Budapest Castle Hill Walk

JUL 24,2011 - JUL 24,2011 (1 DAYS)

Citywalk

Circular tour in Buda Castle Hill:

Tip 1: Buda Castle Itinerary.

Tip 2: Matthias Church (Mátyás templom).

Tip 3: The Fishermen’s Bastion.

Tip 4: Ruszwurm Coffee House.

Tip 5: Royal Palace (Királyi Palota) including the museums, statues and fountains around.

Attractions: Upper station of the Funicular (Budavari Siklo), Szent György tér, Sándor Palace (Sándor Palota), National Dance Theatre (Várszinház). Dísz tér, Tárnok utca, Matthias Church (Mátyás templom), Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya), Szentháromság tér (Holy Trinity Square), Ruszwurm Café, Statue of Hussar general András Hadik, Hilton Hotel, Hess András tér, Táncsics Mihály utca, Vienna Gate (Bécsi Kapu), Mary Magdalene Tower, Országház utca, Dárda utca, Úri utca, Museum of Military History (Hadtörténeti múzeum), Tóth Árpád sétány, Royal Palace (Királyi Palota), Matthias's Well or Fountain, Statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy, The National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria), The Budapest History Museum, National Széchényi Library, the Habsburg Gate, Fountain of the Fishing Children, Sculpture of a Turul bird, Upper station of the Funicular (Budavari Siklo).

Distance: 5-6 km.

Duration: 1 busy day.

Best time: A sunny day.Worst Time: Monday, when museums are closed.

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Getting to Castle HillAs private cars are not allowed to enter the zone, your only options remain public transport, walking or taxi.

  • Take the Funicular (Budavári Sikló) from Buda-side Chain Bridge or Adam Clark square (HUF 900/1500 one way/return, children HUF 550/1000). It climbs to the Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya). The track is almost 100 m long. Operating hours: 7.30-22.00 every day. the cable car runs constantly during peak time, and at max 10-minute intervals during less busy periods. Quite pricey.
  • Take the public bus, called Várbusz (Castle bus: no. 16 and 16A) from Széll Kálmán tér (formerly Moszkva tér).

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  • Walk through the many paths leading up to the Funicular stop on the Castle Hill. Walking from Pest is likely to be faster than public transport or taxi on peak hours. The walk itinerary from Deák Ferenc tér (Pest) Metro station (1.3 km. 25 minutes including some climbs):  From Deák Ferenc tér Head north on Deák Ferenc tér toward Erzsébet tér, 15 m. Turn left onto Erzsébet tér, 7 m. Turn right toward József Attila utca, 160 m. Turn right toward József Attila utca, 50 m. Turn left onto József Attila utca, 250 m. Continue onto Eötvös tér, 65 m. Turn right to stay on Eötvös tér, 110 m. Slight left onto Széchenyi Lánchíd (Chain bridge), 500 m. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Clark Ádám tér, 120 m.
    Turn left onto Sikló utca, 120 m. Turn right, 80 m. Turn left,
    160 m. Turn right, 160 m. You've arrived to the Szent György tér near (west to) the the upper station of the Funicular (Budavari Siklo).
  • Another route of walk from Clark Ádám tér: Turn right to Hunyadi János útca. Climb this road northward - until you see a path (Hunyadi László lépcső - in the intersection with Apor Péter utca, on your right) and turn left, climbing along this alley to the Castle Hill. I recommend you to take the Royal Steps (Király Lepcsõ) at Ádám Clark square, beside the funicular. You will have the Bastion with all its splendor above you .The views from Pest getting better with every step you go up are just amazing.

Buda Castle from Hunyadi János útca and Hunyadi László lépcső:

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Getting around: Buda Castle is small enough to discover it on foot. However, if you get tired, you can jump on bus 16 (formerly known as Várbusz) which has several stops inside the Castle District. Horse carriages are also waiting for taking you on a tour.

Buda Castle History: First inhabitants moved up here in the 13th century after the devastating Mongol attacks. The Castle District's Golden Age started when the Royal Court moved here. During the 15th century, under the rule of King Matthias, Buda became one of Europe’s most influential cities. The Turks invaded the Castle Hill in 1541 and ruled it until 1686 when the Austrian Habsburgs and their allied armies took back the hill. The siege left Castle District in ruins. After the Turks the Habsburgs moved here. Reconstructions began immediately, following the old street layout. The Castle became a government district. The current elegant Baroque appearance was formed by the mid 18th century. The battles in 1944-45 ruined the place again. Reconstructions after the war rebuilt the District: the buildings by the Habsburgs were reconstructed, the street pattern of the medieval city has been kept and much of the architectural features have been restored. People still live in Buda castle environs. Cars are banned from the area: only people who live or work there, guests of the Hilton Hotel, taxis and the Várbusz (buses 16 and 16A) have permission to drive up.

Our itinerary in Buda Castle area: From the upper station of the Funicular (Budavári Sikló) (we'll browse the statues around in the end of our route - when we'll return to the funicular station)

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walk WEST to Szinház utca. Walk along Szinház utca, the first street on the right facing Szent György tér as you exit the Funicular. The St George's Square was notable place in the city. In 1457 the Hungarian King Ladislaus V beheaded  László Hunyadi, brother of King Matthias in this square. In 1514 Thomas Bakócz Archbishop of Esztergom read the  the papal letter to the public, which called for a crusade; this later became the Dózsa George's parasztfelkeléssé. In most of the space excavations currently underway. Great views over to the east (Pest) and west (Taban).

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The first building to your right will be Sándor Palace (Sándor Palota), the President's Office. Sándor Palace is a fine example of Classicist architecture. It was built in 1806 and converted to the Prime Minister's office in 1867. At the end of World War II, the building was severely damaged and it was in ruins until 2000, when it was decided to re-establish the Prime Minister's office in its place. In 2002, based on a Parliament ruling it became the President's Office:

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Next to it stands the National Dance Theatre (Várszinház). The National Dance Theatre was originally built as a baroque style church in 1736 and was later converted into a theatre:

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 Szinház utca ends at Dísz tér (Parade Square). Known as the Pasha's square, St. George's square and since the 19th century, as Parade square, it was the centre of the castle district during the Middle Ages. It is surrounded by Baroque and Neo-classical buildings, including the Post Office with the ochre façade (see below). You will see there a statue of a hussar in the uniform of the period of Marie-Thérèse and the honvédi statue (soldier from the Hungarian army), which commemorates the uprising of the Hungarians against the Habsbourgs in 1848-1849. In Disz ter the following monuments can be seen: former Ministry of Defence, which looks better like a huge Emental cheese because of the World War II  bullet holes. On the left side of the square if the former Ministry is behind you the one of the oldest post offices can be found next to a pretty old pharmacy, where the interior is also representing its unique age (more than 300 years) but of course the medicines were always updated:

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The Post Office building today, a former pharmacy site:

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Monument to the Independence War in Dísz tér:

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Internal courtyard in Dísz tér:

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From Dísz tér continue your walk on Tárnok utca to the Holy Trinity Column, erected in 1713 (see below). Tárnok utca is the street to your left as you leave Dísz tér: a busy trading area in the Middle Ages (German merchants). The Treasurer 's Street, is edged with beautiful houses with painted façades and Baroque decorative touches:

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Note the façade of no. 14 (Tarnok café or Tarnok Kavehaz): this house dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries and was restore during 1950s. Opening hours: MON - FRI: 10.00 - 23.00:

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In the end of Tárnok utca is the Szentháromság tér. To the right of the square (east side) is the over 700-year old Matthias Church (see Tip 2), the scene of several coronations, including that of Charles IV in 1916, the last Habsburg king.

Then head over to Fishermen's Bastion (see Tip 3) for some of the best views of the city. There is free access to the lower part of Fishermen's Bastion, however you will have to pay for the view from its towers.

Head WEST to the Szentháromság tér (Holy Trinity Square): The centre of Budapest Castle District is at Szentháromság tér (Holy Trinity Square). The Baroque-style Trinity statue, in the middle of the square, commemorates the victims of the 1691 plague epidemic. The sculpture at the top represents the Holy Trinity. It sits on a sturdy pillar decorated with statues of little angels and - below - large statues of saints. The column rests on a large pedestal adorned with bas-reliefs and the Hungarian crest:

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Here stands the Old Town Hall of Buda (Régi Budai Városháza), which lost its original function when Buda, Pest and Óbuda were united in 1873: a white Baroque building that was constructed in the early eighteenth century according to plans by the Italian architect Venerio Ceresola. You may also want to visit the House of Hungarian Wines (Magyar Borok Háza), also located on the square (Town Hall cellar). There are over 500 wines on display in the cellar from the different wine regions in Hungary. The tasting fee includes a guided tour through the cellars as well as some snacks to accompany the wine tasting. The wines exhibited here are also available for sale. The statue of Athena, the town's guardian, is set in a niche:

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Antique's shop in Szentháromság tér:

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If you need a coffee break to keep you going, or just want to get a taste on Budapest's coffee culture, - head south on Szentháromság tér toward Szentháromság utca, 30 m. Turn right onto Szentháromság utca, The Ruszwurm Café (Tip 4), Szentháromság utca 7 is on your right.

Nearby is the statue of Hussar general András Hadik (Szentháromság utca and Úri utca crossing), a favorite of Empress Maria Theresia is well known to local students. The statue, designed by György Vastagh Jr. was presented to the public in 1937. The general is on horseback; take a close look at the horse's testicles. They are shiny yellow, unlike the patina on the rest of the statue. Engineering students have for years polished the horse testicles on the morning of difficult exams, supposedly for luck:

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Locate the Hilton Hotel, Hess András tér 1-3. just north of Szentháromság tér and Matthias Church and see the remains of a former Dominican cloister, now part of the hotel. Before the construction could be started, the archaeological excavations took 4 years to complete. The hotel was opened in 1977, and its structure incorporates a 13th century Dominican cloister and a 17th century Jesuit college, which makes up the facade and the main entrance of the hotel, combined with modern glass elements. The nave of the former church now gives home to the Dominican Courtyard, where numerous theatre performances are organized from spring until autumn:

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Fortuna Passage, a narrow alley opposite the Hilton Hotel:

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Hess András tér: Hess András tér adjoins Szentháromság tér to north. This square is named after the first printer to set up here in 1483. He published Buda's chronicles, the first book to be written in Hungarian. The statue in the centre is Pope Innocent XI (work of J Damko (1936) who played a very important role during the war against the Turks.

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The house at No. 3 Hess András tér was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century on thirteenth-century foundations; in 1760 it housed the Red Hedgehog (Vörös Sün) Inn, as can still be seen on the carved stone inn-sign above the gate. It was here that in the eighteenth century the first theatrical performances in Buda were held.

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The house at No. 4. facing the hotel was formed by joining together the remains of three fourteenth-century houses. Note the beautiful yellow façade of the building that houses the Fortuna restaurant:

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Walk through Hess András tér to Táncsics Mihály utca (the eastern side of the square). Walk along this street  (Institute for Musicology, Táncsics Mihály utca 7 is on your left) until its end. This street, lined with fine houses with colorful façades in the Baroque or Neo-classical style, bears the name of a journalist. Mihály Táncsics (1799-1884) was a hero of the struggle for national independence.In the Middle Ages, it was the main street in the Jewish Quarter in Buda:

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Király Restaurant, Táncsics Mihály utca 25:

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Táncsics Mihály utca ends at Vienna Gate (Bécsi Kapu), the northern gate of the Castle Hill. In the Middle Ages Bécsi kapu tér was called the 'Saturday Market'. The Vienna Gate is informally known as the gate used to leave the old city in route to Vienna. The present gate was rebuilt in 1936 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the liberation of Buda. This event is described on a plaque along the wall, just inside the gate. You can walk up to the top of the gate where you get a beautiful view of the Buda Hills and for a very unique and not often seen angle onto the parliament building. From here it takes only a few minutes to get to busy Széll Kálmán tér:

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The neo-Romanesque building towering above  houses the National Archives. Next to the gate is Vienna Gate Square (Bécsi kapu ter) and the National Archive Building - a huge building with neo-Romanesque architecture, as well as the Lutheran Church. The National Archives holds documents which go back as far as 1526:

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You'll find some charming houses around Vienna Gate too (No.-s 5-7). The most famous is the house at No. 7. It was built on the site of a medieval house. A priest and teacher, who lived here, rebuilt it in 1807. Beautiful grilles decorate the windows and the door of a staircase in the gateway. In the first half of the 20th century Baron Lajos Hatvany lived here, a patron of arts. In 1935 and 1936 Thomas Mann was his guest in this house for three times:

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Lutheran Church on Bécsi kapu tér:

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From the National Archive Building head southwest on Nándor utca. toward Országház utca, 70 m. Turn left onto Országház utca, 45 m. Turn right onto Kapisztrán tér, 45 m. The Mary Magdalene Tower  will be on the right. Mary Magdalene Tower (Mária Magdolna torony), on the corner of Országház utca and Kapisztrán tér is the part of a 13th-century Franciscan church used by Hungarian speakers. Under Turkish rule, this was the only church allowed to remain Christian: the Turks converted all the other churches into mosques. Since this was the only Christian church, both Catholics and Protestants used it. In the end, the Turks converted it into a mosque as well. The chancel was destroyed in World War II and has not been rebuilt except for one stone window, as a memento. Only its 15th century tower survived the bombings:
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From Maria Magdalena Tower start walking southward on Országház utca. This "street of the Parliament" has borne its current name since 1790.Note, along this road, several marvellous, historic houses:

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Országház utca 22:

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At that date this parliament used to meet in a former convent of the Claris nuns located at No. 28, today the National Science Academy.

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Be sure to check out the houses located at 18, 20 and 22 Országház utca, as they date back to the 14th century:

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Turn right on Dárda utca

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and turn left on Úri utca to continue your walk. The longest street in the quarter of the castle. I think that this is the most beautiful stret in the Castle hill. You must walk along it to admire the façades of most of its Baroque houses. All these beautiful homes which appear one after another grant the street a certain residential look. Everything transmits calm and comfort:

Úri utca 29:

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Úri utca 27:

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Úri utca 31:

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Úri utca 34:

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Úri utca 35:

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If you are interested in the labyrinth system situated in the caves and cellars beneath Castle Hill visit the Labyrinth of Buda Castle at Úri utca 9 or make a detour to Lovas út. The underground labyrinth served as a large shelter and hospital during World War II, but the Turks also used it back in the 16th century. Beneath Budapest's Castle Hill stretches a labyrinth of caves, tunnels and cellars. Opening hours: Every day: 10.00 - 19.00. Website: http://labirintusbudapest.hu/english.php.
Email address: info@labirintus.com. It's about 10 km in length and a section of about 1.5 km is open to visitors. Part of the labyrinth was formed naturally; the other parts were excavated mostly in the Middle Ages for protection purposes. During World War II thousands lived through the siege down there. Opening hours: 10.00-19.00 every day. Two entrances: Úri utca 9., two minutes walk from Szentháromság tér, or: Lovas út 4/A (accessible with wheel chair). The temperature in the Labyrinth is around 14-15 Celsius and humidity is 90% so bring a coat or sweater with you. Night Tours with Lanterns - start at 18.00. Prices: adult: 2 000 HUF, (25% discount with Budapest Card), students/pensioners/teachers: 1 500 HUF, children up to 12 years of age: 600 HUF, guided tours (by appointment): 5 500 HUF. admission is free for people with disabilities:

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The building at 31 Úri utca has a Gothic façade that dates back to the 15th century.

Take (RIGHT, SOUTH) to Nőegylet utca and continue your walk RIGHT (NORTH-WEST) on Tóth Árpád sétány. We head, first to the Military History Museum and we will trace back south-east along most of Tóth Árpád sétány - heading to the Royal palace. I heartily recommend walking along Tóth Árpád sétány on both directions. It deserves more than a prompt glance. In case you insist upon giving up this museum - turn left from Nőegylet utca to Tóth Árpád sétány. The entrance of the museum (flanked by cannons) is situated on the Tóth Árpád promenade, which offers wide vistas. The Museum of Military History is on the northwest side of the Tóth Árpád promenade. You can't miss noticing the Museum of Military History (Hadtörténeti múzeum), Kapisztrán tér 2-4. Besides a large collection of flags, military uniforms, and other military memorabilia, it has a collection of items from Hungary's involvement in various wars. The Hadtörténeti Múzeum includes numerous artifacts from the period of 1848 to the modern day, but as the city suffered greatly during the Second World War the building was heavily damaged and much of the original collection was lost. However, the museum recovered and has amassed an impressive collection, which includes many hands-on displays for children. Admission is free. Opening hours: Summer (APR 1 - SEP 30):  TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 18.00.  Winter (OCT 1 - MAR 31)  TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 16.00:

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In any case we continue along Tóth Árpád sétány in the south-east direction. The street, named after the Hungarian poet Arpad Toth. This is a lovely pedestrian promenade lined with chestnut trees that runs down from the one-some-mile craggy plateau where the Castle District perches. This is a favorite venue among locals (and some tourists, too) who sit on the benches or stroll and take in the views of Buda Hills. The Bástya sétány (Bastion promenade) was a promenade in the Castle Quarter. It ran behind the Western, Northern and partly the Eastern wall of the Castle. When defense importance of the Castle declined, the western part was afforested, then opened for the public in 1936 for the 250th anniversary of Buda’s Recapture. World War II caused major damages in the promenade, so it was rebuilt between 1966-1970 and it was divided to two sections. The Tóth Árpád sétány is the  western part of the promenade. This promenade acts as a gathering place for locals and visitors who appreciate the beautiful architecture, trees, benches, fountains, and an incredible vista. The street is a whole greater than the sum of its parts - but its parts are impressive: the architecture is historic and harmonious; mature trees make a shady canopy; a wide walkway follows along a spectacular view; benches line the street, well-placed to allow a choice or shade or sun, and an appreciation of the view. In addition to the trees, historic character and amenities, this street is beautifully maintained and embellished with additional details such as historic lamp posts and a fountain. This is a  wonderful promenade, on one hand which overlooks the hills on the Buda side of town, on the other hand, the picturesque houses. WHAT A GEM !!!

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The Tóth Árpád sétány slights left (east) at its end and ends up at Dísz tér. We returned, gain, to Dísz tér. From Dísz tér you can already see the buildings of the Royal Palace. Both Szinház utca or Szent György utca will take you to the palace. Since, we walked through Szinház utca, at the beginning of our daily route - we'll opt and take, now, the Szent György utca to the Royal Palace. In most of the road's space excavations currently underway:

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We return from the Royal palace complex to our final/first stop, today, the Castle Funicular station. We exit the Royal Palace site through its northern exit - the Habsburg Gate of the palace: Most visitors enter Buda Castle from St. George Square to the north, where the Sikló funicular connects Castle Hill with the Chain Bridge and Pest. An ornamental gate from the early twentieth century separates the square from the former royal domain and palace:

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If you walk up the so-called Habsburg steps and pass through the gate - you'll see  a small terrace decorated with the beautiful romantic fountain of the Fishing Children (Halászó fiú / Senyei Károly). The fountain was created in 1912 by Károly Senyey and shows children grasping a huge fish:

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The bronze sculpture of a Turul bird is just outside the cable car station, right near the gate, is not, as you might think, an eagle, but the mythical Turul bird (which is believed to be a kind of falcon). This bird is a part of the story of how the Magyars settled the Hungarian homeland. This bird appeared in a dream to the wife of the Magyar leader Ügyek and told her that she would be the founding mother of a new nation.

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Religion

Matthias Church (Mátyás templom): Szentháromság tér, Buda Castle. Open: MON - FRI: 09.00 - 17.00, SAT: 09.00- 12.00, SUN 13.00 - 17.00. Prices: Adult: 1 000 HUF, Children up to 6: free, Students, pensioners: 700 HUF, Family ticket: (1-2 adults +children): 2 500 HUF, Audio guide + 500 HUF. Ticket is valid to the church and to the museum. Admission is 10 % less if you have a Budapest Card. The rococo spire of this church is one of the easily seen landmarks of the var. The beautiful stained glass windows are 170 years old and were removed and hidden during WW II to protect them from destruction. Truly an inspiring site to behold. The official name is "The Church of Our Lady" (Nagyboldogasszony templom),

History: Originally the Buda German community's parish church, its official name is the "Church of the Blessed Virgin". According to a legend, the first Hungarian king St. Stephen started to build the church, but it hasn't been proved yet. Historical proof shows that King Béla IV founded the church in 1255 after he moved his court up to Castle Hill from Óbuda. The popular Hungarian king, Mátyás, held both of his weddings here, and so it is known as the Matthias Church. The central part was built around 1400. Every king and era added something to the church.
In 1541 the Turks captured Buda and transformed it into a mosque. They celebrated their victory here. Luckily the church's treasures had already been moved from Buda Castle to Bratislava. The intricate white stonework, the mosaic roof decorations, and some of its geometric patterned columns suggest the Byzantine era. After the Turkish defeat in 1686, it was rebuilt in neo-baroque style. After the Habsburgs recaptured Buda (in 1686) Matthias Church came under Jesuit patronage. Frigyes Schulek rebuilt Matthias Church in neo-Gothic style at the turn of the last century. He incorporated the 13th century remains in the new design. Matthias Church was named after King Matthias in the 19th Century, who ordered the transformation of its original southern tower. t was not until the great architectural boom towards the end of the 19th century that the building regained much of its former splendour. The architect responsible for this work undertaken in 1873-96 was Frigyes Schulek. The church was restored to its original 13th century plan but a number of early original Gothic elements were uncovered. By also adding new motifs of his own (such as the diamond pattern roof tiles and gargoyles laden spire) Schulek ensured that the work, when finished, would be highly controversial. The church was the venue for the coronation of the last two Hungarian Habsburg kings, Franz Joseph in 1867 and Charles IV in 1916. During World War II the church was badly damaged. Matthias Church was used as a camp by the Germans and Soviets in 1944-1945 during the Soviet occupation of Hungary. The church was largely renovated between 1950-1970 with funding from the Hungarian government. The bell tower was restored, along with renovation of interior paints and frescos. The five-manual organ, which had been destroyed during the war, was updated  in 1984. A thorough restoration programme was carried out from 2006 to 2013.

Exterior: Very little remains of the original church, only the foundations, columns and some walls date back to the thirteenth century. The smallest tower is known as the Béla Tower and is named after the founder of the church, king Béla IV, under whose reign the church was built. Its roof is decorated with colorful Maiolica tiles. The main portal is decorated with bas-reliefs created by Lajos Lantai. Above the portal is a large neo-Gothic rose window, an exact replica of the original window. The tallest tower is the Matthias-tower, originally built in the fifteenth century and named after the ruler of that era, King Matthias Corvinus. His coat of arms, emblazoned with a raven (corvus in Latin), is shown inside the church. Visitors enter the church via the Mary Portal, which is decorated with an exquisite Gothic relief, painstakingly reconstructed by Frigyes from original pieces:

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You can view a King Matthias' small collection of religious treasures in the church museum. Today an eclectic mix of styles, the church was started in the thirteenth century. It is home to the Ecclesiastical Art museum which begins in the medieval crypt and leads up to the St. Stephen Chapel:

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The gallery contains a number of sacred relics and medieval stone carvings, along with replicas of the Hungarian royal crown and coronation jewels.

The interior is very striking. Despite the vaulting and the stained glass windows, it's nothing like a Gothic cathedral; it has a sort of mystic, Eastern atmosphere. The beautiful stained glass windows are 170 years old and were removed and hidden during WW II to protect them from destruction. The wall paintings are scenes from the Bible and events from Hungary's history. The frescoes on the wall were created by the two most important historical painters of the era, Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz. They were also responsible for the magnificent stained glass windows:

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The main apse, which ends in a seven-sided polygon, is in French style and is the earliest extant section. The central section was built about 100 years later. During the Turkish occupation of Budapest, all the furnishings were removed and the painted walls whitewashed to cover art unacceptable to the Islamic eye. Once returned to the Catholic community, it was Baroquified (i.e. covered with Baroque ornamentation that obscured the original style like many other Central European churches were), and the rose window was bricked up. In the last century, between 1873 and 1896, Frigyes Schulek began a major renovation and restoration of the Matthias Church. The interior is sumptuously decorated in a style which is on the one hand art deco and yet evokes the medieval predecessors of this structure. As you enter the church turn to the right and proceed down the right hand aisle to the front of the church. The church has excellent acoustics, so it often houses concerts. Matthias Church is probably the most popular place to get married in Budapest:

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One of the highlights inside is the main altar, decorated with a neo-Gothic Triptych commemorating the victory of King laslo V on the Ottomans:

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The most magnificent monument in the church is the double sarcophagus of king Béla III and his wife Anne de Châtillon in the Trinity Chapel. The twelfth-century king was originally buried in Székesfehérvár; in 1848 archaeologists found his remains in the city's ruined cathedral and transported it to the Matthias Church in 1860:

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For a small fee you can visit the underground treasury which includes a replica of the Crown of St. Stephen -- the real crown (a 12th century object even though Stephen was a 10th century king) is on display in the parliament building. Also take a look at the opulent chapel at the rear of the church (around the corner to the left of the entrance. Be aware that this is a functioning church and you may find that at times it is closed to visitors for church activities or concerts. High Mass is celebrated every Sunday at 10.00, sometimes with full orchestra and choir—and often with major soloists. During the summer there are usually organ recitals on Sunday at 19.30:

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To the left of the neighboring Hilton Hotel is what looks like the wall of a medieval church with a monument set into it. In fact it is a copy of a monument located in Belsen, Germany (near Dresden). The copy was erected by the Hilton Company. It portrays King Mátyás (15th century), the most beloved of Hungarian Kings. In front of the Matthias Church is a tall column decorated with many statues – this is a “plague monument” erected by thankful survivors.

History

Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya):

The Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya) is open daily 24 hours. Admission to the upper-level lookout terrace: adult: 600 HUF, 10 % discount with Budapest Card, students between 6-14, pensioner from EU countries: 300 HUF, free for children under 6 years.

The Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest appears like a magical castle up on the Buda hill built from white stones with little towers just like in a fairy tail. Built behind the Matthias Church between 1895 and 1902, Origin of the Bastion’s name: some say a fish market was nearby in the Middle Ages, according to others the Guild of Fishermen defended this part of the wall. As part of the renovations, the Fishermen’s Bastion was added in 1905. This is the large white tower and lookout terrace complex you see hanging over the side of Castle Hill beneath the Mátyás Church.  It was built between 1890-1905. The story is that different trades were responsible for defending different parts of the castle walls and that this section of the defenses was raised by the fishermen’s guild. In fact, the structure is a late 19th century fantasy built to add class to the area. That this is an invention does not detract at all from the attractiveness of the structure, nor from the impressive views of the river and Pest on the opposite side. In the north courtyard of the bastion stand two statues of the monks Julianus and Gellért (Károly Antal, 1937), while in the south courtyard stands a bronze equestrian statue of St Stephen (Szent István), the first King of Hungary (A. Stróbl, 1906). He was declared a saint for his efforts in bringing Christianity to Hungary. He carries the apostolic cross with two crossbars – a symbol granted him by the Pope. The plinth includes four lions and the reliefs on the sides depict scenes from Stephen's life.

Its seven towers, colonnades and embrasures were designed in Neo-Romanesque style by Frigyes Schulek. Despite its name it's a look-out terrace. It has seven turrets one for each of the Hungarian tribes. The design was inspired by the Far East. "Kitchs but beautiful" according to the writer Szerb Antal. From its top you get one of the city''s best panoramic views. In tourist season there is an admission charge of about $1 to climb on the bastion. In the daytime around the year, the bastion is the place most overcrowded by tourists in the Castle Hill, mainly brought in here by buses:

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From here you can take the best pictures overlooking Budapest, well rather Pest only, you can see all great landmarks such as the Basilica, the Andrássy Út or the Heroes’ Square all together in one picture from above. This is where many tourists come for their great picture of Budapest showing all the beauty of the city including the Margaret Island and the Danube and many of the wonderful bridges crossing it:

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In the restaurant of the Bastion balcony:

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Best times to visit the Fisherman’s bastion is obviously a sunny, clear day to take a great shot over the city but also to see the architecture.

Food

Ruszwurm Cukraszda (Confectionery), Ruszwurm Coffee House, Szentháromság utca 7 (right across the street from St. Matthias Church), (36-1) 375-5284. Open daily 10.00 - 20.00. Closed on Wednesdays.

For a coffee and cake visit the city's oldest confectionery, the Ruszwurm in Szentháromság utca. This tiny coffeehouse in the Castle District is the oldest continually operating café in the city; probably one of the best pastry shops in Budapest. As a coffeehouse it dates from 1824, and its original furnishings are still intact. Because the furniture is original, this may be one of the only non-smoking cafés in the city. On a historical note, this location has sold sweets of some kind or another since the Middle Ages, when it was a gingerbread shop. The same family has been operating Ruszwurm since the early years of this century, and all the cakes are made on-premises.

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If you only get one thing, I highly, highly suggest you get the Ruszwurm Cream Cake:

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Culture

Royal Palace (Királyi Palota): Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, consists of two parts: the Royal Palace (no longer a castle), and the associated Castle District, which is now a mostly reconstructed city reflecting a former time in history. The Royal Palace is home to a number of museums, including the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Museum. The National Archives, the equivalent to the Hungarian Library of Congress, is an attached building in the back. The rest of the Castle District is a small tapered neighborhood with cobblestone streets and twisting alleys; with the exception of buses, most traffic is prohibited, making the streets pedestrian-friendly enhancing the tranquility and the old-world feel. Other attractions include the Lion Courtyard (guarded by lions), the Matthias Well (a bronze statue of King Matthias) and the statue of the Turul Bird (the mythological bird of the Magyars). Prime examples of every type of Hungarian architecture, from early Gothic to neo-Romanesque, can be seen. A leisurely walk in the Castle District will be a historical and memorable experience.

History: The original Royal Palace was destroyed and rebuilt many times - like the Matthias Church. King Béla IV started building the palace in the 13th century after the Mongol invasion. The foundations of today's castle, which would later be besieged no less than thirty-one times, were laid in the fourteenth century when King Lajos the Great built a castle in Romanesque style, which was completed in 1356. Some forty years later, during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg, this early castle was replaced by a Gothic-style palace. It was one of the grandest palaces in Europe with an impressive large Knights' Hall. The original Gothic Palace was built and expanded for 300 years. The golden era of the palace was under the rule of King Matthias (1451-90). He ordered the construction of a new palace in Renaissance style. A palace garden was also created during Matthias' reign, which marked a high point in Budapest's history. Artists and craftsmen from across the continent were lured by the city's prosperity. Nothing remains of the early splendor of the Buda Castle. When Budapest was recaptured after the Turkish ruled the city between 1541 and 1686, the complex was completely in ruins. It was totally in ruins in 1686 when the Habsburg army liberated Buda from the Turkish occupation. The Habsburgs built a completely new, small Baroque palace in the beginning of the 18th century. It was designed by Fortunato de Prati and construction was supervised by Johann Hölbling. The palace was extended by Empress Maria Theresa, but the great fire of 1810 and in 1849 the (failed) attack of the castle during the Hungarian revolt, in the 1848-49 War of Independence, against the Habsburgs destroyed much of the new palace. The following reconstruction almost doubled it in length at the end of the 19th century (now it's 304 m long) and a large wing was attached to the back. The Habsburg palace was rebuilt and expanded by Miklós Ybl, one of Hungary's greatest architects. He was aided by Alajos Hauszmann, who was responsible for much of the interior and the impressive Baroque dome. The reconstruction of the palace was mostly symbolic, since no monarch had lived here since 1541.The palatial complex was still inhabited though and until 1944 it was the residence of Miklós Horthy, regent of Hungary. In 1945 it was the last defense of the German troops in Budapest. Reconstruction of the castle started in 1950 following a design by architect István Janáki, based on Ybl's plans. The original Baroque dome was replaced with a classicist version. Post-war reconstruction revealed Gothic and Renaissance foundations that have been incorporated in the building during the reconstruction works. It resulted in that the Palace is a mix of architectural styles.

The main structure of the Buda Castle, known as the Royal Palace, is rather austere. The interior in particular is completely devoid of ornamentation and none the magnificent royal apartments have been reconstructed. But the Buda Castle is still an imposing complex, and its more than three hundred meter long facade facing the Danube is particularly impressive. The palace consists of a number of wings (named after the letters A to F) arranged around the Lion Courtyard. There is the beautiful Lions' Gate, with four Lions guarding the gate, two on the inside and two on the outside:

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The courtyard is bordered by the National Library and two museums, the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. There's plenty more to see around the palace, such as several statues and fountains:

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The Horse-herd Statue in the Western courtyard of Buda Castle is a  different bronze statue, as it was complimented by lovely flower beds and the castle as a backdrop. The statue is the work of György Vastagh. It was sculpted in 1901, and depicts a horseman from the Hortobágy area, taming a wild horse. The statue was displayed in the World Universal Exposition in Paris, but was damaged and removed in the 1960's, to be restored and re-located in the western forecourt of the Buda Royal Palace in 1983:

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The entrance to the Royal Palace from Vienna Gate:

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Matthias's Well or Fountain: This is one of my favorite fountains in the city. The legend is that King Matthias was on a hunting expedition when a fair maiden came across him by chance. She, Ilona, not knowing he was the king, fell in love instantly with him (and he with her). This is probably the most photographed statue in the city. Mátyás Fountain which depicts the Hungarian king Mátyás Corvinus was designed by Alajos Stróbl in 1904:

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Walk further south and you arrive at another, larger terrace with two flower beds and an impressive Statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy. This Neo-Baroque statue was made by sculptor József Róna for the town of Zenta but the town could not afford its price, so the monument was bought in 1900 as a temporary solution until the planned equestrian statue of King Franz Joseph was completed. As you can see, this never happened, and Prince Eugene has remained here ever since. Prince Eugene is the man who was responsible for defeating the Ottoman Army and liberating Budapest from the Turks. The pedestal is richly decorated with statues of Turkish prisoners and bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Battle of Zenta in 1697:

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Stroll around and browse the royal fortifications around. The castle’s earliest history dates back to the 13th century but most of the original medieval architectures are in ruins now as result of war and control of foreign powers:

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Wonderful views from the Royal Palace courts towards the Danuba river and Buda hills:

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Below an overview of the most important sights and attractions in and around Buda Castle:

The National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria), in Buda Palace wings B, C and D) houses an astounding collection of paintings. For those interested in Hungarian artists, this is the museum to visit. The exhibition of nineteenth-century Hungarian paintings is most notable. The National gallery is opposite Statue of Prince Eugene (see below) which stands in front of the main entrance of the Hungarian National Gallery. This museum displays a comprehensive collection of Hungarian artwork from the Middle Ages to the present day. Highlights include its collection of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century altarpieces, exhibited in the former throne room. The museum also has a fine collection of Romanticist paintings including works from Mihály Munkácsy, a Hungarian artist known for his large canvases. There are a number of great items inside. They include many lovely paintings, and sculptures. It has 6,000 paintings, 2,100 sculptures, and thousands of drawings. There are three main very large floors and the grand staircase is worth the entry alone. This museum opened in the Buda Palace in 1957 and has been updated since. The stairs and a lot of the building floors are of rich, fabulous red marble, and railings have designs in hardwoods. It is one of the best in Europe, if the time permits to study the fabulous items. OPENING HOURS: TUE - SUN 10.00 - 18.00. Closed on Monday. Closing time of the cashiers: 17.00. Disabled entrance to our exhibitions from Building B. Admission price: Permanent Exhibitions: HUF 1400. Temporary exhibitions: 1400- 2800 HUF. Half price concession for the permanent and Temporary exhibitions (only for citizens of the Europien Economic Area): between the age of 6 and 26, between the age of 62 and 70, for maximum two visitors accompanying at least two close relatives under 18. Audioguide: HUF 800 - Available for the Permanent Collection in English, French, German and Italian:

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János Donát, - "Venus", 1810:

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The Budapest History Museum: The most southern wing of the palace is home to the Budapest History Museum (Budapesti Történeti Múzeum), which covers the history of Budapest from prehistory to modern times. The museum gives you the chance to see some remains and reconstructions of the medieval palace including a Gothic chapel and the Knights' Hall. You can also see some of the marble sculptures that decorated the palace. It's free entry if you have a Budapest card and one of those places with a compulsory cloakroom where you must leave your bags. If you want to take pictures then you must buy an additional photography ticket. Opening hours: 1 March - 31 October: 10.00 - 18.00, Monday closed. 1 November - 28 February: 10.00 – 16.00, Monday closed. Admission prices: Adults - 1500 HUF, There is a 50% discount on the the ticket if you have a Budapest Card, Students (6-26 years old) - 750 HUF, Pensioners (62-70 years old) - 750 HUF, English audio guide - 1200 HUF:

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To the west of the courtyard, opposite the National Gallery, is the porticoed entrance to the National Széchényi Library. The library occupies the F wing of the Royal Palace, a late nineteenth century expansion created by Miklós Ybl and Alajos Hauszmann. The library was founded in 1802 by count Ferenc Széchényi, who donated his private book collection containing more than fifteen thousand books and manuscripts. Today the library holds a copy of every book published in Hungary. Now the collection includes five million prints. Among the most valuable gems are Corvinus manuscripts, which are collections of old books and manuscripts which formerly belonged to King Matthias Corvinus. This collection formed one of the largest libraries in Renaissance Europe. Opening hours: TUE - SUN: 09.00 - 20.00. Monday - closed. Admission: Temporary exhibitions are free. You have to pay only for the bigger exhibitions. (Using the library for one day costs 1200 HUF.):

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Food

Café Pierrot, Fortuna utca 14. Tel: +36 1 375 6971.

For a budget meal your best bet is Café Pierrot in Fortuna utca. Besides Hungarian dishes you can choose from a variety of pastas and sandwiches. Free wi-fi for its customers. Reasonable prices, polite service, descent good food.

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Hungary

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