Essential Information on Budapest
They say that Budapest is the Paris of the East, and while its broad 19th-century boulevards go a long way towards that, the Hungarian capital is more than a Parisian knock-off: depending on where you are in town, your surroundings just as easily evoke Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Moscow, and even Buenos Aires.
Straddling the Danube where East meets West, Budapest has spent the last two millennia being overrun by Romans, Slavs, and then Magyars – the asiatic forebears of the present-day Hungarians – followed by Mongols, Turks, Habsburgs, Romanians, Nazis, Soviets, and, lately, Irish real estate speculators. As the capital of what was widely considered the least miserable of the Warsaw Pact states during the latter decades of the Cold War, Budapest met the changes of 1989 head-on and has since made immense progress culminating in Hungary’s joining the EU in May 2004.
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