Buda Castle (Budai Vár)
Rising 48 meters above the Danube, the Castle Hill or Várhegy nevertheless dominates the city. This hill is the place where Budapest was founded. It is a small, densely built rock, with the Buda Castle as the most prominent building.
The foundations of the castle, which would later be besieged no less than 31 times, were laid in the 13th century after Mongol tribes had invaded Hungary. King Béla built a keep surrounded by thick walls in 1243 on a site which was previously occupied by a small farming community. Around the keep, a small town called Buda started to grow. During the Reign of King Lajos the Great, the keep was fortified and a palace was built. Later, during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg (1387-1437), the castle was again expanded, resulting in one of the greatest palaces in Europe.
The 15th century palace
At the end of the 15th century, during the reign of King Matthias Corvinus the castle was restored and new wings were added to the palace. Very little remains of this beautiful palace of the 15th century, as the buildings were almost completely demolished when Budapest was recaptured after the Turkish ruled the city between 1541 and 1686.
The 18th century palace
A new palace was built between 1714 and 1723 by King Charles III of Habsburg. It was designed in a Baroque style by Fortunato de Prati and supervised by Johann Hölbling. The palace was extended by King Charles's daughter, the empress Maria Theresa, but the great fire of 1810 and the attack of the castle during the Hungarian rising destroyed much of the new palace.
Dual Monarchy Expansion
After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, there was a new need for a castle in Budapest to express Hungary's larger independence. To the buildings left from Charles III and Maria Theresa, a new wing and central domed structure were added. At the end of W.W.II, the complex was damaged again by fire, but after the restoration started in the fifties, the Buda Castle can be seen in all its glory again. The Castle with its 203 rooms now houses several museums, among them the Budapest Historical Museum and the National Gallery.