The Hills of Buda in Budapest

“There are two types of people in Budapest, those who live in Buda and those who wish they lived in Buda.” No prizes for guessing who among the Budapest locals would make such a statement 😉

And why not? Buda is the hilly western side of the Hungarian capital overlooking the low lying plain of Pest and the Danube River.

It’s a beautiful view, and a very commanding one.

The hill is prime real estate for more than the view though, it was important for the defence of the Magyar peoples because of its elevated position (similar to Edinburgh for example), so important that they named the city after the hill and built a castle on top of it.

Completed in 1265, and later rebuilt in the 1750s, the castle was a residential and military complex for the ruling Grand Princes and later Kings of Hungary. The fact of such a grand palace overlooking the citizens in the valley probably serving to drive home the message of the power and control of the royals over the people. The complex was built up by successive Kings of Hungary culminating with the King Matthias Corvinus who rebuilt many parts of the castle and started the largest library (Bibliotheca Corviniana).

Matthias was married to an Italian noble Beatrice and was enarmoured by the Renaissance in Italy. It was the historical events in Italy that inspired him to bring in artists, craftsman and scholars from Italy to his capital to help with the rebuilding of the palace and church into elegant Italian inspired buildings.

The church he rebuilt was renamed after him. While not the cathedral, the Matthias Church was the site of the first church in the country was built by King Stephen (or St Stephen of Hungary) and has been the location of royal coronations.

The church is located behind the Fisherman’s Bastion a military fortification built at the turn of the 20th century and named after the fisherman who were tasked with defending the castle. It was built with symbolism too with seven towers representing the seven Magyar tribes that were thought to have settled and formed modern Hungary, and the at the centre of these towers, a statue of St Stephen the first King of Christian Hungary.

Perhaps the most scenic and touristy way to get up to the hill, instead of walking it to take the funicular, a pulley based transport that brings people up and down a hill through a series of ascending and descending cables.

You are rewarded though with a stunning panoramic view of Budapest.

While most people would enjoy the view of Budapest across the Danube River, an equally beautiful (and might I say calming view) can be found on the other side of the hill, towards the Buda valley.

If I lived in Budapest, I would wish to life on Buda Hill.


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