The views of the river continued to improve as we made our way across the Chain Bridge. From here Castle Hill and the rest of Buda came into sharper focus and Hungary’s Parliament building began to appear. We were lucky and were treated to the most beautiful sky – the sun came out in full force and the early morning fog began to burn off. Budapest is an absolutely beautiful city and it was views like this that made us fall in love with it.
Once across the bridge we meandered along the water and made our way up Castle Hill to the Buda Castle complex. Since the first palace complex was built on this site in 1265, Buda Castle has been the seat of the Hungarian monarchy, barracks for Ottoman soldiers, the Hungarian seat of the Hapsburg nobility, a nunnery, a university, the residence of the Hapsburg Palatines of Hungary, and a collection of museums. Over the centuries the complex has gone through periods of decline, destruction, rebirth, and reconstruction and much of the current Buda Palace only dates from the mid-20th century.
Our first stop on Castle Hill was Matthias Church. This Roman Catholic church was built during the Middle Ages and over its long life has had several identities, much like Buda Castle itself. It has been the site of numerous coronations and an Ottoman mosque, was once owned by the Franciscans and the Jesuits, and has now returned to its original form as a Roman Catholic house of worship. The Gothic exterior and its beautifully ornate tiled roof make this church stand out from the many other churches scattered across Budapest.
You need to buy tickets to enter the church and once we did we were blown away by the intricate detail covering every inch of this place. The golden hues and unique patterns winding their way up pillars and over arches were a feast for the eyes. We spent quite a while in here soaking it all in…well, I did anyway. The hubby eventually went and sat down in a pew to wait for me to finish taking my sweet time 🙂
Once we’d had our fill of the church we wandered back outside to explore the grounds. One of the more famous and recognizable features of Castle Hill is Fisherman’s Bastion, a terrace built at the turn of the 20th century. We walked along the walls between the turrets admiring the view of the city and the river, but there was a lot of restoration work going on so we didn’t stay long.
We opted to skip out on the many museums located in the present day Buda Castle, but we took a peek at the outside of the presidential palace and made our way slowly through the Castle district enjoying the beautiful early autumn weather.
There is a funicular you can take up or down Castle Hill, but we choose to walk down, following the maze of paths that wind their way down the hill.
Even though it may not seem like we did much in the way of sightseeing or activities in Budapest, we covered a lot of ground and enjoyed just relaxing and exploring the city on foot. Walking around is our favorite way to get to know a new city and the break from museums provided a nice respite for our school weary brains. We fell in love with Budapest while wandering its clean, beautiful streets and walking along the World Heritage Site that is the banks of the Danube. Even all this time later we still reminisce about what a wonderful time we had here. We can’t wait to go back!
Next up on our sojourn through Central Europe – Vienna!