Learn About the Exciting History of Budapest

Photo Credit: frantic00

If you plan on visiting Eastern Europe, do not forget to visit Hungary! Hungarian history is incredibly exciting, with the centerpiece being Budapest. Located near the Danube, the earliest settlements date back centuries. Even though the city was officially founded in the 19th century, people have been visiting the area since the time of the Roman Empire, which called it Aquincum as part of Pannonia. Hungary played an essential role in the first and second World War, and has been a thriving metropolis into the 20th century. What do you need to know about the history of Budapest?

Budapest Was Founded as a collection of Three Other Cities

People have been living in the area of Budapest for centuries. The city as it is currently known was founded in November of 1873. At that time, three other cities were brought together to form Budapest. Those cities include Buda, Pest, and Obuda. There were several other towns that were incorporated into the borders of Budapest in the 20th century. Even though this changed the name of the city on the map, it does not change the city of the smaller cities and towns that preceded the giant metropolis.

The first people to live in the area of present-day Budapest were the Celts. They lived in the plains surrounding the current city thousands of years ago. Around the turn of the calendar from BC to AD, the area was conquered by the Roman Empire. They set up a fortress in Budapest and used it to defend invaders who are looking to invade the Empire. The area expanded when it conquered the Carpathian Basin.

The Romans occupied the area for approximately four hundred years. Around 500 AD, Rome was invaded by the Huns and Mongols. They were seeking to invade Europe from Asia. During the next few hundred years, the area was contested by numerous nations, tribes, and kingdoms who tried to control the region because of its value for trade purposes. The Hungarian state was established around 1000 AD, and this gave birth to relative stability in the region, as the city continues to grow until its current form today.

Budapest During the Middle Ages and Renaissance

After the kingdom of Hungary was established, Budapest became a center of culture and trade. A lot of people who are moving between Europe and Asia would pass through Budapest. Therefore, Budapest was exposed to a lot of interesting cultures, ideas, foods, and languages. It is this melting pot that has contributed to the multicultural form that people know and love about Budapest today.

During the 14th century, Hungary was ruled by Angieven Kings, who came from France. They established Buda as the seat of power for the kingdom of Hungary. In addition, the French King has constructed a wide variety of palaces throughout the region. During the Baroque period, Hungary was seen as a major power in the area. They presided over a golden age, meaning that there was a tremendous amount of prosperity in the area surrounding Budapest. The city became a centerpiece for the arts, culture, languages, and technological advancement.

The Fall of Hungary in the 16th Century

In the 16th century, the Golden Age of Hungary would come to an end, and the City of Budapest would suffer. Hungary suffered a significant defeat against the Turkish Empire, which was led by Suleiman of the Turks at the time. Hungary was defeated at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526, which led to the occupation of present-day Budapest by the Turkish Empire. Budapest was again at the centerpiece during the battle of the Siege of Buda, which took place in 1541. Hungary was caught in the middle of a war between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Empire.

Following this war, Budapest again enjoyed a period of relative calm; however, this would also come to an end. In 1683, Budapest was involved in the Battle of Buda, which lasted for six weeks and engulfed Central Europe. The civilian population suffered, with many people struggling to find food.

Budapest During the 18th Century and 19th Century

The towns in present-day Budapest suffered significantly during the wars that took place during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As a result, the area degraded into nothing more than just a few towns. Most of the influence came from nearby Austria, with its capital of Vienna relatively close to Budapest. Australia was responsible for controlling defense, foreign affairs, trade, and tariffs that took place in the region. Budapest largely had to acquiesce to the rules, laws, and regulations that Austria put into place. Even though Hungary negotiated with Austria relatively regularly, it was also at the mercy of Austria itself.

During the 19th century, Budapest began to grow again. Both Buda and Pest underwent an industrial revolution, with engineering in the area improving significantly. New roads and bridges were built, opening up new trade opportunities. Then, the entire country of Hungary underwent a revolution in 1848. The people rose up against the Habsburgs in Budapest, seeking changes that could improve the lives of everyone who lived in the area. This led to a massive protest, a civil war, and a war for independence.

Eventually, the Hungarian Revolution came to an end in 1867. It established a dual monarchy and Austria and Hungary. As a result, Buda and Pest began to expand significantly. The city's got so big that it simply made sense to merge them together in 1873. This further led to the growth of Budapest, establishing it as a centerpiece for arts and culture. As money continued to pour into the city, Budapest built a metro line to make it easier for people to get across the region. At the end of the 19th century, Budapest had established itself as a major cultural center in Europe. Once again, a massive amount of trade was blowing through the area, contributing to the growth of both Austria and Hungary. Eventually, the prosperity that took place during the 19th century would give way to two world wars during the 20th century.

The Collapse of the Austrian and Hungarian Empires

After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, World War I began. The Austro-Hungarian Empire joined the Central Powers. They allied themselves with Germany and the Ottoman Empire, which would eventually lose World War 1. In the aftermath of World War 1, Austria-Hungary collapsed. As a result, many of the people living in the area sank into poverty because of War reparations. The Treaty of Trianon significantly shrank hungry, and Budapest would undergo multiple revolutions. This led to the rise of the Hungarian Democratic Republic. Shortly after this, Hungary was taken over by a communist regime. Under the Communist Regime, Budapest suffered through the White terror, with many people being executed for being political dissidents. This led to the Hungarian Romanian more in 1919, after which Romania occupied parts of Hungary, including Budapest. Eventually, the Kingdom of Hungary was established, and the country stabilized; however, economic conditions did not improve.

Unfortunately, things would only get worse. Because of the plight in Hungary, many of the people who lived in the region were enticed by the promises of the Nazi regime crawling in Germany. Antisemitism continued to grow, which spelled bad news for the Jewish population that live in Hungary. Despite the growing antisemitism during the years preceding the outbreak of World War II, many Jewish people fled from their home country to Hungary because, despite legislation that was discriminatory against Jewish individuals, they were not being rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

As it became clear that Germany was losing the war, Germany was concerned that Hungary would defect and ally itself with the Allied Powers. Therefore, Budapest was occupied by Germany at the end of WWII. During this time, many Jewish individuals and families were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. As the Allies quickly advanced across Europe, the German occupation of Hungary did not last. Hungry was liberated along with the rest of Europe when Germany surrendered in April of 1945.

Unfortunately, even though hungry was liberated by the Allies, Budapest suffered a significant amount of damage during WWII. As the Germans retreated from Hungary, they tried to slow the advance of the Allies to give themselves time to set up an advance. As a result, they destroyed much of the infrastructure throughout Budapest. They destroyed highways, blew up bridges, and made it as hard as possible for allies to get across the city. This has led to a tremendous amount of destruction, endured mostly by the civilian population, particularly as the Germans destroyed the bridge near the Banks of the Danube.

At the end of World War Two, the United States instituted the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan was designed to pump resources into Europe to help the continent rebuild following the end of World War Two. Unfortunately, Hungary fell under the influence of the Soviet Union. Therefore, the Soviet Union instituted a communist government in Hungary.

Hungary Languishes Under Soviet Rule

At the end of WWII, an Iron Curtain descended across Europe. Western Europe was controlled by the United States, France, Britain, and other countries that would eventually come together to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. The Soviet Union controlled most of Eastern Europe, including Hungary, where Budapest is located. The Soviet Union installed communist puppet governments across countries in Eastern Europe, including Hungary.

Under Soviet influence, Hungary continued to struggle. Even though Budapest remained a capital of culture and the arts, the country itself was not growing. Eventually, Hungary declared itself free and independent of the Warsaw Pact. A revolution took place in 1989. This ultimately led to the end of Soviet occupation in Hungary. For the first time in many years, the people who lived in Budapest were truly free. With the establishment of a democratic government, the country began to grow. Many people started to take advantage of the new economic possibilities that were available to them. As a result, Budapest became an economic Center of Europe once again. Many new companies opened their doors in Budapest, and the people who lived there were offered new economic opportunities. Wages began to rise, and the standard of living in Budapest began to rise with it.

Budapest Today

Now, Budapest is a major tourist destination for people all over the world, particularly those from Asia, Europe, and the United States. Even though Budapest has endured a lot during the past few thousand years, there are plenty of historical sites that remain in relatively good condition. If you plan on visiting Budapest, do not pass up the opportunity to visit Heroes’ Square. You should also swing by the Parliament Building, which is one of the largest Gothic buildings in Hungary. You can appreciate it in all its glory from the other side of the Danube River. Consider visiting a city park, checking out Castle Hill, and visiting Matthias Church. You may also want to visit The Chain Bridge.

You should also try to check out the Gellert Hill Bath and Spa. This is an open-air pool that actually turns into a wave pool. Go for a stroll down Andrassy Avenue as well. Do not forget to check out the Hungarian National Museum, The Buda Castle, and the beautiful Opera House. You can also visit the Budapest History Museum and St. Stephen Basilica.

You should also check out Margaret Island, which is an island that sits in the middle of the Danube River. It has a lot of parks and recreational facilities. Consider swinging by the Royal Palace as well.