District I


Royal Palace
There have been palaces built here since the 13th century. However, they seem to have been frequently razed to the ground, most recently during the hand-to-hand fighting between the Germans and the Russians towards the end of the Second World War.

The palace we see now was rebuilt in the 60's and 70's and houses several museums and art galleries. There is an interesting exhibition of finds from the medieval palace - don't miss the Matyas Fountain at the back.

The best way to get to the palace is via the little cable car (siklo) from Clark Adam Square, which offers spectacular views on the way up. Alternatively the meandering path with many staircases is also very pleasant.

Fishermen's Bastion
No one seems to know why this is so named - it has certainly never been called on to defend anything. The stories say that in the old days this was where the fishermen defended Castle Hill from. It stands behind Matyas Church, overlooking the river and was built around 1900 by the same person who was responsible for the reconstruction of the church. There is a small fee to pay to climb up it, but it is worth it for the views. It makes for some of the finest photo opportunities in all of Budapest.

You can walk down the hill through the park from here, which is worth doing as it means you will arrive at the small flat area immediately above the entrance to the tunnel before continuing your descent.


Buda Castle Quarter
After you've seen the Royal Palace, take a stroll northwards. The medieval street network remains unaltered and although most of the buildings have been thoroughly restored (the war damage was severe) many retain their original features. You will be able to see the remains of the Dominican monastery; note the Plague monument outside Matyas Church; walk along the castle walls on the Buda side and see the Turkish tombstones at the north-western corner. There are many places to eat out here, but you should expect to pay tourist prices.


Matthias Church
There has been a church here since the thirteenth century, even though the Turks converted many religious buildings into mosques. Although it was badly damaged in the last war, it was restored (mainly rebuilt) in the sixties. An original fourteenth-century Gothic portal survives on the south side of the church. The interior is a riot of colour and the crypt can be visited. Organ concerts - which are well worth attending - are often held here so it would be an idea to check for more information in a local events guide on your arrival. 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 1pm-5pm Sun


Batthyanyi Square
If you've ever wondered where the beautiful unobstructed photos of the Parliament building are taken from - this is almost certainly the spot. Batthyany ter offers gorgeous views over the Danube as well as some sights of its own that are worth a visit e.g. the Church of St. Anne. The metro (M2) began stopping here in 1972 and as a result, the square is now a popular spot for commuters. There are some cafés and a few snack bars in the area as well as a large Market Hall.

Buda Castle Labirinth
This maze of tunnels (which literally goes on for miles) is located beneath Castle Hill. It contains huge, cavernous rooms, originally intended as cellars and bomb shelters. Some of the tunnels can be explored without a guide. One section even features reproductions of cave paintings from around Europe. There is also a café (a cup of tea is included in the ticket price) and an underground shop. Another great thing about these tunnels is that when it is scorching hot outside, it remains cool and airy down below. A flashlight (torch) might be adviseable, as several sections of the maze are
almost pitch black.

Buda Side
Historic Buda occupies the western side of the Danube. It is the home of Castle Hill, Gellert Hill, and the wonderful Buda hills. Traditionally, this was where the nobility lived (while Pest was a workers' and merchants' area). The city began to come into its own in 1873 when Buda was united with Pest.

The best views of Buda are from the Duna Korzo, the Chain Bridge, or from one of the rooms and balconies of the world class hotels that line the Pest side of the Danube.

Chain Bridge
This spectacular bridge has an equally spectacular history. It's a great place from which to take in a panorama of the city (which becomes even more impressive at night). This was the very first bridge to link the two cities of Buda and Pest. The project was started in 1839 by designer William Tierney Clark and engineer Adam Clark, and it was completed in 1849. The bridge celebrated its 150th birthday recently with a huge open-air festival.


The funicular is definitely the easiest way to get up to the top of Castle Hill. Built in 1870, the two cars travel up and down every day from morning until night. The carriages are lovingly maintained, and although modern, have an antique look and design. The stations are also interesting - check out the massive wheel, which operates the system at the top of the terminal. Please note that the funicular is closed for maintenance on Monday of every even-numbered week.


Kiraly Bath
This is one of the few remaining Turkish baths in Budapest. Built in 1565 by the Pasha of Buda, it remains popular to this day. The Turks were so concerned that they might not be able to use the hot baths if the city was besieged, they had this one constructed within the castle walls. They piped the water in over a considerable distance, and today the building stands as a magnificent testament to their ingenuity. The four baths range in temperature from a pleasing 26 degrees centigrade right up to an endurance-testing 40 degrees centigrade. Please note that there are separate days for men (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and women (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). 9am-9pm Mon, Wed, Fri; 6:30am-7pm Tue, Thu; 6:30am-1pm Sat