The majestic Danube and the ornate Parliament building are a favorite motive for this city’s maps, book covers, post cards, and souvenir photos. The Parliament, with its arches and columns, doors and cupolas, stands for the exemplary building frenzy of the late 19th and early 20th century. Budapest gained its unique architectural glam during these times. The Danube flows right through the center of the city and divides it into the two unequal city-halves: the hilly Buda and flat landed Pest.
The panorama of Budapest is breathtaking, and it does not get old to look from the Fisherman’s Bastion or Citadella onto its fantastic scenery. In Budapest, though, its stream seems to come to a halt to offer a beautiful picture with the castle, the Parliament, and the green Margaret Island. It divides and unites the city at the same time. And what would Budapest be without its bridges that span the river? The four oldest and most beautiful were built between 1849 and 1903. After the destruction of WWII, they were later re erected in their original form. Only the Elizabeth Bridge is an entirely new construction.
Budapest counts with almost two million inhabitants, almost every fifth resident of Hungary. Budapest is divided into 23 administrative districts. The heart of Pest is in the city neighborhood of Belváros-Lipótváros, which is situated right by the Danube, between the Liberty and Margaret Bridges.
In the streets and alleyways of Belváros-Lipótváros, the visitors can experience a great form of time travel through the history of the country and the architectural styles of Budapest. Massive and imposing buildings are next to little and quaint structures, such as the giant Parliament Building on the Kossuth-Lajos Square and the neighboring Falk-Miksa Street with its small art and antique stores. The buildings in the financial district near the Parliament showcase the city’s impressive monetary achievements as well as its impressive Academy of Sciences. The church’s influence can also be seen in the colossal St. Stephen’s Basilica on the Szent István tér square. The square and its Basilica have recently undergone extensive renovations and can be seen in their new splendor since 2003. Belváros-Lipótváros experienced as the first of Budapest’s districts an extreme boost after the political turning point of 1989. Meanwhile, there have been increasing amounts of money spent on other inner city districts such as the Easterly located Józsefváros. This area transformed from a slum into a trendy part of town. One of the architectural treasures is the Hotel Palace on the Rákóczi út. Its formerly high crime rates have been fought successfully with the installation of a highly modern street surveillance system.
Ferencváros is another part of the city that experienced a revival. Its main attraction is the pedestrian area Ráday utca, the most popular amusement mile of the city with its many nice cafes, restaurants, and shops.