The Hungarian Millennium of 1896

May 2, 2016

May 2, 1896 marked the beginning of a series of nationwide festivities, exhibitions and public works projects, started on the occasion of the one thousand year anniversary of the Magyars’ arrival in the Carpathian Basin.

On April 21, 1896, the Hungarian Parliament approved the bill that requested financial support to build several memorials, statues and museums, mostly in Budapest. The Royal Family members of the Austria–Hungary Dual Monarchy, such as Franz Joseph I and his wife, Elisabeth, attended the anniversary’s opening ceremony.

Millennium Underground/Wikipedia
Millennium Underground/Wikipedia

One of the largest and most successful investments of the era was the construction of the Millennium Underground Railway (M1). Metro 1 is the second oldest underground railway in the world after the Metropolitan Railway in London. M1 has now officially served passengers for one hundred and twenty years.

The other main attractions planned for the celebration were the Millennium Monument and the Millennium Column. The column rises above Heroes’ Square, and at the top stands a statue of Archangel Gabriel. The Millennium Column is surrounded by statues that depict the chieftains of the seven Magyar tribes who entered the Carpathian Basin in 896.

In addition, the City Park (Városliget), the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút), Andrássy Avenue, the Comedy Theatre of Budapest, the Vajdahunyad Castle, the Liberty Bridge and the Belgrade quay were built for the 1896 millennium celebrations of Hungary.

Historians tend to refer to 1896 as a milestone in the history of Budapest, because that is when the city became a modern metropolis. People also say that it was the capital’s last period when significant infrastructure and modernization changes occurred. What is certain, however, is that the era’s numerous construction projects significantly formed the current image of Budapest.

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