The Buda Castle area of Budapest is found at the top of the Buda Hill, on the west side of the Danube. To get there very easily, take the Budvari Siklo [Buda Hill Funicular] near the Chain Bridge. The large, imposing building at the top is known as the Royal Palace, and is the home for a number of important Hungarian cultural institutions. You’ll find the Budapest History Museum here, which covers the history of Budapest. The National Art Gallery is also here, as is the National Library of Hungary, the National Széchényi Library. At the top of the funicular ride, and separated from the Royal Palace, is the President’s House. Just as in London, England, have your picture taken with the soldiers stationed at the guard houses!
Castle Hill is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and it is an impressive sight from the shores of Pest, towering over the cliffs on the Buda side. However, don’t expect the over-the-top glitter and glitz at this World Heritage site that you would expect at other palaces or castle in Europe. The reconstruction of the building after WWII was more for symbolic reasons, as no monarch had lived in the palace or on the grounds since 1541. However, the halls of the Ballroom, St. Sigismund’s Chapel, the Palatinal Crypt, the Great Ballroom, the Main Staircase, and the Habsburg Room are all still elegant examples of refined architecture.
The palace building consists of a several wings (lettered A to F), which are situated around the Lion Courtyard. There are sculptures located throughout the grounds and on the buildings, there are beautiful fountains to see, and there is a phenomenal view of the Danube and of Pest. The flower gardens are also very lovely in the warmer months.
When you get off of the Siklo and walk along the Danube overlook, check out the bronze statue of a large bird that is perched on top of a tall pedestal. This is the mythical Turul bird, a powerful symbol of the Kingdom of Hungary.
After touring around the Royal Palace museums, stroll towards St. Matthias Church and the Castle District, and check out the craft stalls along the way. Some reasonably-priced fridge magnets and small souvenirs can be found there. Be sure to look carefully at the fantastic buildings along the way to the church…the famous POSTA building is a mellow yellow color, another has a famous ceramic statue created by the beloved artist Margit Kovács perched in an alcove above the first floor, and other buildings are painted in bright colors.
Put aside at least a whole day, if not more, for exploring Buda Castle, the Castle District, St. Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion and other famous sites. There are many museum, gardens, shops, and churches to see and discover.
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