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 2&FRAC12; 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, 1&FRAC12; 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.