Buda Castle

Buda Castle

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Buda Castle, originally uploaded by *Mosi*.


Buda Castle (Hungarian: Budai Vár, Turkish: Budin Kalesi) is the historical castle of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, Hungary. In the past, it was also called Royal Palace (Hungarian: Királyi-palota) and Royal Castle (Hungarian: Királyi Vár).

Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, next to the old Castle District (Hun: Várnegyed), which is famous about its medieval, Baroque and 19th century houses and public buildings. It is linked to Adam Clark Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge by the Castle Hill Funicular.

Buda Castle is part of the Budapest World Heritage Site, declared in 1987.

History

The first royal residence on the Castle Hill was built by King Béla IV of Hungary between 1247 and 1265.

Buda

The oldest part of the present-day palace was built in the 14th century by Prince Stephen, Duke of Slavonia, the younger brother of King Louis I of Hungary. The Gothic palace of King Louis I was arranged around a narrow courtyard next to the Stephen's Tower.

King Sigismund Luxemburg of Hungary greatly enlarged the palace. During his long reign it became probably the largest Gothic palace of the late Middle Ages. Buda was also an important artistic centre of the International Gothic style.

The last phase of grand-scale building activity happened under King Matthias Corvinus) when Italian humanists, artists and craftsmen arrived at Buda. The Hungarian capital became the first centre of Renaissance north of the Alps.

After the Battle of Mohács the medieval Kingdom of Hungary collapsed. On 29 August 1541 Buda was occupied again by the Ottomans without any resistance. The Hungarian capital became part of Ottoman Empire as the seat of the Eyalet of Budin.

The new Ottoman government left the palace decaying. It was partially used as barracks, storage place and stables, otherwise it stood empty.

The medieval palace was destroyed in the great siege of 1686 when Buda was captured by the allied Christian forces. In the heavy artillery bombardment many buildings collapsed and burned out.

In 1715 King Charles III ordered the demolition of the ruins. Luckily the southern fortifications, zwingers and rooms were only buried under tons of rubbish and earth.

In 1715 a small Baroque palace was built which is identical with the core of the present-day palace.

In 1748 Count Antal Grassalkovich, President of the Hungarian Chamber appealed to the public to finish the derelict palace by means of public subscription. The new Royal Palace became the symbol of peace and friendship between the Habsburg dynasty and the nation.

The plans of the splendid, U-shaped Baroque palace with a cour d'honneur were drawed by Jean Nicolas Jadot, chief architect of the Viennese court. They were later modified by his successor, Nicolaus Pacassi. The foundation stone of the palace was laid on 13 May 1749. In 1769 the palace was finished.

In 1791 the palace became the residence of the Habsburg Palatines of the Kingdom of Hungary. The palatinal court in Buda Castle was the centre of fashionable life and high society in the Hungarian capital.

On 4 May 1849 the Hungarian revolutionary army of Artúr Görgey laid siege on Buda Castle. The Hungarians captured Buda with a great assault, but the palace completely burned out.

The palace was soon rebuilt between 1850 and 1856. Later in 1867 after the Ausgleich Franz Joseph was crowned to the king of Hungary. The palace played an important part in the lavish ceremony, symbolizing peace between the dynasty and the nation.

In the last decades of the 19th century the autonomous Hungarian government intended to create a royal palace that matches any famous European royal residence. The process of rebuilding lasted about forty years between 1875 and 1912, and caused sweeping changes in topography of the whole area.



Budapest by night, originally uploaded by kingafoto.


The new Royal Palace, designed by Alajos Hauszmann, was officially inaugurated in 1912. Contemporary critics praised it as the most outstanding Hungarian building of the turn of the century. Indeed it was a magnificent Gesamtkunstwerk of architecture, sculpture, applied arts and gardening.

After the 1918 revolution and the dethronization of the Habsburg dynasty the Royal Palace became the seat of the new regent of the Kingdom of Hungary, Miklós Horthy.

Palace of Buda

Buda Castle was the last major strongpoint of Budapest held by Axis forces during the siege of Budapest between 29 December 1944 and 13 February 1945. Heavy fights and artillery fire rendered the palace once again into a heap of ruins.

Immediately after the war archeological research was begun to unearth the remains of the medieval castle. It came out that important parts of the former Sigismund and Matthias palace survived under the thick level of earth fill.

The grand-scale reconstruction of the medieval fortifications substantially changed the cityscape of Budapest. It is considered a highly successful project which managed to reconcile historical authenticity with urban planing demands.

The fate of the ruined Neo-Baroque palace was different. The new Communist government of Hungary considered the Royal Palace a symbol of the former regime. During the 1950s the palace was gutted and all the interiors were destroyed. Important exterior details were also demolished.



Buda castle in HDR, originally uploaded by horvath.tamas.



Museums

The Historical Museum of Budapest is located in Buda Castle, boasting over 4 floors. This museum presents the history of Budapest from the beginnings until the end of the Communist era. There is also the restored lower part of the medieval Royal Chapel, and underground there are examples of dungeons and other displays. Outside one can observe the architectural beauty of the Buda Castle and see wonderful small gardens in the medieval "zwingers" (walled enclosures). There is also a closed-off well, and a magnificent view of the surrounding area, the Castle District. There is a tower which can easily be accessed in the outdoor area, and a walkway on the same level. Both the tower and the walkway boast shocking panoramas of Budapest, especially the Parliament building, the Danube, the nearby streets, and, on a clear day, the Freedom Statue.

The museum is fairly cheap and, if one wishes to save the expense of buying books of the Buda Castle, a photography ticket (Hungarian: fotójegy) is available (in the summer of 2005, the price of a photography ticket was 600 forint, which is equivalent to about 3 USD) .

The castle also houses the Hungarian National Gallery. As part of the castle, there are excavations and smaller ruins. Many of these can be walked in.

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