After centuries of looking at each other over, physically separated only by the relatively narrow gap of the Danube it seemed natural that Buda and Pest would eventually become one. These two cities, though separate were entwined by a common fate, what affected Buda was bound to affect Pest, the peoples of both cities were bound to come into contact and trade with each other. And yet the merger did take a long time, coming as it did in 1873, close to 800 years after the establishment of settlements in the area.
Slightly more than 20 years before that, in 1849, was the first bridge linking Buda and Pest built. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is named after Istvan Széchenyi a statesman renowned for his efforts at reform to bridge Hungary into the new industrial age.
Among Széchenyi reforms was his financial support behind the establishment of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a series of letters to Hungarian nobility chastising them for their conservatism and encouraging them to give up feudal privileges and become drivers of modernisation, regulation of the flow of the waters in the lower Danube to help steamships navigate the waters. Széchenyi was a key force behind the push to construct the first permanent bridge between Buda and Pest reasonin that a permanent bridge would allow Buda and Pest to become a major economic, political and cultural centre in all of Hungary.
But what a difference a river makes. Despite being separated by a relatively narrow breadth of river, Buda and Pest are separated by two vastly different personalities – prime, grand and proper Buda compared to cool hip and modern Pest; Buda wakes up when the sun rises and Pest rises when the sun sleeps.
Buda is the part of the city that houses grand architecture and majesty, with buildings that remind one of the grandeur of the Hungarian Kingdom but cross the Chain Bridge and we get to Pest, where modern life is not lived but experienced.
Pest is where the ruin bars are found,
where night life is at its hottest and hippest,
where the most avant garde of Budapest cuisine is located.
Let’s cross the Chain Bridge, like Will Smith did and explore the Pest side.
ON THE MAP