The History of Buda Castle in Budapest

Since it was established, in the 14th century, the Buda Castle was constantly built, destroyed and rebuilt. The castle was established by the Angevin rulers of the Kingdom of Hungary. It was also called Royal Palace or Royal Castle.

buda castle

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Buda Castle in the Middle Ages

The palace was developed at first by king Bela IV of Hungary, then by Stephen, duke of Slavonia. But the one who significantly enlarged it was king Sigismund. As Holy Roman Emperor, he needed his residence to excel all other European rulers’ residences, so he built probably the largest Gothic palace of the Middle Ages.

buda castle

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The palace had large halls with carved wooden ceilings, great windows and balconies which offered a splendid view over the city of Buda. The facade was decorated with coat of arms and statues.

buda castle

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Sigismund also strengthened the fortifications of the palace and built additional walls downhill to the river Danube. The front of the palace was guarded by an equestrian statue of the king himself, later restored by king Matthias Corvinus.

The last building stage was completed by king Matthias Corvinus. After the king married Beatrice of Naples in 1476, the court started to fill with Italian artists, humanists and craftsmen. Thus the palace became the first Renaissance center north of the Alps. Buda Castle was also given an Italian look, by building an Italian loggia, as well as rooms and outdoor decorations in Italian style. During his last years as king, Matthias Corvinus added a Renaissance castle on the eastern side of the Sigismund  courtyard. That area remained unfinished because of the early death of the king.

The palace’s bronze gates were decorated with panels telling the story of Hercules’ deeds and guests were welcomed by a great bronze statue of the Greek hero, in the forecourt were jousts were held as well.

The works were then carried on by kings Vladislavus II and John Zapolya.

The Ottoman Era

In 1526, the city of Buda was captured by Turks, but, although it was sacked and robbed, the palace was not touched. All the bronze statues were carried back to Constantinople and were destroyed there a few years later in a rebellion.

In 1529 and 1541, Buda was occupied again by Ottomans, and the palace was badly damaged. During this period, the beautiful palace was used as barracks, stables or storage place, or left empty. Between 1541 and 1686, several attempts of the Habsburgs to re-capture Buda left the palace seriously damaged.

Destruction  of the medieval building

The medieval building was destroyed in the great siege of 1686, when the city was captured by Christians. Many buildings were burnt and collapsed; a gunpowder store exploded from only one cannon hit and killed thousands of soldiers. It also created a huge tidal wave across the Danube. During the following decades, the castle went into almost complete ruin, because of neglect and subsequent design attempts. In 1715, king Charles III ordered that the ruins be demolished and the luxurious decorations be spared.

Early Baroque palace

In 1715, a small Baroque palace was built and still stands today, as the core of the nowadays palace. Work stopped in 1719, so the interior was left unfinished. In 1723, an accidental fire damaged the palace again.

buda castle

Photo Source: wikipedia


After WWII, archaeological research began to unearth the medieval castle. Important parts of the former Matthias and Sigismund palace survived under the thick earth layer. The reconstruction works were finished in 1966 and the medieval fortification was rebuilt entirely. Important parts were reconstructed according to pictorial sources. The medieval gardens were recreated .

buda castle

Photo Source: wikipedia

The Buda Castle is a place full of a tumultuous history, but still stands proud today, risen like a Phoenix from its ashes.

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Katie Zahel
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