Introduction

 Introduction

A tiny territory in the middle of Europe, Hungary is little thought of as a holiday destination but has more than enough to recommend it to anyone.

The capital Budapest is without a doubt what the country is most famous for. It is an intensely beautiful city, full of baroque architecture, and an Empire’s worth of art works and treasure. The twin cities (Buda and Pest) together make up a conurbation of two million inhabitants, with Buda being the older, more historic part of the city and Pest the lively modern quarter.

It is no surprise that Budapest is often compared to Prague, both share the same baroque architecture and Communist past. If anything, though, Budapest is more friendly and is certainly less crowded than its East European rival.

Wonderful as Budapest is, there is more to Hungary than just its capital, and, if time allows, you should head out and explore some of the lesser known towns. The country has long had a reputation as a bohemian haven, and the cities of St Andrew’s (Szentendre) and Pecs have been home to some of Central Europe’s most famous writers and artists.

Hungary’s geographical location and bloody history has also made it the backdrop for some of Western Europe’s more visceral myths and fears. Most notable among these is of course, Dracula. Transylvania was originally part of Hungary, and despite its position over the Romanian border is still populated by Magyars today. Myths aside, parts of the country remain genuine wildernesses where wolves and boars still roam freely, and the high peaks and dark forests of the northern region, together with the empty landscape of the Great Central Plain, are sublimely magnificent.

In rural Hungary the peasant way of life is still evident, creating a picaresque landscape that is a delight for tourists to explore.

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