Budapest and the Danube

Budapest and the Danube

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Budapest, what an amazing city. I had heard good things about it but, I have to say, it really exceeded expectations. It has a deep history matched by few places on earth and it's really a story of two (or three) cities, Buda, Óbuda and Pest.

The hill I took this photo from, Gellért Hill, was inhabited by Celts in the first century BC. In the first century AD, the Romans came but they preferred to live on the flat plane on which Pest sits.

Since the Pest (east) side was totally flat, in the fifth century Attilla the Hun created a city on the more easily protected west - left in this photo - bank of the Danube. He named it after his brother, Bleda or, in Hungarian, Buda.

After the Tatars and then the Mongols, who were led by Genghis Khan's grandson, Batu Khan, ransacked, devastated and then left Hungary, they realized the value of strong fortifications and natural protection. So in 1241, they built a castle on a hill. This seemed to work quite well for them and Buda became one of the leading centres for the renaissance. Al good things must come to an end however and that end was supplied when the Ottomans invaded and conquered.

Eventually, weakened by other battles and a failed siege of Vienna, the Ottomans were vulnerable and the Austrians attacked the city and, after a hard six week battle, won it back. The twelfth century castle is almost entirely gone now - only excavated foundations remain - but the gigantic castle on the far left was built afterwards and, catastrophic war related repairs and rebuilding notwithstanding, is still here for us to marvel at.

At this point, the late 17th century, both Buda and Pest are almost totally destroyed and, a decade later, there are only a few hundred German settlers living in what is left. Hungary was now part of the Austrian empire and Bratislava was the capital.

Things seemed to be fairly quiet for the next couple hundred years aside from a devastating flood that destroyed Pest - again - but with the Compromise of 1867, Hungary got equal billing with Austria in the empire and gained a level of autonomy it had not seen since before the Ottomans invaded. Somehow, despite real economic problems in Hungary, this seems to be the time that Pest really grew.

This growth was modelled on Paris and it shows. There is block after block of ornate, fabulous buildings from this era on the Pest side and the influence and feel of the french capital is unmistakable. World War Two and communism did not wipe the intricate architecture away and replace it with bland, functional boxes. Certainly, the level of restoration of buildings is uneven but I think that is more a function of economics than ideology. I can only imagine how high the costs are to maintain and restore the hundreds of eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings that stretch on and on.

The first bridge to permanently connect the halves of the city is the lower bridge in the picture. It was built in 1849 and destroyed in WWII along with all seven of Budapest's other Danube crossings. One hundred years after it was first built, the repaired bridge was reopened. It really is beautiful and a great place to stop and look out over the river and admire the great buildings lining the waterway.

Clearly, the people of Budapest have gotten good at rebuilding and I'm pretty grateful that they are. This magnificent city and its preserved history deserve to live on.

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EXIF

Camera: NIKON D80
Lens Type: 10.0-24.0 mm f/3.5-4.5
Focal Length: 24 mm
35mm Focal Length: 36 mm
Exposure: 1/400 sec
Aperture: f 8
ISO: 100


Taken: 2011-08-09 13:53:58
Posted: 2011-08-16 | 08:10





Budapest and the Danube

Budapest and the Danube

Budapest, what an amazing city. I had heard good things about it but, I have to say, it really exceeded expectations. It has a deep history matched by few places on earth and it's really a story of two (or three) cities, Buda, Óbuda and Pest.

The hill I took this photo from, Gellért Hill, was inhabited by Celts in the first century BC. In the first century AD, the Romans came but they preferred to live on the flat plane on which Pest sits.

Since the Pest (east) side was totally flat, in the fifth century Attilla the Hun created a city on the more easily protected west - left in this photo - bank of the Danube. He named it after his brother, Bleda or, in Hungarian, Buda.

After the Tatars and then the Mongols, who were led by Genghis Khan's grandson, Batu Khan, ransacked, devastated and then left Hungary, they realized the value of strong fortifications and natural protection. So in 1241, they built a castle on a hill. This seemed to work quite well for them and Buda became one of the leading centres for the renaissance. Al good things must come to an end however and that end was supplied when the Ottomans invaded and conquered.

Eventually, weakened by other battles and a failed siege of Vienna, the Ottomans were vulnerable and the Austrians attacked the city and, after a hard six week battle, won it back. The twelfth century castle is almost entirely gone now - only excavated foundations remain - but the gigantic castle on the far left was built afterwards and, catastrophic war related repairs and rebuilding notwithstanding, is still here for us to marvel at.

At this point, the late 17th century, both Buda and Pest are almost totally destroyed and, a decade later, there are only a few hundred German settlers living in what is left. Hungary was now part of the Austrian empire and Bratislava was the capital.

Things seemed to be fairly quiet for the next couple hundred years aside from a devastating flood that destroyed Pest - again - but with the Compromise of 1867, Hungary got equal billing with Austria in the empire and gained a level of autonomy it had not seen since before the Ottomans invaded. Somehow, despite real economic problems in Hungary, this seems to be the time that Pest really grew.

This growth was modelled on Paris and it shows. There is block after block of ornate, fabulous buildings from this era on the Pest side and the influence and feel of the french capital is unmistakable. World War Two and communism did not wipe the intricate architecture away and replace it with bland, functional boxes. Certainly, the level of restoration of buildings is uneven but I think that is more a function of economics than ideology. I can only imagine how high the costs are to maintain and restore the hundreds of eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings that stretch on and on.

The first bridge to permanently connect the halves of the city is the lower bridge in the picture. It was built in 1849 and destroyed in WWII along with all seven of Budapest's other Danube crossings. One hundred years after it was first built, the repaired bridge was reopened. It really is beautiful and a great place to stop and look out over the river and admire the great buildings lining the waterway.

Clearly, the people of Budapest have gotten good at rebuilding and I'm pretty grateful that they are. This magnificent city and its preserved history deserve to live on.

Show this photo on a map ✈

EXIF

Camera: NIKON D80
Lens Type: 10.0-24.0 mm f/3.5-4.5
Focal Length: 24 mm
35mm Focal Length: 36 mm
Exposure: 1/400 sec
Aperture: f 8
ISO: 100


Taken: 2011-08-09 13:53:58
Posted: 2011-08-16 | 08:10


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