The ’Trevi Fountain of Budapest’ – Matthias Fountain in Buda Castle

This monumental fountain – designed in 1904 by one of Hungary’s most acclaimed sculptors, Alajos Stróbl – overlooks a courtyard of Budapest’s Royal Palace. The fountain shows a scene from the legend of King Matthias and the’ beautiful Ilonka’. The story was recorded by the court historian and later popularized by the nineteenth-century poet and dramatist Mihály Vörösmarty. On the right of the fountain stands the statue of the Italian chronicler, Galeotto Marzio who lived in King Matthias court. A dog is resting at his feet and a falcon sits on his arm. Marzio – also librarian of the famous bibliotheque of Matthias, the Corvinas – is possible the responsible, that the legend of Ilonka and the king survived the centuries.

Accpording to the tale King Matthias often went hunting incognito. One day, when he and his friends were on a hunting trip, he met the attractive peasant girl ‘Szép Ilonka’ – ‘szép’ is literally ‘beautiful’- in Hungarian. They fell in love at first sight. Matthias didn’t reveal his identit.y but told Ilonka to come visit him in Buda. As soon as she could, Ilonka sped to Buda. When she arrived there, a large crowd had gathered to welcome the king from a victorious battle. When Ilonka saw Matthias in full regalia on horseback, she was shocked to discover she had fallen in love with the king himself. Being a simple peasant girl, she was convinced that she could never marry him and walked home consumed with sorrow. Shortly after, she died from a broken heart. Two weeks later the king, who hadn’t noticed Ilonka in the crowd, went back to her house, only to find it empty. That’s a story without a happy end, but local folklore has it, that anyone who throws coins in the fountain will be granted a safe return to Budapest.

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