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HUNGARIAN HISTORY PART 6.- The Austro – Hungarian Empire

One of the best ways to understand a country’s culture is through getting to know its history. Are Hungarians the descendants of Attila the Hun, whose portraits are on the Hungarian banknotes, how many and which wars Hungarians fought, what did Hungarians invent and give to the world? Instead of reading numerous books to answer these questions, through this series we aim to introduce you Hungarian history in a nutshell.

In the previous part we wrote about the Habsburgs and the Reform Era in Hungary. In this part we will guide you through the era of the Austro – Hungarian Empire, the decades of great wealth and development.

Soon after the 1848 War of Independence and the first Republic of Hungary, the Habsburgs called for help from Russia. With the support of the Russian troops the Hungarian Army had no choice but to surrender at Világos in 1849. After the surrender, the Austrians took revenge and executed 13 Hungarian generals on 6th October 1849 by hanging them in Arad, a city now found in Transylvania. On the same day Prime Minister Batthyány was executed in Pest.

Approximately 20 years later the Austro – Hungarian Compromise was signed by Franz Joseph, Austrian Emperor, which established a dual monarchy of Austria and Hungary. The two countries unified their defence and foreign diplomatic policies and Budapest and Vienna became the two capital of the Monarchy. A competition started between the two cities that resulted in Budapest becoming a world city.

This was the era, when the Grand Boulevard and the Andrássy Avenue was built, bridges such as the Franz Joseph, now Liberty Bridge, the Elisabeth Bridge and the Margaret Bridge were inaugurated. The first metro line of mainland Europe, Metro 1, which connects the City Park with Vörösmarty Square started running. Budapest also celebrated the Millennium of the Hungarian arrival (896) to Carpathian Basins and was excited to finish with many of its construction works that mostly took place in Pest.

Andrássy Avenue

1061 Budapest, Andrássy út

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Liberty Bridge

1093 Budapest, Szabadság híd

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Margaret Bridge

1055 Budapest, Margit híd 51.

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City Park

1146 Budapest, Kós Károly sétány

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Vörösmarty Square

1051 Budapest, Vörösmarty tér

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Andrássy Avenue

1061 Budapest, Andrássy út

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The neo – renaissance, State Opera House located on the Andrássy Avenue was built by Miklós Ybl, famous Hungarian architect of the era, was built during this time. He also worked on the St. Stephen’s Basilica and the renovation of the Buda Castle including the Castle Bazaar.

Hungarian State Opera

1061 Budapest, Andrássy út 22.

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St. Stephen’s Basilica

1051 Budapest, Szent István tér 1.

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Buda Castle

1014 Budapest, Szent György tér 2.

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Castle Garden Bazaar

1013 Budapest, Ybl Miklós tér 2-6.

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The economy was booming the Empire exceled in heavy industry, especially in automotive, electric power and locomotive industry, while Hungary due to its strong agriculture exported a large proportion of food to the rest of Europe. The electric railway lines between Budapest and Szentendre and Budapest and Gödöllő, where one of the biggest Baroque Castle of Hungary, the favourite place of Franz Joseph’s wife, Queen Elisabeth were constructed.

The Austro – Hungarian Monarchy was a great power but it had a large number of ethnic groups such as Slovak, Serbian and Romanian, who often caused tensions. The happy and peaceful times did not last too long. On a visit to Serbia, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph was assassinated in 1914, which escalated further violence and eventually caused World War I.

We hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to the era of the Austro – Hungarian Monarchy and the great development of Budapest. In the seventh part of the series you can read about the era of the World War I. and its consequences for Hungary.


Our previous articles about the Hungarian history:

HUNGARIAN HISTORY PART 5.- The rule of the Hapsburgs and the Reform Era in Hungary

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY Part 4. - Ottoman Era

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY Part 3. - St. Margaret & King Matthias

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY Part 2. - The first kings of Hungary

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY Part 1. - The origins of the Hungarians

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