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Merry Christmas to Everybody. With Best Wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

Budapest's recorded history begins with the Roman town of Aquincum, founded around 89 AD on the site of an earlier Celtic settlement near what was to become Óbuda, and from 106 until the end of the 4th century the capital of the province of lower Pannonia.
The area was occupied around the year 900 by the Magyars of Central Asia, the cultural and linguistic ancestors of today's ethnic Hungarians, who a century later officially founded the Kingdom of Hungary. Already a place of some significance, Pest recovered rapidly from its destruction by Mongol invaders in 1241, but it was Buda, the seat of a royal castle since 1247, which in 1361 became the capital of Hungary.
The Ottoman Empire's conquest of most of Hungary in the 16th century interrupted the cities' growth: Buda and Pest fell to the invaders in 1541. While Buda remained the seat of a Turkish pasha, and administrative center of a whole vilayet, Pest was largely derelict by the time of their recapture in 1686 by Austria's Habsburg rulers, who since 1526 had been Kings of Hungary despite their loss of most of the country.
It was Pest, a bustling commercial town, which enjoyed the faster growth rate in the 18th and 19th century and contributed the overwhelming majority of the cities' combined growth in the 19th. By 1800 its population was larger than that of Buda and Óbuda combined. The population of Pest grew twentyfold in the following century to 600,000, while that of Buda and Óbuda quintupled. The fusion of the three cities under a single administration, first enacted by the Hungarian revolutionary government in 1849 but revoked on the subsequent restoration of Habsburg authority, was finally effected by the autonomous Hungarian royal government established under the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich ("Compromise") of 1867; see Austria-Hungary.
Towards the end of World War II in 1944 Budapest was partly destroyed by British and American air raids. The following siege lasted from December 24 1944 to February 13 1945, and major damages were caused by the attacking Soviet and defending German and Hungarian troops. All bridges were disrupted by the Germans. More than 38,000 civilians lost their lives during the fighting.
Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge) is the second newest bridge and one of the most elegant ones of Budapest, Hungary, connecting Buda and Pest across the River Danube. It is situated at the narrowest part of the Danube, the bridge spanning only 290 m. It is named after Queen Elisabeth, a popular queen and empress of Austria-Hungary, who was tragically assassinated. Today, her large bronze statue sits by the bridge's Buda side connection in the middle of a small garden. The original Erzsébet híd was blown up at the end of World War II by retreating Wehrmacht sappers. The currently standing slender white cable bridge was built in the very same location between 1961–1964, because the government could not afford to construct entirely new foundations for the bridge.

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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