Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, also called “The Pearl of the Danube” is a city with character, with several sides, charged with more than 1000 years of history. Its admission into the European Union in 2004 only confirmed its important development potential. This is a country which is characterized before all by its culture, its history, as well as its fast-growing economy.
In the course of the Danube, many water cities, baroque towns and very appealing villages succeed each other. Hungary is made of plains and volcanic banks, the most famous of which is indisputably Balaton. Besides its naturel richness, it has managed to keep the traditions of the Turkish culture that have been passed to it: coffee, spicy cuisine, pastries, roses or even Turkish batch all remain elements inseparable from this country. The influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is also omnipresent in the fields of gastronomy, language and architecture.
This fast-growing European capital city attracts with its beauty and more specifically with its rich cultural and architectural legacy. Budapest has many places designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites: the banks of the Danube, the Buda castle district and the Andrassy Avenue.
The city is also famous for its numerous statues. For instance, the one from Imre Nagy on a bridge, symbolizing Budapest, a place of unification between Eastern Europe and Western Europe, crossed by the Danube. It is common to find statues at the entrance of each bridge; there are 7 in total. However, they are also in each important square; the biggest one is the Heroes’ Square, with 14 statues of Hungarian sovereigns circling 7 tribe leaders from the Honfoglalás (Magyars that arrived in the Carpathian Basin).
Nicknamed « Paris of the East », this is a trendy capital city where it is nice to live both day and night. An astonishing and extremely charming city, Budapest has an architectural diversity. All styles coexist there: baroque, neoclassical, and art nouveau, where Secession-type buildings make Budapest inhabitants proud.
Cultural and sporting activities
FUGA in Petőfi Sándor utca is the architectural center of Budapest. In particular this cultural nest houses the Jozsef Katona Theater which offers Anglophone shows. Many contemporary art galleries and design shops like MAGMA are settled in this fast-growing street. To understand this city with character, you just need to raise your eyes and observe the eclectic architecture that can be seen on every street corner.
The monuments that you must see are the Hungarian Parliament in Byzantine and neo-Gothic style, the biggest synagogue in Europe, the Szent Istvan Basilica, the fishermen’s Stronghold and the Matyas Church.
Its numerous museums (Hungarian National Gallery, Museum of Decorative Arts), art galleries, photo exhibitions and young designs also make Budapest’s inhabitants proud and give rhythm to the cultural life of the city. Falk Miksa is a street to discover for its numerous antique dealers: the Kieselbach Gallery and Virág Judit are places where auctions regularly take place.
The Budapest Opera is a symbol in itself of a rich musical culture. Operas, ballets and musicals are performed there for art-lovers or simple curious people. Besides this, the architecture of this building is one of the most impressive of the city. It is also interesting to discover the charms of the numerous theaters during a show: Budapest Operetta-Theater, Vígszínház, Erkel, Belvarosi Szinhaz or even the National Theater.
Cultural and sporting events have always been important for Hungarian people. Therefore, they are regularly organized throughout the year. The Hungarian Grand Prix, which takes place during the first August weekend at the Hungaroring Formula 1 circuit, is among the major events.
Additionally, the Hungarians are very attached to their equestrian traditions. Indeed, they conquered the Carpathian Basin with around 900 horses. The Heroes’ Square is then transformed into a 6,200-meter long racetrack. There are many riding clubs like Lóháton Budakeszin, where show jumping rounds and even polo are offered. Kincsem Park, an 84-hectare domain, is the reference place in terms of horse races. Each year, on December 31st, the traditional event of a speed race is organized there. No inhabitant of Budapest would miss it.
Hungary has 16 golf clubs, the most famous being Budapest Highland Club and Golf Club Country, both located near the capital city. Nautical activities and sailing are also widespread in Hungary thanks to its huge 80-kilometer lake which becomes a skating rink in winter, Lake Balaton. This place also attracts fans of sport fishing.
Budapest also has the particularity to offer many parks for those that wish to go for a walk during the afternoon, with its famous Marguerite Island, setting of greenery between Buda and Pest. Besides, it is possible to find many caves of the Aggtelek National Park designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like Baradla-Jósvafői cave, located at the end of a 7.5 km trail. Also, Mount Bükk is composed of over 800 caves, of which some contain objects from prehistoric humans. The Zemplén mounts, former volcanoes now covered with forests, provide a real playground for nature lovers. The Badacsony Natural Park and the Janoshegyi Kilato region are places to discover during a hike. Also, climbing and cycling are very common. Budapest was one of the first capital cities to hold a foot race in Europe, and marathons or semi-marathons are still organized there throughout the year.
The thermal baths have always been an integral part of the culture in Budapest, an identity it’s managed to keep to today. That way, the most famous hot springs remain those of Széchenyi, they are located in the Varosliget Park, also called the “forest of the city”. Those of Gellért and Rudas are older, more traditional and offer an exceptional setting. It has also become very common to find luxurious spas in the luxury hotels in order to relax there in summer as well as winter.
In Budapest, the luxurious shops are generally located on Andrassy Avenue, also called the “Champs-Elysées of Budapest”. This is one of the most renowned streets in which to go shopping: brands like Louis Vuitton, Vertu and even Moncler are settled there.
The top-of-the-range feminine ready-to-wear brand which reputation has become global, Nanushka, is certainly the best example of success. Its showroom, opened in 2011 in Deak Ferenc utca, is a true call to creativity. This is a young brand full of ambition, like its creator, Sandra Sandor. She belongs to a new generation of Hungarian creators full of future promise, like Anda or Anh Tuan, who were able to take part in the Budapest Fashion week in May 2015. Their creations can be found in the Mono Fashion or Nubu shops. The rest of the city, and especially Kiraly Street, also offers many designers and decoration shops, like Black Box Concept Store, Flatlab or even Printa.
5-star hotels and restaurants
Many 5-star hotels are also very renowned in Budapest. On top of offering an irreproachable service, they are places steeped in history:
The Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, which formerly welcomed a bank, is today a mix between elegance and ultra-modern style.
Opened in 1886, the Corinthia Hotel managed to improve its prestigious image over the years. Over the decades, it developed more and more top-notch services, which include a range of well-being activities in direct relation with the thermal baths of the hotel.
Built during the 19th century, the Palazzo Zichy hotel is the former principal residence of Earl Nandor Zichy. Today, it is among the most beautiful hotels in the capital.
Dating back to the 19th century, the Boscolo perfectly underlines the spirit and history of Budapest. This is a perpetual and absolute research for excellence and a perfect blend between Art Nouveau, Belle Epoque and contemporary design. Its famous New York Café is known to be not only the oldest café in Budapest, but also one of the most beautiful in the world.
The latest palace, Aria, attempted to transpose the rich and prodigious atmosphere of the former Hungarian great palaces with the comfort of a private residence.
The Buddha Bar is a neo-baroque-style building, built by architects renowned in Hungary: Kalman Giergl and Floris Korb. It was originally bought by the daughter (by marriage) of the Emperor of Austria. This is a true range of expertise, combining French-like elegance and a welcoming atmosphere originating from Asia.
During the last few years, several restaurants in Budapest have been rewarded with a Michelin star. The chefs are proud to help gastronomy enthusiasts discover a revisited and modernized Hungarian cuisine.
Coste was the first restaurant to receive a star, and today it is one of the best restaurants in the capital.
Borkonyha Winekitchen is a blend between a French-like bistro and a contemporary restaurant. The chefs are proud to offer Hungarian cuisine and a large selection of wines with more than 200 great Hungarian wines.
Onyx is a famous restaurant rewarded with the « Chefs of the Budapest city » prize, which revisits some Hungarian meals.
Opened in September 2014, and with very fast success, Tanti is one of the latest restaurants to receive a Michelin star.
One of the best surprises in Hungary is the discovery of its wines and vineyards, like Eger, Villany and the most famous one located in the Tokaj region. By the way, each year an event honors its local products, the International Wine Festival. Organized at the Buda Castle, it gathers more than 150 wine-makers from different Hungarian and foreign domains. You can discover many wine bars with specific atmospheres in Budapest, especially the most renowned one, Divino
Some key figures:
An area of 93 033 km2
Population in 2015 de 9.857.684 of which 1.757.618 are located in Budapest
GDP of the country in 2014, 103.3 billion euros
Expected growth rate for 2015, 1.7%
Number of passengers at the Budapest airport in 2014, 9.155.961
Hungary is indisputably an evolving country that attracts great foreign powers. Indeed, it is the place where big multinationals settle for diverse reasons, including its strategic location at the center of Europe, the ease of taking action or the tax concessions. This country is also very famous for its logistics company.
The Hungarian start-up Prezi is certainly one of the biggest Hungarian successes in recent years. In 2014, Prezi announced having raised 57 million euros and just having passed 50 million users.
The countries of the European Union are, by far, the biggest economic partners of Hungary. It has been trusted by Germany since 1993. Indeed, the Győr plant welcomes the production of Volkswagen and Audi engines with more than 25 million engines for the Audi A3 convertible and 500,000 for the Audi TT. The plant produces nearly all the engines used in Audi cars. As for France, it is the 3rd foreign investor in Hungary and conversely, France remains the 6th largest export market for Hungary. All business sectors coexist: Sanofi-Aventis and Servier for the pharmaceutical field; BNP-Paribas, Crédit Lyonnais, Société Générale for the financial field; Suez, Schneider, Peugeot, Renault for the energetic and automotive industry, and much more. It is also possible to find the presence of big American firms such as Google, Microsoft and IBM.
It is undeniable that the Hungarian capital is attractive in many fields, especially for real estate, tourism, thermal baths, dental care, universities (medicine, economics, architecture, engineering etc..), and the wine-making field, which therefore contributes to its perpetual development.