Budapest, known as the “pearl of the Danube,” is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe. It literally has two sides – Buda and Pest. Once it was scarred by war, and then by forty five years of Soviet occupation, but now this increasingly fashionable destination is in a process of reinvention.
Every summer up to four million tourists visit, attracted by its stunning thermal baths, its magnificent architectural heritage and fascinating history, as well as the competitive prices and low cost of living. Not to mention the unique activities on offer for tourists…
After the years of communism, Budapest now offers a taste of freedom. Reminders of the past are used to entertain young tourists looking for thrills, like the regeneration of the old Jewish ghetto, which offers fashionable bars alongside the abandoned buildings. Tourists can also fire a kalashnikov, pay for a trip in an armoured tank, or on board a missile launcher. They can also visit Memento Park, full of old communist statues of Lenin, Stalin, Marx and Engels.
But not everyone welcomes the arrival of all the tourists. Fed up with their noise stopping them from sleeping, certain locals are fighting to take back control of their neighbourhood. Faced with these young party animals, extreme right militants have declared war, particularly on gay rights, which is a sensitive subject in Hungary. A recent law forbids the “promotion” of homosexuality to children, and this has increased tensions.
Other locals resent being priced out of the local housing market by airbnb rentals and soaring rents.
The re-election of far-right leader Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party represents a real challenge to the rest of Europe. An uncompromising look at Hungary today.More info