Top historic sites in Budapest

Matthias Church

Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic church located in front of the Fisherman"s Bastion at the heart of Buda"s Castle District. According to church tradition, it was originally built in Romanesque style in 1015, although no archaeological remains exist. The current building was constructed in the florid late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century and was extensively restored in the late 19th century. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman"s Bastion is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style situated on the Buda bank of the Danube, on the Castle hill in Budapest, around Matthias Church. It was designed and built between 1895 and 1902 on the plans of Frigyes Schulek. Construction of the bastion destabilised the foundations of the neighbouring 13th century Dominican Church which had to be pulled down. Between 1947–48, the son of ...
Founded: 1895-1902 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

St. Stephen's Basilica

St. Stephen"s Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica named in honour of Stephen, the first King of Hungary (c. 975–1038), whose supposed right hand is housed in the reliquary. It was the sixth largest church building in Hungary before 1920. Today, it is the third largest church building in present-day Hungary. The basilica was completed in 1905 after 54 years of construction, according to the plans of Mikl&oacu ...
Founded: 1905 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament Building is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, one of Europe"s oldest legislative buildings, a notable landmark of Hungary and a popular tourist destination of Budapest. It is currently the largest building in Hungary and still the highest building in Budapest. Budapest was united from three cities in 1873 and seven years later the Diet resolved to establish a new, representative ...
Founded: 1885-1904 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian National Gallery

The Hungarian National Gallery was established in 1957 as the national art museum and is located in Buda Castle. Its collections cover Hungarian art in all genres, including the works of many nineteenth- and twentieth-century Hungarian artists who worked in Paris and other locations in the West. The primary museum for international art in Budapest is the Museum of Fine Arts. The National Gallery houses Medieval, Renaissa ...
Founded: 1957 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Buda Castle

Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, and was first completed in 1265. Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, bounded on the north by what is known as the Castle District, which is famous for its medieval, Baroque, and 19th-century houses, churches, and public buildings. The castle is a part of the Budapest UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first citi ...
Founded: 1247-1265 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Heroes' Square

Heroes' Square (Hősök tere) is one of the major squares in Budapest, Hungary, noted for its iconic statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It hosts the Museum of Fine Arts and the Műcsarnok. The square has played an important part in contemporary Hungarian history and has been a host to many political events, such as ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Citadella

Citadella is an citadel located upon the top of the strategic Gellért Hill in Budapest. The fortress was built in 1851 by Julius Jacob von Haynau, a commander of the Habsburg Monarchy, and designed by Emmanuel Zitta and Ferenc Kasselik, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. It occupies almost the entire 235 metres high plateau. The fortress is a U-shaped structure built about a central courtyard, being 220 metres ...
Founded: 1851 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian State Opera House

The Budapest opera house is a beautiful Neo-Renaissance building opened in 1884. Construction included the use of marble and frescos by some of the best artisans of that era. Designed by Miklós Ybl, one of Europe"s leading architects in the mid to late 19th century, the Budapest Opera House quickly became one of the most prestigious musical institutions in Europe. Many important artists performed here, includi ...
Founded: 1884 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Vajdahunyad Castle

Although the Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park may look like a historical building, dating back to the medieval times, it was in fact built over for the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian State in 1896 for the Millennial Exhibition. The original building of the Vajdahunyad Castle was just a temporary structure made of wooden planks and cardboard designs. Even its plain name was descriptive signifying that it is nothing m ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Belváros Church

Belváros (Inner City) Church is the oldest building in Pest side of river in Budapest. It was built in 1046 as a grave of Bishop St. Gellért (c. 980-1046), a missionary from Italy who played an instrumental role in converting Hungary to Christianity. According to tradition, he was martyred by angry pagans who rolled him down a hill across the river, which was named Gellért Hill in his honor. The firs ...
Founded: 1046 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Memento Park

Memento Park is an open-air museum in Budapest, dedicated to monumental statues from Hungary"s Communist period (1949–1989). There are statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, as well as several Hungarian Communist leaders. The park was designed by Hungarian architect Ákos Eleőd, who won the competition announced by the Budapest General Assembly in 1991. Memento Park is divided into two sections: Statue ...
Founded: 1991 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Széchenyi Thermal Bath

The Széchenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. Its water is supplied by two thermal springs. The bath was built in 1913 in Neo-baroque style to the design of Győző Czigler. The complex was expanded in 1927, and it still has 3 outdoor and 15 indoor pools. After its expansion, the thermal artesian well could not fulfill its purpose, so a new well was drilled. The second ther ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian National Museum

The Hungarian National Museum was founded in 1802 and is the national museum for the history, art and archaeology of Hungary. The museum is in Budapest VIII in a purpose-built Neoclassical building from 1837-47 by the architect Mihály Pollack. The Hungarian National Museum traces its foundation to 1802 when Count Ferenc Széchényi set up the National Széchényi Library. This would then be ...
Founded: 1802 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

House of Terror

House of Terror museum contains exhibitions related to the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in 20th-century Hungary and is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building. The museum opened in 2002. With regard to communism and fascism, the exhibition contains material on the nation"s relationships to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Uni ...
Founded: 2002 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Andrássy út

Andrássy út (Avenue) is a boulevard in Budapest dating back to 1872. It links Erzsébet Square with the Városliget. Lined with spectacular Neo-renaissance mansions and townhouses featuring fine facades and interiors, it was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 2002. It was decreed to be built in 1870, to discharge the parallel Király utca from heavy traffic and to connect the inner cit ...
Founded: 1872 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Aquincum

Aquincum was an ancient city, situated on the northeastern borders of the Pannonia province within the Roman Empire. The ruins of the city can be found today in Budapest. It is believed that Marcus Aurelius may have written at least part of his book Meditations at Aquincum. It was originally settled by the Eravisci, a Celtic tribe. Aquincum served as a military base (castrum), having been part of the Roman border protect ...
Founded: 41-89 AD | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Kerepesi Cemetery

Kerepesi Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Budapest. Founded in 1847, it is one of the oldest cemeteries in Hungary which has been almost completely preserved as an entity. The cemetery"s first burial took place some two years after its opening, in 1849. Since then numerous Hungarian notables (statesmen, writers, sculptors, architects, artists, composers, scientists, actors and actresses etc.) have been interr ...
Founded: 1847 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Nagytétény Castle

Nagytétény Castle is today the furniture museum of the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest established in 1949. One of the finest monuments of Baroque architecture in Hungary, the former Száraz-Rudnyánszky Castle was designed by András Mayerhoffer and built by Baron József Rudnyánszky between 1743 and 1751 on the place of a Roman villa rustica and using an earlier castle that stood here. The Száraz-Rudnyánszky Cas ...
Founded: 1743-1751 | Location: Budapest, Hungary

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.