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A rejuvenating period of intensive economic and architectural growth

Budapest History

1686 The Habsburgs free Hungary and bring it under Austrian rule

1848-1849 Hungarians rebel unsuccessfully

1867 The Dual Monarchy: Emperor Francis Joseph and Empress Elizabeth become king and queen, uniting Austria and Hungary on an equal footing

1867-1914 Golden Years of Budapest

1873 Buda, Óbuda and Pest are officially united as Budapest


The Turkish invasion lasted for nearly 150 years, until a pan-European multi-national army besieged Buda Castle for six weeks, finally recapturing it at the 12th attempt, while many lives were lost on both sides. The gunpowder stored under the royal palace blew up, and destroyed not only the palace, but also a section of the city. The Hungarian and foreign troops could repossess ruins only.


Under Habsburg rule, with control directly administered from Vienna or Bratislava, recovery was followed by a rejuvenating period of intensive economic and architectural growth. As the old citizenry had also greatly diminished, the Habsburgs brought many Germans to live in the three cities and their surrounding areas. Rebuilding of the historical parts was decisively dominated by the Baroque-Rococo and Neoclassic-late Baroque, which later gave way to classical and romantic style. During the second half of the eighteenth century, Budapest was often referred to as the twin city to Vienna, due to its influence in the design of the buildings. By 1724, a printing press was established in Buda, and in 1777, Empress Maria Theresa moved the country’s only scientific university from Nagyszombat (today Trnava in Slovakia) to Buda, bringing with it an influx of learned tutors and youthful students. As time passed, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Kisfaludy Társaság, and the National Theatre together played a pivotal role in the social development of the city.


In the first decades of the following century, Pest became the center of the Reform movement, led by Count Széchenyi, whose vision of progress was embodied in the construction of the Chain Bridge (Lánchíd), the first permanent bridge between Buda and Pest.


In March of 1848, the Habsburg empire was shaken by a multitude of  anti-king and anti-monarchy revolutions, breaking out in it's domain. Local reformists and radicals took advantage of the opportunity. With the leadership of Lajos Kossuth, and the "people's rights-liberals" dominating the parliament, Sándor Petofi (a well known poet) and his fellow impromptu revolutionaries began to plot the downfall of the Habsburgs in Budapest at the Café Pilvax (which exists even today in central Pest). They mobilized crowds on the streets of Pest, leading to the steps of the National Museum, where Petofi recited his moving "call to arms" poem, which roused up the patriotic emotions of the people, and gave a push start. The civil War, fighting for independence, ended in defeat for the Hungarians, and Habsburg repression was epitomized by the Citadella on the top of Gellért Mountain, built to frighten the citizens, overlooking the entire city with its cannons and large garrison of soldiers.


Following the agreement and compromise of 1867, which made an allowance for a Dual Monarchy, familiarly known to its subjects as the K & K (from the German for "Emperor and King"), the cities of Buda and Pest underwent rapid growth and expansion, and industrialization continued. A new era of construction had begun: public and apartment buildings, bridges, and modern local transportation -

1866: Horse drawn tram

1870: Funicular

1874: The cogwheel railway (the 3rd in the world)

1887: Tram

1896: Underground railway (the first on the continent)

The streets began to be paved - first with rocks and cobblestones, then with asphalt. Agricultural industries, milling and food industries all moved into the capital, and engineering industries grew.


The logical conclusion of the expansion was the legislative unification in 1873 of Buda, Pest and Óbuda into one city – Budapest. The Council of Public Works was formed, whose direction determined both the future shape and the enduring beauty of the city. All major roads crossed in Budapest. Pest was extensively remodeled, acquiring the main artery; Nagykörút (Great Boulevard) and Andrássy út, which led out to Heroe's Square and a great park (the City Park) with fountains and lakes. Budapest's millennial anniversary celebrations (of the settlement of the Hungarians in the region) in 1896 brought a fresh rush of construction and development. The Hosök tere (Heroes' Square) and Vajdahunyad Castle, located at end of Andrássy street, are two perfect examples of the monumental scale and style of the age. New suburbs were created to make room, and house the rapidly growing and financially expanding population, which by now was predominantly Hungarian, although there developed a good sized German, as well as a Jewish community within the city. Construction of a new water sewer, and later that of gas and electricity systems began. The artistic literary- and theatrical life also expanded, and painting experienced its golden age. The works of Liszt Ferenc and Erkel Ferenc marked the high quality of musical artistry. At the beginning of the 20th century, the sparkling energy of abundance, and well being of Budapest rivaled that of Vienna (Wien), and its café society that of Paris - a belle époque to be interrupted by World War I.
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