There’s lots to see in Buda Castle, so wear some comfy shoes and take your sore feet to the thermal baths afterwards
Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of Hungarian kings in Budapest. It was first built in the 13th century by King Béla IV to defend against the invading Mongol hordes, but the foundations of today’s castle were set in the 14th century with a Romanesque design built by King Lajos the Great. It has shape-shifted ever since - from Gothic to Renaissance, from Baroque to neo-Baroque - partly because it kept being battered: over the years, the castle has been besieged no less than thirty one times. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Buda Castle is home to the Budapest History Museum and the National Széchényi Library, named after one of Count István Széchenyi, one of Hungary’s great polymaths from the 19th century. The National Gallery is found there too, displaying a comprehensive selection of Hungarian art, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day, including a fine collection of Mihály Munkácsy’s works, who stands among Hungary’s most important painters.
Fountain of love
Matthias Fountain, just west of the main dome, is probably Budapest’s most famous fountain. It shows a scene from the legend of King Matthias and the peasant Ilonka. It’s theatricality is reminiscent of the Trevi Fountain in Rome: a hunting party, led by Matthias, stand on boulders with water running down through the cracks. Matthias holds a crossbow, and a huge dead stag lie at his feet. To his left stands Ilonka; as the story goes, they fell in love with he was hunting incognito. When she found out who he was and assumed their love was impossible, she died of a broken heart.
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