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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Hungary History and Culture


Hungary lies in the Carpathian Basin, surrounded by the Carpathian mountain chain, the Alps and the southern Slav Mountains. In the early as the mid-8th century, the nomadic tribe known as Magyars had settled here first. Known for their equestrian skills, the Magyars raided far and wide, until the Germans stopped them in 955.
The defeat left the Magyar tribes in disarray, and later forced them into an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire. In the year 1000, the Magyar prince Stephen was crowned 'Christian King' Stephen I. After his death in 1038, Hungary, was a nascent Christian culture, increasingly westward-looking and multi-ethnic.
The next two and a half centuries - during the reign of the House of Árpád - tested the New Kingdom to the limit. The period was marked by constant struggles between rival claimants to the throne, and land grabs by powerful neighbors. Hungary's descent into anarchy was arrested only after Andrew III, the Árpád's last in line, died in 1301.
After the death of Andrew III, Hungary flourished. A succession of able rulers, beginning with Charles Robert and culminating in the golden reign of Matthias Corvinus, made the country one of Europe's leading powers.
However, the death of Matthias in 1490 resulted in another setback. His successor Vladislav was unable to maintain royal authority, funds were squandered, and retrograde laws reduced the peasantry to serfdom. In 1526, the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Mohács crushed Hungary's motley army.
The defeat marked the end of a relatively prosperous and independent Hungary, and sent the nation into a tailspin of partition, foreign domination and despair. Turkish occupation did little to improve the country, and resistance to their rule forced the Turks out in 1699.
The expulsion hardly created a free and independent Hungary. Instead, the country became a province of the Austrian Habsburg Empire. Thus began a period of enlightened absolutism. Hungary blossomed economically and culturally under the Habsburgs, but so did thoughts of nationalism. In 1849, under the rebel leadership of Lajos Kossuth, Hungary declared full independence and the dethronement of the Habsburgs.
The Habsburgs replied by quickly crushing the revolution and instigating a series of brutal reprisals. Hungary was again merged into the empire as a conquered province, and absolutism was reinstated. However, passive resistance among Hungarians and a couple of disastrous military defeats for the Habsburgs prompted negotiations between the two sides.
The outcome was the Compromise of 1867, which created the Dual Monarchy of Austria the empire and Hungary the kingdom. This 'Age of Dualism' set off an economic, cultural and intellectual rebirth in Hungary, but there were worrying signs that all was not well in the kingdom.
After accelerating the collapse of Communism by dismantling the fence along its border with Austria, the nation became the Republic of Hungary in 1989.
Hungary has since held free elections - the first in more than four decades. Despite initial success in curbing inflation and lowering interest rates, a host of economic problems has slowed the pace of development.

Hungarian art and architecture is laced with Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau influences. The country has one of the finest folk traditions in Europe, producing excellent examples of embroidery, pottery, ceiling and wall painting, and objects carved from wood or bone.
Literature has been shaped by the monumental events of the nation's history, which have given rise to swashbuckling odes, stirring poems of independence, gritty tales of realism, and strident polemic.
Its musical contributions are just as rich, and range from the rhapsodies of Franz Liszt and the operas of Ferenc Erkel to Gypsy and folk music. Soccer is far and away the favourite spectator sport, while chess is also popular.


Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM

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