Port of Csepel
Review and History

The Port of Csepel , also known as Csepel Freeport, is located four kilometers south-southeast of downtown Budapest on the Danube River in Hungary. The Port of Csepel is located about 450 kilometers northeast of Italy's Port of Trieste and almost 790 kilometers south of the Port of Gdansk in Poland. Not only is the Port of Csepel the country's main commercial seaport, the Port of Csepel is Hungary's biggest bus terminal and the home of its only commercial airport. Located on Csepel Island in the Danube, the Port of Csepel officially became part of Budapest in 1950. The Port of Csepel handles international cargo, including containerized cargo. About 85 thousand people live in the Port of Csepel.

Home to the Port of Csepel, Budapest got its name in 1873 with the merger of the towns of Buda and Obuda on the right bank of the River Danube and Pest on the left bank of the river. The Port of Csepel is the only district in Hungary's capital city that is neither Buda nor Pest. Budapest is one of Europe's most beautiful cities, and it is the location of one the largest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. It is home to the second oldest underground railway in the world and the site of 80 geothermal springs and the biggest thermal water cave system in the world. Budapest is also the home to the world's second biggest synagogue and third largest Parliament building. In 2008, Mastercard's Emerging Markets Index ranked Budapest third among prosperous cities in the world. The 2009 Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked it as the most livable city in Central and Eastern Europe on its quality of life index. More than 20 million people come to visit Budapest each year. In 2004, more than 1.7 million people lived in Budapest.

Port History

People have lived in the area of the Port of Csepel and Budapest for thousands of years. There is archaeological evidence of continuous human habitation on the west side of the River Danube from Neolithic times, or the New Stone Age. The village that eventually became Obuda, called Ak-Ink at the time, was established by Celtic Eravisci people in their pre-historic kingdom of Pannonia. When the Romans arrived in the 1st Century AD, the village was renamed Aquincum and made a Roman military camp and town.

In the early 2nd Century AD, Aquincum was the Roman's provincial administrative capital. In 124 AD, it won the status of a Roman municipium, and it was a full Roman colony by 194. The Roman town was prosperous, containing two amphitheaters.

Roman power collapsed in Pannonia in the early 5th Century, and Huns moved in to occupy the larger buildings. After the Huns, the area of the future Budapest was controlled by the Visigoths and then the Avars. The future Budapest and the Port of Csepel remained an insignificant village for many centuries. Near the end of the 9th Century, tribal chieftain of the Magyar, Kurszan, moved into the earlier Roman governor's palace in what would become Budapest.

Stephen I, first king of Hungary, established a Christian kingdom in the Budapest area in the early 11th Century. The settlement was named after the fortress' first constable, Buda. Located on what is now Castle Hill, the old site of the village became known as Obuda, or Old Buda. On the other side of the River Danube was a Slav settlement called Pest.

The fortunes of the Hungarian royal court dictated the fortunes of the Medieval town of Buda. In 1244, through royal charter, King Bela IV established the municipality of Buda. In 1241, the town of Pest had been destroyed by the Mongols, and Bela IV gave its citizens the right to settle in the fortified castle. Before it was reorganized in 1439, Pest was dominated by Germans, and its administration was based on German law.

The town of Buda grew in power under royal protection, as evidenced by its authority as a higher court over other free royal towns in the area. In the 15th Century, Matthias I rebuilt the palace. After his death in 1490, however, both Hungarian royal power and the town of Buda declined.

In the 1541, the Ottoman Turks overran the Port of Csepel and the island's royal manor house. They held the Port of Csepel area until 1686 when it was conquered by Charles V, Duke of Lorraine after a long and difficult siege led by a Christian army organized by Leopold I, Holy Roman emperor. Little of the old Buda or the Port of Csepel survived into later centuries.

In 1703, Leopold I recognized Buda and Pest as royal free towns. Obuda remained under the authority of Pest, which was an autonomous county held by the local Hungarian nobles. By 1720, the combined population of Buda and Obuda was about 9.6 thousand. Pest, on the other hand, was home to only 2600 people. During the latter part of the Century, refugees fleeing the Turks from Serbia came to Buda, Pest, and the Port of Csepel Island. By 1799, Buda had a population of about 24 thousand, and almost 30 thousand people lived in Pest, dramatically changing local dynamics.

In the early 18th Century, Prince Eugene of Savoy owned the Port of Csepel Island. He rebuilt the Port of Csepel settlement and brought German colonists to settle it. By 1742, it was an independent municipality. His new village was located at the location of the modern Port of Csepel (or Freeport).

During the 18th Century, Pest was a center for German commerce in Hungary and part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire. In the early 18th Century, only German Roman Catholics were allowed to settle in Buda. Buda remained a garrison town tightly controlled by the monarch. Under the rule of Empress Maria Theresa, a new royal palace was constructed in Buda in the 1760s. In 1777, the Lorand Eotvos University in today's Trnava, Slovakia, was moved to Buda. In 1783, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II made Buda the administrative center for Hungary, moving the high court to the city. The university was transferred to Pest.

Floods were a serious problem in the area for centuries. In 1838, a dramatic flood destroyed over half the homes in Pest, and Buda also suffered serious damage. Unfortunately, the village at the Port of Csepel was destroyed. The village was rebuilt on higher ground in what is now called Ofalu (or Old Village).

Under the Habsburgs, Buda was an aristocratic and foreign city. Pest, where the Hungarian gentry and intelligentsia lived, became a center for cause of nationalism. The bridge linking the two towns, the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, was a symbol for the unity of the distinct towns.

In 1848, revolution came to Pest, and a Hungarian ministry was established there. In the civil war that followed, Buda was under siege by the revolutionary army of Lajos Kossuth in 1849. Eventually, the rebels were defeated, and the citizens of Buda were subjected to severe repression that lasted until 1867.

In 1868, the country became Austria-Hungary and was ruled by a Dual Monarchy where the two separate kingdoms were self-governing but were ruled by the same monarch, followed the same foreign policies, and had common trade agreements. Governments were based in both Pest and Vienna.

In 1872, Buda, Pest, and Obuda were combined into a single municipality with ten districts. The new city was called Buda-Pest. After a year, the hyphen had disappeared, and Budapest was the capital of the new Hungary. From that time until the Soviet Union took over after World War II, Budapest was a self-governing entity.

Property-owners played an important role in Budapest's government due to a law that stipulated that half of the 400-member City Council be selected from the 1200 highest taxpayers (called virilists). The remaining Budapest council members were elected from the general population. Among the virilists were the aristocrats, merchants, German burghers, builders, architects, bankers, and industrialists, all of whom went into real estate to assure their tax payments qualified them among the economic elite of Budapest.

After the creation of the unified Budapest, growth became explosive. Much of the classical architecture of Pest was destroyed in the rush to build a new modern city. During the latter 19th Century, Budapest underwent dramatic changes as industrialization gained ground. Industrial workers lived in terrible conditions while the city underwent breathtaking growth.

By 1910, almost 9.5 thousand people lived in the Port of Csepel. Most of the population was Hungarian, but Germans comprised almost 20% of the people. For many years, it was a working-class borough in the larger Budapest urban area.

Explosive industrial and urban growth continued in Budapest into the early 20th Century, and a working class political movement was arising as World War I began. Austria-Hungary collapsed in late 1918, and an anti-war socialist revolutionary government under Count Mihaly Karolyi was established in Budapest. The next year, communists took control of the capital city and Hungary's central regions and held it briefly. In 1919, Romanian forces occupied Budapest and sacked the city. Late that year, the old social order was restored in Budapest when a counter-revolutionary army marched into town.

By 1920, Budapest was the capital of an independent Hungary, and its growth outpaced that of the rest of the country. After World War I, social conditions in Budapest declined, contributing to what became the inevitable World War II. A satellite of Nazi Germany during World War II, Hungary was occupied by German forces in 1944. German troops in Hungary fiercely resisted the advancing Soviet forces, reducing Budapest's Castle Hill to ruins and destroying over 25% of the buildings and industrial plants in the Budapest. The Germans destroyed all the bridges.

After World War II ended, it took years for Budapest to recover from the devastation. But as the center of a planned economic system, Budapest's rapid growth returned in the years after the war. In 1950, seven towns and 16 villages were merged into the city of Budapest.

During the 1956 revolution against the Soviet Union, the Port of Csepel was the site of the rebels' last stand. Started as a student demonstration, the communist government was overthrown by the citizens of Budapest. For 13 days, Budapest was free of Soviet communist control. Unfortunately, the revolt ended badly. The Soviet army stormed Budapest, damaging many buildings and factories. Following bloody revenge, Budapest was molded into a role of a model for market socialism and made a showplace among Eastern European cities. As a showplace, Budapest was able to engage in limited free enterprise, and it attracted investment capital from Western nations.

In the late 1980s, Budapest came into the international spotlight again when Hungary started the Eastern European reform movement that eventually ended the communist grip on power and opened the door for multi-party politics. Even though it had enjoyed some of the benefits of capitalism in the past, Budapest endured many of the same hardships as other eastern bloc countries after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

In the 1990s, Budapest transformed from a close to an open society, and the city saw major changes. Its long-closed stock exchange reopened, becoming an important force in central European markets. Tourism became a major economic sector in this city of fabulous architecture and culture. Most industries and businesses were transferred from state control to private ownership, and foreign investment flowed into Budapest.

By the beginning of the 21st Century, Budapest was one of the most popular and exciting cities in Europe. Today, the Port of Csepel is Hungary's main commercial port. It is a district of middle class garden suburbs and large housing estates as well.

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