1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Budapest

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BUDAPEST, the capital and largest town of the kingdom of Hungary, and the second town of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, 163 m. S.E. of Vienna by rail. Budapest is situated on both banks of the Danube, and is formed of the former towns of Buda (Ger. Ofen) together with O-Buda (Ger. Alt-Ofen) on the right bank, and of Pest together with Köbánya (Ger. Steinbruch) on the left bank, which were all incorporated into one municipality in 1872. It lies at a point where the Danube has definitely taken its southward course, and just where the outlying spurs of the outer ramifications of the Alps, namely, the Bakony Mountains, meet the Carpathians. Budapest is situated nearly in the centre of Hungary, and dominates by its strategical position the approach from the west to the great Hungarian plain. The imposing size of the Danube, 300 to 650 yds. broad, and the sharp contrast of the two banks, place Budapest among the most finely situated of the larger towns of Europe. On the one side is a flat sandy plain, in which lies Pest, modern of aspect regularly laid out, and presenting a long frontage of handsome buildings to the river. On the other the ancient town of Buda straggles capriciously over a series of small and steep hills, commanded by the fortress and the Blocksberg (770 ft. high, 390 ft. above the Danube), and backed beyond by spurs of mountains, which rise in the form of terraces one above the other. The hills are generally devoid of forests, while those near the towns were formerly covered with vineyards, which produced a good red wine. The vineyards have been almost completely destroyed by the phylloxera.

Budapest covers an area of 78 sq. m., and is divided into ten municipal districts, namely Vár (Festung), Viziváros (Wasserstadt), Ó-Buda (Alt-Ofen), all on the right bank, belonging to Buda, and Belváros (Inner City), Lipótváros (Leopoldstadt), Terézváros (Theresienstadt), Erzsébetváros (Elisabethstadt), Józsefváros (Josephstadt), Ferenczváros (Franzstadt), and Köbánya (Steinbruch), all on the left bank, belonging to Pest. Buda, with its royal palace, the various ministries, and other government offices, is the official centre, while Pest is the commercial and industrial part, as well as the centre of the nationalistic and intellectual life of the town. The two banks of the Danube are united by six bridges, including two fine suspension bridges; the first of them, generally known as the Ketten-Brücke, constructed by the brothers Tiernay and Adam Clark in 1842-1849, is one of the largest in Europe. It is 410 yds. long, 39 ft. broad, 36 ft. high above the mean level of the water, and its chains rest on two pillars 160 ft. high; its ends are ornamented with four colossal stone lions. At one end is a tunnel, 383 yds. long, constructed by Adam Clark in 1854, which pierces the castle hill and connects the quarter known as the Christinenstadt with the Danube. The other suspension bridge is the Schwurplatz bridge, completed in 1903, 56 ft. broad, with a span of 317 yds. The other bridges are the Margaret bridge, with a junction bridge towards the Margaret island, the Franz Joseph bridge, and two railway bridges.

Perhaps the most attractive part of Budapest is the line of broad quays on the left bank of the Danube, which extend for a distance of 2½ m. from the Margaret bridge to the custom-house, and are lined with imposing buildings. The most important of these is the Franz Joseph Quai, 1 m. long, which contains the most fashionable cafés and hotels, and is the favourite promenade. The inner town is surrounded by the Innere Ring-Strasse, a circle of wide boulevards on the site of the old wall. Wide tree-shaded streets, like the Király Utcza, the Kerrepesi Ut, and the Üllöi Ut, also form the lines of demarcation between the different districts. The inner ring is connected by the Váczi Körut (Waitzner-Ring) with the Grosse Ring-Strasse, a succession of boulevards, describing a semicircle beginning at the Margaret bridge and ending at the Boráros Platz, near the custom-house quay, through about the middle of the town. One of the most beautiful streets in the town is the Andrássy Ut, 1½ m. long, connecting Váczi Körut with Városliget (Stadtwäldchen), the favourite public park of Budapest. It is a busy thoroughfare, lined in its first half with magnificent new buildings, and in its second half, where it attains a width of 150 ft., with handsome villas standing in their own gardens, which give the impression rather of a fashionable summer resort than the centre of a great city. Budapest possesses numerous squares, generally ornamented with monuments of prominent Hungarians, usually the work of Hungarian artists.

Buildings.—Though of ancient origin, neither Buda nor Pest has much to show in the way of venerable buildings. The oldest church is the Matthias church in Buda, begun by King Bela IV. in the 13th century, completed in the 15th century, and restored in 1890-1896. It was used as a mosque during the Turkish occupation, and here took place the coronation of Franz Joseph as king of Hungary in 1867. The garrison church, a Gothic building of the 13th century, and the Reformed church, finished in 1898, are the other ecclesiastical buildings in Buda worth mentioning. The oldest church in Pest is the parish church situated in the Eskü-Ter (Schwur-Platz) in the inner town; it was built in 1500, in the Gothic style, and restored in 1890. The most magnificent church in Pest is the Leopoldstadt Basilica, a Romanesque building with a dome 315 ft. in height, begun in 1851; next comes the Franzstadt church, also a Romanesque building, erected in 1874. Besides several modern churches, Budapest possesses a beautiful synagogue, in the Moorish style, erected in 1861, and another, in the Moorish-Byzantine style, built in 1872, while in 1901 the construction of a much larger synagogue was begun. In Buda, near the Kaiserbad, and not far from the Margaret bridge, is a small octagonal Turkish mosque, with a dome 25 ft. high, beneath which is the grave of a Turkish monk. By a special article in the treaty of Karlowitz of 1699 the emperor of Austria undertook to preserve this monument.

Among the secular buildings the first place is taken by the royal palace in Buda, which, together with the old fortress, crowns the summit of a hill, and forms the nucleus of the town. The palace erected by Maria Theresa in 1748-1771 was partly burned in 1849, but has been restored and largely extended since 1894. In the court chapel are preserved the regalia of Hungary, namely, the crown of St Stephen, the sceptre, orb, sword and the coronation robes. It is surrounded by a magnificent garden, which descends in steep terraces to the Danube, and which offers a splendid view of the town lying on the opposite bank. New and palatial buildings of the various ministries, several high and middle schools, a few big hospitals, and the residences of several Hungarian magnates, are among the principal edifices in this part of the town.

The long range of substantial buildings fronting the left bank of the Danube includes the Houses of Parliament (see Architecture, Plate IX. fig. 115), a huge limestone edifice in the late Gothic style, covering an area of 3¾ acres, erected in 1883-1902; the Academy, in Renaissance style, erected in 1862-1864, containing a lofty reception room, a library, a historic picture gallery, and a botanic collection; the Redoute buildings, a large structure in a mixed Romanesque and Moorish style, erected for balls and other social purposes; the extensive custom-house at the lower end of the quays, and several fine hotels and insurance offices. In the beautiful Andrássy Ut are the opera-house (1875-1884), in the Italian Renaissance style; the academy of music; the old and new exhibition building; the national drawing school; and the museum of fine arts (1900-1905), in which was installed in 1905 the national gallery, formed by Prince Esterházy, bought by the government in 1865 for £130,000, and formerly housed in the academy, and the collection of modern pictures from the national museum. At the end of the street is one of the numerous monuments erected in various parts of the country to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the foundation of the kingdom of Hungary. Other buildings remarkable for their size and interest are: the national museum (1836-1844); the town-hall (1869-1875), in the early Renaissance style; the university, with a baroque façade (rebuilt 1900), and the university library (opened in 1875), a handsome Renaissance building; the palace of justice (1896), a magnificent edifice situated not far from the Houses of Parliament. In its neighbourhood also are the palatial buildings of the ministries of justice and of agriculture. There are also the exchange (1905); the Austro-Hungarian bank (1904); the central post and telegraph office; the art-industrial museum (1893-1897), in oriental style, with some characteristically Hungarian ornamentations; several handsome theatres; large barracks; technical and secondary schools; two great railway termini and a central market (1897) to be mentioned. To the south-east of the town lies the vast slaughter-house (1870-1872), which, with the adjacent cattle-market, covers nearly 30 acres of ground. The building activity of Budapest since 1867 has been extraordinary, and the town has undergone a thorough transformation. The removal of slums and the regulation of the older parts of the town, in connexion with the construction of the two new bridges across the Danube and of the railway termini, went hand-in-hand with the extension of the town, new quarters springing up on both banks of the Danube. This process is still going on, and Budapest has become one of the handsomest capitals of Europe.

Education.—Budapest is the intellectual capital of Hungary. At the head of its educational institutions stands the university, which was attended in 1900 by 4983 students—only about 2000 in 1880—and has a staff of nearly 200 professors and lecturers. It has been completely transformed into a national Hungarian seat of learning since 1867, and great efforts have been made to keep at home the Hungarian students, who before then frequented other universities and specially that of Vienna. It is well provided with scientific laboratories, botanic garden, and various collections, and possesses a library with nearly a quarter of a million volumes. The university of Budapest, the only one in Hungary proper, was established at Tyrnau in 1635, removed to Buda in 1777, and transferred to Pest in 1783. Next to it comes the polytechnic, attended by 1816 students in 1900, which is also thoroughly equipped for a scientific training. Other high schools are a veterinary academy, a Roman Catholic seminary, a Protestant theological college, a rabbinical institute, a commercial academy, to which has been added in 1899 an academy for the study of oriental languages, and military academies for the training of Hungarian officers. Budapest possesses an adequate number of elementary and secondary schools, as well as a great number of special and technical schools. At the head of the scientific societies stands the academy of sciences, founded in 1825, for the encouragement of the study of the Hungarian language and the various sciences except theology. Next to it comes the national museum, founded in 1807 through the donations of Count Stephan Széchényi, which contains extensive collections of antiquities, natural history and ethnology, and a rich library which, in its manuscript department of over 20,000 MSS., contains the oldest specimens of the Hungarian language. Another society which has done great service for the cultivation of the Hungarian language is the Kisfaludy society, founded in 1836. It began by distributing prizes for the best literary productions of the year, then it started the collection and publication of the Hungarian folklore, and lastly undertook the translation into the Hungarian language of the masterpieces of foreign literatures. The influence exercised by this society is very great, and it has attracted within its circle the best writers of Hungary. Another society similar in aim with this one is the Petöfi society, founded in 1875. Amongst the numerous scientific associations are the central statistical department, and the Budapest communal bureau of statistics, which under the directorship of Dr Joseph de Körösy has gained a European reputation.

The artistic life in Budapest is fostered by the academy of music, which once had Franz Liszt as its director, a conservatoire of music, a dramatic school, and a school for painting and for drawing, all maintained by the government. Budapest possesses, besides an opera house, eight theatres, of which two are subsidized by the government and one by the municipality. The performances are almost exclusively in Hungarian, the exceptions being the occasional appearance of French, Italian and other foreign artists. Performances in German are under a popular taboo, and they are never given in a theatre at Budapest.

Trade.—-In commerce and industry Budapest is by far the most important town in Hungary, and in the former, if not also in the latter, it is second to Vienna alone in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The principal industries are steam flour-milling, distilling, and the manufacture of machinery, railway plant, carriages, cutlery, gold and silver wares, chemicals, bricks, jute, and the usual articles produced in large towns for home consumption. The trade of Budapest is mainly in corn, flour, cattle, horses, pigs, wines, spirits, wool, wood, hides, and in the articles manufactured in the town. The efforts of the Hungarian government to establish a great home industry, and the measures taken to that effect, have benefited Budapest to a greater degree than any other Hungarian town, and the progress made is remarkable. The increase in the number of joint-stock companies, and the capital thus invested in industrial undertakings, furnish a valuable indication. In 1873 there were 28 such companies with a total capital of £2,224,900; in 1890, 75 with a capital of £9,352,000; and in 1899 no fewer than 242 with a total capital of £31,378,655. Budapest owes its great commercial importance to its situation on the Danube, on which the greater part of its trade is carried. The introduction of steamboats on the Danube in 1830 was one of the earliest material causes of the progress of Budapest, and gave a great stimulus to its corn trade. This still continues to operate, having been promoted by the flour-milling industry, which was revolutionized by certain local inventions. Budapest is actually one of the greatest milling centres in the world, possessing a number of magnificent establishments, fitted with machinery invented and manufactured in the city. Budapest is, besides, connected with all the principal places in Austria and Hungary by a well-developed net of railways, which all radiate from here.

Population.—Few European towns grew so rapidly as Budapest generally, and Pest particularly, during the 19th century, and probably none has witnessed such a thorough transformation since 1867. In 1799 the joint population of Buda and Pest was 54,179, of which 24,306 belonged to Buda, and 29,870 belonged to Pest, being the first time that the population of Pest exceeded that of Buda. By 1840, however, Buda had added but 14,000 to its population while that of Pest had more than doubled; and of the joint population of 270,685 in 1869, fully 200,000 fell to the share of Pest. In 1880 the civil population of Budapest was 360,551, an increase since 1869 of 32%; and in 1890 it was 491,938, and increase of 36.57% in the decade. In the matter of the increase of its population alone, Budapest has only been slightly surpassed by one European town, namely, Berlin. Both capitals multiplied their population by nine in the first nine decades of the century. According to an interesting and instructive comparison of the growth of twenty-eight European cities made by Dr Joseph de Körösy, Berlin in 1890 showed an increase, as compared with the beginning of the century, of 818% and Budapest of 809%. Within the same period the increase of Paris was 343%, and of London 340%. In 1900 the civil population of Budapest was 716,476 inhabitants, showing an increase of 44.82% in the decade. To this must be added a garrison of 15,846 men, making a total population 732,322. Of the total population, civil and military, 578,458 were Magyars, 104,520 were Germans, 25,168 were Slovaks, and the remainder was composed of Croatians, Servians, Rumanians, Russians, Greeks, Armenians, Gypsies, &c. According to religion, there were 445,023 Roman Catholics, 5806 Greek Catholics, 4422 Greek Orthodox; 67,319 were Protestants of the Helvetic, and 38,811 were Protestants of the Augsburg Confessions; 168,985 were Jews, and the remainder belonged to various other creeds. A striking feature in the progress of Budapest is the decline in the death-rate, which sank from 43.4 per thousand in 1874 to 20.6 per thousand in 1900. In addition to the increased influx of persons in the prime of life, this is due largely to the improved water-supply and better sanitary conditions generally, including increased hospital accommodation.

Social Position.—Budapest is the seat of the government of Hungary, of the parliament, and of all the highest official authorities—civil, military, judicial and financial. It is the meeting-place, alternately with Vienna, of the Austro-Hungarian delegations, and it was elected to an equality with Vienna as a royal residence in 1892. It is the see of a Roman Catholic archbishop. The town is administered by an elected municipal council, which consists of 400 members. As Paris is sometimes said to be France, so may Budapest with almost greater truth be said to be Hungary. Its composite population is a faithful reflection of the heterogeneous elements in the dominions of the Habsburgs, while the trade and industry of Hungary are centralized at Budapest in a way that can scarcely be affirmed of any other European capital. In virtue of its cultural institutions, it is also the intellectual and artistic centre of Hungary. The movement in favour of Magyarizing all institutions has found its strongest development in Budapest, where the German names have all been removed from the buildings and streets. The wonderful progress of Budapest is undoubtedly due to the revival of the Hungarian national spirit in the first half of the 19th century, and to the energetic and systematic efforts of the government and people of Hungary since the restoration of the constitution. So far as Hungary was concerned, Budapest in 1867 at once became the favoured rival of Vienna, with the important additional advantage that it had no such competitors within its own sphere as Vienna had in the Austrian provincial capitals. The political, intellectual, and social life of Hungary was centred in Budapest, and had largely been so since 1848, when it became the seat of the legislature, as it was that of the Austrian central administration which followed the revolution. The ideal of a prosperous, brilliant and attractive Magyar capital, which would keep the nobles and the intellectual flower of the country at home, uniting them in the service of the Fatherland, had received a powerful impetus from Count Stephan Széchényi, the great Hungarian reformer of the pre-Revolutionary period. His work, continued by patriotic and able successors, was now taken up as the common task of the government and the nation. Thus the promotion of the interests of the capital and the centralization of the public and commercial life of the country have formed an integral part of the policy of the state since the restoration of the constitution. Budapest has profited largely by the encouragement of agriculture, trade and industry, by the nationalization of the railways, by the development of inland navigation, and also by the neglect of similar measures in favour of Vienna.

From that time to the present day the record of the Hungarian capital has been one of uninterrupted advance, not merely in externals, such as the removal of slums, the reconstruction of the town, the development of communications, industry and trade, and the erection of important public buildings, but also in the mental, moral and physical elevation of the inhabitants; besides another important gain from the point of view of the Hungarian statesman, namely, the progressive increase and improvement of status of the Magyar element of the population. When it is remembered that the ideal of both the authorities and the people is the ultimate monopoly of the home market by Hungarian industry and trade, and the strengthening of the Magyar influence by centralization, it is easy to understand the progress of Budapest.

Politically, this ambitious and progressive capital is the creation of the Magyar upper classes. Commercially and industrially, it may be said to be the work of the Jews. The sound judgment of the former led them to welcome and appreciate the co-operation of the latter. Indeed, a readiness to assimilate foreign elements is characteristic of Magyar patriotism, which has, particularly within the last generation, made numerous converts among the other nationalities of Hungary, and—for national purposes—may be considered to have quite absorbed the Hungarian Jews. It has thus come to pass that there is no anti-Semitism in Budapest, although the Hebrew element is proportionately much larger (21% as compared with 9%) than it is in Vienna, the Mecca of the Jew-baiter.

Budapest has long been celebrated for its mineral springs and baths, some of them having been already used during the Roman period. They rise at the foot of the Blocksberg, and are powerful chalybeate and sulphureous hot springs, with a temperature of 80°-150° Fahr. The principal baths are the Bruckbad and the Kaiserbad, both dating from the Turkish period; the St Lucasbad; and the Raitzenbad, rebuilt in 1860, one of the most magnificent establishments of its kind, which was connected through a gallery with the royal palace in the time of Matthias Corvin. There is an artesian well of sulphureous water with a temperature of 153° Fahr. in the Stadtwäldchen; and another, yielding sulphureous water with a temperature of 110° Fahr., which is used for both drinking and bathing, in the Margaret island. The mineral springs, which yield bitter alkaline waters, are situated in the plain south of the Blocksberg, and are over 40 in number. The principal are the Hunyadi-János spring, of which about 1,000,000 bottles are exported annually, the Arpad spring, and the Apenta spring.

The largest and most popular of the parks in Budapest is the Városliget, on the north-east side of the town. It has an area of 286 acres, and contains the zoological garden. On an island in its large pond are situated the agricultural (1902-1904) and the ethnographical museums. It was in this park that the millennium exhibition of 1896 took place. A still more delightful resort is the Margaret island, a long narrow island in the Danube, the property of the archduke Joseph, which has been laid out in the style of an English park, with fine trees, velvety turf and a group of villas and bath-houses. The name of the island is derived from St Margaret, the daughter of King Bela IV. (13th century), who built here a convent, the ruins of which are still in existence. To the west of Buda extends the hill (1463 ft.) of Sváb-Hegy (Schwabenberg), with extensive view and numerous villas; it is ascended by a rack-and-pinion railway. A favourite spot is the Zugliget (Auwinkel), a wooded dale on the northern slope of the hill. To the north of Ó-Buda, about 4 m. from the Margaret island, on the right bank of the Danube, are the remains of the Roman colony of Aquincum. They include the foundations of an amphitheatre, of a temple, of an aqueduct, of baths and of a castrum. The objects found here are preserved in a small museum. To the north of Pest lies the historic Rákos field, where the Hungarian diets were held in the open air from the 10th to the 14th century; and 23 m. to the north lies the royal castle of Gödöllö, with its beautiful park.

History.—The history of Budapest consists of the separate history of the two sister towns, Buda and Pest. The Romans founded, in the 2nd century A.D., on the right bank of the Danube, on the site of the actual Ó-Buda, a colony, on the place of a former Celtic settlement. This colony was named Aquincum, a transformation from the former Celtic name of Ak-ink, meaning "rich waters." The Roman occupation lasted till A.D. 376, and then the place was invaded by Huns, Ostrogoths, and later by Avars and Slavs. When the Magyars came into the country, at the end of the 10th century, they preserved the names of Buda and Pest, which they found for these two places. The origin of Pest proper is obscure, but the name, apparently derived from the old Slavonic pestj, a stove (like Ofen, the German name of Buda), seems to point to an early Slavonic settlement. The Romans never gained a foothold on this side of the river.

When it first appears in history Pest was essentially a German settlement, and a chronicler of the 13th century describes it as "Villa Teutonica ditissima." Christianity was introduced early in the 11th century. In 1241 Pest was destroyed by the Tatars, after whose departure in 1244 it was created a royal free city by Bela IV., and repeopled with colonists of various nationalities. The succeeding period seems to have been one of considerable prosperity, though Pest was completely eclipsed by the sister town of Buda with its fortress and palace. This fortress and palace were built by King Bela IV. in 1247, and were the nucleus round which the town of Buda was built, which soon gained great importance, and became in 1361 the capital of Hungary. In 1526 Pest was taken and pillaged by the Turks, and from 1541 to 1686 Buda was the seat of a Turkish pasha. Pest in the meantime entirely lost its importance, and on the departure of the Turks was left little more than a heap of ruins. Its favourable situation and the renewal of former privileges helped it to revive, and in 1723 it became the seat of the highest Hungarian officials. Maria Theresa and Joseph II. did much to increase its importance, but the rapid growth which enabled it completely to outstrip Buda belongs entirely to the 19th century. A signal proof of its vitality was given in 1838 by the speed and ease with which it recovered from a disastrous inundation that destroyed 3000 houses. In 1848 Pest became the seat of the revolutionary diet, but in the following year the insurgents had to retire before the Austrians under Windischgrätz. A little later the Austrians had to retire in their turn, leaving a garrison in the fortress of Buda, and, while the Hungarians endeavoured to capture this position, General Hentzi retaliated by bombarding Pest, doing great damage to the town. In 1872 both towns were united into one municipality. In 1896 took place here the millennium exhibition, in celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the foundation of the kingdom of Hungary.

Bibliography[edit]

  • The official publications of the Budapest Communal Bureau of Statistics have acquired a European repute for their completeness, and their fearless exposure of shortcomings has been an element in the progress of the town. Reference should also be made to separate works of the director of that institution, Dr Joseph de Körösy, known in England for his discovery of the law of marital fertility, published by the Royal Society, and by his labours in the development of comparative international statistics. His Statistique Internationale des grandes villes and Bulletin annuel des finances des grandes villes give valuable comparative data. See also Die Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild (Wien, 1886-1902, 24 vols.); volume xii., published in 1893, is devoted to Budapest.
(O. BR.)