I still had eight hours left giving me plenty of time to make it to Buda Castle on the other side of the river. My second attempt was much more successful and within 15 minutes I was admiring the beauty of Budapest’ waterfront. I walked along the promenade until I reached the Chain Bridge which I crossed just as the sun was setting. I contemplated taking the tram to the top of the hill then decided to walk up the stairs instead thinking I needed the exercise.
Half way up I stopped at a viewing platform and was rewarded with an amazing view of the Chain Bridge lit up with its green lights and the parliament building lights reflecting off the river. I stopped to take some amazing pictures before continuing on to the castle.
I was surprised by how large and beautiful Buda Castle was. For some reason I was not expecting such opulence in Budapest. I had assumed that the period of Communist rule had deteriorated the city as it did to so many others. Budapest was certainly an exception to this rule. Of course Buda Castle was not without its ups and downs over the course history.
The foundations of Buda Castle have been besieged no less than 31 times since they were laid in the 13thcentury. During the period of Turkish rule the castle was used as a barracks, storage place and stables for their troops but otherwise left to decay. By the end of the 15th century the castle was completely restored but later destroyed when Budapest was recaptured from the Turks in the 1680’s.
A new palace was built by the Habsburg Empire between 1714 and 1723 only to be destroyed in the great fire of 1810 and attacked during the Hungarian uprising. The Austrians and Hungarians came to a compromise in 1867.
Once again the castle was restored adding a new wing and central dome. Unfortunately the complex was damaged once again by fire at the end of World War II and not restored until the 1950’s. The current castle has managed to survive (cross your fingers) and now consists of 203 rooms and houses several museums such as the Budapest Historical Museum and the National Gallery.
Buda Castle was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 which hopefully will help preserve it for years to come. Perhaps the will also outlaw matches and oily rags from the castle in order to prevent yet another fire.