Budapest is one of those amazing cities in Europe that seems to leave a mark on everyone who visits it. It’s hard not to be touched by its great beauty, rich culture and tumultuous history. There are a lot of interesting facts about Budapest that not every visitor to the city knows. Here are some of them:
Table of Contents
- FUN FACTS ABOUT BUDAPEST
-  Budapest was the result of the merger of three cities
-  No building in Budapest is taller than 96 meters
-  Budapest has the largest synagogue in Europe
-  Budapest is home to the oldest metro line of continental Europe
-  Budapest offers free public transportation for senior citizens for all EU citizens
-  Budapest has a secret subterranean world
-  There is a statue in Budapest that can make you a great writer
-  Budapest has more thermal water springs than any other capital city in the world
-  There is a cave church in Budapest
FUN FACTS ABOUT BUDAPEST
 Budapest was the result of the merger of three cities
Budapest became a city on November 17, 1873 when the three neighboring cities of Pest, Buda and Óbuda united. The unification was an extremely important historic event that lead to a rapid development of the city.
However, finding a name for the new new capital stirred a lot of controversy. Some of the names suggested included Hunvár, Etelvár, or Honderű. In the end Budapest won, becoming thus the official name of the Hungarian capital.
 No building in Budapest is taller than 96 meters
Budapest’s blend of old and modern makes the city an architectural delight. A look at Budapest’s downtown reveals that all buildings stand at about the same height. All except for two: Szent Istvan Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament, which both measure exactly 96 meters.
One of the most interesting facts about Budapest is that no building in the city can be taller than 96 meters. The number 96 represents the year when the Magyars settled in the area (896). The fact that Szent Istvan Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament are the same height is not coincidental, but rather symbolic for the equal importance of religion and government in Hungary.
 Budapest has the largest synagogue in Europe
If you ever visited a synagogue you probably noticed they are generally quite simple and austere places of worship. But not the Great Synagogue in Budapest. This Jewish temple that stands tall and majestic on Dohány Street features one of the largest and most impressive cathedral naves that I have ever seen. It is one the most beautiful synagogues in all of Europe.
Erected between 1854 and 1859, the Great Jewish Synagogue seats 3000 people. It is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest one in the world (after Belz Great Synagogue, in Jerusalem).
 Budapest is home to the oldest metro line of continental Europe
Perhaps the least known fact about Budapest is that it’s home to the only metro system in the world that is a UNESCO Site. The Budapest Millennium Underground line opened in 1896, making it the second oldest metro line in Europe, after the London Underground.
Why was it named the Millennium? Because in 1896 Hungary celebrated its 1000th anniversary, hence the name Millennium Underground. The line is still operational today (M1) connecting the Heroes’ Square and Vörösmarty Square.
 Budapest offers free public transportation for senior citizens for all EU citizens
Hungarian senior citizens as well as citizens of the European Union over the age of 65 can travel free of charge on Budapest public transport. When required by inspectors they have to present a personal identification card or document certifying their age and citizenship. The service includes buses, trolleybuses, trams, Metro and above-ground suburban trains. The funicular, chair-lifts and boat trips are not free.
 Budapest has a secret subterranean world
Beneath the city of Budapest lies a hidden subterranean world, a maze of over 200 caverns. The caverns are the result of the large number of geothermal springs in the area. Many of these caves are open to the public for guided spelunking adventures.
The most interesting one of the is the underground labyrinth located right beneath the Castle Hill, in Budapest Old Town. The 6-mile long Budavari Labirintus has a very tumultuous history.
The underground labyrinth served as a shelter for prehistoric people, a cellar and a prison in medieval times, a military hospital during World War II, and a command post during the Cold War.
In more recent times, the Labirintus became a museum that displays Budapest’s rich history.
In 2011 the police raided the Labyrinth and subsequently closed it (for undisclosed reasons.) After it reopened, only a part of it was accessible for visitation. We were lucky enough to visit the entire Budavari Labirintus in 2004 (we too the photos above were taken during that visit).
 There is a statue in Budapest that can make you a great writer
The unique piece of art in Budapest’s City Park depicting a 13th century chronicler seems to have some miraculous powers. The legend has it that touching the pen of the Anonymus will bless you with great writing abilities. You may not believe in its magical powers, but the shiny surface of the pen suggests that many people still do.
 Budapest has more thermal water springs than any other capital city in the world
Hungary has an incredible abundance of underground hot water sources. There is no surprise that people consider Budapest the thermal bath capital of the world. There are dozens of spas and baths in the Hungarian capital, some of which are in magnificent buildings, like Szechenyi, Gellert, or Kiraly Baths.
The chemical composition of the waters differs from bath to bath and is absolutely unique in the world.
Planning a trip to Budapest? Read this next:
How to Spend 3 Days in Budapest – Itinerary Suggestions
 Budapest has a train run by children
Did you know that Budapest has a train that is run almost entirely by children? Not many visitors to Budapest know about this interesting fact. The Children’s Railway was started after World War II as a training ground for communist kids after a model introduced in the former Soviet Union in the 1940’s.
Children between the ages of 10 and 14 can complete a four-month training course to become train conductors, workers and inspectors, on this 11 km railway. Except for the station master and the train drivers who are adults, all the other jobs are performed by children.
It’s impressive to see how seriously these children take their role. The ride is about 45 minutes long and takes you to the top of the Buda Hills. There are some beautiful spots where you can stop to admire the scenery. Buying a day ticket gives you the option to hop off and hop back on at one of nine alpine-looking stations.
 There is a cave church in Budapest
Few of the visitors of Budapest know of the little church in the rock under the Gellert Hill, in Budapest Old Town. Truth is that Sziklatemplom (‘Rock Church’) enjoys very little fame, being surrounded by so many grandiose churches. If you happen to be at the Liberty Bridge (the green metal one), you can take a look at this strange chapel founded by a group of Pauline monks in 1926.
The Cave Church (which is still in use) is not spectacular, but it has its own charm. Definitely off the beaten path, but worth a 30 minutes detour.
How many of these interesting facts about Budapest did you know? I’d love to hear from you, so drop me a line in the comments and pin this post for later.