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Budapest - Capital of Hungary

Budapest is the country's largest city with a population of 1.7 million.

Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with a unification on 17 November 1873 of west-bank Buda and east-bank Pest.

The city has shrugged off its communist-era years to become one of Europe's most vibrant new cities.

Waking up from a cold European winter the Budapest Spring Festival heralds the start of yet another busy year with the music event attracting 60,000 visitors to the city.

Both sides of the city are quite distinctive. The Buda side is where you'll find the majority of the city's more cosmopolitan shops, bars and night clubs.

Venturing across to Pest is like travelling back in time with many of the more historical and run-down areas being located here.

In the middle of the Danube is the recreational Margaret Island, filled with green gardens, park areas and a musical fountain and very busy during the summer weekends.

Hungarian cuisine consists of hearty meaty dishes such as Goulash and spicy young wines. Vegetarians may struggle to find a lot of options in the more traditional restaurants.

On the whole, Budapest is a wonderful mix of modern Europe and transitioning post-war history.

Top 5 things to do in Budapest

Buda Castle

Buda Castle was first established in the 14th century and the complex of buildings here have been destroyed and rebuilt many times.

The complex is built atop Castle Hill giving a strategic view over the Danube river and the city down below.

The first royal residence on the Castle Hill was built by King Béla IV between 1247 and 1265 but the oldest surviving parts of the current complex date back to the 14th century.

Heavily damaged during the second world war, the lavishly decorated interiors of the palace were all destroyed with the post-war reconstruction removing the rest.

Lavish reconstruction of the interiors drew inspiration from those at Versailles in France and include; the Ballroom, the Great Ballroom, the Habsburg Room and St. Sigismund Chapel.

The Budapest History Museum is located in the southern wing of Buda Castle presenting the history of Budapest from the beginnings until the modern era.

Heroes' Square

Close to the City Park entrance, Heroes' Square was built to honor the memory of the great leaders in Hungary's history.

The centerpiece of the square is the Millennium Monument, built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Magyar conquest.

Atop the 118ft Millennium Column at the centre of the monument sits a statue of the Archangel Gabriel, the symbol of the Roman Catholic Church.

In front of the column is the Monument of National Heroes, also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, a tribute to Hungary's nameless heroes of war.

The square has been the focal point of large events and ceremonies, political and cultural, throughout Budapest's history which continues to this day making it one of the city's most popular attractions.

Parliament Building

If you arrive in Budapest by train, the first building that greets you when you step out of Keleti pu station is the enormous Hungarian Parliament Building, the largest building in the city and the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary.

It is one of Europe's oldest legislative buildings dating back to 1885.

The building was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of the country in 1896, and completed in 1904.

The main Gothic façade faces the River Danube, but the official main entrance is from the square in front of the building.

One of the famous parts of the building is the hexadecagonal central hall, with huge chambers adjoining it.

The Holy Crown of Hungary, which is also depicted in the coat of arms of Hungary, has been displayed in the central hall since 2000.

Open to visitors 7 days a week, three tours are given in a variety of languages at 10am, noon and 2pm daily.

City Park

The main entrance to City Park, known locally as Városliget, is from Heroes' Square.

The area has been documented to be used as far back as 1241 when it was referred to as Oxmeadow.

The current layout of the park was set out in the 17th century and it was officially opened as a public park in the first decades of the 19th century.

City Park has the largest artificial ice surface in Europe and it's the centre of Hungarian bandy(Russian Hockey)

The Széchenyi thermal baths (inset picture) are also located within the park and well worth the visit to relax in the pools heated by two natural thermal springs.

Fisherman's Bastion

The Fisherman's Bastion located next to the Matthias Church on Castle Hill in the Buda side of the city.

It was designed and built between 1895 and 1902 and takes it name from the guild of fishermen that was responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls in the Middle Ages.

The seven towers represent the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin in 896.

Today this place is known for its beautiful panoramic views over the Danube, Margaret Island and Pest.

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Other Places To Visit

If you have some extra time in the city, some other worthwhile places to visit are:

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Temperature & Rainfall Guide for Budapest

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Great Airfare Deals to Budapest

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