The earliest remains of Celtic artefacts was found near Lake Balaton in Hungary, which lends credence to the theory that this is where the Celts originated. The Romans conquered the region in about 9BC and remained rulers for a further 400 years. From then until medieval times Hungary passed amongst many rulers including the Huns until the Arpadian kings formed a small empire in 895AD.

The Magyars (Hungarians) came from a region between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains which explains the uniqueness of their language.

The Ottoman Turks defeated the Hungarian at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 which was decisive in securing a third of the country, known as the Principality of Transylvania. Another third was ruled by the Habsburg Dynasty. A Holy League fought the Turks with 70,000 men from other nations to regain Buda in 1718 but in the intervening period the east of Hungary was settled by Romanians.

The Hungarians resisted the Habsburg rule and fought an eight-year war against them, but it wasn’t until 1848 after an uprising in Buda and Pest that they were dethroned. Czar Nicholas I then stepped in to help regain power. It wasn’t until 1873 that Buda and Pest were united to form the modern city of Budapest. Hungary became a modern industrialised country at the end of the 19th century.

Austria’s union with Hungary was dissolved in 1918 at the end of WW1. A brief flirtation with communism was followed a year later by the appointment of a Regent, Miklos Horthy, who remained in charge until 1947. Hungary sided with the Germans until 1944 when the Soviets invaded and the Battle of Budapest ensued. Hungary suffered great loss of life in WWII.

Parliament building Budapest, at dusk

Parliament building Budapest, at dusk

Hungary was a communist country until 1989 when the border with Austria was re-opened in dramatic style.

In recent years Hungary was very hard hit by the banking crisis from 2008.

Hungary was the world’s thirteenth most visited country in 2002, most of them arriving by car from Austria and Germany. Budapest is the country’s most popular attraction with Buda Castle and the River Danube and the parliament building the main sightseeing attractions. In addition Hungary has 1300 natural springs and Lake Balaton is central Europe’s largest freshwater lake.

View Larger Map