The unbelievable story of Buda Castle – this is what to see by day and night

The Buda Castle and Castle Quarter are one of the most beautiful sights in Hungary. The Castle’s history, architecture, and critical role in the city’s life make it an unmissable destination. While many European castles slowly collapsed and became forgotten due to conflicts and wars, Buda Castle was like a phoenix from its ashes, always keeping its reputation in the city. Visiting the castle district and spending a few hours discovering every inch of it might just be one of the best things to do in Budapest. Read on if you’re ready to immerse yourself in the history of Budapest and learn everything there is to know about the Buda Castle District. 

Buda Castle from the Danube

The History of Buda Castle

Buda Castle consists of two distinct territorial units: the civic town and the royal palace complex. The construction can be linked to King Béla IV, around 1241-42. He ordered the construction of castles around Hungary after the invasion of Tatars ended. He also built a wall around the Budavári Palace. In the spring of 1247, the construction of Buda Castle officially started. In just a few decades, a royal residence and a city decorated with churches and monasteries were born on Buda’s Várhegy. 

After the Tatar invasion at the southwest end of Buda’s Várhegy, King Béla IV. built a fortress surrounded by walls for defense purposes, which dates back to the fourteenth century, it became a royal seat. Then, King Louis the Great moved his residence from Visegrád to Buda, expanding and strengthening Buda Castle simultaneously. The Anjou-era palace construction was completed in the 15th century. In the first half of the century, it was continued by Sigismund of Luxemburg, the German-Roman emperor, and the Hungarian king. The construction of the Friss Palota and Csonkatorony is attributed to him.

Buda was already the country’s capital in the next century, and from the middle of the fourteenth century, it became the royal seat. The city, which lived in its heyday in the 14th-15th century, was not only the center of the country’s political but also economic and cultural life. At that time, it developed into a major European city and acquired the layout it preserved until the end of the Turkish era, which can even be seen in today’s cityscape. In the fourteenth-fifteenth century, the Royal Palace at the southern end of Buda Castle Hill was being constructed quickly, many residential houses were being built in the bourgeois quarter, and the churches were getting more significant. At the end of king Zsigmond’s reign, in 1437, the use of the city’s area suitable for construction can be considered complete. During the reign of king Mátyás, significant developments started. This is when the city well and the city aqueduct were built.

Buda Castle aerial shot from above

The constructions of King Matthias, the chapel, which also shows the influence of the Italian Renaissance, and the new palace with the library guarding the Corvinas, were once famous throughout Europe. However, during the 150-year Turkish rule, Buda Castle suffered severe damage and burned down several times. In 1686, after the recapture of Budavár, the medieval walls were demolished almost to their foundations.

The 15th century brought a decline in the life of the city. The Turkish rule lasting for 150 years led to the destruction of the once flourishing medieval settlement. With its recapture in 1686, Buda gained a new impetus, and development began. Buda, and in 1783, the government seats in Bratislava were also moved here. In 1790-92, a Parliament was held in Buda; Francis I was crowned in the Mária Magdolna church. The Saint Right is a Hungarian national and Catholic relic, which is assumed to be the naturally mummified right hand of the Hungarian King Saint Stephen was moved to the Zsigmond chapel in 1771.

The architectural history of the royal palace, which is still standing today, dates back to the time of Maria Theresia. The oldest part of the complex, the northern wing overlooking the Danube, dates back to the 18th century. It was built in the 17th century and served as the seat of Prince Albert of Saxe-Teschen, the governor of Hungary, from 1766. The emperor and empress suites were created on the first floor. From 1777 to 1784, the university relocated from Nagyszombat and operated here. The renovation of the buildings damaged during the 1848-49 War of Independence was completed in 1856. The exterior and interior remodeling of the palace began after the compromise and the coronation of Emperor Ferenc József I as Hungarian king (1867). The building complex took its form that can still be seen today based on the plans of Miklós Ybl and then Alajos Hauszmann – two outstanding architects of the era. The interior rooms were designed worthy of a royal seat.

Among the most important events related to Buda in the following century was the construction of the Chain Bridge. Still, one of the most significant battles of the 1848-49 revolution and War of Independence also occurred here, resulting in Görgey and his troops entering Buda Castle on May 21 1849. After the agreement with the Habsburgs in 1867, another prosperous era followed. During this time, the state-of-the-art steam cable car was also built, which was meant to serve the government and court offices operating in Buda more quickly.

In the twentieth century, the civic part of the Buda Castle – like the palace complex – was seriously damaged. The restoration of the destructions of World War II took place over decades in the second half of the century.

At World War II’s end, the palace and the city were destroyed. During its reconstruction, the neo-baroque exterior designed by Alajos Haussmann was replaced by a simpler facade, and the collapsed dome was replaced by a new crown that was less harmonious with the building complex. The former interiors fell victim not only to the destruction of the war but also to the reconstruction. Several of the sculptures that once decorated the surroundings of the Royal Palace can still be seen today. On the pillar of the Szent György Square gate facing the Danube, the Turul bird is a work of Gyula Donáth. A memorial statue of Jenő Savoyai by József Róna, stands at the main entrance of the Hungarian National Gallery in its original place. Two sculptures by Miklós Ligeti, Csongor, and Tünde stand on two sides in front of the main entrance, each on an independent plinth.

Another perspective of Buda Castle and the Danube

In the past years, the main focus was preserving Buda Castle’s condition and making the necessary renovations. As a result, all the buildings, from Mathias Church to the Palace, have been completely renovated. As a result, today, Buda Castle is one of Europe and Budapest’s most famous tourist attractions, attracting thousands of monthly visitors. In addition, it is a symbol of Hungarian national identity and pride.

What to See During the Day

Budapest is one of Europe’s main tourist attractions, and the main reason for this is Buda Castle. Visiting during the day, you can meet a vibrant crowd in Buda Castle District, try all the restaurants and confectioneries, or get a coffee while you enjoy the many attractions and beautiful views this area provides. The E-Magine Tours team prepared a list of some of the main attractions in Buda Castle and why you should visit them.

Royal Palace 

The royal palace, the symbolic architectural masterpiece of our cityscape, is located in Szent György Square. From the 13th century, it hosted the Hungarian kings; from this period, the medieval walls and some buildings survived, but in the 19th century, it was significantly remodeled based on the designs of Miklós Ybl and Alajos Hauszmann. The rooms and halls have not been reconstructed; the building today functions as a complex cultural institution. The Hungarian National Gallery, the National Széchényi Library, and the Budapest History Museum are located here. The Budavári Wine Festival is held here yearly, but many other gastronomic and cultural events are organized in Buda Castle.

Matthias Church in the Castle District

Matthias Church

The Mátyás Church is a monumental building with an extended historical past, located in the Buda Castle District on Szentháromság Square. Two ruling parties were crowned within its walls: Ferenc József and Erzsébet, and  Károly IV and Zita. King Mátyás married twice during his reign, and their weddings took place in the Matthias Church.


Fisherman’s Bastion

The Fisherman’s Bastion is one of Budapest’s best-known and most picturesque monuments, one you’ve surely seen pictures of in the social media feeds of almost anyone you know who has traveled to Budapest.. It is one of the most crucial tourist attractions due to the unique panorama of Budapest that can be seen from the neo-Roman observation terraces. In addition, its many balconies and windows provide a beautiful view of the other sights and the Danube. Entering the Fisherman’s Bastion requires a ticket for most of the day but it’s free before 9 am and later in the evenings; you can get more information in English on this website.  

Monsteroller Castle District tour

Castle District

The castle district is beautiful in itself, and it hides many gemstones. From world-famous restaurants and hotels to confectioneries like Várfok Cukrászda or Ruszwurm, you can try anything for a local treat. There are also famous statues you can look for all around Buda Castle district depicting prominent Hungarian figures from the past.

If Buda Castle sparked your interest, now you have a convenient and comfortable way to discover it. E-Magine Tours offers various e-scooter tours that visit the castle area, including the Budapest Castle District Tour on MonsteRoller which provides a comprehensive overview of the district. Buda Castle is also an important part of our All In Tour which covers the best sights of both Pest and Buda and gives you a great overview of our beloved city. 

Buda Castle at night on the august 20th celebration

What to See at Night

Visiting Budapest at night is like discovering a completely different, glowing city. Buda Castle is especially spectacular since both the Royal Palace and Matthias church are lit up. The Fisherman’s Bastion provides a fantastic panoramic view of the lit-up bridges and the parliament. After you get tired of marveling at the cityscape, you can take a walk — or ride! — on the enchanting streets of the Castle District.

With the Night Tour on MonsteRoller e-scooter offered by E-Magine Tours, you can discover Buda Castle’s magic after dark. Since at night, the number of visitors is very limited at Buda Castle; you can enjoy the attractions without a big crowd and take the best photos of you and your loved ones. This provides a unique opportunity to experience Buda Castle’s magic after dark. During the summertime, you can even go up to the top of Fisherman’s Bastion free of charge!

The best way to visit the Castle District

Buda Castle and the Castle district is a magical place with many beautiful spots. The architecture is unique, and it has a rich history that dates back to 1247, and the buildings endured many attacks, wars, and other atrocities. For this reason, Buda Castle will always be an immense pride in Hungary’s life and the heart of locals. With the many renovations in the past year, the Castle District is in better shape than ever. The best way to visit all these places without having to walk for hours, and getting a great overview of the rich history and beautiful architecture is on an e-scooter. You can visit Matthias Church, the Royal Palace, and the Fisherman’s Bastion on a unique e-scooter tour without having to walk your feet off. You can also take a casual ride in Buda castle district, marveling at the views and statues around the area. Visiting at night with an e-scooter provides a mystical and glowing place, and you can get to know a completely new face of Budapest. Book a ride with us for a fun and culturally enriching experience, and get to know the history of this place, together with the best spots.