It is not only Romania that fights for putting an end to the confusion caused by the similar name of its capital, Bucharest, and the name of the Hungarian city, Budapest, but Hungary and Hungarians as well. It can create embarrassing situations if you mistakenly confuse Bucharest with Budapest or the other way around because neither Hungarians nor Romanians like pointing out the mistake to foreigners. Theculturetrip.com collected some useful facts that might help tourists in not confusing the Hungarian capital, Budapest, with the Romanian Bucharest anymore.
Do you remember that in 1992, Michel Jackson greeted his audience during his concert in Romania by saying “Hello, Budapest!”? During that time, this incident created a whirlwind, but similar subsequent situations occurred, for example, the one with some Spanish soccer fans. In 2012, 400 Spanish soccer fans wanted to see the 2012 Europa League Final organised in Bucharest, and guess where they did end up? Of course, in Budapest. In order to make it clear that the Hungarian capital, Budapest, is a different city from that of Bucharest, the capital of Romania, 11 amazing facts are collected here which will help you in distinguishing the two cities.
1. Two countries, two distinct languages
The most salient difference between the two cities is that their mother tongue is completely different from one another. Romanian is a Romance language which might be similar to Italian, Spanish or Portuguese given their common origin (though it has a decisively Slavic vocabulary). In contrast, Hungarian belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family like Finnish or Estonian, and it sounds completely different from Romanian (nor Romance, nor Slavic).
2. The Danube vs the Dambovita
Have you heard the expression the Pearl of the Danube? If yes, then you know that this refers to the Hungarian capital, Budapest, which is divided by the mighty Danube (Duna) river into Buda and Pest. Do not confuse it with the Dambovita river of Bucharest which is much smaller and maybe a bit less spectacular than the other river.
3. Little Paris vs the Queen of the Danube
Another important fact to know is that given the unique architecture of the Romanian capital inspired by Paris in the 19th century, it is frequently referred to as “the Little Paris” being the little replica of the city of love. An example of this architecture is the Calea Victoriei, an avenue, which exhibits all the breathtaking representatives of the Neo-classical and Art Deco styles. In contrast, Budapest is called “the Queen of the Danube” where a fantastic view unfolds before your eyes if you take a walk along the banks of the river.
4. National dishes: the sarmale vs the Hungarian goulash
No trip can pass in Bucharest without tasting its traditional food, the sarmale, which is cooked from stuffed cabbage rolls. There is an endless number of restaurants where you can try this dish, so you can easily immerse yourself in culinary pleasures.
However, no Hungarian food can be more famous than the traditional goulash, the specialty of the country.
It is more like a thick stew richly spiced with paprika, and its fantastic flavour is like heaven in your mouth.
5. Two countries, two unique Parliament buildings
There is no doubt that the Romanian House of Parliament is an imposing building rising above the capital. This Parliament is the biggest administrative building in the world, and it is incredible how elaborated it is paying attention to even the smallest details. The uniqueness of the Hungarian Parliament is that it is located on the bank of the Danube, in Kossuth Square, and it is a magnificent example of the Neo-Gothic architecture. Do not forget to go inside if you are there because it gives a home to the Hungarian Crown Jewels that can also be admired.
6. Old districts with vibrant nightlife
If besides some sightseeing, you also want to enjoy the nighlife of the two capitals, then it could be good news that countless opportunities are offered for visitors in both places. In Bucharest, the part of the city which is the most notable for its nightlife is called the Old Town where a number of pubs, cafés and terraces are open until the early hours.
In Budapest, the ruin bar (romkocsma) phenomenon has become increasingly popular among locals and tourists alike, so you should not miss the opportunity to see how thrilling Budapest can become at night in these bars.
7. 125 Thermal springs vs the Therme
Hungary is rightly called the country of thermal waters since the country is rich in thermal water sources. Budapest alone has 125 thermal springs, and we have not mentioned yet the baths located outside the capital. The most well-known bath in Budapest is the Gellért Bath, notable for its Art Nouveau style, but the Széchenyi Bath, the largest one of Europe, is also worth mentioning.
By comparison, Bucharest has a large wellness centre, the Therme, dedicated to the well-being of visitors. The construction is similar to a greenhouse given its amazing glasses and the 80,000 plants that surround those looking for some relaxation.
8. Revolution Square vs Heroes’ Square
The Revolution Square of Bucharest is located along the Calea Victoriei. It has a historical significance since it was here in 1989 that Romanians resisted the oppressive Communist regime. In Budapest, a different historical monument can be admired at Heroes’ Square. The iconic statue complex represents the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders, and it was built in 1896.
9. Sziget Festival vs Summer Well
Are you a fan of summer festivals where you can let your hair down to the greatest hits performed by your favourite bands or singers? Then, you must have heard of the Sziget Festival of Budapest attracting hundreds of thousands of people every year. This event has been organised since 1993 on the Óbuda Island, and this year, it is going to take place between 8 August and 15 August.
The landmark festival of Bucharest is the Summer Well. Unlike the Hungarian one organised on a beautiful island, this event takes place in a magical forest close to the city.
10. The capitals of museums
What the two capitals have in common, besides their closely similar name confusing for foreigners, is the number of interesting museums familiarising visitors with the countries’ culture, history, and social life. In Budapest, must-see places include the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Museum while in Bucharest, the National Museum of Romanian History and the Museum of Collections should not be missed out.
11. Zoo in the city centre vs zoo in the suburb
The final thing helping you to distinguish the two cities is the location of their zoos. Budapest can be rightly proud of its own since it is one of the oldest zoos in Europe.
This is located close to the City Park and Heroes’ Square, so once you are there, do not forget to also take a walk in it.
In contrast to the zoo of Budapest, that of Bucharest is not in the centre but is a short trip away from the bustling city. However, it should not discourage you from getting into the car and driving to this place since an unforgettable experience will compensate you for the short journey.
Featured image: facebook/Kardos Ildikó Photography