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Forget your preconceptions about this country and you are likely to be surprised by what’s on offer here. The scenery is unexpectedly pretty with some of the finest architecture anywhere – from fascinating Roman ruins to ancient medieval town houses and fabulous baroque churches, spectacular neoclassical public buildings like Budapest’s iconic Parliament Building or the exquisite Art Nouveau design of the sumptuous Gellert Spa.
Historically the country has fought a long battle for independence, enduring centuries of successive occupation by the Celts, Romans, Huns, Slavs, Gepids and Avars. The grand prince Árpád is celebrated by many Hungarians as the founder of their country, and his great-grandson Stephen I was its first king. Crowned in 1000, he converted Hungary to a powerful Christian and military kingdom that carried out fierce raids from Constantinople to Spain. But when Buda
was taken by the Turks in 1541, Hungary was divided into three parts – ruled variously by the Habsburg kings, the Ottoman Empire and the Pashalik of Buda until the end of the 17th century. Only then did large scale uprisings and tentative reforms start the process that would lead to greater independence.
The mass demonstrations of 1848 in Pest and Buda paved the way for Hungarian reformists to push through their list of twelve demands – with freedom of speech at the top. The House of Habsburg was dethroned, and the following year the new Hungarian Parliament proclaimed the first laws of ethnic and minority rights in the world. The dual monarchy of Austria–Hungary followed, and was only dissolved at the end of WWI.
At the end of WWII, after the fall of Nazi Germany, Hungary was occupied by the Soviet Union and became a communist satellite state.
Many thousands of people were purged, imprisoned in concentration camps, deported or executed – despite the brave Hungarian resistance who fought Soviet tanks with Molotov cocktails. Later, through to the late 1980s, relatively liberal Hungary was often referred to as "the happiest barrack" within the Eastern bloc. So it remained until the end of the Cold War, when it was the first country to create a tear in the Iron Curtain by taking down its barbed wire fence along the Austrian border in May 1989 – six months before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
One of Hungary’s lesser known triumphs is its many discoveries and inventions. The world owes the existence of the Rubik’s Cube, biro pen, electric motor, telephone exchange, thermal camera, Vitamin C, cathode ray tube, plasma TV, holography and biotechnology to the country’s imaginative scientists.
A most enjoyable holiday. We were well looked after everywhere we went. Our Tour Manager, John, was outstanding in his attention to detail, enhancing our tour with his knowledge of .. [Read More]
We have just returned from this lovely river cruise. Our guides were Jane and Mandy, who worked so hard to make our holiday one to remember. The staff on board the boat are incredible, hard .. [Read More]
A very interesting and fascinating trip with moderate hotels. However the evening Buffet in Granada was really good. Our Tour Manager, Clive, was excellent and very knowledgeable .. [Read More]
Lovely people at Riviera
Another Birthday and to celebrate, another cruise. This was our third river journey with you and our sixth Riviera holiday. We knew we would not be disappointed, .. [Read More]
Roberta Davis and George Matthews
My friend and I have had the most amazing trip to Krakow. Vic, our tour guide, made everything run so smoothly and was so kind and knowledgeable. The lovely local Polish guide, Joanna, who took .. [Read More]
I’m recently home from my first holiday with Riviera and just want to thank everyone involved. The hotels and transport were excellent, comfortable and efficient. But the star .. [Read More]
We have had another wonderful Riviera holiday, which exceeded expectations. In no small part this was because our tour manager John was outstanding. He has a deep and extensive .. [Read More]
Many thanks to Paula who was a brilliant guide. We loved her friendly relaxed style and the care she took to ensure that everyone had the best experience possible. Organisation was faultless and .. [Read More]
Colin and Mary Millett
We have just returned from our wonderful tour of Sorrento, Capri ,Pompeii ,Vesuvius and the Amalfi coast. We stayed at the Villa Maria which was comfortable, great room service and excellent half .. [Read More]
Tony and Jane Richardson
Inspired by our 1st tour with Riviera a couple of year ago, we felt that we could not go wrong with booking this tour. We were not disappointed, everything was so well organized, hotels .. [Read More]
Mike & Tessa Parker
This was the first time that we have travelled with Riviera. We chose this trip as I had family In East Germany and wanted to know more of the history of this region. We were not disappointed. .. [Read More]
We have just returned from the Bruges tour which we thoroughly enjoyed. Our guide, Pete, was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. He gave us a brief 30 minute walk on the evening of .. [Read More]
Peter and Sue Hawes
Just returned from fantastic South Africa Tour. It was we’ll organised from start to finish, our tour manager Janie and guide Ian were superb nothing was too much trouble. There we 41 of us .. [Read More]
Val & Pete Cornish
An excellent well planned tour. We thoroughly enjoyed it. the hotels were comfortable and food was good - masses of choice and lots of fresh fruit and salads. Above all we really appreciated our .. [Read More]
I wish to express our thanks for a most enjoyable holiday to Lake Como and the organised visits which were truly amazing. Our guide, Sev is to be congratulated for making the tour extremely .. [Read More]
My husband and I have just returned from our tour of Sicily ( Manchester 9th to 16th Oct.).It was our first visit to the island and we were not disappointed. This is a lovely tour, our 6th with .. [Read More]
We have just returned from the 5 day tour of Morocco based in Marrakech and wish to say how much we enjoyed it. We have never been to Morocco before and recommend this as an excellent introduction. .. [Read More]
John and Viv Scott and family
Dear Riviera Travel, I have just returned from your Sicily Tour. It was fabulous. The itinerary was perfect. All the major sites far exceeded my expectations - which were already high before I .. [Read More]