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Hungary can evoke images of shepherds in fields, dusty roads and farms of paprika and while these are notably evident, there is so much more to Hungary.

Think cultural sophistication along with a spectacular architectural landscape and this is the part of Hungary that many are not aware of.

Hungary’s History

One of the smallest states in Europe, Hungary is a landlocked country in central Europe, It has undergone major transformations since its inception.  Hungary’s origins can be traced back to the Magyars, a tribe of nomads dating back to the 9th century.  Hungary was considered a powerful country for many centuries and after years of control under Ottoman and then Communist regimes it has once again emerged as an independent country. Hungary played a major role in the collapse of communism in Europe after opening its borders to Austria allowing thousands of East Germans to flee to the west.  A short time later the Berlin wall fell.

Budapest: The ‘Center’ of Hungary

Budapest is both the largest city and the capital of Hungary and is the center of most of their tourism.  The importance of Budapest to Hungary cannot be overemphasized.  Almost 2 million people reside in Budapest and this number accounts for almost one-fifth of Hungary’s population.  Budapest is literally comprised of two regions divided by the Danube River.  Buda on the west bank is hilly and generally quiet while Pest is the commercial center of the city.

Luxury Awaits in Hungary

After the recent fall of communism, Hungary and particularly Budapest has seen a rise in luxury hotels, shops and restaurants.  Their breathtaking architecture, including a mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Art Nouveau stands amidst modern buildings making it an exciting city to view from both the Danube River as well as by walking its many districts on foot. Aside from the capital, Hungary has many quaint little villages and towns with lovingly restored Art Nouveau and Baroque style buildings.  Horseback riding, fishing, thermal spas and bird watching are activities enjoyed in Hungarian life.  Folk and classical music are an important part of the history of Hungary and continue today to be a strong part of their cultural identity.

by Carol Smyth

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