Buda Castle – formerly known as Royal Castle – is a major landmark of the capitol, a part of the World Heritage.
Situated on the Buda bank of the Danube on the Castle Hill, its emblematic green dome can be spotted from quite a distance. This gorgeous, Gothic palace was built between the middle of the 13th and the end of the 14th century. The siege in 1686 (Turkish conquest era) and World War II both caused considerable damage in the castle itself and in the castle district. The building received baroque and ne-baroque features during reconstruction works, such as the dome and the façade. Buda Castle has evolved into a major cultural and touristic centre of Budapest: Here you can find the National Gallery, the Historical Museum of Budapest and the National Széchenyi Library. Savoya terrace within the castle hosts several festivals for days in the summer and autumn every year.
If you had enough of the hustle-and-bustle of downtown, you don’t have to run as far as the forests and hills around Buda for a little peace and quiet, it’s enough to walk up to the Tomb of Gül baba in district II.
Close to the Buda end of Margaret-bridge, there’s an old-fashioned small street that leads there. Climb the stairs and there you are at the Turkish sepulcher. Stepping in through the gate, you’ll find yourself in a garden with the tomb (türbe) in the middle and various different details all around: a drinking-trough, taps on the wall, glazed tile decorations on the walls, an archway, from where you will see the city lying at your feet. Gül baba (a dervish) was a great horticulturalist and it was him who introduced cultivated roses to Hungary. He had a beautiful rose garden, after which this part of the city, Rózsadomb (Rose-hill) was named after. This is a moslim pilgrimage site even today.
The origins of the Király Thermal Bath traces back to the mid-16th century Turkish reign, while its name comes from its owners following the reoccupation of Buda at the very end of the 18th century, the König family.
The bath has no direct hot water base, the Turks built the bath far from the springs in order to ensure water supply in the castle in case of an eventual siege. The bath gains its water base from the springs around Lukács Bath. Apart from the four thermal bath units there are medical bath tubs, thermal treatments, sauna and massage to enjoy and improve your health condition. Regarding water composition, it is hot spring water with calcium, magnesium, hydrogen-carbonate and sulphate, also containing sodium and with a substantial content of fluoride ions, recommended for illnesses affecting the bones and joints especially.
Richly ornamented, The Hungarian State Opera House is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. It also houses the Hungarian State Balett.
This fascinating palace planned by Miklós Ybl is a major monument in Budapest. It opened in 1884 and enjoyed decades of success and fame with directors such as Gustav Mahler. The palace was planned for musical performances in terms of acoustics as well. The architectural solutions used were revolutionary: the hydraulic stage was an innovation used here for the first time in the world. A major attraction in the auditorium is the stunning gigantic bronze chandelier with its 3000 kilograms (cca. 6 613.867 pounds), a gem of applied arts. The decorated staircase in the hall captures the eye instantly, no wonder this is where a major social event, the Opera Ball takes place every year. Next to the main entrance we find two big statues of Ferenc Erkel and Ferenc Liszt, major former composers in Hungary. (Ferenc Erkel composed the music of the Hungarian national anthem, among others.) The side entrances are “guarded” by two sphinxes sculpted from marble, keeping a masque and a laurel between their claws. We can also see statues of Puttos, Muses and composers. There are guided tours within the Opera House daily.
The Museum of Fine Arts dates back to over a 100 years ago, to 1906.
The building sits next to Heroes’ Square, opposite the Palace of Arts on a floorspace of 10300 m2, of which 6500 m2 houses the paintings, while the statue galleries occupy 3800 m2. This museum ranks among the major ones in Europe, its seasonal exhibitions have attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. Unlike the more lucky institutions whose public collections were mainly based on and then enriched by rulers, The Museum of Fine Arts can be thankful for its existence for the Hungarian nobility as only a few works of art got here from the court of Vienna or other rulers of Hungary.
The story of Vajdahunyad Castle – just like that of Heroes’ Square – started with the Millennium Exhibition preparations.
A bidding competition was organized, in which it was fixed that the group of buildings have to be constituted from a Roman, a Gothic and a Renaissant-Baroque unit, Ignácz Alpár won this competition, who then travelled extensively in order to study the most relevant architectural features. Finally, a unique building was erected, since features of several remarkable buildings were put together here in one building: the stairs of the castle in Keresd (Criș), the well of the Town Hall in Bratislava, the clock tower in Segesvár (Sighișoara), the gate of the castle in Diakovár (Đakovo), the balcony of the Rákóczi house in Eperjes (Prešov), Katalin bastion in Brasov, Banská Bystrica and Bardejov Town Hall, the Knight hall in the castle of Vajdahunyad, Bakócz chapel in Esztergom, the ceiling of Queen Mary’s house in Kremnica, and paintings from the church in Mezőtelegd (Tileagd). This building houses the biggest agricultural museum in Europe.
Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) is an awe-inspiring space in District XIV, enthralling its visitors. This vast space is surrounded by classical monuments such as the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) and the Palace of Arts (Műcsarnok), lying in the vicinity of City Park (Városliget).
The Millenium Monumet replaced the Gloriette quelle in 1895, while the crescent shaped colonnade with the statues of kings and statesmen were erected between 1905-1910. The construction of the square was still not quite finished in 1929 when the Memorial of the Heroes of the nation (in the form of a marble stone) was placed in its centre, hence the name. The square used to be a park with trees but was finally covered by a decorated stone surface for the Eucharistic Congress in 1938, creating room for the masses. This is not only a place with monuments, it also serves as start-finish point for several national or international running races too.
A widely-known monument and major symbol of Budapest, the Fishermen’s Bastion is to be found in the Castle District.
It was built in neo-Romanesque style between 1895-1902, based on the plans of Frigyes Schulek. It offers a magnificent view of the city, no wonder its walls are always “lined’ with visitors. It is a less-known fact that its peaked towers represent the seven chieftains of Hungary (they led the Magyars or Hungarians to the Carpathian Basin where soon Hungary was founded). Its name is a riddle no one can be sure of, but there are two likely explanations. According to one of these, the bastion was named after the trade of the people living below in the Víziváros or Halászváros (City on water or City of fishermen). The other explanation says it got its name from the Guild of Fishermen of Buda, since they defended the bastion in times of enemy attack.
Citadel is a fortress built under the rule of Franz Joseph I. after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49, in order to deter with its guns the rebellious city.
Thus it once was a much-hated symbol of repression. However, it went into Hungarian hands following the Austro-Hungaria Compromise of 1867, and people started to deconstruct its walls, signaling its loss of martial role. Most of the damage caused under World war II. was finally repaired in the 1950-60’s, mainly through voluntary social work. Budapest’s chief symbol, the Statue of Liberty stands here. Citadel is now part of the World Heritage within the Buda Castle District.
Széchenyi Spa, aka “Szecska”, is one of Europe’s greatest spa complexes.
The institution is not simply a medical resort, but a fascinating building reminiscent of the antique Roman and Greek baths. Already since 1881 it was in use in the form of an artesian bath, while the spa itself opened in 1913. It has a swimming pool section as well as a thermal bath section, with over 20 pools altogether. Anyone aiming for total relaxation can choose from and indulge in services such as various types of massage and beauty treatments. Moreover, the spa is not only there for bathing but you can consume its water and have curative water treatments.