Unusual monument of Budapest – Vajdahunyad Castle, Hungary

Vajdahunyad Castle

I know there is no match for taste or color, but in my opinion, Vajdahunyad Castle is the most unusual building in Budapest. In Hungary. Or even in all of Europe! Honestly, honestly, that’s exactly what I think!

When I first saw the Vajdahunyad in the evening by moonlight, I was amazed! Okay, maybe not “amazed,” but amazed for sure. On the dark sky were the silhouettes of a medieval castle, no, a Renaissance palace, or a Roman church? As we got closer, it became clear that it was a “three-in-one” structure. What does it mean, you ask? And I’ll tell you that Vaidahunyad castle consists of three parts, three buildings of different styles, as if by magic wand connected to each other.

I could not stay indifferent to such beauty … Unfortunately, at my first meeting with Vaidahunyad Castle I was not “knowledgeable” enough – I had no idea neither about the time of its construction, nor about the purpose of its creation, in general, I knew nothing! Fortunately, I was thoroughly prepared for my next visit.

I want to share this knowledge with the world, maybe it will be useful to someone :).

How to get to Vaidahunyad Castle

Vaidahunyad Castle is located in Varoshliget Park on the small island of Széchenyi. You can get to the island by one of the four bridges. The main entrance to the museum complex is located on the side of Heroes’ Square.

Not far from the Vajdahunyad Castle are the Széchenyi Baths, the Budapest Zoo, Heroes’ Square and Andrássy Avenue. If you plan to reach the place by private car, you just have to type into your navigator: Városliget, Vajdahunyadvár (this is the official address of the castle). Parking will be paid almost everywhere; you can leave your car for free near Városligeti Sörsátor (something like a café in a tent, which is located in the park).

You can easily get to the castle by public transport:

  • by subway. The nearest station is Széchenyi fürdő on the yellow M1 line;
  • by bus (#20E, 30, 30A, 230) to the Benezur utc a stop;
  • by trolleybus #70, 75, 79 to the stop Olof Palme station , #72, 74 to the Bethesta utca stop ;
  • by streetcar (No. 1) to the Erzsebet Kiralyné utja stop.

History

In 1896 a celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the discovery of the Hungarian homeland was held in Budapest. According to contemporaries, it was a grand event! The Parliament building on the Danube bank, Heroes’ Square, Budapest Metro Station and… the Vajdahunyad Castle were built for the anniversary. True, at that time it was not called that at all, but simply and unpretentiously – “The complex of historic buildings. The building was made of wood and plywood, which meant that it had to be dismantled after the festivities. But the idea – to show all the famous architectural buildings of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in one – so pleased the Budapest residents that they decided not to demolish it, but even on the contrary – to preserve and embody it in stone.

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The building we have the pleasure to look at was erected in 1904-1908, designed by the Hungarian architect Ignatz Alpár. It should be understood that Alpár had a difficult task – to reflect the 1000-year history of the state in a single building. And I think he did it very well! Almost all the religious buildings of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in one way or another have found their place as part of the architectural complex. Its central part was the prototype of Vaidahunyad Castle in Transylvania (now the territory of Romania). In the opinion of the majority, the Gothic tower is a dominant part of the whole ensemble. That is why the complex of structures became known as “Vaidahunyad Castle”.

What’s outside

And let’s say a few words about each part of this unique architectural complex (in chronological order):

Romanesque Church

* Romanesque style is a period in the art of the European Middle Ages, dating from the 11th-13th centuries. It dominated Western Europe and a number of Eastern European countries before the advent of the Gothic. The Romanesque style in architecture correlates with Roman architecture, from which it gets its name. It is characterized by semicircular arches, plant ornaments, barrel vaults, small windows, massive walls. The most striking Romanesque style manifested itself in architecture, especially in the construction of churches and churches. In a nutshell about Romanesque architecture – severe and concise *.

After this brief informational summary, I think you can easily distinguish the Romanesque style from, for example, Art Nouveau :). Well, let’s dare! Look carefully at the church of Vajdahunyad Castle and realize that it has all the components of Romanesque style.

One of the prototypes for this part of the castle was the Basilica of St. James (built in 1256), which is located in western Hungary, almost on the border with Austria. Ignác Alpár copied the whole layout of the entrance to the church; the architect created other parts of the temple as a collective image, taking a little from everywhere.

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I was very impressed by the sculptural portal of the church with these arches coming out one from the other and the figures of Christ and his apostles. It seems to me that this could be the entrance to Paradise.)

Warning. Church of St. James (in Russian it means “Jacob”) is a functioning Catholic church, where religious ceremonies are performed, wedding ceremonies are held (reservations must be made six months in advance), there are music concerts and art exhibitions. Very beautiful and unusually “photogenic” is the inner church courtyard – the arcade.

The high tower to the left of the main entrance to the fortress also belongs to the architecture of the Romanesque style. Its prototype was the Church of Zapolski in Spiský Štvrtok (you can’t even pronounce it!).

The Gothic of Vajdahunyad Castle

*Gothic is a period in European art dating back to the 12th and 15th centuries. The Gothic style replaced the Romanesque style and then gave way to the Renaissance culture. Gothic architecture is characterized by the use of pointed arches, narrow and high towers, columns, carved details, stained glass windows *

The Gothic part of Vaidahunyad Castle is the most imposing and conspicuous. It is said that the Gothic style can be described as “frighteningly majestic”. True enough! How can one not be horrified and disgusted by the high torture tower with the romantic name “Fear not”? Of course, nothing awful ever happened in Budapest castle Vajdahunyad, but in its “big brother” with the same name – all kinds of things happened there!

So, you have already realized that the 35-meter tower is a copy of the tower of the original castle Vajdahunyad, which is now located on the territory of Romania. The castle was founded in the middle of the 15th century by Hungarian commander Janos Hunyadi, father of King Matyas I, the unifier of Hungary (the Church of Matyas in the Buda Fortress is named after this monarch). More often the castle is called “Corvinus Castle”, at least that is how Google identifies the structure. The thing is that on the family coat of arms of the Hunyadi family there was a raven, and in Latin the name of this bird sounds like “Corvin”. That’s the secret :).

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The castle of the Hunyadi family is an excellent example of medieval architecture. In Alpar’s project the “Do not be afraid” tower (Serbian “Neboisa”), residential palace part, original decoration of some internal premises, including the Hall of the Knights, have found their place.

An interesting detail of the biography of Janos Hunyadi is the fact that he was on a hostile relationship with Vlad III Kolomazhator, or as we all used to call him – Vlad Dracula. It is known that for many years Dracula was a prisoner or a guest (?) in the castle of Corvinus. History, unfortunately, is silent on some facts… Inspired by numerous legends of Vlad Tepes, writer Brem Stoker created his alternative version of the life of Count Dracula. And the castle of Corvinus acted as a prototype of the home of the famous vampire. A reference to this story is the bust of Bela Lugosi on one of the castle walls. He was the first actor to play the role of Count Dracula in the film Nosferatu (1922). Walking around Vajdahunyad Castle, don’t forget to find a sculptural image of this Hungarian artist!

The second tallest tower of Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest, the Apostolic Tower, strongly resembles the Clock Tower of the Romanian city of Sigishoara. It was built in the early 14th century and was used as a watchtower, later the seat of the provincial government. Nowadays in the Sighisoara Clock Tower is a museum of the city and an observation deck. In addition to the tower, Ignaz Alpár borrowed the façade of the Monastery Church and its interior decoration from Sighisoara.

Baroque palace

*The Baroque style appeared in Italy during the late Renaissance of the 16th-17th centuries and died out at the end of the 18th century. This architectural style is characterized by splendor and luxury, complexity of geometric forms, saturation with artistic details.

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The Baroque part of Vajdahunyad Castle was designed by Ignatz Alpár of his own mind, almost “without spoilers” :). The Hungarian architect was inspired by beautiful Baroque buildings on the territory of Austria-Hungary, taking “from here” – the decoration of cornices, bas-reliefs on the walls of the building; “from there” – elements of the roof decor, the shape of window niches…

The dome above the main entrance to the palace part of Vajdahunyad Castle was created as a replica of the decoration of the gates of the Citadel of Alba Iulia, one of the oldest cities of Transylvania.

Other architectural and sculptural details were borrowed from the Baroque buildings of Brasov (Romania), Bartfá (Slovakia). One example for the architect to emulate was the royal palace in Gödöllő, Hungary.

There are two monuments by the walls of the castle. The one by the architect Ignác Alpár and the other by the mysterious Anonim who wrote a historical work called Gesta Hungarorum (or Acts of the Hungarians). The identity of Anonymous is still unknown, but it is assumed that he was a scribe at the court of the Hungarian King Bela III (1172-1196). The fact remains that he was an intelligent and educated man. In this connection, students have an omen: if you rub the writing pen that Anonymous clutched in your right hand, you will pass your exams with flying colors! Apparently, many people hope for a miracle – Anonymous’ pen sparkles with brilliance!

What’s inside

The Magyar Mezogazdasagi Muzeum (Agricultural Museum) has been located inside this unusual building for more than a century. By the way, it is the biggest agrarian museum in Europe!

There are 8 permanent exhibitions about hunting, gathering, fishing, winemaking, cattle breeding and plant growing in Hungary; there are also temporary thematic exhibitions.

It’s probably not the most interesting museum in the world, but I personally recommend a visit. At least you can admire the chic interiors of the castle and, of course, see the stuffed animal of the last specimen of the extinct Bacon pig! :).

The museum is open to visitors every day except Monday. Opening hours :

  • Tuesday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m;
  • Saturday – Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00.
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Ticket prices :

  • To the Agrarian Museum : for adults 3,6 EUR (1200 HUF, Hungarian forints), for pensioners and children 1,8 EUR (600 HUF);
  • To the Apostolic Tower, where the observation deck is located, the ticket costs about 2 EUR (600 HUF);
  • to the Museum of the History of Vaidahunyad Castle – 1 EUR (300 HUF)).

In order to save money at the museum ticket office you can buy a single ticket to visit all three cultural sites. It will cost a little over 5 EUR or 1700 HUF for adults, and about 3 EUR (1100 HUF) for children.

Entrance to the castle courtyard is free.

Festivals, cultural events and other activities

Several times a year in the premises or in the courtyard of the castle Vajdahunyad there are various thematic festivals . I call them gastronomic festivals – visitors are offered to taste Hungarian national food and drink, handicrafts are sold, folk bands and “folk song and dance ensembles” often perform. It can be a lot of fun and, most importantly, hearty :). I definitely recommend setting aside one of your days in Budapest to attend this kind of event.

The most beloved and fun holidays of residents and visitors to the Hungarian capital are:

  • St. Martin’s Day (turkey and wine festival) on November 11;
  • Young Wine and Cheese Festival. Also held in November;
  • Christmas Fair in December;
  • Summer music concerts in July and August;
  • Spring Orchid Festival.

In summer you can take a boat trip around the castle, in winter the Varoshliget pond turns into an ice rink! Do not miss the opportunity to take a ride on the largest and most beautiful outdoor ice rink in Europe, which operates from November to March.

Afterword

That’s probably all I wanted to tell about Vajdahunyad Castle. Along with the Parliament building, the Basilica of Saint Istvan, and the Royal Palace, it is one of Budapest’s main attractions. If you are planning a trip to the Hungarian capital and, therefore, a visit to the Vajdahunyad complex, I give you the address of the castle’s official website, as well as the official website of the Agrarian Museum, to help you. Here you can find up-to-date information about ticket prices, opening hours and upcoming events.

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