Facts about Hungary

Population: 10,2 million

Area: 93,036 km²

Ethnic profile: Hungarian (96,6%) - 13 officially recognised and registered minorities: German, Gypsies, Croats, Slovaks, Romanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Polish, Armenian, Ruthens, Serbs, Ukrainian, Slovanian - especially protected by Constitution as a component of the Hungarian state; right of representation in Parliament enshrined in the Constitution and the 1993 Minority Act

Language: Hungarian (a very special language, originating from the Finnougric tribe of languages)
Religion: Roman Catholic (65%), Reformed (20%), Lutherans (4%), Orthodox (2.7%), Jewish (1%)
Currency: Hungarian Forint - HUF

Form of government: Republic (parliamentary democracy - 4 year election periods)

Location: Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bounded on the north by Slovakia; on the north-east by Ukraine; on the east by Romania; on the south by Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia; and on the west by Austria. Its maximum extent from west to east is 528 kilometres; from north to south this figure is 319 kilometres. Hungary is predominantly flat. The Danube River forms part of Hungary's northwestern border with Slovakia, and then flows south through Budapest, dividing Hungary into two general regions. A low, rolling plain known as the Great Hungarian Plain, covers most of the region east of the Danube extending east to Romania and south to Serbia. Highlands along the northern border of the country extend eastward from the gorge of the Danube at Esztergom and include the Matra Mountains, a part of the Carpathian Mountain system. Mount Kékes (1015 m/3330 ft), in the Mátra Mountains, is the highest peak in Hungary. The area west of the Danube, known as Transdanubia, presents a variety of landforms. In the south rise the isolated Mecsek Mountains. In the north are the Bakony Mountains, a forested range in the Transdanubian Highlands, which overlook Lake Balaton, the biggest sweet-water lake in Europe. The Little Alföld (Kisalföld), or Little Plain, in the extreme north-western section of Hungary, extends into southern Slovakia.

Principal cities: Budapest, the largest city, is the capital and also the cultural, economic and industrial centre of Hungary. Other major cities include Debrecen (204,000), the trade centre of a major agricultural region; Miskolc (172,000), the location of iron-and-steel and other metallurgical industries; Szeged (158,000), a shipping centre for the agricultural products of the Great Hungarian Plain, also noted for its chemical and synthetic-textile industries; Pécs (157,000), home of the oldest university of the country and of small manufacturing industries; Györ (127,000), a traditional cultural centre of the Northern Trans-Danubian region with up-to-date motor vehicle and tool-making industry.

Culture: Hungary was the homeland of Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, whose music was inspired by the rich national folk traditions. In the 19th century Hungary produced its first important native-born composer, Ferenc Erkel, who composed the Hungarian national anthem and the first Hungarian opera. Hungary is a highly musical country; its violinists and pianists are particularly celebrated virtuosi world-wide. Hungary has more than 5000 public libraries, and more than 100 public museums are maintained throughout the country.



Budapest, the capital of the Hungarian Republic, lies in the centre of the Carpathian Basin in Europe, on both sides of the river Danube.

Perhaps no other capital has played such a dominant role in the life of a nation as Budapest. About 2 million people or every fifth Hungarian lives in the capital.

Besides the citizens of many nations, more and more foreigners choose to make Budapest their home. During its long history it was destroyed innumerable times, and its citizens exterminated; yet it has always risen again, evolving and becoming ever bigger and more colorful. Each age has left behind its marks, each rejected and destroyed, but built also, so configuring today's exciting, in places opulent, in other places dingy city.

The Danube determines the life of Budapest dividing it into two and yet connecting both sides of the city's unfurling districts. Due to a fault line shaping the course of the Danube walley, a great number of thermal springs came to the surface at Budapest. Budapest is to world's only metropolis, where there are more than 130 thermal springs and wells. Budapest has twenty public baths from Turkish and wave baths.

The Buda hills and the soft inclines of Óbuda on the left bank and the Pest plain on the right bank diversify the city. The islands embraced by the Danube - of which the centrally situated Margaret Island, which contains perhaps the most beautiful park of the city, further enrich this picture

Though the region has been inhabited ever since the Stone Age, by the Celts coming and settling here the from west, but also by the Avar tribes arriving here from the east, the first city with a significant number of citizens was founded by the bath loving Romans. In the area of today's Óbuda, Aquincum was the capital of their occupied territory of East Pannonia. The Turks who occupied this territory for 150 years constructed numerous baths in the city. A few among them even today await bath lovers.

Budapest was created by the unification the three cities of Buda, Obuda and Pest in the year 1873.
The 235-meter high Gellért Hill rises on the Buda side of Budapest, nearly in the centre of the town. The Royal Castle and the castle district define the view of Buda. The extremely rich collection of the Hungarian National Gallery and the country's biggest library, the National Széchenyi Library is in the Castle too. Most of the residential quarter was built in the 20th century. Buda has played an essential role in the life of the Hungarians since the Hungarian settlement in the 9th century. After the invasion of the Mongols in 1241 the first significant fortress was built here for the protection of the population. Since the middle ages it has been the seat of the kings. Turkish forces, sieges, wars, and finally the embittered battles of the last days of the 2nd World War haven't left much remaining of the former palaces, but even in their ruins they maintain their former glory.

After the withdrawal of the Romans, Óbuda slowly lost its importance. At the time of unification it was a city with industry and commerce, with family homes, but today it has almost completely changed. Not much is left of the charming little town; in its place we find today mostly vast pre-fab housing projects, built in the 1960's and '70's.
On the Pest side rises the neo-Gothic building of Parliament.The view of Pest on the left bank is dominated by the dynamic economic and social marks of the development of large middle class housing units throughout the 19th century. Despite the wide radial and ring roads of systematic town planning and development, Pest, deals with the traffic demands of the recent threefold population boom only with difficulty.

The unification of the three independent cities was only made possible by building the bridges across the Danube. Before the completion of the chain bridge in the year 1849 only ferryboats and a temporary wooden bridge connected the two banks. At the end of World War 2 every one of the bridges was destroyed. Today seven bridges secure the connection between the two halves of the city. Three of them, Freedom Bridge, Margaret Bridge and Chain bridge, can still be admired in their original beauty.

Even today the building of the city, the redevelopment of the ruined and neglected edifices continues. The economic boom in the years after the recent political changes has given these labors a powerful boost. Our capital - growing into a true "world city" - renews and transforms itself from day to day, greeting those arriving with ever more to see. The past and the present live together in this exciting, bustling city; a mood equally amazing to visitors and those who live here.

By clicking here you find an irregular image film about Budapest showing the beauty of the city together with those great Hungarian innovations that changed the life of people all over the world.


Concert life

In Budapest, the history of concert life goes back one-hundred years. From the end of the 19 th century until the first World War, Budapest was one of the most important European cities and its cultural life reflected this status.

The first permanent symphonic orchestra was founded as early as 1853 conducted by Ferenc Erkel and by this time operas were regularly played in different theaters. Pesti Vigadó was opened in 1865, where several Liszt-premiers were performed and it turned out to be the center of concertlife at the turn of the century. In 1875 Ferenc Liszt founded the Music Academy which, in a short period, became the most prestigious musical institution in Europe. The Opera House opened for audiences in 1884, a musical theater with the highest standards and best equipment of its time and in the first decades artists like Gustav Mahler or Artúr Nikisch worked there. The present form of the Music Academy was completed in 1907 and its fascinating Great Hall with excellent acoustics and 1000 seats gradually became the center of concert life. Between the two World Wars only a few concert halls were built and after the second World War, the Kongresszusi Központ (Congressional Center) was the only new establishment. Although its acoustics is not the most appropriate, the size of the stage and the auditorium is capable of hosting events that require a full orchestra and a large audience. After the political changes, one of the most influential venues of concert life is the Művészetek Palotája (Palace of Arts) with its new concert hall. Művészetek Palotája with its 1800 seat concert hall and its 400 seat theater for chamber-opera productions was opened in the spring of 2005, satisfying all the needs of the musical life in the 21 st century. The acoustics of the National Concert Hall was designed by Russel Johnson, one of the world's most renowned acoustic experts. Nowadays music lovers have a wide range of choices for concerts in Budapest: besides the National Concert Hall, the Music Academy, the Old Academy, Pesti Vigadó and the Opera House, there are numerous smaller halls. The great variety of venues are complemented by hundreds of concerts held each month make Budapest's concert life uniquely attractive. Budapest is exceptional with more than six symphonic orchestras and a countless number of chamber ensembles and soloists.

There are two free program guides called Fidelio and the Koncertkalendárium to help concert goers to get a clear overview of the cornucopia of musical programs in Budapest.