25 facts about Budapest (and Hungary)

25 fun facts about Budapest and Hungary! Like how Budapest wasn't even the first capital of the country... More on todoinbudapest.com

I could tell you so much about Budapest, with many boring facts. About that Budapest is on UNESCO’s world heritage list for example, facts about history that you’ll learn in most museums, or how many people live in the city (1.7 million, but who really cares?). I’d rather share some fun facts about Budapest, that make the city unique.

Credits for the idea go to Emma, from wattedoeninberlijn.nl. Take a look at her website if you’re planning to visit Berlin! She’s started doing some tours as well. Maybe I should book a trip soon…

  • The tallest buildings in the city are the St. Stephens Basilica and the Parliament: both are 96 meters tall. This is a reference to the year Hungary was founded, in 896. No building can be taller than this.
  • Metro line 1 in Budapest is the oldest metro line on the European mainland. In the whole world, only the London Underground is older.
  • There’s a widespread belief that people in Hungary don’t clink beer glasses before drinking. This would be because generals got executed in the 19th century by Austrians, who would clink their glasses after every death. As a result, Hungarians wouldn’t clink their beer glasses for 150 years and still wouldn’t do that, even though the 150 years have passed. But it’s not totally true: my Hungarian friends happily clink along, also when they drink beer and they tell me this is not in use (anymore). Egészségedre!
  • 20% of the Hungarian population lives in Budapest. That’s 1 in 5 people!
  • Most people ‘know’ Budapest exists of two cities: Buda and Pest. But there’s actually a third one: Óbuda, in the northwest.
  • Paprika is one of the most famous Hungarian products, and it’s generously used in the Hungarian kitchen. Hungarians eat more than 500 grams of paprika powder per person, per year!

25 fun facts about Budapest and Hungary! Like how Budapest wasn't even the first capital of the country... More on todoinbudapest.com

  • Budapest has several nicknames. ‘Paris of the East’ and ‘City of Baths’ are only two of them.
  • Hungary is known for its music festivals, but one of the biggest festivals in the world is held in Budapest. I’m talking about Sziget of course.
  • Sick in Budapest? Fat chance, according to the Hungarians. Both the alcoholic drink Palínka, as well as the thermal baths have healing powers.
  • The number 96 is of great importance in Hungary. The country was founded in 896, buildings in Budapest can’t be taller than 96 meters, and the Hungarian anthem is to be sang in 96 seconds (if you hold the right pace).
  • Speaking about the founding of Hungary: metro line 1 was built thanks to the 1000 year anniversary (so the festivities in Városliget could be visited by the Budapestians), and the Parliament was designed to honor the anniversary.
  • Budapest is not the first capital of Hungary: this was once Esztergom! (See the picture above).
  • Hungarian names are regulated by law. Do you want to give your child a different -new- name? It has to be accepted by the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. That’s why so many Hungarians have the same names (and everybody has a name day!)

25 fun facts about Budapest and Hungary! Like how Budapest wasn't even the first capital of the country... More on todoinbudapest.com

  • The right hand of St. Stephen (the first Christian king of Hungary) is not only exhibited in the St. Stephens Basilica: it’s also carried through Budapest during a procession to celebrate the national holiday on August 20th.
  • There’s a legend going around that the artist who made the lions at the ends of the Chain Bridge killed himself after somebody asked where the lion’s tongues were. Before that, he had proudly told everybody that his statues were perfect, and if somebody found something wrong, he’d kill himself. Nonsense, because the tongues are there, you just can’t see them from where we stand.
  • The Great Synagogue is not any kind of great: it’s the second biggest synagogue in the world. Only the one in New York is bigger. The Great Synagogue has space for 3000 people!
  • At one time, Hungary was so big it even has a coast (at the Mediterranean Sea). After World War I, the country was split up, and Hungary lost over 70% of the land, about 50% of its population, and 30% ethnical Hungarians. Parts of Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Austria were once Hungarian.
  • There’s a ton to see in Budapest and the statistics prove it: travelers stay in the city for an average of 5,7 days (first quarter 2017). To compare: 5,8 days in London (2015), 2,8 in Berlin (2015), and 3,9 in Amsterdam (2016).
  • More about the Parliament: the design was picked from a design competition to celebrate the Hungarian Millenium. The two runner-ups were built across the street from the Parliament. The building has 365 (little) towers, one for every day of the year. And like mentioned before: it’s the tallest building in Budapest (together with the Basilica): 96 meters.

25 fun facts about Budapest and Hungary! Like how Budapest wasn't even the first capital of the country... More on todoinbudapest.com

  • Districts in Budapest not only have names but also numbers and often even nicknames. For example, I used to live in Erzsébetváros, District VII, but also known as the Jewish Quarter. I moved to Ferencváros, District IX. The number of the district can be found in the zip code.
  • The city center’s named Belváros (literally: inner city), district V, but is actually only a small part of the center. It is the most commercial and touristic part.
  • I’ve experienced a difference of 60 °C in Budapest: -21 °C in January 2017, +37 °C in July and August 2017…
  • I bet you’ve seen a picture of St. Stephens Basilica before: this is the most photographed spot in Budapest. Honestly, I thought it’d be the Parliament or one of the views from Buda. Wrong!
  • Most immigrants come from Germany, Romania, and… China! Who could’ve guessed that last one?
  • There are four (!) airlines flying from the Netherlands to Budapest (at this point). KLM and Easyjet from Amsterdam, Wizzair from Eindhoven, and Transavia from Rotterdam. Wizzair is the Hungarian airline, so this is the one you take from most countries.

That was fun to look up! I knew a lot of facts about Budapest already and I love telling them when I show around friends and family. The Parliament ones are my favorite, of course.

Do you know more facts about Budapest? Which were new for you?

Petra in Budapest
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