Budapest: Exploring Buda Castle District!
February 2, 2019|In Budapest, Europe, Europe Guide, Hungary|By paraphernalia.coShare This
Standing proudly, Buda Castle and its surrounding district dominate the skyline of the Danube’s western bank.
Table of Contents hide #explore Castle Hill Matthias Church Fisherman’s Bastion Museum of Military History Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum The Labyrinth #explore Buda Castle The Castle Museum Budapest History Museum Hungarian National Gallery #eat Arany Hordo Restaurant #drink Wine Festival Beer Festival #stay Booking.com #Getting to Budapest. Finally…. #Pin for later.
An impressive combination of architectural styles, Buda Castle is particularly striking at night as a shining beacon against an ebony sky.
Covering an area of almost five square kilometres, the castle district requires a full day to appreciate the past, present, and future of Budapest and Hungary as a whole.
Include part of the evening to unwind with a sundowner and take in the remarkable views. There’s a lot to see and do so let’s take a look around.
#explore Castle Hill
Ascend from Clark Adam Square via the funicular at Chain Bridge. The counterbalanced 2 car funicular has been in use since 1870 and was included in the World Heritage listing of the entire Castle district in 1987.
Open from 07:30 daily, service concludes at 22:00 allowing plenty of time to wander the Castle district at your leisure.
Alternatively, buy a day ticket for the official Castle Shuttle.
From 10:00 until 18:00 daily, a shuttle departs every 10 to 15 minutes from each of the six hop-on hop-off locations. As the Castle district is extensive, this is the perfect way to see all of the sites in one day.
The coloured tiled roof of Matthias Church is an obvious indication this is not your regular Catholic Church. The autumnal shades extend from the roof and through the interior in the floor to ceiling frescoes, stained glass windows and ornately carved arches.
From the medieval crypt, the Ecclesiastical Art Museum extends to St. Stephen Chapel. Stone carvings, sacred relics, coronation jewels and a replica of the Hungarian royal crown are displayed in the gallery.
Included in a 2.5-hour walking tour of the Castle district, a well-informed guide shares the church’s history and takes you through the interior.
Matthias Church’s popularity makes reserving tickets essential. Weddings, concerts, church events and performances may take precedence over tours. To avoid disappointment, check this site for online bookings and availability.
Protected by the guild of the fishermen in the middle ages, Fisherman’s Bastion comprises seven turrets representing the seven tribes who founded present-day Hungary in 895.
Built in a time of peace, the bastion was never intended for protection but for the castle district community to enjoy sweeping views over the plains of Pest and the Danube River below.
World War 2 and the Revolution had an adverse effect on the beauty of the bastion requiring considerable sums invested for reparation.
Now, walls are wandered free of charge while a small fee is payable to climb the turrets and terrace. Check the terrace café opening hours and enjoy coffee or light lunch while taking in the spectacular views.
Museum of Military History
At Kapisztrán Square, visit the Institute and Museum of Military History.
Established in 1920, the building was originally an Army barracks.
Hungary’s War of Independence and the Revolution of 1956 are prominent exhibitions, along with armour, uniforms, flags and weaponry dating back to the mid-1800s.
The Research Centre in the Institute holds archives and a library for a more in-depth study of people and politics.
Adjacent to the Museum of Military History, a nominal fee allows entrance to Maria Magdelena Tower.
Recently restored and reopened to the public, Magdelena Tower (or Buda Tower) rewards with a magnificent view of Budapest’s most prominent buildings.
Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum
Buda Castle Hill covers approximately ten kilometres of tunnels, cellars and caves. This underground area houses Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum.
Purpose built for treating WW2’s wounded until mid-1945, this secret hospital became necessary again through the Revolution in 1956.
From 1958 to 1962 Hospital in the Rock was expanded to protect against nuclear and chemical attacks through the Cold War.
Opened to the public in 2008, hourly guided tours in Hungarian and English follow the history of the hospital and bunker.
In addition to the hospital and bunker, the Labyrinth allows further exploration of Castle Hill’s subterranean past.
Generally used for military purposes, evidence of female skeletons dated to Ottoman rule through the 16th and 17th centuries suggest these tunnels and caves were once a harem.
Perfect for both torture chambers and prison, the Labyrinth tells tales of the incarceration of Vlad Tepes (Count Dracula to you and me). Imprisoned for fourteen years, Vlad allegedly was only let out of his underground cell at the behest of King Matthias Corvinus.
A section of the Labyrinth recently closed but areas are still open for self-guided tours through chambers and tunnels displaying dioramas of life underground. Shackles and chains are clear reminders of the Labyrinth’s prior use.
#explore Buda Castle
Like the rest of Castle Hill, Buda Castle has been World Heritage listed since 1987. Built over a twenty year period in the mid-1700s, this castle sits on top of the original 13th-century baroque castle’s remains.
The Castle Museum
The castle consists of three wings – north, south and central – surrounding an enormous internal courtyard. Damage through WW2, destruction through the communist era and modernisation have seen a significant change to the castle inside and out.
Reserve a couple of hours for the castle’s interior, and ensure you leave plenty of time for wandering the stunning castle grounds.
Budapest History Museum
Housed over four floors in the south wing, the Budapest History Museum exhibits date from 895 when Budapest was founded.
Restoration of the Royal Chapel and Gothic Hall of the buried medieval castle allow a glimpse of the original 13th-century structure. Throughout the museum, you’ll find fascinating gothic statues, intricate tapestries and impressive artefacts.
Hungarian National Gallery
In buildings A to D of the castle, the Hungarian National Gallery hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions. Hungarian art history from the 11th century to the present day join the only pre-war interior left of the Royal Palace – the Palatinal Crypt.
Paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries depict the turbulent years of Turkish and Austrian occupation. The gallery’s exhibitions consist of 6000 paintings, 2100 sculptures, 3100 medals, 11,000 drawings, and 5000 prints so allow plenty of time to wander.
For art lovers, the gallery is a must. For the less art-inclined, you’ll be surprised by what captures your attention.
Entrance to the Hungarian National Gallery is free on national holidays – March 15, August 20 & October 23. It’ll cost HUF 1,800 (approx. US$6.35) at any other time.
When it’s time for sustenance, there is an abundance of options from cafés to Michelin Guide restaurants. Over 20 restaurants are conveniently located near or within attractions. For a list with locations follow this link.
Arany Hordo Restaurant
You’ll recognise Arany Hordo by the cheerful red & white checked tablecloths on the terrace a few steps from Matthias Church.
Housed in the residence of the King’s head sommelier, this 500-year-old building’s quarry stone wine cellar was once connected to the Labyrinth from under the restaurant.
Knighthood murals and breastplates decorate the first-floor parlour and if you’re keen to really taste history, reservations can be made for an ancient dinner served on traditional crockery.
Hungarian wine tastings are held in the cellar as is subterranean dining. Be sure to reserve a table.
A few international dishes sit beside traditional Hungarian favourites on the menu and service is both efficient and amiable.
With the number of restaurants and cafés at Buda Castle and in the Castle district, you won’t have a problem finding an adult beverage, coffee, soft drink or drinking fountain to fill your water bottle. What you may not be aware of are the festivals.
Beginning with a harvest procession in Buda Castle, the wine festival takes place over four days every September in the courtyards and grounds of the castle. A guest country’s wine is showcased each year in conjunction with Hungary’s Wine regions.
Single day and four-day tickets are inclusive of a crystal tasting glass in a carry bag, entrance to Budapest History Museum, a shot of espresso from the Nespresso stands, and free wi-fi for instant social media posting.
To take part in next year’s Wine Festival, follow this link (you may need to use google translate) and reserve your tickets for 5 – 8 September 2019.
2019 dates have not yet been released but beer lovers keep your eye on June or August when Buda Castle is the venue for the beer festival. Hungarian brewers are joined by international compatriots pulling pints of the good stuff.
Four days of concerts, local food stands and lots of beer make this a sought-after event. A pint of beer is included in the entrance fee and the party continues until 3 am.
Accommodation is available in the Castle District but not in the Castle itself, sadly.
Hilton Hotel next door to Matthias Church, Baltazar Boutique Hotel near the Miltary Museum and the new Hotel Clark at Clark Adam Square are all excellent options to be right in the Castle District.
Across the Danube in District V, big brand names hug the river bank. Intercontinental, Marriott and more.
paraphernalia.co is a Booking.com affiliate. This means by booking through us you’ll still receive the same booking.com competitive rates while we receive a tiny commission to keep paraphernalia.co going.
Enter Buda Castle in the search option below and refine your search to District 1. You’ll find a wide selection of hotels, apartments and hostels within your budget in and around the Castle district.
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#Getting to Budapest.
Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport is a 30-minute taxi ride from the city centre.
Emirates Airline departs Dubai daily at a comfortable 08:40 am, arriving in Budapest at 11:45 am local. A perfect time to get straight into an afternoon of sightseeing, to book your evening Danube cruise or find an outdoor café to enjoy Hungarian hospitality.
Taxi alternatives from the airport include miniBud, the airport’s shuttle bus service. At the time of publishing single passenger fares were €17.50 with prices reducing the more people in your group.
Bookings can be made online along with your Budapest Card to be collected at the airport on arrival and Fast Track cards for ease of security clearance.
You can also take bus 200E (04:00 – 23:00) Bus 900 (23:00 – 04:00) from Terminal 2 to the nearest Metro station (Kőbánya-Kispest) and hop on the M3 train to the city centre.
Tourists visiting Budapest receive free maps and information from the nonprofit Budapest Festival and Tourism Center at its info-points. The info centres also offer the Budapest Card which allows free public transit and discounts for several museums, restaurants and other places of interest. Cards are available for 24, 48 or 72-hour durations.
To gain a comprehensive account of Hungarian history, art and culture, Buda Castle District delivers in spades. Be generous with your time for this adventure, though, guaranteed it still won’t be enough.
From lofty towers to underground tunnels, Buda Castle District: it’s a place we love….
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