How did the Hungarian capital get its name, which has only been called Budapest since 1873?
When naming the capital of a country, you can usually expect linguistic, geographical or historical explanations. At the origin of the name of Budapest, however, we would stumble upon at least one sequel.
There is a duel, in it a bishop who was rolled down in a barrel from a mountain, but even in the background, dimly- the Celts, Buddha, and plague emerge. And what does this have to do with the “greatest Hungarian?”. I will show you.
When we look down from the Elizabeth Bridge at the slow, dignified subtense boats of the Danube, when we marvel at the volume of water flowing down from Gellert Hill crashing, do we sometimes think of walking across the border of not one but two former cities?
Today, Budapest is an independent, integral whole, the most important administrative and tourist center of Hungary. But once it was Buda and Pest: not one, but two historical capitals.
The eternal question: Buda or Pest? Which side you should pick and why?
The chaos around the Budas – Where did Buda get its name from?
Let’s start deciphering the name of the Hungarian capital with its first member. Most of us Hungarians have learned that one particular person has to do with it: King Attila’s brother. That’s right, actually, his gentile name is Bleda.
He was the eldest son of the great king of the Huns Bendeguz. After the death of King Ruga, he got on the throne and sat there for twelve years, known as a good-tempered and self- collected ruler. He successfully conquered several territories and taxed Byzantium.
But in spite of the joint family campaigns – if the legends can be believed, his brother Attila, according to all indications, killed him in a duel and taken his throne.
But let’s pause for a moment! The settlement existing in this area in the early Árpád era is not really associated with the Hun Buda leader in the medieval chronicles. At least some foreign sources do not.
During its long stay in Hungary, the humanist Galeotto Marzio, who wrote a great deal, did not trust his contemporaries.
He said the city was named after Buddha. “Not that he was the founder of the city, but because he was so great that his name was given to it.” says Galeotto’s with somewhat obscure reasoning.
The situation is further complicated that we know more than one person named Buda in the written records from the Middle Ages. But there is a theory that our ancestors simply overlooked something: it is not a Buda, but a voda (since the city was built on the water anyway), and its predecessor, Aquincum, also has a water member in it.
To make the etymological chaos even greater, I mention that the Buda giving a name to Ó-Buda was not Hungarian during the Conquest, but a Hungarian person from the medieval ages…
Chaos here or there, most likely Buda got his name from the Hun Bleda.
Where did Pest get its name from?
Pest is said to have been named after the caves of the Gellért Hill on the Buda side. In the Slavic language, pest is a cave or rock cavity – but the old Hungarians called it furnace also.
The hot water cave, the Gellért Hill, which was hiding the hot furnace, from where the pagans overthrew the evangelist bishop Gellért in 1046, was called Pest Hill (or Kelen Hill) in the Árpád Age.
The ferry operating at the feet of the hill ensuring the passage to the other side: it is obvious that they gave the same name to the other shore. Or not?
Neither charming nor cheerful, that is, the Pest dilemma
Before the unification of the two parts of Budapest, there was a long debate about this. Count István Széchenyi, who spoke several languages was not at all reconciled with Pest.
In German “Pest” is a pest, and in French it means “plague”! So he sat down and wrote down a list of common names for the common capital.
There was the Bájkert (Charm garden), Dunagyöngye (Pearl of the Danube), Etelvár (Castle of Etel), and Hunvár (Castle of the Huns), and he liked the talkative Honderű (Home Serenity). But they warned him that when pronounced it sounds exactly like shameful streets in French.
Széchenyi wrote in his 1831 book: “The name of your capital city should be changed to Budapest, which in a few years, or even months, would sound as usual and easy as Bucharest, bringing the two cities together which are not the best now, which looks at each other, not with the best eyes. “
The bigger one is in the front, the smaller one in the back – namely the other way around
The two cities had, of course, been mentioned by the public long before István Széchenyi was enlightened.
The Hungarians called it Pest-Buda, noting that the former part of the city, following the larger area and the more significant population (200 thousand inhabitants), can only modestly enter the less than 54 thousand inhabitants of Buda at that time.
Almost everyone had come to terms with this when map printers stepped forward.
There is trouble! Pressing Pest-Buda on the map would put the letters of Pest on the Buda side, the letters of Buda on the Pest side!
Well, this ugliness can no longer happen to the heart of the country – and when, in 1873, the neighborhoods of the area were officially united, Pest, Buda, Óbuda and Margaret Island together became the capital, Budapest. (And even the previous consonant congestion was successfully eliminated!)
It is interesting to play with the thought, what if the greatest Hungarian (István Széchényi) sought more for brand new names? How much would our social life stand if today’s Hungarian capital was still called Honderű (Home Serenity) by our ancestors?
But why is the Hungarian capital here?
Created on the ruins of the Roman Aquincum, the main Prince’s center at the time of the Conquest was built on what is now Óbuda.
After Prince Kurzan, Prince Árpád, who was buried in the Óbuda mountains, was also seated here. However, the medieval Hungarian Kingdom did not have a single declared center.
Thanks to the early feudal state system, the current courtyard, from royal, migrated back and forth across the country. Where the goods and taxes were consumed, they soon left.
However, in order to define a force field, the Esztergom – Székesfehérvár – Buda triangle was considered the center of the Hungarian Kingdom.
Esztergom became more and more a religious, Székesfehérvár became the center of the secular power and Buda the crowning of the kings, – where the rulers went to spend the lent – its central role developed more slowly, gradually by the XIV Century, it was considered the capital of the country.
Róbert Károly could not stand the small kings of the throne breaking in Buda but rather moved to the much calmer Visegrád Castle with his entire court.
During the reign of King Louis the Great, Diósgyőr became the center besides Visegrád because the king wanted to be closer to the territories of the Polish kingdom.
Mátyás Corvin, having successfully taken Vienna, moved his seat there.
In the confusion after the lost Battle of Mohács, János Szapolyai the Transilvanian vaivode tried to capture power. On the other hand, the Habsburg Ferdinand was chosen as an opposed king at the Bratislava Parliament, who was preferring Bratislava.
The role of today’s Slovak city declined during the reign of II. Joseph when the king moved the government members back to Buda.
One of the achievements of the War of Independence in 1848 is that the Parliament still in Bratislava moves to Buda, this is how Pest-Buda will once again have a strong central role (which was only temporarily shared with Debrecen during the 20th-century world wars).
Budapest, our melting pot
Looking at part of the fields given that it has a thousand years of history. Taking parts of its field, it does not matter that it has a thousand years of history, it is the youngest capital in Europe. (Compared to this, it is closed up and well-populated, being the 10th most populated city in the EU.)
To commemorate the anniversary of the creation of Budapest, we meet on November 17th because that was the day the United Capital Council met in 1873.
The speaking meaning of the name of the formerly independent city is the furnace, which is a great symbol of what Budapest means to us all these days.
For foreigners visiting it, as Europe’s 7th most visited city, it is an attractive place to discover, with most of the shopping malls in the eastern and central regions of the continent. We have the third-largest parliament in the world.
Nowadays Budapest is not only a cultural and linguistic melting pot, but also an exciting, ever-changing, colorful environment, but – as the permanent residents would surely affirm – it is a welcoming, retaining residence and home.
If we stop at the Lions of the Chain Bridge today, wouldn’t it be so difficult to imagine Széchenyi, who was dreaming of the heart of Hungary at that time here instead of Bratislava.