City guide

Explore the hidden gems of Budapest’s Castle District – Part II

Photo : Norbert Juhász / WLB

In the second of our two-part series, we take you on a journey around the superstar sights of Hungary’s most historic neighbourhood, the Castle District – and discover some lesser-known ones on the way. Landmarks spread across this Buda hilltop and define the city skyline but there’s so much more to discover that guidebooks don’t tell you about. Join us for a walk through centuries of Hungarian history.

After our recent article presenting some of the lesser-known sights around Buda Castle, here we unveil what’s best to see on the busier side of the Castle District, around Matthias Church and the Fishermen’s Bastion.

 

A stand-out attraction, the Fishermen’s Bastion is a fairy-tale confection offering a perfect panorama of the Buda hills and Pest cityscape. 

Photo: Norbert Juhász / WLB

Just behind the Fishermen’s Bastion stands Matthias Church, but don’t miss a great attraction for kids nearby.

 

  • King Matthias Playground
    This themed playground was inspired by tales about the famous Hungarian king, Matthias the Just. The equipment was created with smaller and older ones in mind.
  • Address: District I. Attila út 39. Open: daily 8am-sunset

 

  • Matthias Church
    Matthias Church is one of the finest in Budapest and forms part of this overall World Heritage Site. Towering over Castle Hill, it has been serving citizens here since 1015 when it was founded by Hungary’s first king. Full of surprises, mystery and treasure, the church has a breathtaking interior with colours inspired by Orientalism and Romantic Historicism. This exotic atmosphere is paired with striking Neo-Gothic features, setting it apart from its peers.
  • Address: District I. Szentháromság tér 2. Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-noon, Sun 1pm-5pm
Photo: Norbert Juhász / WLB

Until the end of October, visitors are in for a rare treat, as they’ll have the chance to observe an actual archaeological site in operation. 

 

  • The First Bastion
    The archaeologists of the Budapest History Museum were excavating around this area in the autumn of 2018 when they unearthed what was once Erdély Bastion. Now, until the end of October, you can visit the site of this archaeological dig, see experts at work and understand the importance of the first defensive bastion of Buda Castle.
  • Address: District I. Táncsics Mihály utca 9-11. Open: Until 31 Oct daily 10am-6pm. Guided tours in English: 2.30pm & 3.30pm

 

Afterwards, both the Koller Gallery, with its secret garden, and the Medieval Jewish Prayer House are close by.

 

  • Koller Gallery secret garden
    The Koller is Hungary’s oldest private gallery and is a little-known find in the Castle District. The top floor of this three-storey atelier-house contains a memorial room for Hungarian artist and actor Amerigo Tot while down below, an enclosed hidden garden is a lovely oasis of peace.
  • Address: District I. Táncsics Mihály utca 5. Open: daily 10am-6pm

 

  • Medieval Jewish Prayer House
    This small museum in a restored 14th-century prayer house displays remains of local Jewish history. The wall paintings from the 17th century were only discovered in 1964.
  • Address: District I. Táncsics Mihály utca 26. Open: Wed-Sun 10am-5pm
Photo: Norbert Juhász / WLB

If the weather permits, take a stroll on Tóth Árpád sétány, then hunt down Maria Magdalene Tower to listen to its bells chiming every 15 minutes.

 

  • Tóth Árpád sétány & the Museum of Military History
    The promenade named after Hungarian poet Árpád Tóth stretches along the western walls of Buda Castle from the Fehérvár Gate to the Esztergom Rondella. It’s lovely to stroll along this shaded walkway and take in the panoramic views of the Buda hills. At the northern end, the Museum of Military History offers an insight into conflicts from the Hungarian Conquest of 895 to the global ones of the 20th century.
  • Address: District I. Tóth Árpád sétány

 

  • The chimes of Maria Magdalene Tower
    This is the only mainly original standing medieval tower in Buda. The rest of the former church was demolished in the 1950s and the tower only survived thanks to an architect who planned a pantheon for Mátyás Rákosi, the then head of Communist Hungary. Today, you can climb its 170 steps for breathtaking views. The 24 bells chime every 15 minutes.
  • Address: District I. Kapisztrán tér 6. Open: daily 10am-6pm
Photo: Norbert Juhász / WLB

And last but not least, visit the Bölcs Palace to see medieval ruins and old coins, and to buy a little souvenir to take home.

 

  • Bölcs Palace, medieval ruins & coin exhibition
    The building of the former Buda Town Hall is an educational centre and a tourist attraction, with a restaurant, café, gift shop and bookstore. After reconstruction, many medieval ruins have been unearthed and are on display to the public. Also on show are coins dating back to King Stephen I, circa 1,000 AD.
  • Address: District I. Úri utca 21. Open: daily 10am-6pm

 

 

This article was sponsored by Várkapitányság.