A Brief History of Budapest
The city of Budapest officially exists since 1873 when the three parts Buda, Pest and Óbuda were united, however the area is inhabited since approximately two thousand years B.C. The first written documentation of a settlement dates back to 89 AD when the Roman Empire established it's large garrison city named Aquincum, the ruins of which can be seen now in Óbuda.
In the 4th century AD the Romans no longer could hold their positions and soon the Hun tribes took over the area. They were followed by Germanic, Avar and Slavic tribes. The Magyar tribes (the Hungarians) appeared around 880 and began to settle down in all three parts of the current Budapest. On the basis of the Roman ruins with the help of Western settlers lively medieval cities evolved by the 12th century.
During the attack of the Mongols in 1241 the majority of the inhabitants of the three cities were killed, therefore king Bela the 4th decided to build a stone fortification on the Buda hills.
Buda became the seat of the Angevin kings in the 14th Century who started to build their palaces on the Castle Hill. At this time Buda was a flourishing city with many foreign inhabitants, such as Germans, French and Jewish. The reign of Sigismund from the Luxemburg dinasty and the Hungarian king Matthias brought the golden age to Buda, their renaissance courts attracted artists and craftsmen from the whole Christian Europe.
The Turkish occupation of the city of Buda started in 1541, and lasted 145 years. Some Turkish buildings, especially baths still exist in the city. Finally a joint European army deliberated the city in 1686 which meant the beginning of Habsburg times for the city.
Since the inhabitants were killed during the siege new settlers appeared in the town of Buda including Germans, Serbs and Greeks. The city soon became a significant trade center, the most important fairs of Hungary were held in Buda and Pest. And the ferry between them became the key connection between the two parts of the country.
The Enlightement brought cultural boom to the city, the first theatre and the first university were established in the end of the 18th century. Buda began to regain it's function as a capital, however it did not officially happen until the beginning of the 19th century.
The so called reform age in the early 19th century brought another wave of upsurge with the establishment of several important buildings and institutions such as the first stonebridge (Chainbridge), the Academy of Science, the National Theatre and the National Museum. In 1838 a huge flooding devastated the cities, the reconstruction – thanks to the economic boom period - was fast.
The 1848 revolution against the Habsburg rule broke out on the streets of Pest and led to a war of independence that lasted two years. The Hungarians were defeated and the Habsburgs applied retaliatory measures, the epitome of which is the building of the Citadel fortress which still stands on the Gellért hill, and the cannons of which served to control the cities of Pest and Buda.
The Reconciliation with the Habsburgs in 1867 resulted in a dual monarchy of Hungary and Austria and brought peaceful times, during which the cities began to expand and develop again and finally became united in the year 1873 under the name Budapest.
The current face of the city began to form: the the Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard) and Andrássy avenue started to evolve. In 1896 Hungary's millennial anniversary celebrations brought a a construction boom in monumental style. Hosök tere (Heroes' Square) and Vajdahunyad Castle in the city park originate from that age.
The city had a vibrant cultural life in the turn of the century, until World War I put an end to it. This war did not make much physical damage to the buildings and after it the cultural life started to recover soon. World War II brought huge devastation, the city was under siege for 6 months and all the bridges were blown up, the Castle was almost completely ruined (however it was quickly reconstructed after the war). Some buildings still wear the scars of the war in the form of small bullet holes.
After the war communism brought a dynamic reconstruction in Soviet style which lead to many ugly incongruous buildings even in the historic parts. The city still could not get rid of all of them.
The 1956 revolution against Soviet rule also started on the streets of Budapest, where people began to get rid of the symbols of Stalinism. A short civil war took place on the streets until the Soviet tanks spread to the city.
In the 70s and 80s the oppression eased and the situation of the people became somewhat better. In this age huge soviet-style housing estates were built throughout the city to solve the problems of the increasing population.
The 1989 revolution was peaceful and resulted in the first democratic elections in 1990. By this time the Budapest became a city of 2 million.
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