The Castle District in the Buda district rises on the nearly 170m high hill on the bank of the Danube in Budapest. Once the seat of Hungarian kings and nobles, it still houses magnificent historical monuments.
The Castle District on Castle Hill in Budapest is probably the most famous and important sight of the Hungarian capital. Many visitors associate the Castle District with the imposing Castle Palace, but in fact the Castle District stretches next to it from the Vienna Gate to Szent György tér Square. It includes famous buildings such as Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion, two of our top 10 Budapest sights.
The Castle District in Buda is about 1.5km long and 500m wide, largely car-free and easy to explore on foot. There are several staircases leading up Buda Hill and a cable car also goes up to the east - from here you have probably the most magnificent view of the Chain Bridge, one of our 7 most beautiful bridges in Budapest, which crosses the Danube at the foot of the hill.
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The most popular entrance to the Castle District is the Vienna Gate at Bécsi kapu tér. The buses that bring thousands of tourists to the Castle District every day also stop here. A plaque on the inside of the gate commemorates the liberation of Buda from the Turks in 1686, the 250th anniversary of which it was erected. To the right of the Vienna Gate are the Hungarian State Archives and the Anjou Bastion, which was fiercely fought over during the liberation of the Turks.
Táncsics Mihály utca
Táncsics Mihály utca was once called Jewish Street and is the oldest street in the Castle District. Today it is named after the Hungarian writer Mihály Táncsics. In this street there are the Hungarian National Monument Office, the Museum of Music History and a former Jewish prayer house, where today the life of the Jews in Hungary is presented as well as the remains of a synagogue from the 15th century.
Passing Andreas Hess Square with a statue of Pope Innocent XI and one of the oldest inns of the Castle District with a red hedgehog above the gate, we continue on Táncsics Mihály utca to the famous Trinity Square.
Szentháromság tér is the central square of the Castle District, on which a 14m-high plague column from the 18th century is enthroned (the original monument was badly damaged during World War II). To the east of the column rises the magnificent Matthias Church probably the most famous and beautiful church in Budapest. It was built in the 13th century by King Béla IV and is also known as the Coronation Church.
Right next to it, the modern construction of the Hilton Hotel disfigures the historic square. The block had to blend in with the remains of the medieval buildings and has unfortunately robbed Trinity Square of some of its Gothic flair.
Andreas Hess Square is named after the operator of Hungary's first public printing house, which was housed in a house opposite. At the foot of the stairs of the southern tower in St. Michael's Cemetery Chapel, the history of paper production is presented.
Opposite the Matthias Church is the former Buda City Hall. The two-story Baroque building now houses the Linguistics Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and impresses with its architecturally interesting staircase and courtyard.
To the north of the Matthias Church, the walls of the Fishermen's Bastion enclose the castle hill. With its numerous staircases, towers and battlements, as well as remains of the old city wall, it is reminiscent of a medieval castle. The extensive structure, together with the entire castle district and the banks of the Danube, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
The Fishermen's Bastion was built by Frigyes Schulek between 1895 and 1902 for the Fishermen's Guild of Buda on the site of the former fish market, hence the name. In the Middle Ages, it was the responsibility of the Fishermen's Guild to defend this part of the city wall, which today shines as an architectural jewel on Buda's Castle Hill.
PICTURES: Fishermen's Bastion
Photo gallery: Fishermen's Bastion in Budapest
Visit to the Fishermen's Bastion
Today, the magnificent Fisherman's Bastion is one of our top 10 Budapest sights. With its conical turrets and battlements, the Fishermen's Bastion is almost reminiscent of a fairy-tale castle or a medieval fortress. The seven towers are said to be reminiscent of the tents of the Magyars and represent their seven tribes, which were indigenous to the Pannonian Plain in 896.
Panoramic view from the Fishermen's Bastion
Already the walk from the banks of the Danube up to the Castle Hill rewards again and again with magnificent viewpoints over Budapest. If you walk along the 140m long walls of the Fishermen's Bastion with its stairs, corridors, paths and viewing areas to the terrace of the Fishermen's Bastion, a fantastic view opens up over the city, the Pest district, the Empress Elisabeth Bridge and the Chain Bridge over the Danube, Margaret Island with the bridge of the same name and Gellért Hill. By the way, all three of these bridges are among our 7 most beautiful bridges of Budapest.
King Stephen I on the Fishermen's Bastion
Directly in front of the Fishermen's Bastion is enthroned an equestrian statue of King Stephen I, the first Christian king of Hungary, to whom the largest basilica in Budapest is also dedicated. The statue dates back to 1906 and was designed by Alajo Stróbl.
The plans for the base of the statue come from the builder of the Fishermen's Bastion. The latter decorated it with lion figures and scenes from the life of King Stephen I, including the "Coronation", the "Homage of Vienna", the "Proclamation of the Law and the "Building of the Church". It is noteworthy that the king does not direct his gaze to the city, but to the nearby Matthias Church.
To the castle palace
Via the treasurer's alley (Tárnok utca ) and the square of honor (Dísz tér) we continue to the monumental castle palace, probably the most famous and striking building of Budapest.
In the Treasurer's Alley, the beautiful facades of the Gothic merchant houses and the Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum deserve a second look. In Színház utca, adjoining the Square of Honor, the Castle Theater and the Sándor Palace, seat of the current Hungarian President, are worth mentioning.
At the end of Színház utca already tower the first antechambers of the Castle Palace, the largest building in Hungary, which strictly speaking is no longer part of the Castle District. Today, it houses several museums as well as the largest library in Hungary and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, along with the Danube riverfront.
Herrengasse (Úri utca)
The way back through the castle district is best taken via Herrengasse, whose history dates back to the 13th century. The magnificent houses in Baroque and Classicist styles still show that the nobles and rich merchants of the city once lived here. In the past, Romanesque and Gothic styles were also represented in Herrengasse, but these buildings were mostly destroyed during the Turkish wars.
In the house No. 9 in Úri utca is the entrance to the 24km long cave system, which extends under the Castle Palace. In wartime, the population of Buda retreated here with their supplies and also the German Wehrmacht had their headquarters in the labyrinth of tunnels during the Second World War.
The world's first working telephone exchange can be admired in the Telephone Museum. The Herrengasse leads to Kapisztrán Square (Kapisztrán tér) with the War History Museum, which informs about the wars in Hungary since the 16th century. Opposite is again the Hungarian State Archives, so the tour of the Castle District is complete.
History of the Buda Castle District
The Castle Hill on the right bank of the Danube was first built on in the 13th century under the Hungarian King Béla IV for protection against the Mongols. At that time, the 168m high hill was perceived not only as a fortification, but also as a worthy seat of a king, and so the first version of the Buda Castle (today known as the Castle Palace) was built in the southeast of the Castle Hill at that time. In the northwest, magnificent burgher houses were built, which can be admired especially in Herrengasse.
During the Turkish Wars and the Second World War, the Castle District was largely destroyed, but subsequently rebuilt. In the course of the reconstructions, the builders came across the foundation walls of many buildings from the Middle Ages. With the help of archaeologists, efforts were made to resurrect the Castle District as faithfully as possible.