Budapest, a jewel among the many cities and towns along the length of the River Danube, is the capitol of Hungary. It has a history that goes back as far as the Old Stone Age, with evidence being found to support this, on both sides of the river. There are also signs of settlement by Scythians and Celto-Illyrian tribes. When the Romans built a fort there it ensured the development of the town. Attila, king of the Huns, invaded the country establishing a new kingdom that is now called Hungary. Sometime in the year 1000, Hungarian king, Stephen the First, introduced Christianity, later being canonized by Pope Gregory VII. He is known as Saint Stephen the Great, patron saint of Hungary. His was a relatively peaceful rule, at least for those were Catholic, and this encouraged merchants from around Europe to settle on both sides of the Danube, causing rapid growth for Buda and Pest.
In 1526, the Turks invaded, converting many churches to mosques and introducing the concept of the Turkish bath-house, one of Budapest’s tourist attractions today. The Habsburps ruled from 1686, when Charles of Lorraine conquered Buda and Pest, subsequently providing a further boost to the economy with the arrival of many German speaking settlers.
By the year 1777, Buda was a university town. However, a few years later, it lost this title to Pest, on the other side of the river, which became the political and intellectual centre of Hungary. The year 1872 is one of the most important dates in the history of the country, as this was when the settlements on both sides of the Danube, Pest, Buda and Obuda (Old Buda), united to become one city. With a population of over 150,000, Budapest was officially recognized as the capitol of Hungary.