In throbs with life morning, noon and night; visitors arriving from other countries get the feeling that something interesting is happening round every corner. Some fall in love with Budapest at first sight, others will only become devotees after a longer stay, but no one denies that it is one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world.
There are plenty of other capital cities built on the banks of a river, and in many cases the river runs through the historic centre. But it is more of a rarity to find such a wide and majestic river flowing through the heart of the city as the Danube does at Budapest. Even more exceptional is the perfect contrast between the right and left banks. Buda is built upon hills; the base of two of them – Castle Hill and Gellért Hill – almost stand in the water. Facing Buda is Pest, as flat as a pancake (or, as a Hungarian might say, as flat as a „lángos”, a pita-type bread popular for many centuries).
Budapest, now home to 1.7 million inhabitants, would appear countless times on any list of superlatives. The Continent’s first underground railway was built here. More pioneering Hollywood film makers originated from here than from any other European city. Budapest was the home of such world class inventors as Kálmán Kandó, the father of electric railways, and János Irinyi, one of the early developers of matches. Hungary’s two most celebrated composers – Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály – lived in Budapest, and Nober Prize-winning Hungarian author Imre Kertész was born here. Hungary’s oldest academic library, the University Library, is to be found here. Budapest is the location of Europe’s largest synagogue. It is the only capital city in the world where there are more than one hundred hot thermal springs. There are no other cities of comparable size anywhere where visitors can explore dripstone (stalactite) caves in the middle of the residential districts. It would be difficult to find another city where visitors are faced with such a choise of transport: bus, tram, trolleybus, train, underground railway, cogwheel railway, funicular, forest railway, horse-and-trap, chair-lift, boat, bicycle, rickshaw, and on Margaret Island „bringóhintó” family cycle cars – Budapest has them all!
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