The History of Budapest
Dátum: 2006. január 28. szombat, 13:18
Rovat: Hungary History

King St Stephan - Szent István Király

History of Budapest

The first town, built by Celts, occupied about 30 hectares along the slopes of Gellert Hill
(first century BC). It was called Ak Ink (meaning 'spring rich in water'). >>>

The History of Budapest

The first town, built by Celts, occupied about 30 hectares along the slopes of Gellert Hill (first century BC). It was called Ak Ink (meaning 'spring rich in water'). Archaeological finds suggest that it may have been a densely populated settlement, with a separate district of craftsmen (potteries and bronze foundries). It may have been a trading centre as well, as coins coming from different regions would indicate.The town was occupied by the Romans at the beginning of the Christian era. Its inhabitants moved to the Danube plains, to a city retaining the Celtic name (Aquincum), in the first
century. In AD 106 the city became the capital of the province Pannonia Inferior. The headquarters of the governor and significant military force were stationed here, and its population numbered about 20,000. It was frequently involved in wars on the border of the Roman Empire (formed by the Danube).

In the early fifth century the Roman defence lines were swept away by the Goths and other peoples fleeing westwards from the Huns. During the flourishing period of the Hun Empire (after AD 430), this crossing point over the Danube retained its significance.

No Romanized population remained in the city: they were replaced by Ostrogoths and Huns. In the 400 years following the dissolution of the Hun empire, the inhabitants of the territory of Hungary often changed in the turbulence of the Great Migration Era: Gepids, Longobards, Avars and other long forgotten peoples of Germanic and Central Asian stock followed one another. Avar rule was the longest, lasting more than 200 years. The Avars were followed by the Franks, when the Danube again became the eastern borderline of a West European empire. In the ninth century Pannonia became part of the Morvian Empire. There is no trace of any significant urban development during the Great Migration Era.The Hungarian appeared around the end of the ninth century, establishing the seat of their prince near the crossing of the Danube. They quickly recognized the geostrategic significance of the place. Obuda, the territory of the civilian city of Aquincum, became the first centre of Hungary. (The name of Buda derives from a Hungarian given name.) The princely (and later, royal) seat was moved to Esztergom in 973, and returned to Obuda only in the thirteenth century. The Western European type of urban and bourgeois development began in Pest, which had a mixed German- Hungarian population in the thirteenth century. In the middle of the thirteenth century, after the Tatar invasion, significant fortification work began all over the country. This was when the royal castle and the walled city were built on Castle Hill, on an elevated terrace of the Danube which could be easily defended. This third city was called Buda, its inhabitants presumable coming mainly from Pest. In the Middle Ages Buda gradually emerged from among the Hungarian towns, and it reached its peak in the second part of the fifteenth and the early sixteenth centuries. At that time the Hungarian kingdom extended over a large territory, including a significant part of the Balkans, and subsequently uniting with Poland and Lithuania. The rule of the Hungarian Crown extended from the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea. The Hungarian kings established a highly centralized authority. While the German region of Europe was breaking up into small principalities in the late Middle Ages, a strong Hungarian empire was unfolding on the eastern side of Central Europe. Buda, the centre of the empire, was also a major urban settlement in political, as well as economic cultural terms.

Gellert Hill

At the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Buda had 12,000-15,000 inhabitants, Pest 10,000, and Obuda only 2,000-3,000. Thus the total population of the three towns that constitute the present Hungarian capital stood at roughly 25,000- 30,000 - a big city in Central Europe in those days, ranking with Vienna, Prague, Krakow and Danzig.
There was no urban centre of comparable significance in the Balkans. Moreover, no other city between Constantinople and Vienna had a population of over 5,000.The economic role of this centre was enhanced by the important trade routes crossing the Danube at Buda, linking Eastern and Western Europe together. Cattle for slaughter played an important role in East-West economic relations, driven from the grazing lands of the Hungarian Plain to the cities of the northern Italy, Austria and Bavaria. Its role in the wine trade was also renowned. Miklós Oláh, Secretary to Queen Mária, wrote in 1536: 'The city of Buda is famous merchants, who gather here as if this place were the emporium of the whole of Hungary' (Horváth, Budapest története [The history of Budapest],vol.2,p.97). Attached to the royal seat, crafts were able to flourish in the city. The treasury made its purchases and the needs of the army were also partly met in Buda. This was where aristocrats and high priests had their houses and went shopping. Thus the great majority of craftsmen lived in Buda.
A large number of German settlers were active in commerce and trade, and there were Armenian, Greek and even Arab merchants in the city. About half of the urban inhabitants may have been Hungarians. The cultural role of Buda was particularly significant during reign of King Matthias. The Italian Renaissance had a great influence upon the city. The second Hungarian university was established in the city in 1395 (the first was founded in Pécs in 1367): and the first book was printed in Buda in 1473 under the title Budai krónika (The chronicle of Buda). King Mathias Rex
One-and-a-half of prosperity was followed by a long decline. Buda and Pest came under Turkish occupation for about 150 years (and served as the headquarters of the Turkish military administration.) That part of the country not occupied by the Turks became part of the Habsburg Empire. When, at the end of the seventeenth century, Buda was liberated from the Turkish rule, it became a provincial centre. When Buda was occupied, the Hungarian
Diet moved to Pozsony (which since 1918 has belonged to Czechoslovakia, its Slovak name being Bratislava) and stayed there until 1848. During the peaceful eighteenth century the total population began to grow, but the three cities only reached the size of their medieval population by the end of the century. However, a population of 35,000-40,000 was not considered a big city in the Europe of the late eighteenth century, nor did the city have any significant international role. The nineteenth century was dominated by the Hungarian's struggle for independence and modernization. The national insurrection against the Habsburgs began in the Hungarian capital in 1848 and was defeated a little more than a year later. In 1867 the Habsburg administration reached a compromise with the Hungarian nobility, and Hungary was granted a status equal to that of Austria within the Habsburg Empire. This made Budapest the twin capital of a dual monarchy. It was this compromise which opened the second great phase of development in the history of Budapest, lasting until World War I. This was the period of belated but rapid industrialization, urban growth and of catching up with the rest of Europe. The city never had such a glorious era before or since.
Once again the city became the centre of a large region. As the capital of the Hungarian Kingdom, which had a territory three times as large as today, it was the second most important urban centre of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy (after Vienna). And it had an economic and cultural influence stretching beyond the borders of the empire, to the Balkans and northern Italy.
The population of the city trebled between 1875 and 1900. Of the large European cities, only Berlin recorded a similar rate of growth. When Obuda, Buda and Pest were united, the Hungarian capital was a medium-sized city of 300,000 inhabitants, the seventeenth largest European city. In 1910, taking the present borders of the city, it already had a million inhabitants and ranked eighth in Europe, larger than Rome, Madrid or Milan. The rapid population growth fed upon all parts and nationalities of the monarchy.
Migrants were attracted primarily by the vigorous industrial and economic boom. From the 1870s was the age of the Hungarian industrial revolution, the benefits of witch were mainly concentrated in Budapest. The city attracted the majority of newly-founded banks, business associations and industrial enterprises. The city's growth was closely linked to the expansion of industry. It was quite unusual for a big capital to have such a markedly industrial character. In 1910, 44 per cent of those employed worked in industry. The unique geographical position of the capital played an important role in the development of the economy.
The Hungarian railway network was built before the industrial revolution (in the 1850s). All the main railway lines radiated out from the capital in all directions across the Carpathian Basin, towards Vienna, the Adriatic, the Balkans and northern Europe. The development of the railway network around Budapest was influenced primarily by political considerations:
the Hungarian capital  - politically still subordinate to Vienna - wanted to secure its control over the Carpathian Basin. Moreover, since the construction of railways was heavily subsidized, the railway lines were soon acquired by the state, so that national strategic considerations could determine where the lines were laid. The various railway lines met at the navigable section of the Danube, at the largest river port: Budapest. Budapest as the largest river port of the Danube, it became an entrepôt for raw materials, like timber and grain, and was where the products of an enormous agricultural hinterland were processed, stored and sold. According to some estimates, it was the world's second largest centre of milling industry early this century. Profits from the export of agricultural products of the Hungarian Plain all found their way to the commercial centre. Up-to-date engineering and electrical works also appeared, and by the beginning of the twentieth century Budapest had become a centre of modern large-scale industry. This rapid growth was very different from the urban growth of developing countries today. The inflowing labour quickly found employment and adjusted to urban society within a single generation. As the population grew, so the city expanded, and new residential suburbs were built. During the last decades of the nineteenth century the city grew at a rate which has never been matched since, even during the reconstruction after World War II. So fast was this growth that it earned the description of an 'American tempo'. However, Budapest resembled Chicago only in the speed of its growth. The development was carefully planned and the effect was delightful. In 1870 the municipality set up the Council of Public
, which elaborated a grand master plan, and the city had the power to realize it. Everything that marked the standards of the age could be found in the master plan: there was a system of ring roads and boulevards, and a network of urban public transport: the height of the buildings was set, green spaces were included, and so forth. Though a major part of  the city was built within the space of twenty years, the result was not monotony but a
harmonious uniform style. During recent years it has become fashionable to discover the legacy of the turn of the century. Vienna has become particularly fashionable for art nouveau, psychoanalysis, Viennese music, and its delightful decline as the capital of the dual monarchy. It is not generally known, however, that Budapest also had an intellectual boom at the turn of the century. The young Bartók and Gustav Mahler were teaching at the Academy of Music at the same time, and the magnificent buildings of the Hungarian art nouveau were completed in quick succession. In Vienna, decay could be felt in its intellectual life: the imperial city was rooted in the political power of the monarchy, but this power had been already weakened. In Budapest, however, there was no sense of decay. The city was feeding upon the growth of the Hungarian economy which still had great élan. Rapid development suppressed the sense of danger. Budapest was a dynamic, extremely optimistic city right until the final collapse.
The modern infrastructural development of the city was most impressive. Bridges were built over the Danube, and the first underground railway of the European continent was opened here in 1896. In 1873 electric lighting was brought to the streets. In 1887 trams appeared, followed in 1888 by the first suburban trains; in 1885 the first urban telephone exchange was installed; in 1896 the Post Office used battery-driven vans for delivering parcels; and in 1900 the Royal Hungarian Automobile Club was founded. Within a few decades the capital was, it seemed, making up for the long centuries it had spent behind the rest of Europe.
  However, this rapid progress was founded on fragile foundations. The capital could not rely on a broadly modernizing Hungarian urban network and had to join the main trend of European urban development on its town. In 1910 it was a big city of 1 million inhabitants, while the population of the second and third largest country towns (Szeged and Szabadka) was only just over 100,000, both of them traditional agricultural market towns. The First World War and its consequences are well known. The Austro- Hungarian Monarchy was broken up. Budapest became the oversized capital of a small country, which could not regain its earlier international role in a hostile Carpathian Basin that had been cut into pieces. Its population continued to grow at a moderate pace, but it now resembled the urban growth of the developing countries, nurtured more by crisis in the countryside than by the internal energy of the city. By the 1930s Budapest was beginning to overcome the consequences of World War I, when the next world war overwhelmed it, causing enormous damage to its buildings, as well as to its population. Under socialism, it has maintained a steady rate of development. With the dissolution of socialism in 1989, the city has entered the post-industrial age with the leading role of blue-collar industry being replaced by services and a white-collar workforce. And now Budapest is again searching for its place among the major European metropolises. Budapest is once again becoming a Central European capital.

A cikk tulajdonosa: Magyarok Londonban. London-Budapest

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