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“Little Paris on the Danube” National Geographic
Budapest, a city of two million, is situated on both sides of the river Duna (Danube). Eight graceful bridges link the charming hills of Buda on the river’s west bank to cosmopolitan Pest on the east. The construction of the Royal Palace on Buda’s Castle Hill was begun over 700 years ago. Actually, the history of this district dates even earlier; a thousand years before the Hungarian kings, Roman warriors maintained a military settlement there to guard the “limes” of the Empire. Buda and Pest were united in 1872 and the union grew into the friendly metropolis we see now in modern Budapest with its elegant boulevards, coffeehouses, and concert halls.
The architecture of Budapest displays the influence of many other cultures—from Turkish baths reminiscent of the country’s 150 years of struggle with the Ottoman Empire, to the modern Hyatt Hotel on Roosevelt square which in turn faces the 140-year-old edifice of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
The city dominates the cultural, economic, and political life of the nation. Budapest hosts eleven universities, two opera and ballet theaters, scores of theaters, museums, art collections, and parks plus many cinemas, discos, and sports arenas.
Learning English has been quite fashionable in the country for many years. In the University virtually all faculty speak English, as do many students, to a reasonable degree. The visitor will have no difficulty finding helpful people speaking English all around Budapest. Another foreign language spoken by many Hungarians is German.