The Pearl of the Danube, the City of Spas and the Paris of the East: Budapest has many nicknames, and all stem from the sheer visual beauty and individuality of this gem of a city. Indeed, first time visitors are often shocked and surprised just how stunning it is, and many fall in love with the place immediately. When they then realize that they can also afford to own property in such a location, that love at first sight often turns into the start of a long-term relationship with this alluring and fascinating city.
Straddling the River Danube, today's Budapest is the result of the amalgamation in 1873 of the three towns of Buda, the west bank of the Danube, Pest to the East, and Obuda to the North West.
Although a settlement has been present here for millennia, with the Roman influence most visible in Obuda, where the ruins of an amphitheatre still stand, it was first the Turkish occupation in the 16th century and then latterly the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that gave this city it's distinctive and opulent east meets west style.
The Ottoman Empire brought bathhouses and mosques, and though much of the original Turkish architecture has been lost, the thermal baths remain and are a unique feature of the city. As wellness and spa healing grows in popularity Budapest is now world renowned as the City of Spas.
An unparalleled economic boom in the mid to late 19th Century saw much of modern inner city Budapest constructed. Under the direction of the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph I, who wished for the city to rival Vienna in stature, a building boom started and gave the city such treasures as the Houses of Parliament, St. Stephen's Basilica, the Opera house on the tree-lined Andrassy Boulevard and underneath it the first metro system in mainland Europe.
And whilst much of the city suffered during WWII, inner city Pest was remarkably untouched in the main, with many of the turn of the century architectural riches remaining intact. Damage was heavier in inner Buda, but rebuilding after the war saw the Castle District returned to its former glory, and the area is today a Unesco protected World Heritage site.
What is truly amazing about Budapest is that a city that quite rightly stands direct comparison with Paris and Vienna is also an affordable place to purchase property. Visitors are consistently and pleasantly surprised that spacious inner city apartments that they could only dream of affording in other Western European capitals are in fact well within their price range.
If you have ever dreamt of living in or owning property in such a beautiful capital city, then Budapest represents the best opportunity available in Europe, and, as Budapest property prices are set to rise dramatically as Hungary converges to EU standards, also represents a low risk and undeniably profitable investment opportunity.