Hungary's first 1000 years
Yellow trams rattling down grand
boulevards, faded neo-Baroque interiors, facades marked with signs of
revolution, streets of cobblestone, grand turn of the century apartment blocks.
Like the bathers lingering in the steam of Budapest's famous baths, this is a
country infused with memories and history.
Hungary celebrates a millennial
double in the year 2000: the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian State and the
arrival of the new millennium. These thousand years have seen a tumultuous
history in Hungary as rulers came and went and empires rose and fell, but
Hungary's distinctive charms have never waned nor its welcome ever been less
The foundation was laid in the
ninth century by the great Magyar chief, Árpád, who lead the people from
paganism toward Christianity. On
Christmas Day, 1000, Árpád's great grandson, Stephen ascended to the throne
with a crown sent from Rome by Pope Sylvester II. The kingdom and nation of
Hungary was born.
The three hundred year reign of
the House of Árpád saw the country become increasingly westward-looking and
the succeeding House of Anjou brought expansion - into Poland, towards Dalmatia
- and a great flowering of art and architecture. The first Golden Age had begun.
Under King Matthias, ebrated for his fairness and justice, Hungary flourished,
but his passing eventually led to decimation under the Ottomans for 150 years
during the 16th and l7th-century. However, the Hapsburgs helped oust the
Turkish, heralding a more stable time of reconstruction.
As the Hapsburg Empire floundered,
a revolt in 1848 resulted in the dual monarchy of "Austria the empire,
Hungary the kingdom" in 1867, two capitals, two parliaments. This "age
of dualism" sparked an economic, cultural and intellectual rebirth in
Hungary. The second golden age had begun.
Turn of the century Budapest was
rightly considered the birthplace of the modern world. World War I proved
disastrous, however. Partitioned into almost one-third its original size,
millions of ethnic Hungarians found themselves living outside the country.
Russian intervention followed after World War II as Stalinism lowered its iron
curtain across Central Eastern Europe.
But at the turn of this new
century, Hungary is now a free country for a decade and combines a smiling,
dynamic image with a reputation for nostalgia. In this post-communist era of
rapid change, the visitor will find constant reminders of a largely vanished
Europe - old-fashioned customs and courtesies like the kissing of hands and the
presentation of flowers. wi w Modern Hungary is experiencing a new Renaissance.
With its colorful people and the year 2000 mix of ethnic influences was almost
eerily predicted. when St. Stephen, Hungary's first king said: "Therefore I
command you my son, to extend a benevolent protection and respect towards
newcomers, so that they would rather stay with you instead of settling somewhere
Although we have had plenty of
unwelcomed visitors in these 1000 years, now Hungary welcomes you with open