Hungary's first 1000 years
Yellow trams rattling down grand boulevards, faded neo-Baroque interiors, facades marked with signs of revolution, streets of cobblestone, grand turn of the century apartment blocks. Like the bathers lingering in the steam of Budapest's famous baths, this is a country infused withmemories and history. Hungary celebrated the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian State at the end of the last century. During the tumultuous thousand year history of Hungary and the Central European Region, rulers came and went and empires rose and fell, but Hungary's distinctive charms have never waned nor its welcome ever been less than genuine.
The foundation was laid in the ninth century by the great Magyar chief, Árpád, who after having settled in the carpathian basin lead the people from paganism toward Christianity. On Christmas Day, 1000, Árpád's great grandson, Stephen ascended to the throne with a crown sent from Rome by Pope Sylvester II. The kingdom and nation of Hungary was born.
The three hundred year reign of the House of Árpád saw the country become increasingly westward-looking and the succeeding House of Anjou brought expansion - into Poland, towards Dalmatia - and a great flowering of art and architecture. The first Golden Age had begun. Under King Matthias, lauded for his fairness and justice, Hungary flourished, but his passing eventually led to decimation under the Ottomans for 150 years during the 16th and l7th-century. However, the Habsburgs helped oust the Turkish, heralding a more stable time of reconstruction. As the Habsburg Empire floundered, a revolt in 1848 resulted in the dual monarchy of "Austria the empire, Hungary the kingdom". In 1867
there were two capitals, two parliaments. This "age of dualism" sparked an economic, cultural and intellectual rebirth in Hungary. The
second golden age had begun.
Turn of the century Budapest was rightly considered the birthplace of the modern world. World War I proved disastrous, however. Partitioned into almost one-third its original size, millions of ethnic Hungarians found themselves living outside the country. Russian intervention followed after World War II as Stalinism lowered its iron curtain across Central Eastern Europe. But at the turn of this new century, Hungary is now a free country for a decade and combines a smiling, dynamic image with a reputation for nostalgia. In this post-communist era of rapid change, the visitor will find constant reminders of a largely vanished Europe - old-fashioned customs and courtesies like kissing of hands and the presentation of flowers. Nowadays Modern Hungary is experiencing a new Renaissance. With its colorful people and the 21st century mix of ethnic influences this was almost eerily predicted. St. Stephen, Hungary's first king said: "Therefore I command you my son, to extend a benevolent protection and respect towards newcomers, so that they would rather stay with you instead of settling somewhere else." Although we have had plenty of unwelcomed visitors in these 1000 years, now Hungary welcomes you with open arms.
Official website: www.budapest.hu