Budapest is the largest city in Hungary and is also the capital of the country. It is famous for its rich history, many underground caves, and for being the Spa Capital of the World. With the mighty river Danube flowing through its centre, it is one of the world’s outstanding urban landscapes. From its bridges to its baths, its cave system to its subway system, here are some of the most interesting facts about Budapest.
7 Interesting Facts about Budapest
1. The population of Budapest is dropping
As of 2022, the city of Budapest has a population of 1,775,207 residents. However, the population is dwindling as in 1989 the population of the city was 2.2 million. It is the fifteenth-largest European city by population within city limits and the ninth-largest city in the European Union by population within city limits.
2. Three cities united to form Budapest
In 1873, the city of Budapest was founded when the three cities of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest merged. Buda and Óbuda are on the west bank of the Danube. Pest is on the east bank of the Danube. The bridge of Széchenyi (known as the ‘Chain Bridge’), connected Pest with Buda.
3. The Széchenyi Bridge is a Budapest landmark
The Széchenyi Bridge is one of the city’s most iconic and recognisable landmarks, and one of the most Instagramable spots in Budapest. This was Budapest’s first permanent bridge over the river Danube. Worders built the bridge between 1839 and 1849. Sculptor János Marschalkó carved the four lion statues that guard the two abutments. The bridge is 375 meters long and 16 meters wide and the span between the pillars is 202 meters. The bridge’s roadbed hangs from iron chains and this is where the bridge got the name “Chain Bridge”.
4. Budapest is home to the world’s largest known thermal cave system
Underneath the streets of Buda lies the world’s largest underwater thermal water cave, the Molnár János Cave. The curative water from this cave is pumped into the Lukács Thermal Bath. This subterranean world is home to 80 geothermal springs and around 200 caves. During quarrying and drainage groundwork, construction workers discovered these caves in the early 20th century.
5. The largest medicinal bath in Europe is in Budapest
The city pumps the mineral-rich water from the thermal springs — of which there are 123 in Budapest — into the famous bathhouses. Though Hungary’s spa culture dates back to Roman times, the most stunning bathhouses in Budapest were built during the 150 years of Ottoman rule (1541 – 1699). Taking a Turkish bath is said to have many curative effects, and it is one of the unmissable things to do when you visit Budapest. There are plenty of bathhouses from which to choose, but if you are looking for a record-breaking one, the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest (Széchenyi gyógyfürdő) is the largest medicinal bath in Europe.
6. Budapest subway system is the world’s second-oldest
Budapest’s Millennium Underground Railway, Metro 1 or M1 opened in the year 1896 when Hungary celebrated its 1000th anniversary. It is the oldest electrified underground railway system in continental Europe. The Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground in the world after the London Underground.
7. Budapest is one of the world’s outstanding urban landscapes
In Budapest, the view of the Banks of the Danube with the Buda Castle District and Andrássy Avenue are World Heritage Sites. UNESCO describes the region as “one of the world’s outstanding urban landscapes and illustrates the great periods in the history of the Hungarian capital”. This historic stretch of the Danube has been the location of human settlement since the Palaeolithic period some 2.58 million years ago. It was also the site of the Roman city of Aquincum.