On the 17th of November this year, Budapest celebrates its 150th anniversary. Hungarian capital is a home for millions of people, no matter if they were born here or if they came from abroad.
Today, we want to tell you a bit more about the history of Budapest and, of course, about the programmes arranged for the big celebration.
The Tapestry of History
Budapest's history dates back to Roman Times, but exactly on November 17th, 1873, originally two separate cities, Buda and Pest, on either side of the Danube, got officially merged together, creating Budapest. The unification brought together a wealth of historical and cultural influences, creating a city with a distinctive character. We can still see it to this day!
Let's take a deeper dive and get to know stages of the history of Budapest together.
Roman Period: The area that is now Budapest was initially settled by the Celts before becoming part of the Roman Empire. The Romans established the town of Aquincum (yep, the one you pass when you take HÉV 5), which served as a significant military and economic center.
Magyar Conquest: In the 9th century, the Magyars, a Finno-Ugric people, migrated to the Carpathian Basin and established the Kingdom of Hungary. The region including Budapest became part of this kingdom.
Mongol Invasion: In 1241-42, the Mongols invaded Hungary, significantly destroying it. However, the kingdom recovered, and in the late medieval period, Buda and Pest (two separate cities on either side of the Danube River) began to emerge as important separate centers.
Ottoman Conquest: The Ottoman Turks conquered Buda in 1541, which led to over 150 years of Ottoman rule. During this period, many churches and buildings were converted into mosques, and Turkish baths, like the famous Gellért Baths, were constructed.
This also explains a lot of similarities between Turkish and Hungarian languages.
Habsburg Reconquest: The Habsburgs, ruling from Vienna, liberated Buda from Ottoman rule in 1686. They developed Budapest as a key city within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Unification of Buda, Pest, and Óbuda: In 1873, the three separate cities of Buda, Pest, and Óbuda were officially merged to form Budapest. This unification marked the beginning of a new era for the city. This is what we are celebrating today!
World War I: Hungary played a role in World War I as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The empire collapsed at the end of the war. This is when significant territorial changes for Hungary.
Interwar Period: Budapest, now the capital of the independent Hungary, experienced a period of cultural and economic development between the two World Wars.
World War II and Soviet Influence: Budapest suffered heavy damage during World War II, and the post-war period saw the city fall under Soviet influence as Hungary became a communist state.
1956 Revolution: In 1956, Budapest became the central point of the Hungarian Uprising against Soviet-imposed policies. The revolution was crushed, but it marked a symbol of resistance.
End of Communism: With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Hungary transitioned to a democratic system, and Budapest became a symbol of post-communist transformation.
European Union Membership: Hungary joined the European Union in 2004, marking another significant chapter in its history.
Today, Budapest is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and never stopping night life. Every day, it continues to evolve into a better city, and we are grateful to be witnessing it.
The Celebrations on November 17th, 2023
In celebration of Budapest's remarkable 150th anniversary, City Hall is throwing open its doors, welcoming the public to explore both the iconic building and its courtyard. A special website has been launched, offering insights into the festivities for those who want to know more.
As part of the city's jubilation, Budapest is enhancing its infrastructure, with the park between Károly Boulevard and Városház Street becoming accessible from November 17th.
A special exhibition in the City Hall courtyard will showcase the work of "The Budapest Master," featuring illustrations by 151 Hungarian artists capturing important moments from 1873 to the present day.
Evening festivities include "The Heroes of Budapest" and live musical performances. Tram enthusiasts can anticipate the debut of an exciting party tram on line 49, where a DJ will spin tunes as passengers dance through Budapest's scenic locales. Secure your spot on the party tram by registering through the "ÉnBudapestem" app.
Good news for thermal baths lovers: tickets to member institutions can be snagged for just 150 Hungarian Forints using the convenient "ÉnBudapestem" app.
Additionally, the Budapest Festival Orchestra is preparing a unique performance, while the Budapest History Museum is curating a special birthday program to join in the citywide celebration.
What does Budapest Mean to You?
We, the people of Corvinus University of Budapest, are among those who call Budapest "home". We decided to ask our students and professors around Campus: what does Budapest mean to them?
Check out our video to find out:
Happy Birthday, Budapest! We love you!