Buda Castle is a symbol of Budapest and used to be the home of the first Hungarian Kings. The first Castle was build on the hill in 1265. Its present look started to form in 1715 with a small baroque palace. During the golden ages in 1895 Miklos Ybl, one of most influential architects of his time preserved the small baroque palace and mirrored it to the west. Unfortunately, Ybl died shortly after work began, his successor Alajos Hauszmann finished with slight modifications. In 1893 it hosted the celebration of the 25th anniversary of King Franz Joseph’s coronation.
It has been almost completely demolished during two sieges.The first happened in 1686 when the allied Christian forces took Buda back from the Ottoman Empire. The second siege of Budapest was during WWII in 1945 when the Castle was the last major stronghold of the Axis forces. The castle has been rebuilt during the Communism by 1966 and became a cultural center of Budapest.
These days you will find the National Gallery, the National Library and the Budapest History Museum within its walls. You can take the Castle Hill Funicular to go up which is part of the UNSECO World Heritage and more than a hundred years old.
The Bastion and the Church are in walking distance from the Buda Castle. Firsherman’s Bastion is a popular tourist destination due to it’s beauty and the view it offers to the city. It was built in the golden ages of the Astro-Hungarian Empire between 1895-1902 by Frigyes Shuleck who reconstructed the Matthias Church at the same time. Its name originates from the medieval times when the fishermen’s guild were protecting this part of the walls. Its cone-topped stone towers symbolize the 7 Hungarian chieftains who once led the invasion of the Carpathian Basin and settled down here.
The Church claims that itwas founded by Hungary’s first king and founding father St. Stephen in 1015. You can witness his statue next to the Church. Due to historical evidence we know today that the first construction here happened in the 1260’s. The Church has gone through a lot structural changes and it burned down in the great Buda fire of 1723. It got its final look in 1986 after Franz Joseph I. first monarch of the Empire ordered its constitution, celebrating the 1000th birthday of Hungary.
Currently holds the title as the third biggest Parliament in the world. As many other famous buildings in Budapest it was commissioned at the end of the 18th century and was ready by 1904. It’s a completely symmetric building as it was constructed as a two chamber parliament. The blue chamber belonging to the lords as they were considered to have blue blood. Today the parliament is assembled in the commons chamber and the chamber of lords can be visited with a tour. It is recommended to book a tour in advance as it can fill up quickly in high seasons. The parliament exhibits the of the Hungarian Holy Crown which also has a rich history of its own.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
The St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church of Budapest and the second largest in the country. It’s founding dates back to the flood of 1838 when a a naturally higher piece of land saved hundreds of citizens from drowning. The citizens started to collect money to build a Church commemorating their miraculous survival. Actual construction only started in 1851 as the 1848-49 Rebellion delayed the operation. Hild Jozsef has designed the original Classicist plans and managed construction until He died in 1867. One year later, due to bad quality building materials and constructional issues the dome collapsed and its ruins were cleaned up for the next 3 years. Miklós Ybl continued the overlooking of constructions and also redesigned the church with neorenaissance elements. After Ybls’ death in 1891, Jozsef Kauser finished works in 1905.
With its 98m height it is one of the highest buildings of Budapest. You can go up the dome and from the top you will get a totally new perspective of the city. Furthermore, you can visit the altar of the Holy Right, which is the alleged mummified right hand of King St. Stephen the I. According to the legend it was retrieved from his tomb in 1083. Every year on the 20th of August, the birthplace of Hungary the Catholic Church does the usual procession where they carry the Holy Right through Budapest.
The Citadel, Geller’s Hill & Statue of Liberty
On the top of Gellert’s Hill you will find the Citadel, which was built after the 1848-49 Hungarian Revolution by the Habsburg Empire to defend the city and prevent further rebellions. It has never been finished as it was deemed to be outdated for its time. Gellert’s Hill got its name from a supposed priest and preacher who got pushed into his death in 1046 in a barrel. The Statue of Liberty was originally accompanied by a Soviet soldier who was ducking in front of the Female figure holding a gun. This statue was raised by the Communist government and it was destroyed during the 1956 Revolution.
The mob also wanted to destroy the Woman figure holding the palm tree, but they were convinced in the end to not damage it. The solider statue was rebuilt after the revolution was defeated and was only removed after the end of the Soviet Union.
Heroes Square is close to Széchenyi Baths within in City Park, just like Vajdahunyad Castle. It’s a must see in Budapest for everyone, with the 14 emblematic historical figures of Hungary in the background (semi-circle) and the seven Hungarian chieftains who led their to the Carpathian basin with the lead of Archangel Gabriel. One side of the square is the Museum of Fine Arts and the other side it’s the Kunsthalle. The Fine Art Museum is being renovated until 31st of October 2018.
The Vajdahunyad Castle
The Vajdahunyad Castle is within walking distance from Heroes Square and its located in City Park. If you cross the bridge behind the stautes and turn right after a short walk, you should be able to see the castle. It’s more than a hundred years old, built in a mix of styles, gothic, roman, renaissance and baroque. The castle is home to the Museum of Agriculture. Around the castle is the lake of the park, you can rent a small boat and paddle around. In front of the castle is the Statue of Anonymus, who recorded early Hungarian history around the 12th century.
Hungary is famous for its baths, therefore its highly recommended to try at least one out. Széchenyi is the one of the most famous ones. Plenty of pools and saunas and on the weekends they organize parties (SPArty). Rudas has been newly renovated, with a Jacuzzi outside where you can get a nice view of the Pest Side. Gellért is also very famous and it has a pool inside a Roman designed hall inside. Baths are a perfect hideaway after a long day of sightseeing or partying.
The Liberty bridge was ready for the Millennial celebrations of 1896. One the Buda side of the bridge is the Gellért Square with Hotel Gellért (and Gellért Baths) next to the Gellért Hill. On the Pest side you will find Fővám square with the Corvinus University, one of the largest and most prestigious Economic Universities of Hungary and also the Great Market Hall. The Liberty Bridge offers a nice view of the city. Young people often chill out on the green iron-thing sipping wine or just enjoying the sun. On weekends during summertime its closed for the public for picnics.
Great Market Hall
The Market Hall is the first indoor market hall of Budapest. It is at the end of the Váci street at Fővám square. On the lower story you will find the fish market,along with exotic spices and on the upper level you can buy clothes and souvenirs things. It’s nice to walk around just on the ground floor, see all the vendors, how it works in Hungary, the fresh vegetables and the meat market at the end. And on the right side you can find the famous paprika and spices of Hungary.