporary life.
The culture of Budapest is reflected by Budapest’s size and variety. Most Hungarian cultural movements first emerged in the city. Budapest is an important center for music, film, theatre, dance and visual art. Artists have been drawn into the city by opportunity, as the city government funds the arts with adequate financial resources. Budapest is headquarter of the Hungarian LGBT community.
Museums and galleries
Budapest is packed with museums and galleries, and there are plenty of temporary exhibitions in the most unlikely of settings, particularly in summer. The city glories in 223 museums and galleries, which presents several memories, not only the Hungarian historical, art and science ones, but also the memories of universal and European culture and science. Here are the greatest examples among them: the Hungarian National Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts (where can see the pictures of Hungarian painters, like Victor Vasarely, Mihály Munkácsy and a great collection about Italian art, Dutch art, Spanish art and British art from before the 19th century and French art, British art, German art, Austrian art after the 19th century), the House of Terror, the Budapest Historical Museum, the Aquincum Museum, the Memento Park, Museum of Applied Arts and the contemporary arts exhibition Palace of Arts Budapest. In Budapest there are currently 837 different monuments, which represent the most of the European artistic style. The classical and unique Hungarian Art Nouveau buildings are prominent.
A lot of libraries have unique collections in Budapest, such as the National Széchenyi Library, which keeps historical relics from the age before the printing of books. The Metropolitan Szabó Ervin Library plays an important role in the general education of the capital’s population. Other libraries: The Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Eötvös University Library, the Parliamentary Library, Library of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office and the National Library of Foreign Literature.
Opera and theatres
In Budapest there are forty theatres, seven concert halls and an opera house. Outdoor festivals, concerts and lectures enrich the cultural offer of summer, which are often held in historical buildings. The largest theatre facilities are the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre, the József Attila Theatre, the Katona József Theatre, the Madách Theatre, the Hungarian State Opera House, the National Theatre, the Vigadó Concert Hall, Radnóti Miklós Theatre, the Comedy Theatre and the Palace of Arts, known as MUPA. The Budapest Opera Ball is an annual Hungarian society event taking place in the building of the Budapest Opera (Operaház) on the last Saturday of the carnival season, usually late February.
Performing arts and festivals.
Several annual festivals take place in Budapest, such as Sziget Festival, one of the largest outdoor music festival in Europe, the Budapest Spring Festival presents on concerts at several venues across the city. The Budapest Autumn Festival brings free music, dance, art, and other cultural events to the streets of the city. Budapest Wine Festival and Budapest Pálinka Festival occurs each May and gastronomy festivals focus on culinary pleasures. Budapest Pride (or Budapest Pride Film and Cultural Festival) occurs annually across the city, and usually involves a parade on the Andrássy Avenue. Other festivals include the Budapest Fringe Festival, which brings more than 500 artists in about 50 shows to produce a wide range of interesting works in alternative theatre, dance, music and comedy outside the mainstream. The LOW Festival was a multidisciplinary contemporary cultural festival held in Hungary in the cities Budapest and Pécs from February till March. The name of the festival alludes to the Low Countries, the region encompassing the Netherlands and Flanders. Budapest Jewish Summer Festival, in late August, is also one of the largest in Europe.
There are many symphony orchestras in Budapest with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra being the preeminent one. It was founded in 1853 by Ferenc Erkel and still presents regular concerts in the Hungarian State Opera House and National Theatre.
The dance tradition of the Carpathian Basin is a unique area of the European dance culture, which is also a special transition between the Balkans and Western Europe regions. The city is home to several authentic Hungarian folk dance ensembles which range from small ensembles to professional troupes. Budapest is one of the few cities in the world where a high school for folk dance learning exists.
In the modern age, Budapest developed its own peculiar cuisine, based on products of the nearby region, as lamb, pork and vegetables special in the region. Modern Hungarian cuisine is a synthesis of ancient Asiatic components mixed with French, Germanic, Italian, and Slavic elements. The food of Hungary can be considered a melting pot of the continent, with a culinary base formed from its own, original Magyar cuisine. Considerable numbers of Saxons, Armenians, Italians, Jews and Serbs settled in the Hungarian basin and in Transylvania, also contributing with different new dishes. Elements of ancient Turkish cuisine were adopted during the Ottoman era, in the form of sweets (for example different nougats, like white nougat called törökméz, quince (birsalma), Turkish delight, Turkish coffee or rice dishes like pilaf, meat and vegetable dishes like the eggplant, used in eggplant salads and appetizers, stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage called töltött káposzta. Hungarian cuisine was influenced by Austrian cuisine under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, dishes and methods of food preparation have often been borrowed from Austrian cuisine, and vice versa.
Budapest restaurants reflect diversity, with menus carrying traditional regional cuisine, fusions of various culinary influences, or innovating in the leading edge of new techniques. Budapest’ food shops also have a solid reputation for supplying quality specialised culinary products and supplies, reputations that are often built up over generations. These include many shops, such as Café Gerbeaud, one of the greatest and most traditional coffeehouses in Europe, or the Gundel restaurant and gastro shop in the City Park. Diners can also find the highest quality foods served in several Michelin-starred restaurants, like Onyx, Costes, Borkonyha or Tanti.