Budapest's Number One Visitor Attraction - Budapest
In Buda, contrary to many other capitals, the royal castle really is at the
top of a hill, as it is in all the best old stories. Known as the Royal Palace
of Buda, it is visible from virtually every point in the city.
Not just one but three castles have been built on this site. The first appeared in the thirteenth century after the Mongol invasion and was a thick-walled fortress intended to withstand enemy attacks. Few contemporary descriptions have survived but archcological digs have revealed fragmentary remains.
In the fourteenth century it was enlarged in the Gothic style, and then at the time of one of Hungary’s greatest monarchs, King Matthias, it was remodelled into a Renaissance palace famed far and wide. The Turks took Buda without a battle in 1541, and for a while the medicval buildings remained structurally intact. However, they suffered grievously later through siege, conflagration, explosion and earthquake.
The city walls often had to be patched up and new bastions built, and today a part of the fortifications from this period can still be seen.Having lasted almost 150 years Turkish rule ended with a three-month siege, and this heralded the third main period of castle building in Buda. Ruined buildings were cleared away, cellars filled in, and in 1714 the building of a baroque palace began.
It was further extended in the nineteenth century into the form with which we are familiar today. The Royal Palace was completely burned out in the Second World War, losing in the process its valuable furniture and art treasures. On restoration it was converted into a centre of culture becoming home to the medicval, Renaissance, baroque and later Hungarian masterpieces that comprise the permanent collection of the Hungarian National Gallery.
In separate wings of the palace complex, the Budapest History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the principal library of Hungary, the Széchényi Library are housed. The Palace can be reached from the Danube embankment by the Castle District’s own special funicular railway, the “Sikló”. The two coaches and both stations have been restored to their original nineteenth century condition.