Budapest Stories and Tips

Views of the Danube - 'Varhegy' - Castle Hill

Fishermans Bastion Photo, Budapest, Hungary

This is the historic and spiritual home of Budapest. Situated on the Buda side this great towering expanse of rock contains - Varhegy - the Castle area. This district, rising 100ft above the Danube (or Duna in Hungarian)has more history then most countries and contains relics of its various invaders and builders. And did I mention it has stunning views of the Danube from Fishermans bastion.

To reach it take the subway to Moskva Ter (which is quite an experience with its pavement market and Ukrainean migrant workers) then walk uphill to the Vienna Gate. Or alternately if you are coming from Pest walk across the Szenyi lanchid (Chain Bridge) where a funicular will take you up to Varhegy for 80 forints.

I you arrive via the Vienna Gate then it is a short walk along Uri Utca (Gentlemans street) with its baroque townhouses to Trinity Square and Fishermans bastion. In front of Fishermans bastion is the Matyas Templedom (discussed later) and a green equestrian statue of King Stephen. But Fishermans bastion is the most photographed part of Budapest. With its white fairy-tale turrets and ramparts overlooking the Danube. They will charge you a few forints but you can walk along the ramparts and enjoy magnificent views from this great height. To the right is the great green expanse of Gellert hill and across the river is the neo-gothic domes and crenellations of the Parliament building. While we were gazing we remembered that the view seemed familiar to us before. With its neo-gothic architecture it looks just like the Thames at Westminster.

Varhegy was a fortress since Roman times and the medieval and Ottoman walls surround the castle and its many buildings. It is really relaxing just to walk these walls and on the western side they overlook the Buda Hills where there are lovely benches where you can while away time.

The Castle itself contains a great domed palace which is entered through arched courtyards. The courtyards contain the National Gallery of Hungary and the excellent Budapest history museum. This is guarded by a statue of a Hussar and the green encrusted Matthias fountain.

But the real find was a set of pastel coloured buildings leading into an attraction called 'the labyrinth'. A pre-war attraction which has just been restored, we were entranced by dark atmospheric tunnels accompanied by throbbing music. The mysterious effect was enhanced by animal statues and cave paintings. In one room we found a gurgling fountain - imagine our surprise when we found it was spewing matthias rose wine!!

That is what is so good about Budapest - it always surprises. Like the city itself, there is alot more then you think to Castle Hill.

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