Brief History of Hungary

Hungary’s rich history dates back to the Roman times when it was called Pannonia. In the 9th century, Magyar tribes led by Árpád settled in the Carpathian Basin, founding what would become the Kingdom of Hungary in 1000 AD under Stephen I, who was canonized as the country’s first Christian king.

The kingdom became a significant power in medieval Europe, but later faced challenges like the Mongol invasions in the 13th century. In the early 16th century, the Ottoman Empire’s expansion led to Hungary’s partition between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs.

The Habsburgs eventually reclaimed most of Hungary, which then became part of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 19th century. The empire collapsed after World War I, leading to Hungary’s borders being redefined by the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, a traumatic event that still reverberates in Hungarian politics.

During World War II, Hungary initially aligned with the Axis powers but was occupied by Nazi Germany after attempting to negotiate peace with the Allies. Post-war, Hungary became a Soviet satellite and a communist state.

The 1956 Hungarian Revolution against Soviet control was brutally suppressed but eventually led to more lenient policies. Communism fell in 1989, and Hungary transitioned to a democratic republic. It joined the European Union in 2004, solidifying its place in the western community of nations.

About Hungary

Country Code: +36.

Crime: Hungary, in general, has a lower crime rate than many other European countries. Budapest, as the capital and largest city, experiences more crime than other parts of the country, but it’s still considered relatively safe for residents and tourists alike.

Like many major cities worldwide, the most common crimes against tourists in Budapest are pickpocketing and purse snatching, especially in crowded areas or on public transportation. Tourists are advised to be cautious and avoid showing signs of affluence.

Some scams target tourists, like overcharging in certain bars or clubs and taxi scams where unregulated cabs charge exorbitant rates. It’s always good practice for visitors to familiarize themselves with common scams before traveling.

Violent crimes such as assault or mugging are relatively rare, and Hungary has a relatively low homicide rate.

While Hungary is generally safe for most visitors, there have been reports of discrimination and occasional violence against minority groups, especially the Roma. In addition, Budapest’s vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, while mostly safe, has faced instances of homophobia and discrimination. It’s always advised to be cautious and aware of local sentiments.

The Hungarian police force, known as the “Rendőrség”, is generally efficient and professional. They are responsible for most law enforcement duties, including crime investigation and traffic control.

Like anywhere, it’s essential to exercise caution. Avoid poorly lit areas late at night, be cautious of overly friendly strangers, and secure belongings in crowded places.

Currency: Hungarian Forint.

Electricity: Type C (2-pin round), Type F (2-pin round with 2 earth clips).

Language: Hungarian.

Latitude and Longitude: 47.1625° N, 19.5033° E.

Population: 9.71 million (2021).

President: Katalin Novák.

National Parks

Hungary may be a smaller country in Europe, but it’s home to a rich array of landscapes and ecosystems that are preserved within its national parks.

Aggtelek National Park: This park is famous for its extraordinary karst formations and caves, including the Baradla Cave. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and features a complex of over 200 underground caverns.

Bükk National Park: Located in Northern Hungary, it’s one of the country’s largest national parks, dominated by limestone highlands, thick forests, and many cave systems.

Balaton Uplands National Park: Situated near Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake, this park offers a mix of volcanic hills, basalt columns, and wetlands, as well as the Tihany Peninsula with its historical sites.

Danube-Drava National Park: This park is located in the southern part of the country, with the Danube and Drava rivers defining its borders. It’s a haven for various bird species, making it a hotspot for birdwatching.

Danube-Ipoly National Park: Situated both in Budapest and its surrounding areas, this park encompasses a section of the Danube River and features various landscapes from limestone terrains to floodplain forests.

Fertő-Hanság National Park: Close to the Austrian border, this park is home to Lake Fertő (Neusiedler See in German), Central Europe’s largest endorheic lake. The area has both cultural and natural importance and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hortobágy National Park: Representing the Hungarian ‘puszta’ or steppe, Hortobágy is the country’s oldest national park and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s known for its traditional pastoral use, including the famous T-shaped sweep wells and herds of Hungarian Grey Cattle.

Kiskunság National Park: Located in the central part of Hungary, this park comprises a series of landscape units, including sand dunes, alkaline lakes, and wetlands, which are essential habitats for various bird species.

Körös-Maros National Park: Situated in the southeastern part of the country, this park boasts diverse ecosystems, including floodplain meadows, sand dunes, and wetlands.

Őrség National Park: Located near the borders of Austria and Slovenia, this park is characterized by its rolling hills, thick forests, and traditional Hungarian villages with well-preserved folk architecture.

Top Tourist Attractions

Hungary offers a wealth of historical, cultural, and natural attractions.

Budapest: The capital city, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Danube,” is split into Buda and Pest by the Danube River.

Buda Castle: An iconic structure offering panoramic views of the city.

Hungarian Parliament Building: A neo-Gothic architectural marvel located on the Pest side of the Danube.

Széchenyi Thermal Bath: Europe’s largest medicinal bath, built in a Neo-baroque style.

Heroes’ Square: A major square showcasing statues of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders.

St. Stephen’s Basilica: A prominent neo-classical cathedral.

The Great Market Hall: A vibrant place for traditional goods and Hungarian specialties.

Lake Balaton: Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake, it’s known as the “Hungarian Sea” and is a favorite summer destination.

Aggtelek Karst: As mentioned, the Aggtelek National Park houses a vast complex of caves, including the Baradla Cave, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Eger: This town is known for its castle, thermal baths, baroque buildings, and its wine, especially the famous “Bull’s Blood” (Egri Bikavér).

Hollókő: A picturesque village and a UNESCO World Heritage site, it offers a glimpse into traditional Hungarian life with well-preserved wooden houses and folk traditions.

Pécs: Located in the southern part of Hungary, Pécs is known for its Roman ruins, including the Early Christian Necropolis, another UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hortobágy National Park: It offers a unique view into the traditional pastoral life in the Hungarian plains or ‘puszta,’ with its iconic sweep wells and Hungarian Grey Cattle.

Visegrád: A historical town on the Danube Bend, it’s famous for its medieval castle and the panoramic views of the Danube valley.

Gödöllő: Home to the Royal Palace, the former summer residence of Queen Elisabeth and Emperor Franz Joseph.

Tokaj: Renowned for its wines, especially the world-famous Tokaji Aszú, this wine region is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Heviz: Near Lake Balaton, it’s famous for its thermal lake, the second-largest thermal lake in the world.