Budapest - panoramic view from Gellért Hill ©

2000 years of history

The chronicles of Budapest

The short story of more than 2000 years and what the ancenstors have left

Roman Empire - Hungarian Kingdom - Turkeyoccupation - Habsburg Empire - Austrian-Hungarian Monarch - Hungarian Republic

Archeological finds suggest that the territory of Hungary has been inhabited for more than half a million years. The Romans occupied Transdanubia, the western part of Hungary, around the birth of Christ. Its name was Pannonia and its capital Acquincum.

Today you can feel the atmosphere of the Romans in the Hungarian capital Budapest, where you can still see the ruins of the Roman civilian settlement and the remains of the Roman military baths. Similar sights can be found in Pécs, in Southern Hungary with its Roman catacombs and Lapidarium, and in Sopron in Western Hungary, where many of the walls of the town still survive.

Hungary tribes first came to this part of Europe in 895-896, and managed the control of the whole Carpathian basin within a few years. Their original home was probably Asia. The Hungarian language is of Finno-Ugrian origin too. Stephen, the first king of Hungary organised the state and christianized the country. The members of his family ruled over Hungary for the next three centuries and built many churches in Romanesque style.

The most beautiful examples and the so-called monastic chapels are the late Romanesque churches of Ják and Lébény in Western Hungary, and the early Gothic church in Zsámbék near Budapest, which is imposing even nowadays.

Pannonhalma is a world-famous monastery. Its building began in the 10th century and grew in different styles during the centuries. The Benedictines obtained the monastery in 1801 and were asked to establish a school. They also amassed a well-known library and announced also as part of the World Heritage.

The abbey and monastery of Tihany (on the northern side of Lake Balaton) were founded in 1055 and they still provide the foundations on which a Baroque church was build in the 18th century. The restored ruins of the courts of the kings narrate the history of Hungary.

Esztergom (60 km east from Budapest) was the home for a medieval royal palace, the remaining parts of which can be viewed in a restored state. It contains the oldest living-room in Hungary, where the first king of Hungary, Saint Stephen was born.

During the reign of the Árpád dynasty in the 13th century a new art, the so-called Gothic was born. The most important witness of the Gothic style is the Matthias church in Budapest, which was build in the 13th century, but was rebuilt and enlarged at the end of the last century in Neo-Gothic style. It was the place of coronation for several kings. In the green heart of Budapest, on Margaret Island you can see the ruins of a Gothic nunnery.

From the 13th till the middle of the 15th century Hungary was ruled by the Houses of Angevins and the Luxembourg's. One of the most prominent figures in the Hungarian history, King Matthias got the throne in the 15th century. (His father, Hunyadi successfully defended Belgrade against the Turks. The noonday bell, which we still hear every day, reminds us of this victory). Fortresses and castles were established in this period.

Many fortresses have been enlarged against the Turkish invasion. Today well-restored fortresses can be seen in Eger (North Hungary), in Kõszeg (Western Hungary) or Szigetvár (Southern Hungary). The new seat of the royal family was already Buda, although there was and still is a big palace in Visegrád (30 km from Budapest). Visegrád, which is located on the Danube Bend, shows the ramming of a Renaissance castle, and for many years during summer one can take part in a typical Renaissance Castle Game in the original environment. In Budapest, in the castle of Buda the Historical Museum shows its remaining Renaissance parts.

In the middle of the 16th century Hungary was broken into three parts. The Turks took over Buda, the capital and occupied the central part of the country. The western and northern territories fell into the hands of Habsburg rulers, while the eastern part, Transsylvania became an independent principality. During the following 150 years the Turks left their culture to us including their famous baths.

The Király Baths in the centre of Buda have been operating continuously for more than 400 years. The provincial towns of Eger (Northern Hungary) with its minaret, the biggest in Central Europe and Pécs (Southern Hungary) with the Mosque of Ghazi Kasim Pasche, built in the second half of the 16th century await visitors.

Following the victorious campaign agains the Turks the court of Vienna commenced a vigorous attack on the independence of Hungarian nobles. The country supported in the revolution of Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II. in 1703, which failed after eight years. His home was Sárospatak (Northern Hungary).

In the above mentioned town Sárospatak one can still see the castle of medieval origin, enlarged in Renaissance style, and the ancient Calvinist college, which is still in operation, its library contains 2000 manuscripts and 75000 printed books. In summer students from all over the world come here to learn Hungarian.

Hungary belonged to the Austrian Empire until the end of the first World War. During this period of Austrian rule some prominent Hungarian figures fought for the independence of the country, and they promoted our history, culture and language.

The most remarkable monuments to their success are the Neo-Classical Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Hungarian National Museum and the Chain Bridge, which has been linking Buda and Pest permanently for the first time in history, since the middle of the last century.

The Baroque and Classicist styles gave the inspiration to build attractive castles in the whole country, which, with their museums can be visited even today. Such castles are the Eszterházy Castle (Western Hungary) and the Festetich Castle in Keszthely in the so-called capital of Lake Balaton.

Around the Millenary Celebration of 1896 many monuments and new buildings were built, such as Millenary Monument, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery on the Heroes' Square, the Castle of Vajdahunyad, the Parliament building and the State Opera House. All these can be seen during the general sightseeing tours as well.

In the year of 1996 we celebrated the 1100 anniversary of the conquest of Hungary by organising many interesting programs, such as a grand celebration in Heroes' Square and the City Park, the enlargment of the National Museum's historical collections, a celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the abbey's foundation in Pannonhalma, an exhibition entitled "Hungarian education is a thousand years old" and other events and exhibitions around the country.

The newest fact of the story of Hungary that it has been the member of the European Community from 1st of May, 2004.