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With a population of 1.7 million, Budapest is Hungary's capital city and its cultural centre. Buda, on the hilly west bank of the Danube, has the palaces and churches while the clubs, bars and nightlife are centred in Pest, on the flatter east bank.

The twin cities of Buda and Pest sit on opposite banks of the Danube. Budapest is a city that’s becoming ever more popular as a city break destination and memories of the city's Communist past fade in to the past. While Buda and Pest were officially joined in 1873, they remain distinctly different.

Buda on the west bank is a mix of medieval and neo-classical buildings. In contrast, Pest is generally flat with boulevards and Art Deco buildings.

Many other styles are apparent with influences from the Turkish occupation, Venetian, Empire and Art Nouveau, all part of Budapest's colourful past, often marked by the impact of war.

Magnificent views

The Chain Bridge is the focal point - from here, a steep climb in the funicular leads up to Buda’s Várhegy or Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Szentháromság tér, or Trinity Square, is the centre of this district and popular with tourists.

The nearby Matthias Church, with King Stephen’s statue and the Fishermen’s Bastion, gives magnificent views over Pest, including the Houses of Parliament.

Many of Budapest’s museums are in Buda Castle Palace, built after a Mongol invasion 800 years ago. Further south, Gellért Hill’s summit has the Liberation Monument and Citadella, a Habsburg fortress. Some of the city’s oldest spas, dating back to the Turkish era, can also be found here.

Visiting Budapest

Budapest is a lively city with a thriving culture scene. There is an extensive array of modern and historical galleries, interesting and exciting museums, breathtaking views from the Castle, concert venues at the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy and the famous Opera House - just to name a few.

It is a continental city, with broad avenues, beautiful architecture and the river Danube that divides the city into green and hilly Buda and the popular centre of nightlife, downtown Pest. Its location makes it easy to explore other European cities like Vienna, Prague, Bratislava, Zagreb and Belgrade - all only a few hours by train.

The citadel is in the best part of the city of Budapest, on top of Gellert Hill, and was built by the royal house of Habsburg in 1854 to guard the city from this point. This fort measures 220 meters long and 60 wide, while the walls have a height of 4 meters that were in his time one of the safest. But once peace was established with the Habsburgs, the Hungarians wanted to tear it down, but finally remained so in the 60’s became part of the tourist attractions of the city.Here is the Citadella restaurant that offers some of the most exquisite recipes from the cooking of Hungary and internationally.

Patio of the monarchy, has been restored several times but generally kept in its original structure. It is the place where it is usually held most of the fairs and congregations of craftsmen to display their products.

Halászbástya or Fishermen’s Bastion: a terreza that offers one of the best examples of Gothic and Romanesque style, which is located on the banks of the Danube in the part that corresponded to the city of Buda.

It was built between 1895 and 1902 following the designs of Frigyes Schulek architect, who designed the seven towers were a representation of the seven Magyar tribes that settled according to the story in the Carpathian Basin in 896. The name of fishermen get it because its mission was to defend the city in which such work during the Middle Ages. It is one of the most recommended to enjoy one of the best views of the city as their viewpoint is on the top of the city.

Statue of Stephen I of Hungary is between Bastion and Matthias Church and is made of bronze. It underlines the pedestal that belongs to the Romanesque style and where various events are illustrated which illustrates the life of this king.

Basilica of St. Stephen: he has devoted to the king who is credited with founding the city, besides being one of the most important religious buildings of Budapest. Neoclassical style is very widespread during the years of its construction between 1851 and 1905 and has the distinction of being the largest in the country besides having the heaviest bell with nine tonnes.

But that raises more interest is the fact that the rear hood is the mummified right hand of King Stephen I of Hungary, which attracts both very religious people and tourists during their trip Budapest.

Hungarian National Museum, houses the largest public collection in Hungary and is one of the most beautiful buildings of the Grand Avenue. Highlights classic style, but above all its seven permanent exhibition which gives an overview of the country’s history since the founding of the state until 1990, including a sample of stone works of Roman and medieval.

Vajdahunyad Castle: Built between 1896 and 1908 and is located in City Park. It is a copy of a castle in Transylvania that takes the same name, although unlike the previous example of different architectural styles.

It is curious that initially rose in wood and cardboard to form part of the exhibition of 1896 but its success was so great that it ended up building in brick and stone. It now houses the Museum of Agriculture.

World Heritage Sites

Budapest is proud to have two places that are World Heritage Sites, which are independently linked by a road, guiding tourists for the most beautiful sites of Budapest (Buda Castle, Danube Panorama, Jewish Quarter, street Andrássy, Opera, Ballet Institute, Budapest Broadway, Roundabout Kodály, mansions, Heroes’ Square).

Budapest is divided by the Danube in a part of hills and valleys and other flat, one with a unique view, the other showing a capital city with the best location in the world.

Discovering this, the Heritage Committee of UNESCO, in 1987 the rank of the World Heritage region extending from the Chain Bridge (Clark Ádám square) to the University on the bank of river Danube, Gellért baths covers the Gellert Hill with the Statue of Liberty and La Citadelle, as well as all buildings in the Buda Castle.

Pest side are protected by Parliament and Roosevelt Square in front of the Chain Bridge and the Vigadó. The four bridges spanning the Danube found in this space are also part of world heritage (Margaret Bridge, Chain Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge and Liberty Bridge).

The decision of the Committee chose this site because, as said, the bank of the Danube in Budapest well illustrates the different periods in the history of the Hungarian capital, besides being one of the most outstandingly beautiful urban landscapes in the world.

Most residential buildings and public buildings of Buda Castle are now historic monuments. At the heart of Buda Castle is one of the most famous buildings of the city, the church of the great lady, popularly known as Matthias Church. On the walls of the medieval castle in 1903, built the neo-Romanesque Fishermen’s Bastion, which together with the Matthias Church is behind one of the symbols of the city.

The Buda Castle Palace is one of the most significant cultural centers in the country: The castle’s buildings house parties madieval and the Budaoest History Museum, the National Szechenyi Library, Hungarian National Gallery and the Museum Luswig. In this group of buildings is also part of the first stone theater in the country, the Castle Theatre.

Pest side of the Danube, opposite the Fishermen’s Bastion is the imposing neo-Gothic building by Imre Steindl dream that seems to rise up the Danube – mims time being the largest parliament in Europe.

Special values also represents the first bridge built in stone of the Danube, the Chain Bridge, Gresham Palace is located at his feet, and the Neo-Renaissance building that houses the Hungarian Scientific Acedemia. Heading south stands the building Vigadó Magyar Hungarian romantic.

The first site named World Heritage site mentioned above was reported by the Committee at its 2002 conference in Budapest, and became part of the List of World Heritage and the extension of this heritage with the Andrássy Avenue to the Plaza de Heroes and Millennium Monument, the Museum of Fine Arts and Art Gallery, as well as the Millennium Underground is the oldest on the continent.

Andrássy Avenue and its historic suburbs – that began construction in 1872 and the ceremony was in 1885 – in 2002 it became part of the List of World Heritage. The avenue is eclectic architectural climax of the metropolis of Budapest, and a gallery of architectural styles of the second half of the nineteenth century.

Neo-Renaissance style dominates, but there is also neo-Baroque buildings, Classical, Art Nouveau and romantic. Andrássy Avenue means a union between the sparkling heart of the city with green City Park, of which it is possible to realize with its three sections: with palaces, begins as a wide avenue of the city center, in a little is widening and greening and mansions adorned the sides results in the Plaza of Heroes in a mall. Another attraction of this avenue is the Millennium Underground, the first subway on the continent and second in the world.

Budapest fine arts

Pest, on the opposite bank, features the shopping street Váci utca and Vörösmarty tér, a square with the famous Gerbeaud pâtisserie. Heroes’ Square, the Opera House, Museum of Fine Arts and Palace of Art are all in the area as is the City Park. Near to the river is the second largest synagogue in Europe and, a little further south, the Hungarian National Museum.

The city’s airport is 15 miles south east and budget airlines are now providing services. If you are looking for accommodation you can find great deals throughout the year.

Danube cruise ships are regular visitors taking in nearby cities such as Vienna in Austria and Bratislava in Slovakia. The city is under 3hrs drive from Vienna.

Budapest city break overview

Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is dubbed both the "Paris of the East" and the "Pearl of the Danube" and makes a great city break destination.

Divided by the mighty Danube, Europe's longest river, Budapest was two cities until 1873. Wooded Buda occupies the hills to the west and Pest lies on the flat east bank, with city avenues that rival Paris for grandeur.

The Castle area of Buda is a World Heritage Site while the nearby Citadella, topped by the so-called Liberty Monument - erected after the Soviet Union's Red Army occupied Budapest in 1945 - offers memorable views over the Danube.

Over in Pest, Andrassy Avenue, a glorious boulevard modelled on the Champs Elysée, is lined with boutiques, expensive apartments, embassies and the Opera House.

Budapest saw heavy bombing in World War II and the Jewish quarter suffered terribly. Communism followed and there are still reminders of the 1956 Budapest uprising against Soviet occupation. Thankfully, many of Budapest’s finest buildings have been carefully restored.

Elegant cafés are a reminder of bohemian Old Europe while the cuisine is both distinctive and tasty - assuming you like paprika! Hungarian wines are excellent with the famous Tokay much revered. Budapest is famed for its music - classical, operetta and gypsy - while there are museums to suit all tastes.

An excellent public transport system makes Budapest easy to navigate, with trams a cheap and pleasant way to enjoy the city's sights.

Budapest is also a city of spas. Steamy Turkish baths and spas are sprinkled liberally around the city, many built in the 16th century under Ottoman occupation. Even steamier nights are promised on Budapest stag weekends which have grown in popularity in recent years.

Budapest is also a well-mannered city. It's said a Hungarian gentleman can usher a lady through a revolving doorway and be there to greet her as she steps out. It can be done by mere mortals too - try it at the historic Gellert Hotel.

Trips out of Budapest include the scenic Danube bend to the north, Lake Balaton to the south and the great Hungarian plain, the Alföld, to the east.

Packed with fine buildings, great art and a distinct culture Budapest is a fine city break destination set at the very heart of Europe.

Budapest weather

Budapest weather is Continental, which means warm to hot summers and very cold winters. There are four distinct seasons although the weather can vary greatly within these seasons. Budapest weather can be influenced by Atlantic depressions, warm air from the Mediterranean and Siberian blasts from the east.

Summers can see prolonged hot periods of 32-35°C broken by cooler periods of rain when temperatures could drop below 20°C. Summer can be humid with sultry evenings.

As with so many cities, spring and autumn can be the best times for a Budapest city break. Spring is usually very pleasant in Budapest with lots of sunshine and scattered showers. April can see 'summer' temperatures although there can be cold snaps even in mid-May.

In Autumn, temperatures can stay above 20°C until the end of October but nights are much cooler and overnight frosts can start in mid-October. November is often wet, possibly with the first snow showers of winter.

Winter weather is hard to predict in Budapest. Mild weather can be followed by snowstorms or bitterly cold air from Russia with -15°C to -20°C not unusual. Fog is relatively common and can last for lengthy periods.

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