Buda Castle - Budavar, Budapest
An attraction for the tourists visiting the Buda Castle is the changing of the Guards in front of the Hungarian Presidential Palace, called Sandor Palota, located by the terminal of the Funicular and facing the monumental gate with the huge Turul bird statue and the stairs going down to the King's Palace.
The original palace was built in about 1803, renovated around 1867 by Prime Minister Andrassy and destroyed during WW II. After the fall of communism, it has been restored as the original building.
The palace is occasionally open to the public at weekends during the summer months but was not really on the list of my things to visit in Budapest; there are better things.
The "drill" of change of the Guards is rather spectacular. Purists will even say that there is too much fantasy. The turning about with the rifles is excessive. The rifles are of the WW II type with bolt handle and bayonet. Stock, forestock and handguard are made of wood. I even suspect that these are drill purpose rifles.
The guards belong to the "Nemzeti Honvéd Díszegység" (National Home Defense Ceremonial Band).
They wear a kaki uniform with a green "aiguillette" (ornamental braided cord) and the specific Hungarian army hat cap. With their leather boots they must feel warm in the hot Budapest summers. It was 35°C outside. They were wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes from the strong sun glare.
A drummer is beating the rhythm of the marching.
The views on the Royal Palace from the Pest side are in daytime and at night one of the nicest castle views I know in Europe. The location on the Buda hill dominating the wide Danube is exceptional.
The history of the Buda castle is complex and can be read with all details on Wikipedia, but the following is important for the understanding of what the visitors can see now.
Most of the exteriors we can presently see go back to the end of the 19th c.
From the 13th century on the Royal Palace suffered from battles and sieges.
Most destructive was the great siege of 1686 when the Austrian Habsburgs re-captured Buda occupied by the Ottoman army and destroyed the medieval palace.
Next important destruction happened at the end of 1944 when the Buda Castle was the last major stronghold of Budapest held by German and Hungarian Axis forces during the siege of Budapest by the Soviet army. Heavy fights and artillery fire rendered the palace into ruins.
The communist government decided in 1948 a modernist reconstruction plan. The exterior and interior of the palace were thoroughly modernized. The remaining interior, including undamaged rooms and halls were destroyed. Consequently the interior of the Royal Palace would be of no interest for the visitor if there were not the museums! (ref. my "Discovering Hungarian painters and sculptors.").
Important exterior parts that could have been restored were sadly demolished and the remaining façades were simplified.
Fortunately for the present visitors of Budapest these exterior changes are not much visible so that seen from Pest the palace remains quite nice and imo one of the nicest castle views in Europe I have seen.
Back side of Buda castle is dominated by beautiful Matthias Fountain, artwork of Alajos Strobl, made in a period between 1898 and 1904. Fountain depicts a legend in which a young girl called Szep Ilonka – Beautiful Ilonka fell in love with King Matthias when he was out hunting, unaware that he was the king. Matthias Fountain is one of the best known tourist spots of Budapest.
Turul is the mythological bird of the origin myth of the Hungarian people. The biggest and the best known statue of Turul is in Tatabanya. Statue of Turul in Budapest, artwork of Gyula Donath, created in 1905, is located by the north side of Buda castle.
The Castle was the residence of Hungarian kings for ages. The fortification system and the palace were built in the 13th century following the Mongol invasion. It was destroyed and rebuilt many times, and being renewed from time to time symbolizes the country itself.
Built on medieval foundations, the Renaissance structures were destroyed by the Turks. Later, the Baroque Palace burned down, then its reconstructed buildings were damaged during the War of Independence (1848). In the late 19 th century Miklós Ybl oversaw the reconstruction and enlargement of the Palace, which was completed in the neo-Baroque style by Alajos Hauszmann.
I would recommend you to do a nice walk on the streets of the hill from Becsi Kapu until the Castle. It's a good 20 minutes walk, but the old littel streets and houses, and the other sights are worth to see as well. Other way is to walk through the Chain Bridge and then go up to the Castle with the funicular.
Walking on the part of the Castle facing the Buda side, you will find a huge stone portal eith lions, which is the entrance of the very spacious Lions Garden.
As some other parts of the Castle, this square just got a new illumination, so it looks better then ever! :)
Equestrian Monument of Prince Eugene of Savoy has dominant position – it is in front of Buda castle and it can be seen even from Pesta side of Danube. This magnificent neo-baroque statue is major work of Hungarian sculptor Jozsef Rona. It was erected in 1900.
The formal Royal Palace stands high above Danube at the southern end of Castle Hill. It was Bela IV who first established a royal residence here in the 13th century. King Matthias rebuilt the palace in Italian Renaissance in the 15th century and in 1886 it was destroyed during battle with the Ottomans. The Habsburgs rebuilt it to a large castle with 203 rooms and in late 19th century and early 20th century the palace was extended and the dome built. During the Nazi occupation the palace was completely burnt out. As the palace was rebuilt again the interior was constructed to hold some museums.
Here you will find the Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum and Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art. Unfortunately it was a Monday when I was there and all the museums were closed.
In backyard of Buda castle there is the statue of Csikos – the guard of the horses. Its location (not the original one – the statue had been moved to it in 1945), former Ujvilag terrace is now called Csikos court. The statue is artwork of Hungarian painter and sculptor Gyorgy Vastagh, and it was erected in 1902.
Although it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, this is what dominated the skyline when you look across at Buda from Pest.
Now it contains the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum .
I really enjoyed the National Gallery which has a predominantly Hungarian collection from gothic to modern times. I normally get bored by Catholic religious artwork so I stuck mainly to the contemporary stuff. Some of it was really 'interesting' such as the multi video screen piece which consisted of old ugly naked men moving around in a bizarre timing. Like someone was pressing the FFW button then the REW button one after the other! Sorry that's what I remember most!
Other pieces were more normal and less revealing than that example! If you would like to see if the naked men are still there, or see what else the gallery has to offer, it is open from 10am-6pm every day except Mondays. It cost about 400ft if you are under 26 and 800ft if you are older.
The Budapest History Museum in wing E looks at the last 2000 years of history. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to go in but if you would like to have a loo it is open the same times as the art gallery except that it closes on Tuesdays. It was also 400ft.
Be careful using a camera in either of these places because they don't take kindly to it and will fine you!!!!
It is also pleasant to walk around the grounds if you are not into art or history! It's cheaper do this to if you don't have much money.
Buda castle dates back to 1265. It is located on top of Castle Hill, in Buda. Up until the 19th century, it was the official residence of Hungarian kings. Through its long history, it was destroyed and rebuilt several times, finally achieving its final form after World War II. First built as a Gothic palace, it took on a Renaissance style in the 15th century under King Matyas, then it became a Baroque palace in the 17th century, and it was decorated in a Rococo style under Maria Teresa, Queen of Hungary. The palace was almost completely destroyed during World War II, and its reconstruction was completed in 1966, during the course of which extensive archeological work was conducted to unearth the castle's history. The view of Central Pest from the castle's terrace is fantastic! The oldest remaining part of the royal palace now houses the Budapest History Museum, while most of the former royal appartments of Maria Teresa are now home to the Hungarian National Gallery. Another section of the castle houses the Sechenyi National Library, a research library that houses an important collection of historical documents (not open to visitors).
Buda Castle is in the Castle District of Budapest. It's sits high above the city and has spectacular views.Buda Castle was the home of the Hungarian Kings. The castle is currently under renovations to restore it to its former external glory. The interior of the palace is filled with a chapel, ballrooms, crypts, theNational Gallery and many works of art.
The National Gallery of Hungary occupies the major and central portion of the Royal Palace and has an extensive art collection dating from the 11th Century to current and documenting Hungarian art through this entire period. The Museum dates from 1957 and has occupied this location since 1975. The permanent exhibits are divided into several sections, including sacred and secular art ranging from sculptures and paintings to winged altarpieces to modern art. Featured are the most famous of Hungarian painters of the last several hundred years.
It is easy to spend hours in this museum for obvious reasons. I should note that signage for the most famous artwork is lacking at least in English and I am sure we walked right past some of the most important artworks, which is disappointing. Apparently, guided tours can be had for a reasonable price. In retrospect, had we been aware, the guided tour would have been a wise choice. However, the palace of course is magnificent and the National Gallery should be an important stopping point on the Castle Hill.
I rode the 95-meter funicular from near Chain Bridge and ended up at the magnificentBuda Castle (Hungarian: Budai Vár, Turkish: Budin Kalesi) which is part of the Budapest World heritage Site of 1987. You have to go here when in Budapest because the views are just spectacular!
A true Royal Palace, Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, next to the Baroque and 19th century houses and public buildings of the old Castle District (Hun: Várnegyed). It is also linked to Adam Clark Square.
The Castle Hill where Budapest was founded is awesome - rising 48 meters above the Danube and giving those perfect KODAK views of the Danube. It has been conquered and re-conquered several times and it’s amazing that the whole complex still stands after all these years. The renovations of the 1950’s helped a lot to bring the place back to its previous glory.
Today, The Castle has 203 rooms and houses several museums, among them the Budapest Historical Museum and the National Gallery.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!
I made a video of my trip to Budapest!
Hope you like this video:
MT FIRST DAY IN BUDAPEST
It's not only the castle that is well worth seeing and all the other activities you can do in the Castle district such as visit museums and art galleries and churches but also the spectacular view of the Danube and the parliament buildings. There are so many photos waiting for you up there! Especially near the Fisherman's Bastion.