Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Buda and Pest

Until 1873 there was no Budapest.  There was the city of Buda and Obuda on one side of the Danube and the city of Pest on the other.  When they joined together Budapest was born. The capital and largest city in Hungary, it is also one of the largest cities in the European Union.

The city started out as a Celtic settlement, then became a Roman capital.  The first Hungarians arrived in the 9th century.  Later, beginning in 1541, it was ruled by the Ottomans for 140 years.  The Hapsburgs drove the Ottomans out in 1718 and established  the Kingdom of Hungary.  Still later, from 1867, it became the co-capital of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.  When the empire dissolved at the end of World War I, an independent Republic of Hungary came into being.  After World War II, The People's Republic of Hungary was part of the Soviet block until the fall of communism in 1991.

Although partially destroyed by Allied bombing raids in 1944, and the destruction of every bridge over the Danube by the Germans, Budapest has recreated itself as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The architecture of the city reflects its long and varied history.  You can see everything from Roman ruins through modern skyscrapers, although the majority of building are kept low to preserve the historic nature of the city.  The multitude of architectural styles coexist well and give the city its unique sense of self.

There are many things to see but one thing you must make time to see is the Jewish temple, the mass graves of Holocaust victims located there, and the evocative Holocaust memorial.  This was what touched me the most of all the places we visited.

Hungarian cuisine is another reflection of the country's varied cultural history.
Influenced by European and Asiatic foods, the resulting dishes are very flavorful and unique with the use of paprika and sour cream holding pride of place.

Plan more than one day to explore and appreciate this wonderful city.

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