"Buda and Pest: two faces of Budapest." Budapest by ger4444

Budapest Travel Guide: 7,710 reviews and 17,863 photos

One warm summer-evening we entered Budapest Keleti station. While trying to get a first impression about the surroundings of it, two students attrackted our attention by their offers for real good lodging: one was claiming to have the best place in town "it even has no cockroaches", the other one was claiming that it was a real cool student flat, where some rooms were availlable at the moment. Of course, bringing up any cockroaches-item, doesnt make a good impression so we chooosed the student flat. (A very good spot to stay: nowadays called "Hostel Rósza" Bercsényl utca 28-30)So we got into the van (Yes: they even had their own transport fixed) and soon, we found ourselves standing there at the third floor of a student-flat. This is a graet place to stay, if you like partying. During our stay we have been at about three party's in the corridor were we were staying, very crowded and a lot of beer! If you prefer a calm and good nigh's rest, you better not stay at the Rósza!
This first night we explored all the possibilities in the neightborhood. Together with some students who lived in the studentflat we visited a some of the cellarbars, that were located just around the corner. These bars were mainly frequented by students and were very cheap. You very easily meet new people over there and the atmosphere is rather pleasant. Now, i will give you some detailed information about the most imposrtant sights of the city. Enjoy your tour!

Some short historical facts about the city.

The first town, the "pre-budapest settlements" built by Celts, occupied about 30 hectares along the slopes of Gellert Hill (first century BC). It was called Ak Ink (meaning 'spring rich in water'). Archaeological finds suggest that it may have been a densely populated settlement, with a separate district of craftsmen (potteries and bronze foundries). It may have been a trading centre as well, as coins coming from different regions would indicate.
The town was occupied by the Romans at the beginning of the Christian era. Its inhabitants moved to the Danube plains, to a city retaining the Celtic name (Aquincum), in the first century. In AD 106 the city became the capital of the province Pannonia Inferior. The headquarters of the governor and significant military force were stationed here, and its population numbered about 20,000. It was frequently involved in wars on the border of the Roman Empire (formed by the Danube).
In the early fifth century the Roman defence lines were swept away by the Goths and other peoples fleeing westwards from the Huns. During the flourishing period of the Hun empire (after AD 430), this crossing point over the Danube retained its significance. No Romanized population remained in the city: they were replaced by Ostrogoths and Huns.
In the 400 years following the dissolution of the Hun empire, the inhabitants of the territory of Hungary often changed in the turbulence of the Great Migration Era: Gepids, Longobards, Avars and other long forgotten peoples of Germanic and Central Asian stock followed one another. Avar rule was the longest, lasting more than 200 years. The Avars were followed by the Franks, when the Danube again became the eastern borderline of a West European empire. In the ninth century Pannonia became part of the Morvian empire. There is no trace of any significant urban development during the Great Migration Era.
Around the end of the ninth century The Hungarian appeared, establishing the seat of their prince near the crossing of the Danube. They quickly recognized the geostrategic significance of the place. Obuda, the territory of the civilian city of Aquincum, became the first centre of Hungary. (The name of Buda derives from a Hungarian given name.)
The princely (and later, royal) seat was moved to Esztergom in 973, and returned to Obuda only in the thirteenth century. The Western European type of urban and bourgeois development began in Pest, which had a mixed German- Hungarian population in the thirteenth century.
In the middle of the thirteenth century, after the Tatar invasion, significant fortification work began all over the country. This was when the royal castle and the walled city were built on Castle Hill, on an elevated terrace of the Danube which could be easily defended. This third city was called Buda, its inhabitants presumable coming mainly from Pest. In the Middle Ages Buda gradually emerged from among the Hungarian towns, and it reached its peak in the second part of the fifteenth and the early sixteenth centuries.
At that time the Hungarian kingdom extended over a large territory, including a significant part of the Balkans, and subsequently uniting with Poland and Lithuania. The rule of the Hungarian Crown extended from the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea. The Hungarian kings established a highly centralized authority. While the German region of Europe was breaking up into small principalities in the late Middle Ages, a strong Hungarian empire was unfolding on the eastern side of Central Europe. Buda, the centre of the empire, was also a major urban settlement in political, as well as economic cultural terms.
At the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Buda had 12,000-15,000 inhabitants, Pest 10,000, and Obuda only 2,000-3,000. Thus the total population of the three towns that constitute the present Hungarian capital stood at roughly 25,000- 30,000 - a big city in Central Europe in those days, ranking with Vienna, Prague, Krakow and Danzig. There was no urban centre of comparable significance in the Balkans. Moreover, no other city between Constantinople and Vienna had a population of over 5,000
The economic role of this centre was enhanced by the important trade routes crossing the Danube at Buda, linking Eastern and Western Europe together. Cattle for slaughter played an important role in East-West economic relations, driven from the grazing lands of the Hungarian Plain to the cities of the northern Italy, Austria and Bavaria. Its role in the wine trade was also renowned. Miklós Oláh, Secretary to Queen Mária, wrote in 1536: 'The city of Buda is famous merchants, who gather here as if this place were the emporium of the whole of Hungary' (Horváth, Budapest története [The history of Budapest],vol.2,p.97).
One-and-a-half of prosperity was followed by a long decline. Buda and Pest came under Turkish occupation for about 150 years (and served as the headquarters of the Turkish military administration.) That part of the country not occupied by the Turks became part of the Habsburg empire. When, at the end of the seventeenth century, Buda was liberated from the Turkish rule, it became a provincial centre. When Buda was occupied, the Hungarian Diet moved to Pozsony (which since 1918 has belonged to Czechoslovakia, its Slovak name being Bratislava) and stayed there until 1848.
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. In 1867 the Habsburg administration reached a compromise with the Hungarian nobility, and Hungary was granted a status equal to that of Austria within the Habsburg empire. 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.
Struggle for modernization in 19th century (from 1867 to World War I.)
1867-1919: This was the period of belated but rapid industrialization, urban growth and of catching up with the rest of Europe. The city never had such a glorious era before or since. Once again the city became the centre of a large region. As the capital of the Hungarian Kingdom, which had a territory three times as large as today, it was the second most important urban centre of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy (after Vienna). And it had an economic and cultural influence stretching beyond the borders of the empire, to the Balkans and northern Italy.
Under socialism, post-war Budapest has maintained a steady rate of development. With the dissolution of socialism in 1989, the city has entered the post-industrial age with the leading role of blue-collar industry being replaced by services and a white-collar workforce. And now Budapest is again searching for its place among the major European metropolises. Budapest is once again becoming a Central European capital.

  • Last visit to Budapest: Aug 2000
  • Intro Written Sep 5, 2002
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Reviews (2)

Comments (21)

  • vpas's Profile Photo
    Feb 17, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    hi,nice tips on off the beaten track.wish you had more tips, thanks for your suggestions,

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Jul 12, 2009 at 2:16 PM

    no cockroaches is indeed an inducement

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Jun 1, 2007 at 11:43 PM

    Very detailed Budapest tips. Good stuff :)

  • littlesam1's Profile Photo
    May 16, 2007 at 6:40 AM

    Thanks for stopping by my San Francisco page. I was just in Budapest last year and had a great time also. You have really packed a lot into this page.

  • themajor's Profile Photo
    Jul 15, 2005 at 9:06 AM

    Extraordinarily thorough! Indeed long enough to reduce an entire box of cigars to ash! Most distressed to see the Gellert Hotel tip is incomplete - perhaps the fact that I once stayed there has reduced it to the status of 'inconsequential'?

  • sourbugger's Profile Photo
    Jun 14, 2005 at 3:50 PM

    very detailed personal views. enjoyedd the read

  • shirez's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2004 at 3:36 AM

    as it is my hometown i had time and possibility to be BP's fan..;-)

  • Kristina1701's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2004 at 9:09 AM

    VEEEERY informative page!

  • mjm716's Profile Photo
    Feb 26, 2004 at 11:52 AM

    Great pages - very informative and fun reads...next time in Budapest, coming from the bridge towards Buda/Gellert, make a left and follow that to "clubland" - the boat is the best - raging scene...anyways hope the neck condition clears up...;)

  • liqdstar's Profile Photo
    Feb 15, 2004 at 12:08 PM

    wow thats a lotta info!

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