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.