Forming part of the massive Buda Castle palace complex, the Budapest City Museum shows off the long history of the city, from its early years as a Germanic-Hungarian trading town, through the Turkish occupation, to the tears of the 1956 uprising. The museum is deceptively large, containing not only four floors of exhibits, but also a maze like underground collection of rooms and passageways that make up part of the original medieval palace. If you wander around long enough, like I did, you'll find yourself in the original zwingers, the enclosed gardens that survived the palace's wrecking during the siege of 1686.
It's only a few euros to get in, which is quiet reasonable, but the additional cost of another three euros for the privilege of taking pictures is exorbitant.
We were here once at winter, and during dark hours. Great views over the Danube! And it felt safe to be here at dark. Of course use your common sense, like anywhere.
If you want to use the funicular down, don´t forget to check the timtable on your way up.
One morning we decided to walk up the Castle hill in Buda and visit the numerous attractions and monuments there. If you cross Danube from chain bridge you will be at Clark Adam ter. From here you can either take the cable car (the ticket is at 900Ft) or just walk up a few steps. Usually there’s a long line waiting for cable car and it doesn’t really take you to the top so we went from the steps and 10’ later we realized that the people were still at the same spot.
Up there you can just admire the view over Danube river or visit some nice museums (Hungarian National Gallery, History Museum etc). If you’re not into that you can just walk around and check numerous nice sculptures, fountains and gardens. The first thing we noticed was a sculpture of the mythological Turul bird (pic 1), then we walked towards the National Gallery. Before we go in we saw a nice fountain that is called Fishing Children (pic 2) made by Károly Senyey while in front of the Gallery there is a monument of Prince Eugene of Savoy(1663-1736) (pic 3) that dates from 1900 and shows his victory over Ottoman Turks in the battle of Zenta (1697) that ended the ottoman control over central europe.
We took some pictures of Pest (the view is great in front of the Gallery) and after visiting the gallery(see other tip) we went at the back side where we saw Matthias Fountain (pic 4). It’s an amazing neo baroque monument made by Alajos Strobl showing a hunting party led by king Matthias.
And then checked the inner yard of the palace, pic 5 shows the statue of the horseherd.
Shortly after the Chain Bridge was opened, the construction of a tunnel under Castle Hill began to make travelling on the Buda side faster. It was opened in 1857 with two beautiful entrances in classicist style. Only the one on the Danube side remains, the other one was destroyed during WWII. The tunnel was designed by Adam Clark and the square in front of it was also named Clark Adam ter.
Let's go to the Fishermen's Bastion. There are two theories about the origin: Some say that there was a fish market in the Middle Age; others, that the Guild of Fishermen defended this part of the walls.
One theory or another, the views are breathtaking as you can see.
The second pic shows the statue of St. Stephen.
I would consider four parts in the Castle District:
- The city itself, with beautiful buildings and streets.
- Mathias Church
- The Fishermen's Bastion
- Royal Palace
Here you can see pics of the city; in order:
- Wienna Gate/Bécsi Kapu
- Lutheran Church
- Fortuna utca
- Országház utca
- Uri utca
And last, but no least, the Royal Palace (Kyrályi Palota). The original palace was destroyed and rebuilt many times.
The third pic shows Mathias Fountain.
Now, it hosts three Museums:
- Budapest History Museum
- Hungarian National Gallery (for some pics, see the next tip)
- Contemporary Art Museum (Ludwig Collection
Not the oldest part of Budapest (that honour goes to Óbuda, further north opposite Margaret Island), but certainly one of the most quaint parts of the city. Vár 'shares' Castle Hill with the Royal Palace and its where the rank and file would have lived in the Middle Ages.
It includes the Fisherman's Bastion and Mátyás Templom, but there's lots of little alleyways, tiny museums, buildings of bright hues of yellow, orange, green and red as well courtyards to stick your nose into, small village squares with individuals celebrated or remembered with statues at the centre. It's easy to walk around - there are essentially four parallel streets running north to south to the Royal Palace.
Major Sights in Budapest Castle District:
Royal Palace (Királyi Palota),
Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya),
Matthias Church (Mátyás templom).
Getting to Budapest Castle District
The best way to get up the hill is to take the Cable Car (Sikló) from Clark Ádám tér at the Buda end of the Chain bridge. The track is almost 100 m long. The cable car runs
Upwards: 650 HUF/ 2.6 €
Downwards: 550 HUF/2.2 €
Children (3-14 age) 350 HUF/1..4 €
Operating hours of the cable car: 7.30-22.00, the cable car runs constantly during peak time and at max 10-minute intervals during less busy periods.
Other option is to take the Várbusz (Castle bus), it departs every few minutes from Moszkva tér.
Apart from all the monuments, museums and grand buildings, the Castle District has nice little streets around which it's just pleasant to wander. You can take a horse-drawn carriage but I preferred to walk.
If you have a good guidebook, there's some interesting history to be learned along the way and there are a couple of nice cafes where you can have a rest.
I walked to Varhegy taking Margit Korut (the main road opposite Margit Bridge) then turned up Ostrom Ucta just after the huge Mammut shopping Malls. I entered the walled castle district though the Vienna gate.
Alternatively you can take Siklo the 19th century funicular. This runs at the opposite end of Varhegy (near to the palace)
The area contains several museums and monuments in two distinct areas; the old town and the Royal Palace.
Things are slightly more expensive here then in other parts of the city, understandable considering it is one of the major tourist attractions.
When I visited there was a fair in the Palace grounds which meant there were thousands of people in and around the Palace so I gave it a miss, however, I found plenty of other things to see and do in the area, walking round the side streets.
Other attractions include the Fishermen's Bastion which offers great views over the city, Matyas Church, Museum of Commerce and Catering and The Golden Eagle Pharmacy - the first pharmacy in Buda
Castle Hill is the centre of Buda and can be reached on foot from the suspension bridge - Szechenyi Lanchid but it is lovely to go up the hill with the cable car and watch the view unfolding.
The hill was first setteld in the middle of the 13th century when King Bela IV built a fortress to protect the area after a Mongol invasion. With the Turkish conquest in 1541 the Hungarian king was banished and the churches were used as mosques for the next 150 years. Then Hungary was reconquered by Hapsburg Austria in 1686 and during this period the fortress on the hill was further developed and houses, streets and many public buildings were constructed. The rulers lived in Vienna but the palace in Buda comtinued to develop.
on 3rd March 1800 Joseph Haydn conducted his oratory 'Creation' in the ceremony hall.
During World War II the castle was under Russian siege for a long time and during the battle the palace and most of the old buildings were completely destroyed. In the early 1950's restoration work started and the palace was reconstructed.
Today the palace houses museums notable Te Hungarian National Gallery.
It's with good reason that many books on Budapest open with a chapter on the Castle District. The majority of Buda's principal tourist sights - which include the Royal Palace, Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church - are situated here.
Don't be fooled into thinking that you'll be able to conduct a quick stop tour in a single day though. Almost every cobbled street leads on to a place of interest, whether it's a landmark building, a row of baroque houses or a charming little café where locals chat, play chess, or read the early morning papers. Regarded as Budapest's 'trump card' in attracting tourists, the beauty and historic importance of buildings here is reflected by the fact that the entire area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Whilst traffic within the Castle District is supposedly limited to taxis, buses and cars belonging to guests of the Hilton Hotel, we found it quite easy during the Autumn to drive up and park in Disz ter (car parking charges do apply). In peak season however, we wouldn't recommend you try, it's much easier to use public transport instead.
Castle Hill is much more than a castle on a hill. It is actually the 13th C walled city of Buda which surrounded the castle built by King Bela IV after the Tartars had destroyed the old capital just up the river. The castle was replaced by a much larger one in the 14th C which was destroyed in the 17th C and rebuilt by the Austrians hoping to woo the Hapsburg monarch. This one was destroyed at the end of WWII and replaced with one that frankly doesn’t have much appeal and is devoted to several museums.
If you come up on the funicular the famous ‘turul’ bird is just to the left. This is the mythical Magyar bird that watches over the palace and is said to have led their migrations with Arpad and dropped his sword near here, a sign that this was home for the Magyars.
The Matthias Church is about 200 m north of the Palace and is a towering landmark over the city. It has been rebuilt several times since its founding in the 13th C. Another myth or legend is associated with it. They walled over a 16th C statue of Mary and Jesus in anticipation of Turkish plundering. 150 years later the Turks were using the church as a mosque when an explosion down the street crumbled the walls and the revealed Mary and Jesus frightened them away. Since then it is known as the Church of Our Lady but is named for a Renaissance king who was married here.
Just in front of the church is a plague monument erected in 1713after four outbreaks of plague had swept over the city. There were so many deaths that they burned bodies in mass graves and this monument was erected to them.
Standing in the square between the church and the Fishermen’s Bastion is a statue of St. Stephen (Istvan) on his horse surveying his kingdom. He was the first Christian king and was instrumental in converting his subjects, albeit by what we used to call in our office the “bigger hammer” method. He even subdivided into quarters one of his uncles and sent him on four tours simultaneously. I think they got the point and in not too many years Stephen was made a saint.
Lovingly restored after being reduced
to rubble during World War II, this very
picturesque area is located in the heart
of medieval Budapest, which is very much
still characterized by cobblestone streets,
narrow alleys and lovely squares with many
baroque and classical buildings ....