History and Culture
Budapest's recorded history begins with the Roman town of Aquincum, founded in 89 AD on the site of an earlier Celtic settlement. By around 900 AD, the area had been occupied by the Magyars, the ancestors of today's ethnic Hungarians. Mongol invaders destroyed the city of Pest in 1241, but it was Buda, situated on the opposite side of the River Danube and the seat of a royal castle since 1247, which became the capital of Hungary in 1361.
The Ottoman Turks' conquest of most of Hungary in the 16th century interrupted the growth of both cities. Pest, on the left bank of the Danube, was largely derelict by the time of its recapture in 1686 by Austria's Hapsburg rulers, but it enjoyed rapid growth in the 18th and 19th centuries. It eventually became part a single city in 1873 following its amalgamation with Buda and Óbuda, on the right bank of the river.
Hungary’s losses during World War I, and the impact of the Trianon Peace Agreement, eventually left Budapest as the capital of a smaller but sovereign state and despite being severely damaged during the Soviet siege of World War II, Budapest has prospered since joining the European Union in 2004.