Things to see and do - Budapest
Leaving for Hungary
The Hill of Buda :
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The Hill of Buda
The Hill of BudaPedestrian, 4 km, 1 day
This is one of the classic walks of the Hungarian capital that takes you from the imposing Royal Palace to the narrow paved streets of the castle district. The view over Pest, on the other side of the river, is superb.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
It was King Béla IV who decided to build a fortress here in order to protect Buda from the Mongols, however the castle owes its opulence to the Habsburgs. Outside the palace note the huge turul; the equestrian statue of Eugene of Savoy; King Mathias's fountain; the Lions' Gate, leading to the beautiful interior courtyard; the "war hammer" tower; and the barbican. The palace houses the Széchenyi national library, the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery.
After strolling around the castle walls and enjoying the views or visiting a museum, why not enjoy the delights of wandering through the old part, where you can stop here and there to look at a shop window, a façade, a monument, to capture it on your video or in a photo. If you are hungry or thirsty, just stop one of at one of the stalls or the bars along the street and you will be spoilt for choice.
This square which stretches out in front of the main entrance to the castle is overlooked by two buildings on the right-hand side: the Neo-Gothic Sándor palace and former residence of the Prime Minister and the Castle theatre (Várszínház) with a Rococo façade, which was a former convent of the Carmelite order, which was dissolved in 1782 under the orders of Joseph II and altered by Farkas Kempelen in 1787. The first performance in Hungarian was given there on the 5th October 1790.
This set of ramparts and turrets (finished in 1906) calls to mind a castle right out of a fairytale. The seven turrets symbolise the seven Magyar tribes and each tribal leader is represented by a statue. The bastion offers the visitor beautiful views over the Danube and Pest. The statue of Saint Stephen, the first king of Hungary, stands in front of the bastion. Note the attributes given to the four evangelists: Matthew, the man, Luke, the ox, John, the eagle and Mark, the lion.
A busy trading area in the Middle Ages (German merchants), Treasurer 's Street, is edged with beautiful houses with painted façades, corbelled balaconies and Baroque decorative touches. They now mainly house souvenir shops, or establishments selling typical folk costumes, embroidery and cafés and restaurants... for the passing tourists. Stop and admire the façade of no. 14 (Tarnok café): this house dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries and was restore during 1950s.
At No. 7, you have to queue up in the tourist season before Ruszwurm Cukrászda (a cake shop founded in 1827) to buy one of its superb gateaux or to sit down in the small adjoining room. The "Start of the century" surroundings is also a curiosity. On the corner of Úri Street, a statue of András Hadik on horseback in the uniform of a hussar. This person became famous under the reign of Marie-Thérèse in which he gained his promotion to General.
A brief stop can easily turn into a long pause in the house of Hungarian wines! Even though tokaj is still the best known Hungarian wine abroad, there are still other names to be discovered. The twenty wine regions, with their different vines and vintages, are clearly set out on a map and information is provided on the boards (in English, sometimes in French). Hundreds of labelled bottles represent the production. Wine lovers can taste and buy wine there.
Carriages await the visitors on the main square in the castle district, around the Trinity column built to commemorate the plague epidemics in the 17th and 18th century. Admire the beautiful Mathias church and in one of the corners, the Baroque palace (built at the end of the 17th century), which housed Buda's former town hall. A pinnacle turret with a clock rises above what was formerly a chapel. The statue of Athena, the town's guardian, is set in a niche.
The church that can be seen today is the work of Frigyes Schulek. From the outside, you can see the Mathias tower which rises up towards the sky, the Romanesque Béla tower, the main portal with a tympanum showing the Virgin Mary with child and Mary's door, which dates back to Louis I, the Great. The church contains numerous paintings! Do not miss the chapels: St-Ladislas, the Trinity, St-Émeric and Lorette, the baptismal fonts, and the Museum of Sacred Art.
This square is named after the first printer to set up here in 1483. He published Buda's chronicals, the first book to be written in Hungarian. The statue in the centre is Pope Innocent XI who played a very important role during the war against the Turks. Behind the statue, you can see an old house called the "red hedgehog" house due to the tiny animal over the door. Note the beautiful yellow façade of the building that houses the Fortuna restaurant.
The longest street in the quarter of the castle. You must walk along it to admire the façades of most of its Baroque houses. All these beautiful homes which appear one after another grant the street a certain residential look. Everything transmits calm and comfort. At No. 9, a labyrinth of galleries and caves. A low passageway underneath, sometimes ribbed where the water flows, from the rooms, a pale light, strange background music, statues, a fountain where wine flows, in a word: mystery.
The promenade of the Ramparts (Tóth Árpád sétány) spreads from the bastion of Esztergom to the North up to Dísz tér, the square of the Parades, in the South of the quarter of the castle. It follows the walls built in the Middle Ages, overhanging the Christian quarter. Its main interest is the view that it offers over the Western quarters of Buda, from the hills of the same name (with the highest one being mount János) up to mount Gellért, further to the South.
Surrounded by ramparts, Castle Hill overlooks the Danube. At night, it takes on a new appearance with lighting effects... The royal palace with its dome, Mathias church with its glazed roofs, Fishermen's Bastion, to be seen from Pest, then shine with the light from a thousand spotlights. If you take the funicular railway up the hill, do not miss the sculpture symbolising the famous 0 kilometre, the coat-of-arms of Hungary and the beautiful view over the Danube and Pest (telescope).