Budapest is the capital and the most populous city of Hungary, and the tenth-largest city in the European Union by population within city limits. The city has an estimated population of 1,752,286 over a land area of about 525 square kilometres (203 square miles). Budapest is both a city and county, and forms the centre of the Budapest metropolitan area, which has an area of 7,626 square kilometres (2,944 square miles) and a population of 3,303,786, comprising 33% of the population of Hungary.
The history of Budapest began when an early Celtic settlement transformed into the Roman town of Aquincum, the capital of Lower Pannonia. The Hungarians arrived in the territory in the late 9th century, but the area was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241–42. Re-established Buda became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th century. The Battle of Mohács, in 1526, was followed by nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule. After the reconquest of Buda in 1686, the region entered a new age of prosperity, with Pest-Buda becoming a global city after the unification of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest on 17 November 1873, with the name 'Budapest' given to the new capital. Budapest also became the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. The city was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
Budapest is an Alpha − global city with strengths in commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. It is Hungary's financial centre and was ranked as the second fastest-developing urban economy in Europe. Budapest is the headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the European Police College and the first foreign office of the China Investment Promotion Agency. Over 40 colleges and universities are located in Budapest, including the Eötvös Loránd University, the Semmelweis University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Opened in 1896, the city's subway system, the Budapest Metro, serves 1.27 million, while the Budapest Tram Network serves 1.08 million passengers daily.
Among Budapest's important museums and cultural institutions is the Museum of Fine Arts. Further famous cultural institutions are the Hungarian National Museum, House of Terror, Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Hungarian State Opera House and National Széchényi Library. The central area of the city along the Danube River is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has several notable monuments, including the Hungarian Parliament, Buda Castle, Fisherman's Bastion, Gresham Palace, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Matthias Church and the Liberty Statue. Other famous landmarks include Andrássy Avenue, St. Stephen's Basilica, Heroes' Square, the Great Market Hall, the Nyugati Railway Station built by the Eiffel Company of Paris in 1877 and the second-oldest metro line in the world, the Millennium Underground Railway. The city also has around 80 geothermal springs, the largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building in the world. Budapest attracts around 12 million international tourists per year, making it a highly popular destination in Europe. The city was chosen as the Best European Destination of 2019, a major poll conducted by EBD, a tourism organisation partnering with the European Commission. It also topped the Best European Destinations 2020 list by Big7Media. Budapest also ranks as the 3rd best European city in a similar poll conducted by Which? Magazine.
Etymology and pronunciation
The previously separate towns of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest were in 1873 officially unified and given the new name Budapest. Before this, the towns together had sometimes been referred to colloquially as "Pest-Buda". Pest has also been sometimes used colloquially as a shortened name for Budapest.
All varieties of English pronounce the -s- as in the English word pest. The -u in Buda- is pronounced either /u/ like food (as in US: /ˈbuːdəpɛst/) or /ju/ like cue (as in UK: /ˌb(j)uːdəˈpɛst, ˌbʊd-, ˈb(j)uːdəpɛst, ˈbʊd-/). In Hungarian, the -s- is pronounced /ʃ/ as in wash; in IPA: Hungarian: [ˈbudɒpɛʃt] (About this soundlisten).
The origin of the names "Buda" and "Pest" is obscure. Buda was
probably the name of the first constable of the fortress built on the Castle Hill in the 11th century or a derivative of Bod or Bud, a personal name of Turkic origin, meaning 'twig'. or a Slavic personal name, Buda, the short form of Budimír, Budivoj. Linguistically, however, a German origin through the Slavic derivative вода (voda, water) is not possible, and there is no certainty that a Turkic word really comes from the word buta ~ buda 'branch, twig'.
According to a legend recorded in chronicles from the Middle Ages, "Buda" comes from the name of its founder, Bleda, brother of Hunnic ruler Attila.
There are several theories about Pest. One states that the name derives from Roman times, since there was a local fortress (Contra-Aquincum) called by Ptolemaios "Pession" ("Πέσσιον", iii.7.§ 2). Another has it that Pest originates in the Slavic word for cave, пещера, or peštera. A third cites пещ, or pešt, referencing a cave where fires burned or a limekiln.
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