One of the world's most beautifully situated cities is divided by the river Danube into the rolling hills of Buda on the right bank and the flat plain of Pest on the left bank. In fact the Danube panorama of this metropolis of two million is of such merit that UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site.
Inhabited over 50,000 years ago, it took on its current name just 132 years ago: until 1873 its three main constituent parts (Óbuda, Buda and Pest) were separate towns.
A huge, interconnected cave system runs under the hills, and vast quantities (an astounding 70 million litres) of thermal medicinal water gush from 80 wells to feed 12 medicinal baths in the city every day.
Historical monuments within the city boundaries include 2000-year-old Roman amphitheatres, 400-year-old Turkish baths and many late 19th century Art Nouveau buildings employing characteristic Hungarian motifs.
The unified cityscape - which many consider similar to Paris and Vienna - was given by the numerous elegant apartment blocks raised in Eclectic style in the early years of the 20th century.
Europe's largest parliament, 268 metres long, with 691 rooms, gilded chambers and built in neo-Gothic style, dominates the Pest side of the Danube embankment.
Curiosities are also to be found in the city transport system: the continent's first underground railway has linked the inner city with City Park for the past 109 years, and it is still possible to travel into the Buda Hills by the world's third oldest hill railway as well as forest railway run by young enthusiasts.
Those with a taste for culture are spoilt for choice: 237 historical monuments, 223 museums and galleries, 35 theatres, 90 cinemas, two opera houses, 12 concert halls and nearly 200 places of entertainment. Travel agencies organize city sightseeing tours by bus, boat and on foot 365 days of the year.