Budapest is the capital of Hungary and the center of its economic and cultural life. It lies on both banks of the Danube River, about 135 miles (217 km) southeast of Vienna. Its older part, Buda, is situated on the hilly west bank of the river; Pest is on the flat east bank. The two parts of the city are joined by eight imposing bridges. Budapest is often called one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
The layout of Buda is determined by its hills and valleys, while Pest's is determined by its semicircular boulevards and its avenues, which extend radially from the Inner City. The heart of modern Budapest's life is the Inner City, the nucleus of Old Pest. Situated on the Danube, it is encircled by the Little Boulevard, which runs from the Margaret Bridge to the Szabadság Bridge.
On the Danube embankment, near the Margaret Bridge, lies the most prominent landmark in the Inner City, the monumental, neo-Gothic House of Parliament, which was completed in 1904. It houses the highest organs of the Hungarian government. Most of the ministries and supreme courts are to be found nearby. Opposite the Parliament is the National Gallery, containing the treasures of Hungarian fine arts. A line of palatial buildings along the embankment to the south of the Parliament, near the Chain Bridge, includes the Academy of Sciences, with its library of a million volumes and a valuable collection of codices. Close to the academy stands the impressive St. Stephen's Cathedral, which was completed in 1899. The section of the Danube embankment lying between the Chain Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge, popularly known as the Corso, forms a romantic promenade. Near the southern end of the Corso, close to the Elizabeth Bridge, is the Hotel Duna, favored by visiting businessmen. Váci Útca, Budapest's most elegant shopping street, parallels the Corso.
In the area of the Elizabeth Bridge are the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the Loránd Eötvös (formerly Pázmány) University and, east of that, Felszabadúlas Square with its fine restaurants. The Hotel Astoria is nearby. Many Hungarians as well as foreign visitors come to the Astoria for coffee and dancing after the theater. The central building of Loránd Eötvös University, the law school, and the beautiful 18th century baroque university chapel are in the same area. Near Felszabadulás Square is Calvin Square, the Inner City's busiest intersection. The University of Economic Sciences stands on the riverbank to the west of Calvin Square. Just above the square, on the Little Boulevard, is the huge National Museum. It houses the National Széchenyi Library, which comprises about 4 million items, including a collection of historical documents.
Swinging in an arc east and south of the Little Boulevard, is the Grand Boulevard, the city's main artery. It runs in a semicircle from the Margaret Bridge to the Petőfi Bridge, and it is intersected by two of the city's other major arteries, Népköztársaság Avenue and Rákóczi Avenue.
Népköztársaság Avenue is Budapest's handsomest street. Beginning at the Little Boulevard, it stretches for a mile and a half (more than 2 km) to Heroes' Square. The avenue's outstanding monument is the Opera House, completed in 1884 and designed by the Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl. Heroes' Square has an imposing monument to Hungary's conquest by the Magyars. The square is bordered by the Museum of Fine Arts, housing valuable works by European masters, and another museum, the Art Gallery, housing exhibits of works by contemporary Hungarian artists. Behind the square is the city park with a zoo, a circus, and an amusement park. South of Heroes' Square is the People's Stadium, a giant sports arena seating 100,000 spectators.
Rákóczi Avenue, the second most important avenue in Pest intersects the Grand Boulevard to the south of Népköztársaság Avenue. This avenue has large stores and first-class hotels.
St Stephen's Basilica Budapest
St. Stephen’s Basilica, the largest church in Budapest, is dedicated to Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen. About 8 500 people can get in the beautiful Neoclassical cathedral at the same time. Apart from its vastness, the Basilica offers some unique attractions: it houses Hungary’s most sacred treasure, St. Stephen’s mummified right hand, the Szent Jobb (Holy Right Hand), several musical programs are organised in the church throughout the year!
Hungarian State Opera House
The Hungarian State Opera House is a neo-Renaissance opera house located in central Budapest, originally known as the Hungarian Royal Opera House, it was designed by Miklós Ybl, a major figure of 19th century Hungarian architecture. Construction began in 1875, funded by the city of Budapest and by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary, and the new house opened to the public on the 27 September 1884. It is the second largest opera house in Budapest and in Hungary.
Hungarian Parliament Building
The Parliament building, a magnificent example of Neo-Gothic architecture (although displaying Renaissance and Baroque characters too), is just over 100 years old. In the 1880's an open tender was held for the design of the Parliament building. Construction based on the winning plan began in 1885 and the building was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of Hungary in 1896, and fully completed in 1902. Both runner-up designs were also built facing the Parliament building. One is the Museum of Ethnography and the other is the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Budapest Parliament building is the third largest Parliament building in the world. It has 691 rooms, 20 kilometers (12,5 miles) of stairs and at 96 meters (315 feet) it is the same height as the St. Stephen's Basilica. During the Communist era a large red star was added to the central tower above the dome of the building, but after its downfall, the star was removed. Unfortunately, modern air pollution constantly attacks the porous limestone walls, requiring frequent restoration. This also means that there is a good chance that you will see some scaffolding around the building.
The Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone-bridge connecting Pest and Buda, and only the second permanent crossing on the whole length of the river Danube. It is one of the symbolic buildings of Budapest, the most widely known bridge of the Hungarian capital.
Its construction was proposed by Count István Széchenyi, one of the leading figures in 18th century Hungary. Its official name is Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Works were started in 1839 to the plans of English engineer William Tierney Clark with the financial support of Baron György Sina, a Viennese financier. The construction was supervised by Scottish engineer Adam Clark, who later on went on to marry a Hungarian girl and settled down in Hungary. The place at the Buda end of the bridge has been named after him. The inauguration of the Chain Bridge took place on 20 November 1849.
Unusual and beautiful Matthias Church is located between Fisherman's Bastion and Holy Trinity Square. The magnificent temple was built in very rare for architecture of the Gothic style in Budapest. Above the gate, located in the central part of the main facade, is a window-socket, typical of Gothic. In accordance with the traditions of the church building of the first church here was built in 1015 and lit in honor of the Virgin Mary.
The Fisherman’s Bastion was built between 1895 and 1902 as part of the series of developments that were to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian state. Consequently, the Bastion was inspired by the architectural style of the early medieval times, when the first Hungarian king started his rule.