Budapest Castle District History
The hill town of Buda grew up around its castle and Mátyás Church from the 13th century onwards. At 60 meters (197 ft) above the Danube, the hill's good strategic position and natural resources made it a prize site for its earliest inhabitants. In the 13th century, a large settlement arose when, after a Tartar invasion, King Béla IV decided to build his own defensive castle and set up his capital here.
The reign of King Mátyás Corvinus in the 15th century was an important period in the evolution of Buda and the Budapest Castle District, but it suffered neglect under Turkish rule during the next century and was then destroyed by Christian troops. The town was reborn, and assumed an important role during the 18th and 19th centuries under the Habsburgs. By the end of World War II, the Old Town had been almost utterly destroyed and the Royal Palace burnt to the ground. After the war the Royal Palace and Old Town were reconstructed, restoring the original allure of this part of the city.
Castle Hill and the Old Town are largely pedestrianized, but you'll find a couple of car parks where cars and coaches can park for a fee, allowing visitors to walk to the area.
- Bus 16 runs from Clark Ádám tér to Dísz tér, and a funicular railway (Sikló) connects Clark Ádám tér to Szent György tér.
- A minibus (Várbusz) arrives from Moszkva tér from the north.
The Royal Palace Budapest Castle District
The Royal Palace has borne many incarnations during its long life. Even now its is not known exactly where King Béla IV began building his castle, though it's thought to be nearer the site of Mátyás Church. The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg built a Gothic palace on the present site, from which today's castle began to evolve. In the 18th century, the Habsburg built their monumental palace here.
The current form dates from the rebuilding of the 19th century palace after its destruction in February 1945. During this work, remains of the 15th century Gothic palace surfaced. Hungarian archeologists decided to show the recovered defensive walls and royal chambers in the reconstruction.
Highlights of the Royal Palace in Budapest
- Ornamental gateway. Dating from 1903, the gateway leads from the Habsburg Steps to the Royal Palace. Nearby, a bronze sculpture of the mythical turul bird guards the palace. This statue marks the millennium anniversary of the Magyar conquest in 896.
- The dome. The dome which was rebuilt in the Neo-Classical style after the Neo-Baroque dome, designed by Alajos Hauszmann, was destroyed in the razing of the palace in World War II.
Budapest History Museum
Since the unification of Budapest in 1873, historic artifacts on Hungary's capital have been collected. Many are now on show at the Budapest History Museum (Budapesti Történeti Múzeum), also known as the Castle Museum. During the rebuilding that followed the destruction suffered in World War II, chambers dating from the Middle Ages were uncovered in the south wing of the Royal Palace. They give an insight into the character of a much earlier castle within today's Habsburg reconstruction.
Recreated in the palace its basement these include a tiny prison cell and a chapel. They now house an exhibition, "The Royal Palace in Medieval Buda", which displays authentic weapons, seals, tiles and other early artifacts. On the ground floor, "Budapest in the Middle Ages" illustrates how the town evolved from its Roman origins to a 13th-century Hungarian settlement. Also on this level are the reconstructed defensive walls, gardens, a keep, and Gothic statues from the Royal Palace dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. The statues surfaced by chance in the mayor excavations of 1974. On the first floor, 'Budapest in Modern Times" traces the city's history from 1686 to the present.
|Address||Szent György tér 2, Budapest|
Széchényi National Library
A magnificent collection of books has been houses since 1985 in wing F of the Royal Palace, built in 1890-1902 by Alajos Hauszmann and Miklós Ybl. Previously, the library was part of the Hungarian National Museum. Among the library's most precious treasures is the Corviniani, an ancient book and manuscript collection that originally belonged to King Mátyás Corvinus. His collection was one of the largest Renaissance libraries in Europe.
Also of importance are the earliest surviving records in the Hungarian language, dating from the early 13th century. Count Ferenc Széchényi founded the library in 1802. He endowed it with 15,000 books and 2,000 manuscripts. The collection now comprises five million items. Everything ever published in Hungary, in the Hungarian language or that refers to Hungary is there.
|Address||Szent György tér 6, Budapest|
Sándor Palace Budapest
By the top of the cog-wheel railway stands the grand Neo-Classical mansion, Sándor Palace (Sándor Palota). Count Vincent Sándor commissioned it in 1806 to architects Mihály Pollack and Johann Aman. The bas-reliefs that decorate the palace are the work of Richárd Török, Miklós Melocco and Tamás Körössényi. The decoration on the western elevation depicts Greek gods on Mount Olympus.
The southern elevation shows Count Sándor being knighted and the northern elevation features a 1936 sculpture of St George by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Stróbl. Sándor Palace functioned as the prime minister's official residence from 1867 to 1944, when it was severely damaged in World War II. The building has been completely restored, and it is now the official residence of the President of Hungary.
|Address||Szent György tér 1-3, Budapest|
|Phone||+36 1 224 5000|
Matyas Church Castle District Budapest
Matyas Church Castle District Budapest
The Parish Church of Our Lady Mary was built on this site between the 13th and 15th centuries. Some of the existing architectural style dates from the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg, but its name refers to King Mátyás Corvinus, who greatly enlarged and embellished the church. Much of the original detail was lost when the Turks converted the church into the Great Mosque in 1541.
During the liberation of Buda the church was almost totally destroyed, but was rebuilt in the Baroque style by Franciscan Friars. The church sustained more damage in 1723, and was restored in the Neo-Gothic style by Frigyes Schulek in 1873-1896. The crypt houses the Museum of Ecclesiastical Art.
Highlights of the Matyas Church
- Béla Tower - This towers is named after the church's founder, King Béla IV. It has retained several of its original Gothic features.
- Main Portal - Above the arched west entrance is a 19th century bas-relief of the Madonna and Child, seated between two angels. The work is by Lajos Lantai.
Hungarian National Museum
Established in 1957, the Hungarian National Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Galéria) houses a comprehensive collection of Hungarian art from medieval times to the 20th century. Gathered by various groups and institutions since 1839, these works had previously been exhibited at the Hungarian National Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. The collection moved to the Royal Palace in 1975. There are now six permanent exhibitions, presenting the most valuable and critically acclaimed Hungarian art in the world.
Vienna Gate Square Budapest Castle District
The square takes its name from the gate that once led from the walled town of Buda towards Vienna. After being damaged several times, the old gate was demolished in 1896. The current gate, based on a historic design, emerged in 1936 on the 250th anniversary of the liberation of Buda from the Turks.
The square has some interesting houses, Those at number 5, 6, 7 and 8 were built on the ruins of medieval dwellings. They're Baroque and Rococo in design and feature sculptures and bas-reliefs.
|Address||Bécsi kapu tér, Budapest|