View of Budapest, 1980 · sadtuna [174]

Herr K.

A Brief History of Budapest: Hegyvidék, Erzsébetváros & Józsefváros

Budapest was officially formed out of three smaller cities (Buda, Pest and Obuda) in 1872. On the site of an earlier Roman military encampment, Buda was founded by Magyar (Hungarian) tribes in the 9th century. Shortly after Ferdinand Habsburg became King in the 16th century, the Ottomans conquered the area and occupied it for 145 years until it was retaken by the Habsburgs in 1686. The city is divided by the Danube. To the west of the river, in the hills of Buda and Obuda, there are many thermal springs, which have made the city an important destination for theraputic spas. Like Paris and Vienna, Budapest is divided into numbered districts. Laying in the hills to the west of the river, the 12th district is called ‚Hegyvidék’ (literally Mountain-land) and has a suburban character, with winding roads, many undeveloped original forests and scenic trails. Historically, it was a rural area populated by small settlements and vinyards, which fell under the jurisdiction of Budapest. The district has long been a favorite place for locals to get away from the city. With its large houses and abundance of nature, the district could be called family-friendly. Hegyvidék is also home to a music school, an art school and a cultural center. The small but densely populated 7th district, ‚Erzsébetváros’ (Elizabeth quarter), is centrally located in former Pest. Popular with students, rent in the Elizabeth quarter is generally lower and there are many discount shops. It is the traditional Jewish neighborhood of Budapest and home to the city’s synagogue, as well as the Keleti station, diplomatic mansions and night clubs. Inside the central ring, it is considered a lucrative investment location, and the diplomatic quarters lend it a multicultural flair. But the area around Keleti, bordering on the 8th district, has been called ‚dodgy’. The 8th district lays to the south of the 7th and is the cheapest of Budapest’s downtown districts. Although it has many beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings, universities, museums, acadamies and libraries, the Józsefváros (or Joseph Quarter) has had a reputation as a center of prostitution and crime in recent years. The government has spent a lot of money cleaning up and installing surveillance cameras, which has caused a reduction in crime. One highly criticized clean-up effort, the Corvin-Szigony Project happens to be the largest central Eurpean urban renewal initiative. It has meant razing many 19th century buildings in the traditional but neglected crafts neighborhood to make room for new residential and office buildings.
[170] Lukacs Baths, Budapest