The Castle Palace on Buda Castle Hill, hard-fought in numerous battles, is today one of the most important sights of Budapest as the largest building in Hungary with numerous museums.
The monumental Castle Palace is probably the best known and most striking building of the Hungarian capital Budapest. The imposing magnificent building with the 62 meter high dome is enthroned on the southern part of the castle hill and belongs to our top 10 sights of Budapest.
The Castle Palace is 400m long and 200m wide, making it the largest building in all of Hungary. In the north, it directly adjoins the famous Buda Castle District, which houses numerous other sights around the Matthias Church. Since 1987, the Castle Palace, together with the Danube embankment, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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PICTURES: Castle Palace in Budapest
Sights in the castle palace
The castle palace was destroyed several times in the course of its history, but parts of it could be restored almost faithfully after meticulous research. Among the most interesting rooms of the Castle Palace are the Gothic Hall and the Royal Cellars, which date back to the Middle Ages, as well as the imposing Ballroom, which has a massive length of 304 meters. Many of the former royal chambers have been converted into museums.
Tip: To explore the entire castle palace with all its worth seeing places and interesting exhibitions, you would probably need several days. If you don't have that much time, you should at least stroll along the outside of the palace and enjoy the sensational view of Budapest next to the imposing building.
The National Gallery of Hungary extends over three wings and four floors of the Castle Palace. In addition to a collection of medals, works of art from the early Middle Ages to modern times can be admired here. Here alone, the art-interested tourist can spend one or two days wandering through the private and state art treasures.
The history of Budapest from prehistoric times to modern times is told by the Historical Museum in the southeast wing, which also houses, among other things, remains of the medieval Castle Palace.
The entrance to the exhibitions, also called the "Castle Museum", is located in the courtyard and is flanked by two dark, winged figures. Leading into the courtyard is the famous Lion's Gate, which is guarded by two stone lions. In the courtyard itself you can find two more lion statues.
Széchényi National Library
The Library of Hungary, named after its founder Count Széchényi, is located in the northeastern wing of the Castle Palace and can be entered from the Historical Museum through the so-called Murder Corridor, one of the oldest parts of the Castle Palace.
As the largest library in the country, it contains close to 8 million books, manuscripts and maps, including the legendary Budapest Leaves, which are among the oldest medieval song manuscripts, a collection of manuscripts dating back to King Corvinus and the "Chronica Hun garorum" from 1473, Hungary's first printed book.
The Baroque Matthias Fountain on the south side of the western forecourt depicts the story of King Corvinus and Ilona, according to which a peasant girl fell in love with the king, who went hunting unrecognized. Today the seated figure of the girl represents the love of the people for their king. The statue in the center of the forecourt, the "Horseherd", was created by György Vastagh in 1898.
Prince Eugene Monument
In front of the main entrance of the castle palace another important personality of history is honored. Turk vanquisher Prince Eugene of Savoy is enthroned here on a bronze horse, created by József Róna in 1900.
Fabulous bird Turul
At the very northeastern end of the palace and already clearly visible from the Danube, the legendary bird Turul spreads its dark wings on a pillar. Half eagle, half falcon, he is said to have appeared to Emese in a dream in 819 and prophesied to her that many kings would descend from her son. And indeed, her offspring Álmos was the first king of the Árpáds, Hungary's oldest ruling family.
Events in the Castle Palace
In addition to state ceremonies and receptions, the royal ambience of the Castle Palace is also used for numerous festivities. Among the culinary events are the Wine Festival, the Beer Festival and the so-called "Sweet Days", when everything on Buda Castle Hill revolves around chocolate.
History of the castle palace
The castle palace, visible from afar, has served as the residence of Hungarian kings since the early 13th century. King Béla IV had the impressive palace built together with the entire Buda Castle District in 1242, one year after the Mongol invasion. Remains of the Gothic palace of that time still exist today.
Over the centuries, the castle palace has been rebuilt, expanded and renewed by the various rulers of Hungary, and today it shines in a splendid mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles. The current layout of the castle palace with its courtyards and outer castles dates from the late 14th or early 15th century, when mighty walls were built for protection against the Turks, within which the center of Hungary developed with houses, monasteries, schools and a university.
The expansion from a Gothic castle to a magnificent Renaissance palace was carried out under King Matthias Corvinus, a lover and patron of art and science.
In 1541 the castle palace, along with the rest of Budapest, fell to the Turks for 145 years, who used the magnificent chambers as powder stores or stables. At the same time, however, they strengthened the fortifications, so that Budapest was not recaptured until September 1686 under Duke Charles V of Lorraine - allegedly through a miraculous Marian apparition in Matthias Church, when a powder explosion in the Castle Palace caused a wall to collapse in what was then the Great Mosque, revealing a statue of the Virgin Mary behind it.
During these numerous battles and also during the Second World War, when the Germans set up their headquarters in the caves and passages under the castle, large parts of the castle palace were destroyed, unfortunately losing some of its splendor. However, extensive reconstructions with the help of excellent historians resurrected the magnificent building, at least partially, almost in its original form. The excavations and restorations of one of the largest castle researches in Europe are still going on today.
Official website of the Historical Museum of Budapest with prices and opening hours
Official website of the National Gallery in the Castle Palace with prices and opening hours
Official website of the National Library of Hungary in the Castle Palace with prices and opening hours