Magyar tribes established the Hungarian State in the Carpathian Basin in 896. Long after the feared Attila, "The Scourge of God," ravaged Europe, the Magyar Chieftain Vajk converted to Christianity, established Hungary as a Christian power, and received his crown from the Pope, thus becoming István Király (King Stephen), Hungary's first Christian King in the year 1000. He was later canonized as St. Stephen of Hungary. Popes throughout the centuries have called Hungary the " Savior of Europe," and the "Savior of Christianity," and ordered church bells around the world to ring at noon to remind us of the Hungarian victory over the Turks at Nándorfehérvár (now Belgrade) in 1456 by János Hunyadi at the beginning of what was to become a 150-year conflict. Kings were elected until the Habsburg takeover after the 150-year Turkish war and occupation of central Hungary that destroyed much of Hungary's wealth and population.

Transylvania, the cradle of Hungarian culture, was the only part of Hungary that remained largely untouched and unconquered. The struggle with the Ottomans also forever changed demographics (and future borders) in Hungary as Austria's Habsburg Queen, Maria Theresa, sent Germans (Saxons) to Transylvania to bolster defenses while Romanians further established themselves after seeking refuge in Transylvania from the Ottoman onslaught during the long conflict. Hungarians tried to break the Austrian yoke in the 18th (the Rákóczy fight) and again in the 19th century (Kossuth), only to be stopped short of their goal of total independence as Austria was supported by a Russian imperial government who also feared democracy. The compromise with Austria led to a dual monarchy with the Austrian Emperor acting as King of Hungary.

Click on image to see movieAfter the end of World War II Hungary came under the control of the newly expansionist Soviet Union. In 1956, thousands died and thousands more executed and jailed after the failed anti-communist revolution was brutally put down by the Soviet Army. It started on October 23 as a peaceful demonstration by students in Budapest for the end to Soviet occupation and the implementation of "true socialism". The police made some arrests and tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas.When the students attempted to free those people who had been arrested, the police opened fire on the crowd. The following day units of the Hungarian Army joined the students on the streets of Budapest. After the fall of the Soviet Union Hungary is moving towards greater integration with Western Europe. In 1999 Hungary became a full member of NATO  and on May 1st, 2004 Hungary became a member of the European Union solidifying its integration with the rest of Europe.

The view from outside our window - Budapest HiltonBudapest, a city on the Danube, is the capital of Hungary. The first town, built by Celts, occupied about 30 hectares along the slopes of Gellert Hill (first century BC). It was called Ak Ink (meaning 'spring rich in water'). In the early fifth century the Roman defense lines were swept away by the Goths and other peoples fleeing westwards from the Huns. During the flourishing period of the Hun empire (after AD 430), this crossing point over the Danube retained its significance.

The Hungarian appeared around the end of the ninth century, establishing the seat of their prince near the crossing of the Danube. They quickly recognized the geo-strategic significance of the place. Obuda, the territory of the civilian city of Aquincum, became the first center of Hungary. (The name of Buda derives from a Hungarian given name.)  When Obuda, Buda and Pest were united, the Hungarian capital was a medium-sized city of 300,000 inhabitants, the seventeenth largest European city.

In 1870 the municipality set up the Council of Public Works, which elaborated a grand master plan, and the city had the power to realize it. Everything that marked the standards of the age could be found in the master plan: there was a system of ring roads and boulevards, and a network of urban public transport: the height of the buildings was set, green spaces were included, and so forth.  Though a major part of the city was built within the space of twenty years, the result was not monotony but a harmonious uniform style. Bridges were built over the Danube, and the first underground railway of the European continent was opened here in 1896. In 1873 electric lighting was brought to the streets.

In 1887 trams appeared, followed in 1888 by the first suburban trains; in 1885 the first urban telephone exchange was installed; in 1896 the Post Office usedbattery-driven vans for delivering parcels; and in 1900 the Royal Hungarian Automobile Club was founded. With the dissolution of socialismin 1989, the city has entered the post-industrial age with the leading role of blue-collar industry being replaced by services and a white-collar workforce. Budapest is once again becoming a Central European capital.

Gellért Baths Market Market