Once upon a time there were two cities: Buda and Pest. Buda had an older “brother” named Óbuda, but it was obscured by his little brother’s fame and it was soon forgotten. Back in the day, Óbuda was known as Aquincum and was famous for its SPAs and public baths, something that was very pleasing to Romans. However, when the Romans left, only its ruins remained.
Both towns grew by the river on opposite banks. Buda was established on the west and Pest on the east. At that time, there were no fixed bridges, so each one had its own evolution, without much interaction with the other. Due to its hills, which provided a good strategic defensive situation, Buda became a capital city, with a beautiful castle overseeing the river, many palaces and nice streets. It was the best place for the nobility to reside and it is nowadays considered World Heritage by UNESCO. Pest was developed on a plain, exposed to all perils, and became the place where most of the population, especially the economically poor, built their home.
Years passed by, but not without unrest. First came the Mongols, from Asia, then came the Turks, from the southeast, and then the Habsburgs, from the north. Both cities were completely destroyed and rebuilt many times. Despite that, or because of it, they acquired a unique identity and now there is always something new to be discovered around the corner.
In 1849, the Chain Bridge was constructed, the first ever fixed bridge linking Buda and Pest. This changed everything. Soon the discussion of merging the two cities into one single metropolitan city began and the question was: which name would it have? Although there were other proposals, the strongest one was to call it Pest-Buda. However, the cartographers came and said: “that doesn’t make sense because we read from right to left and on the right we have Buda and on the left we have Pest”. All right then, Buda-Pest it is. And, because language is always evolving, the hyphen got lost on the way.
Yet, Budapest, the new metropolitan city and capital of the country, was lacking an adequate Parliament Building. Therefore, a competition was opened and the winning project can now be seen in all its splendour facing the Buda Castle, on the other side of the river.