Budapest has a spectacular setting, where the Danube narrows to flow beneath the steep escarpment of the Buda Hills. Until 1840, when the first permanent bridge was constructed, the city was made up of two distinct towns: “Buda,” built atop a fortified ridge, and “Pest,” laid out on the flood plain opposite. Nowadays, the banks are intimately linked, and the metropolis is both divided and united by the great river that flows through its heart. Buda is home to the Royal Palace and the Castle District, plus a variety of well-preserved Renaissance and Gothic dwellings, many converted into distinctive restaurants and boutiques. Pest, on the other hand, impresses visitors with its neo-Gothic Hungarian Parliament Building, ornate Opera House, palace-like National Museum and colossal St. Stephen’s Basilica.