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Basic information

  • Area: 525.16 km² (202.8 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +36
  • Currency: Forint (HUF)
  • Population (EST): 1,721,556
  • Official language: Hungarian
  • Time Zone: CET (UTC+1)

Budapest – Places to Visit

The Royal Palace

The Royal PalaceThe Royal Palace is situated on the southern part of Castle Hill. The medieval palace that stood here was destroyed during the battles against Turkish invaders, leaving only the fortified walls as a memento. The site was then filled in to lay the foundations of the new grandiose Baroque palace started by Maria-Theresa and expanded on Hungarian initiative in the 19th century. The Palace itself was gutted during the Second World War. Unfortunately there is no place in the Palace today that would allow the visitor a glimpse of the lavish suites and interiors of past royals. Today, it functions as home to important cultural institutions and museums: the Hungarian National Gallery, the National Széchényi Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Budapest History Museum.

Cave System

Another point of interest of the Castle Hill on the Buda side is that almost every house in the quarter has cellars several storeys deep running down into the hill. These cellars were connected into a several-kilometre-long corridor system in the Middle Ages and served a useful purpose in times of war.

Trinity Square

Trinity SquareThis square is the current centrepiece of the Castle District featuring a monumental Holy Trinity statue, the discreetly reserved old Buda City Hall, and the world famous Matthias Church. The best restaurants and shops in the area are also nearby. The cellars of the Hungarian Culture Foundation accommodate the House of Hungarian Wines.

Matthias Church

Matthias ChurchThe church bears the name of its biggest Maecenas, King Matthias, who married twice in this shrine. The cathedral is almost as old as the Royal Palace and has been the venue of several coronation ceremonies. Every king and époque left its mark on the building until the Turks occupied Buda in 1541 and converted the temple into a mosque, whitewashing - and thus preserving - its medieval frescos.

Grand Market Hall

Grand Market HallThe largest and richest indoor market in Budapest was built at the end of the 19th century when open market facilities were no longer able to satisfy the needs of a growing city. The construction of five market halls was thus started and the Grand Market Hall was the most attractive and interesting shopping site. Its neo-Gothic architecture links the building to a forgotten époque, but its state-of-the-art steel structure and logical interior furnishing show early signs of modern functional architecture.

Hungarian National Museum

Hungarian National MuseumThe museum is one of the finest examples of Hungarian Classicism. Hungarian history is presented from the foundation of the state up until 1990. The Hungarian Holy Crown and the Crown Jewels were seen here, but on 1 of January 2000 were moved to the Parliament. Stonework remains from the Roman period, the Middle Ages and from early modern times. The museum played a key role in the 1848-49 revolution and as such it became one of its symbols; for this reason the National Museum is to this day one of the focal points of celebrations marking the national holiday of March 15.

Parliament

ParliamentBuilt at the turn of the century, the building of the Parliament quickly became a dominant sight and symbol of Budapest and the Danube panorama. A typically Eclectic edifice with a lot of small spikes and stone lace ornamentation, it is one of the most decorative structures of the capital. It also ranks as one of the biggest national assemblies in the world.

Margaret Island

Margaret IslandBudapest's finest green spot is Margaret Island (Margitsziget) located in the middle of the river Danube between Margaret Bridge and Árpád Bridge. Originally there were three islands here, the islands of Spa, Pictor and Rabbits. These were framed with a common concrete shore as part of river regulation efforts in the 19th century and so the 2.5-kilometre-long island was formed. The island was already inhabited by Roman times; in the Middle Ages monks preferred the island for its calm and kings for its excellent hunting. The island bears the name of Margit (Margaret), daughter of King Béla IV (Adalbert), who renounced the world and entered the island's convent after surviving the rampage of the Tatars in the 13th century. The Turkish occupation in the 15th century put an abrupt end to the cloister island's blossoming. After centuries of neglect, the island was reborn in the 19th century when an open park and entertainment centre was opened to the general public. The park is beautiful and very varied: century-old chestnut avenues, English, Japanese and French gardens alternate with ruins of a nunnery, an old water tower and a wide range of sports facilities. The island has the largest open-air swimming complex in Budapest, the Palatinus, and a fine outdoor theatre.

The Sziget Festival

The Sziget Festival is one Europe's largest culture and music festivals and since 1993 has attracted such world famous names as Frank Zappa, The Stranglers, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, REM and Iron Maiden. The festival takes place in August each year with 2009 being its 16th year.