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Ranked as one of the most desirable destinations in Europe, Budapest, often called the Pearl of the Danube, has something for everyone

Pearl of the DanubeAfter visiting more times than we can remember how many, Budapest has crept into our hearts and to this day, like for so many others, it is a firm favorite. Of course we have had the advantage of knowing and employing Hungarians who have helped immeasurably in getting to grips with a city that has so much to offer and in the following pages I hope we can pass on some of that experience.

It seems that we are not alone in our love of this city: Budapest was recently voted above Prague in a poll of best cities to visit and is according to many currently the top new destination in Europe.

The city was originally three: Divided by the Danube flowing north to south, to the west Buda, to the east Pest with Obuda, meaning old Buda and now district III, sitting to the north-west. In 1873 the 3 were brought together to form what we now know as Budapest. Following Hungary’s checkered past full of invasions and uprisings, Budapest has remarkably preserved much of it’s character inherited down the years. Each wave of occupiers have left their mark whether it be the Turks’ thermal baths, the Austrian’s Citadel on Gellert Hill or the Russians who left a number of badly built housing estates on the outskirts of the city and a pile of statues now sitting in exile, out of harms way, in their own park also on the outskirts of the city.

Modern Budapest has developed since into a vibrant city of 1.7 million inhabitants (one fifth the population of Hungary). It benefits from huge new investments coming in from abroad and is bolstered further by its new role as an EU member state. Budapest is ideally situated for a healthy future, as it was 1000 years ago when the first Magyars arrived in the area, sitting as it does at the hub of Europe. The reasons it has been invaded so many times include just that reason and now in the world of modern commerce and happily free from the threat of invasion, it’s strength through positioning is already starting to become evident. The British owned BAA thinks so, having paid a record £1.7 Billion to gain control of Budapest’s Ferihegy airport citing it as the gateway to the East of Europe.

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