Budapest, view from the Citadella (photo by EPF)
Did you know ...
... that Városliget (City Park) in Budapest is the first public park in the world? It has 302 acres, and its main entrance is the famous Hősök tere (Heroes' Square), one of Hungary's World Heritage sites.
The area was originally called Ökördűlő (Oxmeadow). The site used to be marshy; it was drained and filled and transformed into a park in the 18th century. The first trees and walkways were created in 1751, and after it became a public park at the beginning of the 19th century, it was named City Park. The site was also one of the spots for the celebration of the Millennium of Hungary in 1896.
Today, the green area is home to the zoo, a thermal bath, a castle (a smaller version of Vajdahunyad Castle in Transylvania), a museum of fine arts, a lake, and lots of places to walk. In the winter, it has the largest outdoor skating rink in Budapest.
Nowadays it is the most important and most visited park in Budapest.
...that beneath the city of Budapest lies a subterranean world? The city is known to have 123 geothermal springs and around 200 caves. It is the world’s most extensive geothermal cave system, and the location is on the Buda side of the city.
Some of the caves offer an excellent opportunity for an adventurous and certified diver to have lots of fun and a great time in Budapest. The caves were discovered in the late 19th century.
A trendy cave is the Szemlő-hegyi, considered one of the most natural treasures of Budapest. On this site, it is possible to walk along the trail.
Pál-völgyi Cave was discovered in 1904; it is well known for its dripstones and narrow corridors. It has a 500-meter long route providing marvelous views during the walk.
Mátyás-hegyi Cave is a fantastic underground adventure, navigating through dark chambers, accompanied by professional guides. Helmet-mounted lamps are the only source of light.
Molnár János Cave is a big hit for diving, with its entrance in the vicinity of the Lukács thermal bath; it is considered one of the most beautiful dive sites in Europe. The cave passageways could go deeper than 300 feet in different directions.
...that the name Budapest is the composition of the city name Buda and Pest? Buda was the name of King Attila's brother. (Another theory suggests that it means water.) Pest in the Slavic language means cave or rock cavity; in old Hungarian it referred to an oven or furnace.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Count István Széchenyi, the nobleman responsible for the Chain Bridge, and a strong proponent of the unifying of the capital, objected to using the word Pest in the name of the capital, because it reminded him of its German reference to the plague. Instead, he suggested several other possibilities, such as Dunagyöngye (Pearl of the Danube – which would be totally unpronounceable for non-Hungarians!), Etelvár, or Honderű.
Unification of the city happened only after his death, when in 1873, Pest, Buda and Óbuda were combined into one capital (fortunately!) called Budapest.