Budapest, a Tale of Two Cities

Did you know that Budapest (as we know it) is only 150 years old? Believe it or not, the Hungarian capital that we know and love formed by a merger in 1873 between three separate cities: Buda, Pest, and Obuda. For all purposes here, however, we are going to focus on both Buda and Pest, the heart of the city and the reason we now call the capital of Hungary Budapest.

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The Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda Side

Before their merge in 1873, Buda and Pest sat on opposite sides of the Danube River. And despite being the same city now, both sections offer unique traits that tell the story of their separated past. These twin cities sitting across the river are, in a way, the very ideal example of Yin and Yang. They are two vastly different places despite being the same city, yet they work so harmoniously together as one location.

The Museum Area of the Buda Side

Buda sits up high on rolling hills, overlooking the bustling site of Pest. Buda features a Castle District, the grand Hapsburg Palace, and a gorgeous Citadel nestled within its scenery. This elite section has an era of wealth and class.  Despite being a melting pot of tourists and people of all backgrounds, Buda is relatively calm and clear. It’s the strangely serene side of a bustling city, looming high over all that is happening in Pest.

Overlooking the Pest Side of the City from Buda

Pest, on the other hand, sits on rather flat land. Yet Pest is where all the action is. Tourists and locals buzz around throughout the day on Pest’s flat land visiting cafes, restaurants, markets, bars, and coffee shops. It is the pure definition of a traditional city, and it’s a hip place to be.

Buda is the perfect location to find peace and walk rolling hills to set up a picnic with friends. Pest is the perfect place to shop, socialize, and run amuck. At night, Buda closes its doors and windows, and this whole side of the city more-or-less calls it a night. Pest, on the other hand, turns on its lights and starts a scene. If you’re a fan of the opera, you’ll find the Opera House in Pest. There is a wide variety of nightlife from bars to restaurants to clubs. All you have to do is take a walk out of your hotel into the streets of Pest.

The Labyrinth Under Buda Castle

Buda consists of some incredibly elegant historic museums, so it happened to be my favorite side, without a doubt. And for those of you who love the unusual, the Labyrinth under Buda Castle can’t be missed. For a small fee you get to move through the underground tunnels of the castle, used for a plethora of reasons back in the day. Most notably, however, are the cells down here, one of which became famous for housing Vlad Tepes III (also known as Vlad Dracula) for a time. Move throughout parts of the labyrinth in complete darkness if you’re brave enough (or use your cell phone to find your way for those who are too scared of the dark). It’s a place where history meets a frightful thrill, so I couldn’t have loved it more.

The Cell that Once Held Vlad Tepes III

The “two cities” truly do exist as Yin and Yang, and they both add to the allure of Budapest. When you visit, it is as if you’re getting two trips out of one destination. Though most recommend staying in Pest and visiting Buda, perhaps try staying a few days in each location to experience both sides of this enormous city in a different way. Personally, I’d rather stay in the quiet hills of Buda and visit the bustling area of Pest from time to time when I’d like a good adventure out into the chaos of tourism.

Looking Over at Buda from Spoon the Boat on the Pest Side

I’d also highly recommend a visit to Spoon the Boat, a gorgeous boat that sits on the Danube on the Pest side where you can have a delicious dinner. The food was exceptional, and nothing beats watching the sunset on the Daube while getting to see Buda’s lights all fade on as the darkness emerges.

The Pest Side of Budapest

Today, the Budapest that we know and love is a traveler’s city.  It’s enormous in size and offers experiences for anything your heart desires: history, music, art, entertainment. Budapest has it all. Budapest is one of the largest cities in the EU, and now you know just how much of a melting pot it really is. Now that you know the true history, you will be unable to ignore the strong, distinct differences between Buda and Pest. The next time you set foot in Budapest, you will be able to appreciate it for its tale of two cities.

Malorie Mackey

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer based out of Los Angeles, California. Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book. Stay tuned as Malorie travels the world bringing its beauty and wonder to you.

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