The foundation was laid in the ninth century by the great Magyar chief, Árpád, who after having settled in the Carpathian Basin lead the people from paganism toward Christianity. On Christmas Day, 1000, Árpád’s great-grandson, Stephen ascended to the throne with a crown sent from Rome by Pope Sylvester II. The kingdom and nation of Hungary were born.
The three-hundred-year reign of the House of Árpád saw the country become increasingly westward-looking and the succeeding House of Anjou brought expansion—into Poland, towards Dalmatia—and a great flowering of art and architecture. The first Golden Age had begun. Under King Matthias, lauded for his fairness and justice, Hungary flourished, but his passing eventually led to decimation under the Ottomans for 150 years during the 16th and l7th-century. However, the Habsburgs helped oust the Turkish, heralding a more stable time of reconstruction.
As the Habsburg Empire floundered, a revolt in 1848 resulted in the dual monarchy of “Austria the empire, Hungary the kingdom”. In 1867 there were two capitals and two parliaments. This “age of dualism” sparked an economic, cultural and intellectual rebirth in Hungary. The second golden age had begun.
Hungary is now a free country for a decade and combines a smiling, dynamic image with a reputation for nostalgia. In this post-communist era of rapid change, the visitor will find constant reminders of a largely vanished Europe – old-fashioned customs and courtesies like kissing of hands and the presentation of flowers. Nowadays Modern Hungary is experiencing a new Renaissance. With its colourful people and the 21st-century mix of ethnic influences, this was almost eerily predicted.
The rich culture of Hungary is strong in folk traditions and has its own distinctive style, influenced by the various ethnic groups including the Roma people. Music of all kinds, from classical to folk, is an important part of everyday life, as is the country’s rich literary heritage. Crafts such as ceramics and embroidery, Hungary’s distinct, traditional cuisine, strong fruit brandies, dance and the ever-popular spa treatments all reflect the heritage of this fascinating country. Hungary’s 10 million people are vibrant and friendly and value the family above all else, with generations living in the same household under one roof and grandparents having a strong say in the upbringing of their grandchildren. Hungarians are a nation of horsemen due to their ancient nomadic past, and visitors often receive an invitation to go riding from their new local friends. Hospitality is a major part of the culture here, and personal questions about your life are all part of the getting-to-know-you process.
Hungarian is spoken as the official language of Hungary. It is not only the most spoken language in the country but also Europe’s 13th most widely spoken language. Hungarian serves as the native language of around 13 million native speakers. In Hungary, 99.6% of the population speaks Hungarian. 99% of these Hungarian speakers speak the language as their first language. Hungarian belongs to the Uralic language family and is unrelated to most of the languages spoken in the neighbouring nations. It is one of the most spoken Uralic languages and the only one of this family that is spoken in Central Europe. Hungarian is also spoken by ethnic Hungarians in other parts of the world. Romania, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Israel and a few other countries have significant Hungarian-speaking populations.
Hungary has approximately 2000 – 2200 hours of sun per year which is a pretty high number. In summer (June – September) temperatures rise to 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (77-86 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. Summer is also the wettest period with 50 (1.9 inches) to 90 millimeters (3.5 inches) of rain per month. Because Hungary is surrounded by hills and mountain areas, depressions get much less chance to reach Hungary. This makes Hungary a relatively dry country with only 400 to 500 millimeters (15.8 – 19.7 inches) of precipitation per year. However, the west is slightly wetter than the east.