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Budapest has been at the center of Hungary's history for more than 700 years. At the beginning of the 13th century, Bela IV. was the first ruler to have a palace built on Buda's castle hill. This hill is the oldest part of the city and just as fascinating as the edifices built during the building boom of the 19th and 20th century.
In 1867, at the beginning of the imperial and royal Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, Budapest had barely 300,000 inhabitants, the majority of which resided on the Pest side. It was only in 1873 that the districts of Buda and Pest were united to become the city of Budapest. Until the beginning of the 20th century, its number of residents tripled and the amount of houses doubled within three decades. The elements adding to the city's splendor were, for the most part, built during these innovative founding years. They were constructed and designed freely, which makes Budapest a great example of eclecticism, the free form art revolution that helped itself to the rich ideas of history.
Foreign rule is part of the historical experiences of Hungary. The occupiers of 896 converted under the grand duke Géza and his son István (Stephan) to Christianity. Despite the defence against the invasion from the East, Hungary fell under Turkish rule for 160 years, from 1526-1686. The euphoria of the civil revolution of 1848 only lasted for a short while since the uprising of the Hungarians against the rule of the Habsburgs was defeated.
At the end of WWI., the Dual Monarchy was falling apart and the economy tanked. Hungary lost 71 per cent of its territory, through the peace accord of Trianon in 1920. The country also fought on the "wrong side" during WWII. and fell under Sowjet power in 1945. The 1956 riots against the foreign rule failed. It was only in 1989 that the Hungarians reached sovereignty. With its entry into the European Union, Hungary pronounced its return to Europe.