The capital of Hungary, Budapest is two cities in one: older Buda on the west and Pest on the east. They are separated by the Danube River, sometimes flowing gently and other times rushing violently. Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue, has been declared an internationally protected World Heritage Site, recognizing the city as one of the world’s outstanding urban landscapes.
The city traces its history to Roman times. See this past on the Buda side at Aquincum, an excavated ancient Roman settlement in the Óbuda district, slightly north of the city center. Buda Castle Quarter lies at the heart of the city. Here you can see the Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom), with its colorful exterior. Buda Castle (Budai var), high on a western hill overlooking the city, lights up at night as the most recognizable part of Budapest’s skyline.
Just a few minutes away on Gellért Hill is another towering structure, the Citadella, which has served as a fortress during several struggles within the city. The Liberty Statue (Szabadság-szobor), also on Gellért Hill, was installed as a celebration of Hungary’s liberation from Nazi occupation during World War II.
Explore the interesting sights near City Park (Varosliget) on the eastern side of the city. Heroes’ Square (Hosok Tere) honors the city’s founders and defenders. Nearby is the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum), while alongside a lake inside the park is the romantic looking Vajdahunyad Castle (Vajdahunyad vára).
For other cultural attractions, visit the Hungarian National Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum), the National Theatre (Nemzeti Színház) and the Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) on the Pest side. Budapest has been the home of a number of famous sculptors, writers and composers.
Budapest is easy to get around by car or on foot. The western Buda side is hilly, while eastern Pest is flat. The city also has many public transportation options. The subway system, one of Europe’s earliest, is still functional more than 100 years after its construction. There are also numerous bus tours, Danube boat tours, and even bicycle and Segway rentals or tours.