Parliament buildings from Castle Hill © Paul Micallef
Known as the 'Queen of the Danube', magnificent
Budapest exudes a cultural sophistication that entices and
enchants. It graces both sides of the river with grand historic
buildings, regal bridges, and graceful tree-lined boulevards. The
city's elegant beauty and romantic atmosphere has given it Parisian
status among the Eastern European countries.
Budapest offers the visitor the familiarity of
European grandeur with a distinct Hungarian flavour. This is
evident in the neo-Gothic Parliament buildings, sidewalk cafes, and
Magyar cuisine; classical concerts and Hungarian folk music; and
the cobbled streets of medieval neighbourhoods and shady parks.
Highlights for visitors include a river cruise on the Danube and a
thermal bath in one of the Turkish-era bathhouses.
Budapest was originally two cities built on either
side of the Danube, namely Buda and Pest. The two districts are
still distinct in their contrasting makeup. The older and more
charming Buda comprised of atmospheric cobbled streets, little
picturesque coloured houses, and a medieval, neo-Classical mixture
of architecture set among the gentle hills of the west bank. It is
famous for its historic Castle Hill, featuring the Royal Palace;
museums and galleries; St Matthias Church; and the ramparts of
Pest lies on a flat plain and is the commercial core
of the city. It bustles with fashionable shopping areas and has
characteristically wide, leafy boulevards. Andrássy
Boulevard is the Champs-Elysées of Budapest, lined with a
typical mosaic of architectural styles and buildings with the
enormous Heroes' Square at the end.
A history of numerous wars and invasions, with
repeated destruction and rebuilding, has created the Budapest of
today, with an amalgamation of styles, created over time during
periods of loving restoration by a proud and resilient nation of
people; it is a city of charm and character and never drops out of
favour with travellers.