Budapest’s rich history draws people from around the globe. Granted, you do not have to be a history major to appreciate the city. While here, you will not be able to get away from learning at least a bit of the city’s history.
However, if you are a big history buff, you will be over the moon as soon as you set foot in Budapest. The city sits on the site of the original Celtic settlement that eventually turned into the Roman city of Aquincum during the 1st century.
Eventually, Aquincum was destroyed and two cities named Buda and Pest were formed on opposite sides of the Danube River. The two cities became one in 1873 as the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Before heading out to explore the city, drop by a Budapest luggage storage location to leave your bags and bulky belongings for safekeeping. That way you can visit all the areas you want without worrying about finding a place to stow your things.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
This bridge was the first stone bridge that linked Buda and Pest. The arched buttresses are beautiful as they rise out of the water. It was the second permanent bridge along the entire Danube River.
History lovers will truly appreciate the history of this bridge. Construction on the original bridge started in 1839 and the bridge was completed in 1849. However, at the end of World War II, the bridge was demolished by German troops.
With only the pillars remaining, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge was rebuilt and opened in 1949, exactly 100 years after the original bridge was completed.
Central Market Hall
Also known as the Great Market Hall, the Central Market Hall is a large indoor food market. The market is located on Váci utca, a bustling shopping street best known for its unique architecture and delicious restaurants.
The Central Market Hall is three floors of fantastic vendors. Built in 1897, tourists flock to the market for fantastic souvenirs and interesting foodstuffs. History buffs will come to check out the building and its interesting past.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Budapest is known as the City of Baths because of the invigorating natural hot springs under the city. An absolute must-see is the famous Széchenyi thermal bathhouses. With over 100 hot springs beneath the city, the thermal baths are a tourist favorite.
There are some more modern bathhouses located throughout Budapest, but the Séchenyi baths were built in 1909 and should be visited due to the history associated with them.
You will want to get your tickets in advance for the Széchenyi Thermal Baths to avoid long lines and the chance of not being able to get in that day.
Yes, you read that right. Check out some of the ruin bars throughout Budapest. These bars are located in dilapidated buildings that were abandoned after World War II. Many of these bars are located in the old Jewish Quarter in the VII District.
Ruin bars started popping up in the early 2000s, where the bar owners put up a few strings of lights, stocked the bar, and invited people in for a drink. Most of the ruin bars still have this same haphazard ambiance.
Make time to stop by one of the most famous ruin bars in Budapest, the Szimpla Kert which was also one of the original ruin bars.
What exactly is a Trabant? It is a car that was manufactured in East Germany and became very popular throughout the Soviet Union because they were cheap to purchase. Tour companies have restored several of these cars for tourists’ use.
These noisy, confined little cars are hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but really are the best way to see the city. Several tour companies, such as Rent a Trabant Budapest, offer these unique cars and even a tour guide to go with them.
Hike the winding cobblestone streets that lead you up Castle Hill to Buda Castle. The narrow streets take you by St. Matthias Church, built in 1269, and Fisherman’s Bastion. Along the way, you will see Jewish, Gothic, and Turkish influences in the architecture.
At the top of the hill is Buda Castle, built during the mid-1700s and home to the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. Both are the perfect place for history buffs to learn more about the city and the country.
While on your walk, bring your camera along for fantastic photos and then stop for a delicious cup of coffee and treat at the Ruszwurm Cukrászda Café.
Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial
Hungary’s role in World War II is not a glamorous one, aligned with Germany for most of the war, the city was heavily bombed in 1945 during the Siege of Budapest. Major damage occurred during this siege, leaving massive destruction to its infrastructure.
During World War II, Hungary suffered thousands of casualties including 300,000 soldiers, 650,000 civilians, and 400,000 Jews. The Shoes on the Danube Bank represents the Jewish lives lost during the war.
This memorial is comprised of 60 pairs of empty shoes made of iron. The shoes represent the Jews who were executed by the Arrow Cross Militia. Jews were lined up on the bank of the river, ordered to remove their shoes, and then executed.
While Budapest does not showcase their rather storied past, you can still learn about the unsavory affiliation with the Soviet Union at Memento Park. The park is filled with Soviet statues that were removed from the city after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Rather than destroy the statues and monuments, they were moved to a spot outside the city as a reminder of the communist rule that they escaped. Stroll through this open-air museum and view the banished statues and monuments.
Sign up for a guided tour to learn more about the history of each statue. Tickets are available online so you can avoid any long lines.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Heroes’ Square is an absolute must-see if you are interested in learning more about Hungarian heroes. Statues of important leaders, including the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and King Stephen I are here.
You can choose between walking tours, Segway tours, or Airwheel tours for a unique experience while visiting Heroes’ Square.
Budapest is filled with so much history, from Roman ruins to World War II relics. Almost everywhere you look you will see something else to grab your attention. Bring your sense of adventure and love of learning when you visit Budapest.