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Budapest is a History Buff's Delight

October 25, 2011 - 2:24am
Budapest is a History Buff's Delight
Few places in Europe are considered more beautiful than Budapest. The largest city in Hungary, it combines striking architecture with historic sites to give visitors a rich and diverse experience. With such a varied set of attractions and a history that dates back to the Roman Empire, it's no wonder Budapest is a popular stop on European trips.

Historians can trace the first settlements of Budapest to as far back as 1 A.D., and many of the buildings that remain in the city offer a glimpse into its storied past. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Hungarian Parliament Building. Completed in 1904 and situated on the banks of the Danube, the structure remains one of the oldest legislative buildings in Europe and has become an icon of the city.

The specific features of the building are particularly impressive. Its height of 315 feet places it among the tallest structures in Budapest, but it's the interior that stands out. The inside of the building includes 10 courtyards, 691 rooms and 29 staircases, and the decadent architecture in rooms such as the Assembly hall of the House of Magnates is especially breathtaking.

Tied with the Hungarian Parliament Building in terms of height is St. Stephen's Basilica. Named for Stephen I, the first king of Hungary, the church has stood as a symbol of Budapest for more than a century and is best known for its six massive bells, the largest of which - Great St. Stephen's Bell - comes in at an astonishing 20,392 pounds. It is the largest bell in Hungary.

Although both the Parliament Building and St. Stephen's Basilica are famous sites in Budapest, both are less than 150 years old. Those interested in stopping by a landmark that dates back to the earliest reaches of Hungary's tangible history should visit Buda Castle. The present-day structure sits on Castle Hill and has seen changes over the centuries, but historians say parts of the castle date back to the 1300s.

Today the castle offers visitors a look back into the Hungarian past with the Budapest History Museum, which is situated in the southern wing. The museum features a restored medieval part of the castle, as well as Gothic statues and 14th century silk tapestry.

Regardless of how much history one has read it's impossible to compete with an up close look at the real thing, and Budapest arguably has as much as any city in the world. Whether a casual historian or an expert anthropologist, visitors will almost certainly leave Budapest with a wealth of new knowledge about this ancient hub.