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Chain BridgeChain Bridge is one of the first and oldest bridge of Budapest and also of the Hungarian section of Danube. The plans of building the bridge was initiated by Count István Széchenyi, who is regarded the first and the most grandiose Hungarian. Its building operations started in 1839 and finished in 1849. Its construction was carried out by English engineer William Tierney Clark, and then supervised by Scottish engineer Adam Clark. The square on the Buda side was named after the latter. There are numerous anecdotes about Chain Bridge. One of the most famous is that of the tongueless Stone Lions. Its sculptor was flouted so intensively about them that once he jumped into the Danube. Surviving his jump he messaged the mockers: “I wish your wife would have as many tongues as my lions have, but then that’s your end.” The lions do have tongues indeed; however it cannot be seen from the street level. During summer and in case of particular holidays the bridge is closed down from traffic and occupied by various programs and fairs.
Adam Clark SquareThe square between Chain Bridge and the Castle Tunnel was named after Scottish Adam Clark, who is also responsible for the plans of the Castle Tunnel, and who supervised the building process of Chain Bridge. This is the first square of Budapest built in an uniformly Neo-Renaissance style. The buildings on the Buda side were fully destroyed during World War II by the bombings. These ruins were torn down while building the traffic circle. An interesting fact about the square is that all the main roads in Hungary are measured from this point. This is what the 0 km stone symbolizes in the square. We can go up the Castle Hill by the funicular or on foot. If you decide to go on foot, take a rest on the terrace above the Castel Tunnel, where you can get a pair-excellent view of the city.
Buda Castle DistrictBuda Castle District, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage is one of the most important places of Hungarian history. Its importance is still high since it is in the neighborhood of the residency of the President of the Republic in Sándor Castle in St. George Square. The Castle District can be divided into three main parts: Buda Castle, St. George Square and the historical residential quarter.
It was IV. Béla who started to build the first castle of the hill in the end of the fights with the tartars in 1243. It was 1255 when the castle first was mentioned as a ready building. The castle was first unsuccessfully attacked by tartars in 1285. The castle itself was often the target of defences and a lot of foreign nations intruded on it. Even armies sent by VIII. Bonifác pope attacked the castle unsucessfully, that made the pope curse the citizens and king László too.
In response the citizens cursed the pope which has stayed unprecedented in the history. In 1307 Buda was stated heretic by a statutory of the pope.
The first palace was started to build by the Anjou kings in 1330, and as a result in 1354 I. Lajos made Buda his seat instead of Visegrád making Buda the capital of Hungary.
This is what made Buda importance. The one who ruled Buda was the the one who ruled most of the country.
The Castle District show signs of all the historical changes. These changes can be seen in the Budapest Museum that operates in Buda Castle Palace. Under the Castle District there is an extensive cave system where citizens used to store food and wine and during wars it was used as a shelter. There was a hospital and a warehouse too during World War II. The cave system was opened as the Labyrinth of Buda Castle and has become a tourist attraction. Its entrance is in Úri Street.
Buda Castle PalaceFirst constructions begun in the current place of the palace by the kings of the Angevin Dynasty. After the Hungarian wing of the dynasty died out the construction was continued by Sigismund of Luxemburg, the Hungarian, German and Czech king and German emperor, who kept his court in Buda and Visegrád in the first 15 years of his reign. He even had his insignia of imperial power kept in the broken tower of New Palace raised by him. These parts of the Palace were completely destroyed by gunpowder blasts. The construction work which defines the current look of the Palace begun during the Austro-Hungarian Empire era. Reconstruction works of the palace begun around 1896. At the same time there were grandiose transformations in Budapest, with the preparations for the millenarian celebrations. Hungary and the Austrian Empire compromised in 1864. The previous period was overshadowed by the Austrian terror following the vanquishing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49. This political pact gave the push to Hungary and Budapest. The awakening consciousness of the local aristocracy enchanted the citizenry as well. The aristocracy wanted a worthy place for the Hungarian king, so they began enormous transformations. The Palace was mirrored from left to right so that the present dome is in fact the right-wing of the previous palace. In the competed new building there were more than 1000 richly furnished and decorated royal rooms. The new building was inaugurated by Franz Joseph I, but as he never slept in it, it couldn’t function as a residence. It is known from historical records that although he was a Hungarian king, he – unlike his wife Queen Elisabeth or Sisi – did hate Hungarians. Many people think the only reason why Sisi became the favorite queen of Hungarians is that because of her problematic relationship with Franz Joseph she approached those who her husband hated. The original interiors of the new palace can only be seen in photos, as most of them were almost entirely destroyed in World War II.
Between the two world wars the Palace was the seat of the governor. The Palace become a battleground in the war. It suffered so serious injuries during the battles that according to the Communist Party coordinating the reconstruction its complete renovation can neither be justified by the ideological demands of the age, nor the economic situation of the country. Sure enough, the Communist regime could not do anything with the symbols of the kingdom, just like they didn’t know what to do with the Palace. Some say even its demolition was taken into consideration.
Eventually it was saved from total oblivion, due to those Communists or people close to the then leaders who didn’t regard the building only as a symbol of the bygone era, but also saw the architectural and historic value that the place and the building standing on it had in history of Hungary. The renovation meant alteration as well since the ruling elite of the 1950s could not let a royal emblem be restored in its original condition. Therefore when we are looking at original photos hardly are we able to recognize the Buda Castle Palace of today. Its external facade, dome, and the decorative elements of its roof are similar to the original only in their shapes. Now in the palace there are museums (Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum) and the National Széchenyi Library.
Each year very popular events are held on its territory. One of the most important of these is the Celebration of Professions, (around 20 August) and the Wine Festival (in the middle of September).
Turul birdThe turul is a large mythical bird of Hungarian origin myths. It is not clear from the myths that the turul was in fact a falcon, an eagle or an already extinct large-bodied bird. Turul is a Turkish word, what justifies the denial of the history of the origin of the Hungarians which was probably ordered and paid by the Habsburg Dynasty. There is as much truth in the contents of the official history of Finno-Ugric origin of Hungarians as national consciousness is the aim of any oppressive power. There is some truth in it, but it is rather a study based on fake stories, than a justification based on true stories. The origin of turul is Turkic but it wasn’t during the Turkish occupation period when it became a part of Hungarian language. It was rather during the pre-conquest times, when the Hungarian tribal life mostly meant wandering among Turkic tribes. The bird was regarded by Hungarians as a saint animal, and it symbolizes the togetherness of Hungarians. Across the country there are at least 195 turul statues, and there are statues outside the borders too placed by those Hungarians who got separated after 1920.
St. George SquareThe square was rebuilt with the reconstruction of the Office of the President of the Republic (Sándor Palace) as to make it able to receive foreign heads of states. Two completely destroyed buildings of Buda Castle were to be found on the empty area in front of the Presidential Palace.
Matthias ChurchAccording to the legend the church was founded by St. Stephen in 1015. After the invasion of the Tartars, Béla IV built a three-towered cathedral in the place of the small old church (1255-1269). In the 14th century the church was transformed to a Gothic hall church. This mature Gothic style was begun to be altered by Louis the Great around 1370. The church had reached its medieval prosperity before the Turkish invasion. King Matthias, being the lover of the Gothic style, added new parts to it and perfected the church. However the most of it was destroyed during the Turkish occupation. It was in 1526 when Buda was occupied by the Turks for the first time. During the siege of the castle the roof and much of the equipments of the church were destroyed. The rebuilt church and Buda was besieged again by the Turks in 1541, with more success this time. The church was converted into a mosque, its furniture and altars were pulled out, and its walls got whitewashed. All the other churches in Buda Castle were destroyed by the invaders. The only church that survived the Turkish era was Matthias Church, although as a jami. In 1686 the Jesuits rebuilt it in a Baroque style. Matthias Church fell a victim to the fire of Buda in 1723. In 1873 Franz Joseph I ordered the reconstruction of the church, that made its current appearance. In order that it could get back its older Gothic style, several parts of the church were ruined and the Baroque style was eliminated as well. The result of the reconstruction was a Neo-Gothic coronation church. During World War II the church suffered serious damages again. Its roof almost burned out completely; the Germans operated a canteen in the crypt, and the Russians used the apse as a stable. The church was rebuilt after the war, between 1950 and 1970. Nowadays it obviously needs urgent reconstructions again. It was the first place where Franz Liszt's Hungarian Coronation Mass played for the first time. The last Hungarian Charles IV and Queen Zita were crowned with the Holy Crown here.
Trinity SquareDuring the Middle Ages in the place of this square there used to be houses with narrow streets and alleys. In 1686, during the siege of Buda the buildings of the square were destroyed, so the square could take place there. The Trinity Statue in the middle of the square is the precursor of the Holy Trinity column which was placed there by the City Council as remembrance of the plague. The square has been the centre of the Castle Hill since its development. Among the buildings of the square there is the Town Hall with the Hungarian House of Wines in the basement, the famous Alabárdos Restaurant, Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion.
Fisherman's BastionOne of the most symbolic buildings of Budapest is the Fisherman's Bastion. From the Neo-Romanesque style building there is a wonderful view of Budapest. The towers symbolize the leaders of the seven Hungarian tribes. It was built onto the old fortresses between 1895 and 1902. Plans for the reconstruction were made by Frigyes Schulek who also worked on the rebuilding of the Matthias Church. The name of the Fisherman's Bastion indicates that this part of the castle wall was defended by fishermen from Buda. The story of the Fisherman's Bastion is the same as that of the castle wall and of the hill. In the era of the Árpád dynasty, the Castle Hill functioned as an accommodation and as a defense system. The development of Castle Hill became significant after the Tartar invasion, but it was King Matthias who made it the administrative center of the country. The bastions of the castle wall were strengthened in the middle ages and during the Turkish occupation. This part of the castle wall was named Fishermen's Bastion after the fish market operated next to Matthias Church and after the defenders of the bastion. It was due to the reconstruction of Matthias Church and urban planning functions that the Fisherman's Bastion could get its current form. The Fisherman's Bastion consists of three buildings and several smaller units. One of the most important change was that before the building of the bastion the Castle was accessible only through a narrow and dark staircase. The architect widened this staircase to 8 meters wide in certain places. The towers are connected with passageways above. The greatest merit of the architect is changing those parts of the building which once were used as military territories into a peaceful boardwalk and look-out tower, making this along with Matthias Church a separated unit from the Palace itself. To make its construction possible a regulation was needed to release those old military aims, which previously would have made it impossible to build such an easily targetable object.
The third big unit of the monument is the Southern yard and the statue of St. Stephen standing in front of it. The building suffered major damage during World War II, but as the Fisherman's Bastion has a major role in Budapest, it was among the first ones to be rebuilt. Its last renovation was in 2003. It was declared Word Heritage along with Buda Hill in 1987. Its importance comes from its style: those investments that mostly defines its recent outlook were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Eclectic style. The Fisherman’s Bastion is the jewel of the Hungarian Eclectic architecture, a fine piece of work of the Hungarian national romanticism.