The Austro-Hungarian Empire existed from 1867 to October, 1918. Its creation was the result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, under which the Habsburgs, who had been in power since the late 13th century, agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them.
After the end of World War I, the empire was dissolved. Today the former empire has been divided into Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, large parts of Serbia and Romania, and smaller parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland and the Ukraine.
My trip to Hungary began in Vienna. I boarded an early morning train (think 5:30 am) to Budapest. While I had previously traveled by train through much of Europe, the border crossing from Austria to Hungary was surely the most interesting.
When the Hungarian border guards boarded the train and asked for our passports, I was surprised at their demeanor and physical appearance. It reminded me of old movies that were made during the Cold War and the time of the 'Iron Curtain'. Even the female guard was intimidating. We sat in stony silence while they looked us over and stamped our passports.
After the two-hour plus train ride, we arrived at the train station in Budapest. The Keleti Station was absolutely gorgeous inside and was quite a surprise.
Buda Castle, also known as the Royal Palace, was first begun in the 13th century. It was added to over the succeeding centuries and was finally completed in 1904. The castle was badly damaged during World War II and restoration is ongoing. The picture below shows damage up on the hill from bombing during the war.
Today, the castle is home to three museums.
Budapest also has some beautiful churches. Among them are St. Stephen's.