Budapest is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre, sometimes described as the primate city of Hungary. According to the census, in 2011 Budapest had 1.74 million inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2.1 million due to suburbanisation. The Budapest Metropolitan Area is home to 3.3 million people. The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres (202.7 sq mi). Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank on 17 November 1873.
The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241–42. The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after its unification in 1873. It also became the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Republic of Councils in 1919, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Revolution of 1956.
Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest’s extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second-oldest metro line in the world. It has around 80 geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city attracts about 4.4 million tourists a year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world, and the 6th in Europe, according to Euromonitor.
Considered a financial hub in Central Europe, the city ranked third on Mastercard’s Emerging Markets Index, and ranked as the most liveable Central or Eastern European city on EIU’s quality of life index. It is also ranked as “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler, and “Europe’s 7th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes. It is the highest ranked Central/Eastern European city on Innovation Cities’ Top 100 index.
Budapest is home to the headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the European Police College (CEPOL) and the first foreign office of the China Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA). Eighteen universities are situated in Budapest, including the Central European University, Eötvös Loránd University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.