Budapest’s cityscape from the Danube bank is part of UNESCO’s world heritage. A distinguishing feature of this view is Castle Hill and the castle itself, a system of fortifications from mediaeval times which encloses the Palace of the Buda Castle and the historical residential quarter. Mongolians, Turks, Austrians, Germans fought here, and most of the population still remembers the siege of the last major strongpoint of the city in the World War II. During the centuries Buda Castle was sieged no less, then 31 times.

The imposing Buda Castle overlooks the city from its elevated position atop Várhegy (Castle Hill), rising forty-eight meters above the Danube. Actually Buda Castle is more, than a fortress, in medieval times the castle – together with the Watercity at its bottom – meant the ancient city of Buda, and for this reason Buda Castle is one of the biggest castle complex of the world.

The first castle was built in the thirteenth century after Mongol tribes had invaded Hungary. King Béla IV built a keep surrounded by thick walls in 1243. No trace of this castle remains and historians aren’t even sure of its precise locations. The foundations of today’s castle, which would later be besieged no less than thirty-one times, were laid in the fourteenth century when King Lajos the Great built a castle in Romanesque style, which was completed in 1356. Some forty years later, during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg, this early castle was replaced by a Gothic-style palace. It was one of the grandest palaces in Europe with an impressive large Knights’ Hall. Fifty years later the great Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus thought the palace built by Sigismund was too sober and small so he ordered the construction of a new palace in Renaissance style. A palace garden was also created during Matthias’ reign, which marked a high point in Budapest’s history. Artists and craftsmen from across the continent – mainly from Italy – were lured by the city’s prosperity. But from this early splendor of Buda Castle nothing remained.  When Budapest was recaptured after the Turkish ruled the city between 1541 and 1686, the complex was completely in ruins.

Hungary’s new rulers, the Habsburgs, built a new, smaller palace between 1714 and 1723 at the south end of Castle Hill, away from the old houses, and cobblestone streets. Buda Castle district was seriously damaged during WWII, and reconstructions took a long time.

Being invaded repeatedly, followed by rebuilding in the style of the period, today, the old castle part has a mixture of architectural styles, ranging from Gothic to Baroque. Historical sights include Matthias and Mary Magdalene Church, medieval and baroque palaces, merchant’s houses, charming, crooked streets following the shape of the hill, a Labyrinth, the Old City Hall and the Trinity statue. In the old houses you find some good restaurants and coffees, like Ruszwurm. And the bastions and walls, better to say the restores walls remained too,  offering a walking promenade for the the visitors.