Hungary’s grand ‘Buda Castle’ is a silent witness of country’s action-packed history that was consisted of several ups & downs. The massive castle is perched atop Varhegy Hill on the western side of the Danube River dominating the city skyline. The castle houses a number of cultural institutions, public buildings, Gothic churches & the 18th century Baroque houses.
‘Buda Castle’ was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. The ‘Royal Palace’ is situated on the southern end of the ‘Castle Hill’, whereas, the northern tip is occupied by the ‘Castle District’, which contains the majority of medieval period buildings. The ‘Castle Hill Funicular’ connects the ‘Szechenyi Chain Bridge’ & ‘Clark Adam Square’ of the castle complex.
How To Get There:
Private vehicles are not allowed uphill which left you with the options like, either walking or using the public transport.
By Public Transport: Bus No. 16 & 16A are available from Buda’s main transport hub called ‘Szell Kalman ter’ to reach conveniently to the ‘Castle District’.
By Walking: A pleasant walk from Pest by ‘Chain Bridge’ is an excellent option to reach the ‘Castle District’ during the peak hours as you may end up reaching uphill much earlier than public transport.
By Funicular: Although the ride through the cable car or the funicular offers a mesmerizing view of ‘Pest’ as the car goes up, this option is much expensive (HUF 900/1500 one way/return). The funicular, which is popularly known as Budavari Siklo, connects Chain Bridge’s Buda end with the Fisherman’s Bastion.
A Peep in History:
King Bela IV of ‘Hungary’ built the first royal residence on the ‘Castle Hill’ between 1247 & 1265, after the Mongolian invasion. The oldest part of the surviving palace was constructed in the 14th century, when the castle was significantly extended by Stephan, Duke of Slavonia. The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund carried out the further expansion of the castle, which made it the largest Gothic castle of the ‘Middle Ages’. The castle became an epitome of the emperor’s wealth & an emblematic demonstration of the majesty of the ‘International Gothic style’.
The castle reached to the apex of its glory after the marriage of King Matthias Corvinus & Beatrix of Naples in 1476. The palace was ornamented by many Italian artists & craftsmen, who followed the new queen, introducing the elements of Renaissance style architecture in the Buda structure.
The palace was, however, completely destroyed in the 16th century during the Turkish invasion & the successive counterattacks led by the allied Christian forces to regain the control over the ‘Castle Hill’. In the 18th century, a small Baroque palace, identical to the present-day palace, was built. The peace returned to this massive castle complex during the Austro-Hungarian reign & the palace went through the major refurbishment in the 19th century.
During the notorious ‘World War II’, the ‘Buda Castle’ suffered heavy damages & its majority of the parts got flattened. An extensive restoration work was carried out to restore the old glory of this magnificent castle complex.
Top Attractions Of Buda Castle:
The ‘Royal Palace’ is the most imposing structure of the ‘Buda Castle’. The palace, unlike its counterparts, features a stark appearance, although, its colossal façade facing the Danube is quite impressive. The castle complex is divided into a number of wings flanking the ‘Lion Courtyard’. The ‘National Library’ & couple of museums- the ‘National Gallery’ & the ‘Budapest History Museum’, boast the cultural wealth of Hungary. The castle complex houses myriad monuments, fountains & other medieval buildings & offers a splendid view of ‘Pest’ across the river Danube.
- Statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy: The colossal statue of ‘Prince Eugene of Savoy’ was crafted by Jozsef Rona in 1900 in order to commemorate the man who played a heroic role in defeating the Ottoman legions & freeing the nation from the Turkish grasp. The podium of the monument features the statues of Turkish prisoners & the bas-reliefs depict scenes from the 1697’s decisive ‘Battle of Zenta’.
- Habsburg Steps: The area around the famous ‘Habsburg Steps’ is often flocked by the hordes of the tourists since it features few amazing bronze monuments, including a massive statue of the mythical bird called Turul perched on a pedestal & a beautiful fountain featuring the sculpture of children clasping a giant fish. The fountain was created by Karloy Senyey in 1912.
- Matthias Fountain: The fabulous ‘Matthias Fountain’ is the most popular fountain in the entire ‘Budapest’. The fountain was designed by Alajos Strobl in 1904 & demonstrates a scene from the tales of ‘King Matthias’ & a beautiful farmer girl ‘Ilonka’.
- Statue of a Horse Wrangler: The statue of the ‘Horse Wrangler’ (Loszelidito) is located on the same terrace where the Matthias Fountain stands. The monument features four flower beds with the statue studded right in between the beds.
- Lion’s Gate: The Lion’s Gate is located at a small distance from the ‘Matthias Fountain’ & it opens into the central courtyard known as the ‘Lion’s Courtyard’ (Oroszlanos Udvarba). Colossal statues of four lions that guard the entrance were crafted by the Hungarian sculptor Janos Fadrusz. The gate boasts phenomenal aesthetic values & is adorned with the allegorical busts of the ‘Winged Victory’, niches & the ‘Hungarian Crest Crown’ that caps the gate.
- National Szechenyi Library: The library is located in the F wing of the ‘Royal Palace’, opposite to the ‘National Library’. The library was founded by count Ferenc Szechenyi in 1802 & it contained the Szechenyi’s collection of more than 15,000 books & manuscripts at the time of its opening. Today, the library stores a copy of every book published in Hungary.
- National Gallery: The ‘National Gallery’ is spread across the palace wings B, C & D. It houses an extensive collection of the Hungarian paintings, including the remarkable paintings from the 19th century.
- Budapest History Museum: The F wing of the palace houses the ‘Budapest History Museum’ (Budapesti Torteneti Muzeum) which stores the survived relics from the medieval palace, including a Gothic chapel & the Knights’ Hall.
The ‘Buda Castle’ also houses a bevy of the medieval buildings such as the Mace Tower, the Matthias Church, Ferdinand Gate & the Fisherman’s Bastion, which consists of a tall white tower that offers an extraordinary view of the surrounding city.
Festivals in Buda Castle:
Being a cultural center of the city as well as the country, ‘Buda Castle’ hosts a myriad festivals & ceremonies all round the year. Some of the most popular & vibrant festivals include, ‘Budapest Wine Festival’, ‘Hungarian Palinka & Sausage Festival’, ‘Renaissance & Medieval Festival’, ‘Buda Castle Beer Festival’, ‘Buda Castle Chocolate Festival’ & ‘Buda Castle Easter Festival’.