Editors' Picks

Castle Hill

Budapest, Dísz tér 3, 1014 Hungary

The sprawling Castle Hill district, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Buda side of the Danube is where modern Budapest history begins. The three towns of Buda, Pest and northern Óbuda were joined in 1873 to create the city, but the fortification of Castle Hill began in the 1240s, and served as the seat for Hungary’s kings until the Turkish invasion in 1541. Buda was reborn under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when the Hapsburgs (no lovers of subtlety) rebuilt, restored and added to the Royal Palace. During World War II and the infamous siege of Buda, parts of Castle Hill were destroyed, and the Royal Palace burned to the ground.

Much of what you see today has been lovingly and painstakingly reconstructed, but the unembellished exterior of the Hungarian National Gallery (the former Royal Palace) is a sad reminder—and poor imitation—of the palace’s former grandeur. A walk through the Castle Hill district makes it clear that much money has been invested here (a jarring contrast to some of the streets in Pest). The Old Town, with its multicolored buildings and cobblestoned streets, has been polished and prettified, and recalls the Old Town in Prague.

Buda’s Castle Hill comprises several of the city’s most famous sights. The Chain Bridge leads to the funicular (built in 1870, but destroyed during WWII and reopened in 1986) that takes visitors up to the Hungarian National Gallery. Most of the buildings are Gothic or Baroque in style, but some parts date from the 14th century. North of the Royal Palace compound lies the neighborhood of Fisherman’s Bastion, a delicate white stone structure of twisting spires, slender towers and wide staircases that resembles the Ivory Tower in The Neverending Story. Nearby, the Neo-Gothic Matthias Church, with its multicolored-tile roof, rises, and farther north you come into the Old Town.

Indagare Tip: Castle Hill is a sprawl, and if you’re touring on foot, it will take you a day to see everything. For a family-friendly and more compact way of touring the site, Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team to arrange a biking or horse-drawn carriage tour.

Written by Simone Girner

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Indagare employees walking up stiars

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