After the Mongolian conquest in the 13th century, King Béla IV. ordered fortresses from stone to be built. The fortress of Buda was also founded at that time. The castle reached its golden age during the rule of the renaissance king, Matthias. He had it enlarged and transformed to a palace.
Later, during the Turkish occupation of Hungary, it was under Turkish rule for over 150 years. Not even the Habsburgs cared much about it, as the empire was ruled from Vienna. During the second world war it was badly damaged. The Palace was founded around 1247, but the royal seat was in Visegrád until the 15th century. It went under major reconstructions several times.
Firstly, King Matthias converted the fortification to a palace, later Maria Theresa had it rebuilt and enlarged. In the 19th century the famous Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl got the comission to reconstruct it. From the original fittings unfortunately nothing was left. Today the buildings house the National Gallery, the National Library and the Historical Museum. From the panorama terrace there is a magnificent view of the Pest side.
One way of getting to the palace is by the funicular next to the Tunnel, which has a 95 metres long, 48% steep track and offers an astonishing panorama.
The Dísz tér is to be found on the northern side of the palace. It was the place of the market during the middle ages, the place where executions were performed too.
Szentháromság tér(Holy Trinity square)is situated in front of the Matthias Church, it is the place, where all major streets of the castle district meet. In the middle of the Szentháromság tér a Holy Trinity coloumn was erected to commemorate the plague epidemic in 1709.
The first Town Hall of Buda faces the square, which was built after the end of the Turkish occupation. Off the beaten track in the smaller side streets one can still feel the atmosphere of old ages, you can see hidden courtyards, signs of the guilds, beautifully reconstructed citizenhouses. Tóth Árpád sétány also worth a walk. The Castle district of Buda is part of the World Heritage since 1987.
The building of the Matthias church (Church of Our Lady) was started in 1255 in Gothic style. The north tower still preserves some parts of the original church. Under the reign of King Matthias it was enlarged and renewed.
The king had both of his weddings here. His coat of arms with the black raven is still visible on the south tower. That's why the commonly used name of the church is Matthias Church. During six centuries it used to be the coronation church. The first king crowned here in 1308 was Charles Robert and the last one Charles IV. of Habsburg in 1916. During the Turkish occupation it was converted to a mosque, and after the reconquest of Buda it was reconstructed in baroque style but it still preserves some of its oriental atmosphere. The final major rebuilding took place in 1895-1903 lead by Frigyes Schulek. At that time the church received its present neo-gothic style and was lavishly decorated with frescoes by famous contemporary painters. The church has a unique atmosphere, which worth visiting, not to mention the organ concerts which are organised regularly. The crypt and the treasure house also avait the visitors.
On the top of the old fortress walls, the Fishermen's bastion was only constructed between 1895-1902. It is named after the fishermen's guild because according to customs in the middle ages this guild was in charge of defending this part of the castle wall. As a matter of fact it has never had a defending function. The architect was Frigyes Schulek, who planned the building in neo-gothic style.
The seven towers symbolise the seven chieftains, who conquerred the land for the Hungarians. The Fishermen's bastion greatly contributes to the cityscape and offers a breathtaking panorama on the Pest side. In front of the Fishermen's bastion, the equestrian statue depicts our first king, St Stephen.
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