Budapest is the capital city of Hungary, established in 1872 through the merging of the settlements of Buda, Pest and Óbuda. A modern European capital located on both sides of the Danube bank, encompassing World Heritage sites on both sides along with a culture and history that is over a 1000 years old. The current area of Budapest has been inhabited since the Celtic era of the Carpathian Basin. During the Roman era, Óbuda and some parts of Buda, by the name of Aquincum, became the capital of the Roman province of Pannonia Inferior. By the 4th century and the end of the persecution of the Christian faith, Aquincum became a Diocese headed by a bishop and thus a local religious center. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the settlement remained the center of the region during the Migration Period, due to the continuing operation of the Diocese. In the year 1000, Saint Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary, was crowned with the Holy Crown provided by Pope Silvestre and was also vested with the authority of Rex Apostolicus (Apostolic King), which allowed him to organize the Catholic Church in Hungary.
After the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, King Bela IV recognized the value of Buda’s location and made it the de facto capital of the Kingdom, building the first royal palace there and one of the earlier forms of the Church of Mary, commonly known as Matthias Church. By becoming the center of the Royal power, Buda became the center of culture and commerce especially during the Anjou era of the 14th century and the reign of Matthias “Corvinus” Hunyadi in the 15th century.
The Ottoman Empire managed to capture the city in 1541, as well as central parts of Hungary, and maintained occupation for over a century. The long Ottoman presence brought certain Turkish cultural elements to the city, such as the still functional famous baths; however, despite the attempts to convert the population, the city remained predominantly Christian by culture and religion.
Buda and the rest of Ottoman Hungary was liberated from by a united Christian army in 1686. While the official capital remained Pozsony (Bratislava), Pest and Buda became the de facto center of the country again, which brought an unprecedented growth and prosperity for both settlements throughout the 18th century. The vibrant life of Christianity along with the newly emerged protestant churches also was a determinative factor of the development of Budapest. This pattern only continued during the 19th century’s reform age, as well as national and industrial revolutions which created permanent, modern infrastructure between the cities.
Today, Budapest is a modern capital city and a flourishing hub of innovation, business and culture. Despite the hardships the city had to endure over the centuries, Budapest still managed to maintain the characteristics of her culture and heritage.